Ka’anapali Beach Resort: Which Hotel to Choose for Your Hawaiian Vacation


Think of Hawai'i and immediately you envision a wide, sun-kissed expanse of sparkling sand, gentle waves for surf riding and a dramatic ocean view. Ka’anapali Beach Resort has all of this, in fact it has consistently been named among the best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor and was named Best Beach in America by Dr. Beach in 2003. They must be on to something because in ancient times the capitol of the Hawaiian Islands was once located in Maui and its beach and ocean were a favorite of the Hawaiian chiefs.

Photo Courtesy of Ka'anapali Beach Resort

Ka’anapali Beach Resort today is ringed by hotels and condos arranged along the three miles of beach and connected by a beach boardwalk that meanders along the ocean. Golf and tennis are stars here as well as a variety of ocean sports including Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling, SUP, sailing and snorkeling trips. A big day on the beach, the court, the links, or flying down a zipline can create the need for serious refreshment. For your pau hana (after work) enjoyment, there are a plethora of oceanside bars from which to capture that vibrant orange sun setting over the islands of Lana’i and Moloka’i.

Photo Courtesy of Leilani's on the Beach

You could try a tropical drink made with organic Maui Ocean vodka or rum or a local Maui Brewing Co. beer each evening and still not cover them all. Great restaurants like Roy’s, Pulehu, Japengo, Leilani’s on the Beach, Duke’s Beach House and Hula Grill, design their menus with island cuisine influences based on what is fresh that day offering you Maui’s bounty of island fish, locally-grown produce and products from upcountry ranches and Surfing Goat Cheeses.

Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

All very nice, but what makes Ka’anapali attractive to luxury sun-seekers are the oceanfront suites and lavish condos. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is upgrading their suites and promise the same great views with fresh palettes and new furnishings; some with soaking tubs for two. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa’s Imperial Suite boasts multiple lanais from which to relish the views of the island of Lana’i and the Auau Channel, and the island of Moloka’i in the Pailolo Channel. Or perhaps whale watch with your morning cup of Maui-grown Estate coffee.

Photo Courtesy of Ka'anapali Ali'i Resort

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and Ka’anapali Ali’i Resort are the best condo-type hotels. The quiet Ka'anapali Ali’i is a luxury guest’s dream as everything is included to make your stay like being in your own vacation home. The big plus is the square footage and a full kitchen (some to 1,900 square feet). If you are not inclined to cook, don’t let the kitchen deter you, private chefs can be arranged through the concierge during your entire stay or to prepare a special dinner party. And of course there are fabulous restaurants a short stroll away. If you feel like staying in and having a beach barbecue, the Ali’i offers a grill master stationed in the private barbecue area in the evenings to offer advice and special seasoned rubs for your meats or veggies. Help yourself to the culinary herb garden.

Photo Courtesy of Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, a more family-oriented resort, has a similar barbeque service but in addition, they offer the option of hiring a chef to grill for you from their signature restaurant Pulehu. Of course if you are staying anywhere in Ka'anapali you can enjoy a meal at the highly-recommended Pulehu.

Photo Courtesy of Sheraton Maui

For the ultimate in luxury the Sheraton Maui's Ali’i Suite is it. The location at the top of Pu'u Keka'a (Black Rock) commands panoramic views of the West Maui Mountains, Ka’anapali Beach, and sister islands Lana'i and Moloka'i. This is the most private spot in Ka’anapali and supremely suitable for a romantic dinner under the stars, a cocktail party or a celebration. Weddings  and vow renewals are lovely on the lawn fronting the suite with views to the ocean. The wow factor is the nightly torch lighting at sunset on Pu’u Keka’a by a runner blowing a conch shell and carrying a torch before diving off a high point of the rock into the ocean.

Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

Other luxury diversions at Ka’anapali to experience during your stay might be the private sushi chef classes at Japengo, a gratis tennis lesson at the Ka’anapali Ali’i or spend a couples’ spa day at Spa Helani slathered in lush tropical liliko’i, mango or coconut lotions enjoying a lomi-lomi massage in the tree house room. The private stargazing on the rooftop at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, named 2013 CNN Travel’s World’s Top Stargazing Hotel, is unique in that you can reserve it for a private showing for two if you wish is one of my favorite activities. The gentleman conducting the stargazing is a retired NASA scientist and very passionate about his presentation. He includes Hawaiian lore and the names of the constellations in Hawaiian while you gaze through his telescopes, sip champagne and nibble on sweet Kula Maui strawberries. It is quiet up on the rooftop and almost other-worldly as the dark sky envelopes you and breezes blow in off the ocean. The sense of awe you feel at the majesty of the universe alone is worth the trip.

Photo Courtesy of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

Another favorite is the Hyatt Regency's Kamaha'o, a Marilyn Monroe Spa, the only facility in Ka’anapali that offers a luxury rare in today’s world: deep relaxation. First you start with a body wrap and lava scrub, and after drying off proceed to be swaddled in your plush robe and immediately settled into one of the lounges in the relaxation room. The large windows open completely to the sea, and as each of the Pacific Ocean waves roll in, they create a mantra of soft rhythmic sound and the world slips away. All you are required to do at that moment is just breathe.