Together, the three miles of Kaanapali Beach in west Maui have been touted as one of the best beaches on Maui, and even in America. You’ll see why when the sun shines on that water and you look down at the massive stretch of beach from your lanai (it happened to me, andI now see why the beach is ranked so high). It’s just a breathtaking beach.
I stayed at the Royal Lahaina (2780 Kekaa Dr, Lahaina, HI 96761; 808-661-3611) which is stretched across 27 acres overlooking this perfect beach. The resort recently went through a $35 million transformation of its guest rooms, suites and beachfront cottages.
Its light, airy rooms—all with private lanais, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and fridges—offer just the right amount of convenience. But really, all your time could be spent on your lanai! The Royal Lahaina also has one- and two-bedroom suites for families, and cottages with full kitchens. There’s a restaurant, a bar, an ice cream shop, three pools (two oceanfront), a hot tub, outdoor shuffleboard, bocce ball, 11 championship tennis courts, and a location next to Kaanapali’s golf course.
The local land itself was once nothing more than green sugar cane, taro and a freshwater spring. Now, it’s the hub of action (yes, the beach can get crowded) and a great location for enjoying Kaanapali Beach (why leave one of the most beautiful in America?).
A real Hawaiian luau
Don’t miss the nightly oceanfront luau at the Royal Lahaina. It’s an added charge, but the VIP ticket gets you excellent seats for the luau, your own waiter for unlimited drinks and first dibs on the awesome spread of buffet food.
We had drinks and watched the sunset, then watched the locals prepare the kalua pua’a (roast pig) in the imu ceremony using the in-ground oven (the imu). Then we ate and watched the luau, complete with fire dancing. I really liked that the experience included narration explaining the different dances and different regional customs involved.
The US Tennis Association awarded the place its highest honor as Tennis Facility of the Year in 2014. I was excited to see the facilities—including the 11 championship tennis courts and the PlaySight tennis technology that had just been installed.
The PlaySight system at Royal Lahaina is the first SmartCourt and live-streaming tennis option in Hawaii. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s okay; the tool logs stroke type, speed, spin, and more, all of which you can review after you play a few games. You can even select to receive a copy of your session analytics via email so that can review it at home or with a coach on your own time.
Royal Lahaina offers tennis coaches, as well, who can break down your sessions using the PlaySight screens (even drawing on them) to help you improve. I feel like the technology will even help me improve!
Airport Beach Reef
In west maui, do not miss Kahekili Beach Park or Airport Beach, as the locals call it. (Note: Don’t look for an actual airport here, as the airport is long gone now!) The snorkeling and diving here is excellent. The current is pretty strong running south, so when you swim, start north and let yourself drift south. There’s also a great park next to the beach with a grassy area, picnic tables, restrooms, and outdoor showers.
Adventure: Haleakala National Park
The sunrise at Haleakala National Park on the western side of the island is a highlight for many who visit Maui. Exploring the park feels like walking on the moon looking over the crater and down at the clouds! It was the most spectacular sunrise I’ve ever seen, but words and pictures really don’t do it justice. I heard a local Hawaiian woman named Nan singing in Hawaiian just as the sun rose above the horizon. She was basically praying to bless the day. It was incredibly beautiful to hear her sing and watch the sun peak out of the clouds.
It’s a long trek no matter where you come from on the island, because the crater stretches to just over 10,000 feet above sea level. (It’s about a two-hour drive from Royal Lahaina to the peak, and for the sunrise, you need to wake up at about 3 am to be safe.) Also note that if you’re prone to motion sickness, you should probably take a pill before getting behind the wheel and hope for the best or don’t go. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to miss the highlight of the trip even though sometimes I get motion sickness (I did suffer a bit going up, but the experience was well worth it and I’d do it again).
For more in this Maui series: Series home page.