In a nutshell: Ka’anapali Beach is a mile-long, spectacularly perfect beach that is home to seven resorts, high-end shopping, various restaurants and activities.
Minuses: The true Hawai’i here has been replaced by a highly profitable replica.
Sound-bite: “What-ever. Louis Vuitton snorkel gear is so last-year.”
Ka’anapali Beach runs from Black Rock to Canoe Beach, fronted by seven resorts, Whalers Village Mall, and many fine shops & restaurants. The beach itself is perfection. Long, wide and sandy, the water entry and swimming are glorious. Black Rock offers cliff jumping (and cliff-jumper watching.) There are activities galore. There is also a long concrete walk that you can stroll along as you meander between shops, eats, drinks, sunset, and the beach.
If a world-class resort destination with all the trappings is what you’re looking for, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Sitting along every last inch of the entire length of this beach is the epitome of the high-end commercial interpretation of Hawai’i. For those that desire nothing more than a resort experience to recharge from the stresses of work, and life back home, you may very well be content staying within the boundaries of the collective resort area and not ever venturing beyond.
For those seeking the more genuine Maui, Ka’anapali Beach has been so commercially sanitized, it really could be dropped into any similar latitude closer to your home and billed as a “Hawaiian-themed luxury resort destination.” Most folks of this mindset will likely tire of the relentless commercialism after a half-day visit.
For those interested in snorkeling, there is excellent snorkeling around Black Rock, which is at the north end of the beach. (best snorkeling area is marked in Google map below – weaker swimmers should be aware of strong currents known to appear around the deeper areas.)
Like all Maui beaches, this beach is open to the public. But public parking is woefully inadequate. There are five small partially-public lots scattered between the Ka’anapali Parkway and the beach. Look for the (sometimes hidden) “Beach Access” signs to discover them. The parking areas on the better end of the beach (north) can be very tough to find an open spot – and I frequently have found myself parking in the Whalers Village parking lot. You can have your parking ticket validated for three free hours of parking by stores in Whalers Village with most purchases. After three hours, rent on a parking stall is equivalent to renting a $3,000 a month condo (okay, it is broken down into more convenient $2/half-hour increments!) But be aware, at $2/half-hour, you’ve apparently not paid enough for the right to do as you please once you leave your vehicle – even though their marketing materials sell the idea of shopping and beach being “separated by the mere flick of a towel.” the sign at their parking lot states you’d better not be thinking of flicking your towel if parking there! (Why, if, and how they enforce this rule, I’ve got absolutely no idea.)
Location: All along Ka’anapali Pkwy. (24 mile marker of Honoapi’ilani Hwy aka Hwy 30)
GPS Coordinates: 20.922221,-156.695895
Facilities: Resort owned beach showers and most shop bathrooms are publicly accessible.
View Ka’anapali Beach in a larger map