-- Hawaii's "most Hawaiian hotel" has a good price point and a great location on Maui's Kaanapali Beach.
Reasons to Visit
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Kaanapali Beach Hotel: Background
Kaanapali Beach-- one of Maui's prime spots for visitors-- has a 3-mile stretch of beach, facing west for sunsets, and with good snorkeling at one end at the Black Rock cliffs.
The Kaanapali Beach Hotel has had a prime spot on this beach since 1964. Today, a string of big-name resorts share the shore, with a busy nexus at the Whaler's Village shopping area. The KBH remains a relaxed resort, with a park-like setting, flowering trees, a modest pool, outdoors restaurant and bar, and small stage for hula.
The Kaanapali Beach Hotel prides itself on being Maui's "most Hawaiian hotel": a deeply felt value. Visitors may not be aware that all the employees at KBH join in extensive classes about Hawaiian culture ( - read more about these efforts behind the scenes); but they surely notice the ways in which Hawaiian culture is honored and expressed.
Every day, free activities are scheduled. Guests (kids and grown-ups) can try a Hawaiian art or craft such as lei-making, hula dancing, lau print-making, or playing the ukelele. Kids all receive an "Aloha Passport" that gets stamped with every activity they try. A Cultural Garden Walk and "story telling" about Hawaii's history are regularly scheduled, too.*
Hula shows are staged nightly. And every year, in autumn, the Hotel hosts a 3-day festival called Hula O Na Keiki, a solo hula competition for children age 5 to 17. Participants interpret and perform a Maui chant.
Departure Leis: all departing guests are given a kukui-nut lei, presented in a graceful little ceremony that's cherished by many guests (-- just have a look at comments at TripAdvisor.) For first-time visitors, all the nuts in the lei are dark brown; with every return visit, one dark nut is replaced with a light-colored one. You will hear the word "'ohana", which means family: staff at the KBH are 'ohana, and guests are made to feel like 'ohana too.
Singing: staff sing a lot! They sing when giving the departure leis; they sing at a welcome breakfast; they sing at Christmas, when guests can stand on their balconies and be serenaded.
Other Fun On-Property:
Whale-spotting: catch sight of whales from the beach or guestroom balcony; season is October to April (with October and April being slower months.)
Kupanaha Magic Show: dinner show with entertaining tricks and banter. Reduced prices for teens and kids, and under-sixes are free*; early start-time suits young kids. Bring a camera, as typically all the kiddies in the audience take the stage at one point. Some nice hula dancing is part of the evening too.
Visitors can walk along the beach or stroll, jog, or push strollers along a paved walkway that runs the length of the beach. You'll find:
Black Rock: just north of the KBH. Good snorkeling spot; little kids can see fish-life close to shore, maybe even a sea turtle. Also at Black Rock: though signs warn visitors to keep off, a steady stream of daredevils jump off the cliffs.
Whalers Village: two minutes south along the walkway is this modern shopping complex. Free admission to the Whalers Village Museum.
Restaurants and Resorts: open-air restaurants at Whalers Village overlook the beach; further south, guests in search of opulence can check out the posh lobby of the Hyatt Regency Maui with waterfalls, ponds, and swans.
- Whale-Watching Outings and Snorkeling Outings: Trilogy boat tours depart right at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. We tried a Sail and Snorkel, and got beautiful snorkeling, great service, good eats, and even some bonus whale-spotting.
- Haleakalā Volcano: "house of the sun"; 10,000 feet high; largest dormant volcano in the world; a National Park.
- Town of Lahaina: walk the Lahaina Historic Trail; browse the many shops on Front Street; eat Maui ice-cream. A bus runs from Whalers' Village to Lahaina.
- Do a Luau: Lahaina has arguably the best luau in Hawaii.
- Maui Ocean Center: voted "Hawaii's Top Rated Family Attraction".
- Ulupalakua Ranch: 20,000 acres on the slopes of Haleakala volcano; have lunch at the Ranch Store and Grill, go horseback riding.
Keep in Mind about the Kaanapali Beach Hotel:
• Check the Kaanapali Beach Hotel site for frequent special packages, including car-rental and activities such as whale-watching.
• If you want glitz and fancy pools, stay in resorts further along the beach (and pay much more, of course).
• There are no actual kids programs, or kids club, at this property.
• There's no shade on the beach (or all along Kaanapali Beach); beach cabanas can be rented, but at a price.
• Beaches in Hawaii are often not swimmable; pay attention to warnings. Fortunately, Kaanapali Beach is known for good conditions; when we visited, kid and adults swam and boogie-boarded, while just steps away at Black Rock the water near shore was calm and good for snorkeling.
• If you snorkel, save money by renting gear at the Maui Dive Shop in Whaler's Village, or buy your own at the ABC store.
• $9 parking fee is a bargain by Maui standards.
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.
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