Sunny days. Fresh ocean breeze. Tropical water temperatures. What’s not to like in Kaanapali on the Hawaiian island of Maui? Nestled on the southwestern side of the island, there is an abundance of things to do in Kaanapali. So whether you want to spend time in the water near Black Rock Beach or on land hiking or golfing, this is the best area to stay in Maui.
I’m excited to share all the fantastic things to do in Kaanapali, Maui. Let’s roll!
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Fantastically Fun Things to Do in Kaanapali, Maui
I’m an extremely outdoorsy person and not so much of a beach person. (I enjoy it, but only for short periods of the day). So when I headed to Maui for a wedding, I was uncertain what sort of things would be to occupy my time. Thankfully, there was plenty to do, and I had a memorable trip to Maui.
For those looking to hang around Kaanapali and enjoy other places on the island, take a look at this five-day itinerary.
Beautifully Scenic and Adventurous Things to Do in Kaanapali
Enjoy the best snorkeling in Maui.
One of my favorite things to do in Kaanapali is to walk out of the hotel, throw on my snorkel gear, and get into the water. It’s as simple as that. With crystal-clear water all along the coast, it’s perfect for low-key snorkeling. If you’re looking for more activity in the water (fish, corral, etc.), head to Black Rock Beach, and you’ll be shown some breathtaking sights.
If you’re looking for another spot to enjoy the best snorkeling in Maui, Honolua Bay is your spot. You can hike down to the bay or take a trip with one of the local tour companies.
Related: 5 day Maui Itinerary
Kayaking on Calm Waters
Maybe being in the water isn’t your thing, but you want to be on the water. Hop in a kayak. We did an hour-long rental for like $40 for a two-seater. It was a blast. There are plenty of places to rent from, and we found a spot next to the Westin Resort.
From there, we could get to Black Rock Beach, hang out, and return in about an hour. Being this close to everything makes Kaanapali the best area to stay in Maui.
Picture Perfect Golfing
We might need to talk if you’re learning about the prestigious golfing in Maui. With perfect golfing weather nearly year-round, Kaanapali is a golfer’s paradise. A handful of courses are close, but even with many options, I recommend booking months in advance to ensure you get a good time slot. Summer sunsets occur between 6:30 and 7:10 to show you how late you can schedule a tee time.
For some, this will be the most memorable of the things to do in Kaanapali.
Swimming with Sea Turtles
Hands down, one of my favorite parts of visiting Hawaii and my favorite things to do in Kaanapali. While we did an official snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, we also encountered turtles near Black Rock Beach and DT Fleming Park. It’s important to note that sea turtles should not be touched or harassed.
That said, in settings like Black Rock Beach or other popular beaches, turtles may swim up to you or into a group. Try to act calm and give it space to enjoy its travels. Where ever you go, you’ll enjoy some of the best snorkeling in Maui.
The Best Hiking Around Kaanapali
While most of the high-level hiking is on the other side of the island near Haleakala, there are decent hiking options on the island’s western side. Many of the below hikes are along the coast and are generally accessible to most ages and skill levels. Furthermore, the last two are not close to Kaanapali but could be done after landing as they are closer to the airport.
Even though a lot of people will come to Maui to relax, I still strongly recommend hiking and getting out of the resort vibe as one of the things to do in Kaanapali.
- Nakalele Blowhole: The Nakalele Blowhole trail is a popular hiking destination located on the northwestern tip of Maui. The hike is about 1.5 miles long and takes you through rocky terrain with stunning coastline views. The trail ends at the Nakalele Blowhole, a natural wonder that shoots water up to 100 feet high. It is important to note that the area around the blowhole can be dangerous. Please stay away from the edges and heed all warning signs.
- Pu’u Ka’eo Lookout: The Pu’u Ka’eo Lookout trail is a short and easy hike that offers breathtaking views of the West Maui Mountains and the surrounding coastline. The trail is only about 0.2 miles long and off Kahekili Highway. The lookout point is also accessible by car, but the hike offers a more immersive experience.
- Makaluapuna Point (Dragon’s Teeth): The Makaluapuna Point trail, also known as Dragon’s Teeth, is a fantastic hike that takes you to a dramatic rock formation that resembles dragon’s teeth. The trail is located in West Maui, about 1.5 miles long. The walk offers stunning views of the ocean and the neighboring islands.
- Kapalua Coastal Trail: The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a scenic hike that takes you along the coastline of Kapalua Bay. The trail is about 3.5 miles long and offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape. The trail is well-maintained and suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
- Mahana Ridge Trail: The Mahana Ridge Trail is a challenging hike that takes you through the West Maui Mountains. The trail is about 6 miles long and offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding valleys. The hike is challenging, so come prepared with proper gear and plenty of water.
- Magical Enchanted Forest: The Magical Enchanted Forest is a short, easy hike that takes you through a lush forest filled with unique plants and trees. The trail is about 0.5 miles long, located in the Kula area of Maui. The hike is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, and it offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
- Waihee Ridge Trail: The Waihee Ridge Trail is a challenging hike that takes you through the West Maui Mountains lush forests. The trail is about 5 miles long and offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding valleys. The hike is considered one of the most challenging hikes in Maui, so it is advised to come prepared with proper hiking gear and plenty of water.
- 13 Crossings: The 13 Crossings trail is a challenging hike that takes you through the East Maui Mountains’ lush forests and river crossings. The trail is about 4 miles long and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The hike is considered one of the more challenging treks in Maui. I recommend coming prepared with proper hiking gear and plenty of water.
Related: What to pack for your Maui trip
Stroll Along the Kaanapali Beachwalk
If you want to get outside but not for a full hike, the Kaanapali Beachwalk is a perfect place to get fresh air, exercise, sun, and people watch. The walk stretches for miles and connects Black Rock Beach to all of the hotels on that strip. In all, it’s about 1.6 miles from end to end. Thanks to its walkability, it’s definitely the best area to stay in Maui.
Go Whale Watching (seasonally dependent)
Maui is the United State’s mecca for humpback whale watching. Between December and February, humpbacks come to the waters off Maui to give birth and nurture their young before beginning the trek back north toward Alaska. If you’re into whales (like I am), making a trip during this time can be one of the most memorable experiences.
I haven’t done Whale watching here, as I visited in November. But I’m sure you can find some good companies to go with.
Other Activities and things to do in Kaanapali
In addition to the above, there are many things to do in Kaanapali. Even in one trip, you can’t surely do them all – which is a good thing. However, it means you need to come back for more!
What’s it like at Black Rock, Maui
Black Rock Beach is a happening place with lots of people lounging in front of the hotels, swimming, and cliff jumping. So if you like excitement, this is the place to be. But if you’re looking for a more mellow scene, going down the shoreline towards the Kaanapali Westin will offer more solitude and serenity.
Once you are 10-15 feet offshore of Black Rock, Maui, it does calm down. Here, it’s primarily people snorkeling or on floaties. If you’re looking for a pro snorkeling tip, get a floaty and put it under your midsection to decrease your energy output. There are so many things to do in Kaanapali just at Black Rock that it might be hard to pull you away!
Commonly Asked Questions about Things to Do in Kaanapali
Where should I stay?
I loved my stay at the Maui Westin Kaanapali, but I know it can be a bit pricey. I’d check out Expedia or Hotels.com and see what deals you can find. Booking during the weekdays is usually a surefire way to find a better deal.
Should I rent a car while in Maui?
I would highly recommend renting a car while visiting Maui. With the airport being 45 minutes away, you don’t want to pay for a taxi to and from. Plus, this gives you the ability to go on hikes or get away from the hustle and bustle of the resort area.
What are five pieces of gear I should definitely bring?
How far is it from the airport?
It’s a 45-minute drive (29 miles) from the airport to Kaanapali. Even though it’s a drive, it’s the best area to stay in Maui when you consider the things to do in Kaanapali.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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