Kaanapali Beach Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Maui, Hawaii, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Unusually quiet, relaxed vibe for Kaanapali
  • Right on beach, great view of Black Rock
  • One of Kaanapali's most affordable non-time-share hotels
  • Small spa with traditional Hawaiian treatments
  • Tiki Bar has best resort nightlife in area.
  • Free nightly live music and hula performances
  • No resort fee; free Hawaiian activities daily

Cons

  • Low-tech room amenities: tube TVs, no music players
  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi or wired Internet
  • No gym

Bottom Line

A modest property that prides itself on being the "Most Hawaiian Resort," the 430-room Kaanapali Beach Hotel sits right on Kaanapali's four-mile beach. More affordable than many nearby resorts, this low-key hotel has a great tiki bar, free Hawaiian activities, and live nightly entertainment. Yet even after some renovations, rooms aren't anything special.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Low-key vibe and comparatively few amenities, with an emphasis on Hawaiian cultural activities and entertainment

The hotel is known for its true Hawaiian touches.
The hotel is known for its true Hawaiian touches.

The 430-room Kaanapali Beach Hotel, one of the area's first resorts when it opened in 1964, has maintained a family-owned, traditional Hawaiian feel, even as more and more souped-up mega-resorts have sprung up alongside it on Kaanapali's four miles of sand. With its low-key vibe, popular tiki bar, and daily diet of Hawaiian cultural activities, many describe it as Maui's most authentic Hawaiian hotel.

The hotel is about as big as its resort neighbors -- with 11 acres of grounds and 430 rooms, this is no boutique hotel -- but it's more stripped down: no massive pools and water parks, no rows of restaurants and shops, no fitness center. Instead, guests will find a whale-shaped pool, a giant checkerboard on the lawn, and the best nightlife of any Kaanapali resort. Its laid-back Tiki Bar & Grill and free nightly music and hula performances attract locals along with guests. The hotel sits on Kaanapali Beach's four miles of sandy, swimmable beach, right next to Black Rock, so guests have a clear view of the nightly torch lighting and diving ceremony that takes place there. Local golf courses and shopping and dining at Whalers Village are a five-minute drive.

Overall, Kaanapali Beach Hotel is far calmer, quieter, and more personal and private than most big Kaanapali resorts, with fewer long lines. The laid-back, friendly staff even makes it feel like a mom-and-pop operation (though the owner is a Japanese developer).

The hotel's weak spot is its rooms. Last completely renovated in 1991, the guest rooms recently got new wallpaper, carpets, furniture, and bathroom fixtures (but apparently not new TVs: Even renovated rooms have old tube TVs). A guaranteed more modern room at the nearby Westin Maui or Sheraton Maui is also pretty much guaranteed to be more expensive. The Royal Lahaina, the closest competitor in terms of price, size, and location, shares the Kaanapali Beach Hotel's low-key vibe, but it lacks the fun nightlife or emphasis on authentic Hawaiian culture. So the Kaanapali Beach Hotel is really the area's best option for a relaxed environment and true Hawaiian touches -- at a relatively good price -- as long as you don't mind the bland rooms.

 Service

Friendly staff and no long lines, but high-end perks like room service and turndown are missing

Hotel staff
Hotel staff

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, giving the hotel the feel of a casual family-run business -- not a corporate outpost like some of Kaanapali's other large resorts. At such a big hotel, it's too much to expect the staff to know visitors by name, but employees remember guests' faces and often strike up a friendly conversation. Plus, the high staff-to-guest ratio means guests seldom have to deal with the long lines commonly found at the nearby Hyatt Regency or Westin Maui.

  • Bell staff
  • Valet parking
  • No poolside service (but the Tiki Bar & Grill is a few feet away, so pool guests can grab food and drinks easily)
  • No room service
  • Concierge desk open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Activities desk open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 Location

Located in the center of Kaanapali -- Hawaii's first master-planned resort town, built in the 1960s on former sugarcane fields on Maui's northwest coast

Kaanapali Beach Hotel is located toward the north end of Kaanapali, which is centered around two golf courses and book-ended by the massive Hyatt and Sheraton. Six hotels and a handful of condo rentals are squeezed cheek-to-cheek along four miles of uninterrupted beachfront; guests mingle on the sand, using the beaches (and even, at times, the pools and facilities) of neighboring properties. The mostly calm, white-sand beach incorporates Black Rock -- an eroded cinder cone sacred to ancient Hawaiians and the site of daily sunset cliff dives. Kaanapali is less crowded north of Black Rock, where the lodging is mostly composed of small hotels and condo rentals. The lively, historic village of Lahaina, 10 minutes away by car, offers lots of shopping, dining, and Maui's best nightlife.

  • Four miles of uninterrupted sand between Canoe Beach and Black Rock with mostly calm, swimmable surf (though water currents vary in strength)
  • Paved beach walkway runs entire length of the four-mile beach; often crowded, but a great place to meet locals.
  • Whalers Village, an open-air shopping mall with beachfront restaurants, curio shops, and upscale fashion boutiques, is a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
  • The free Whalers Village Museum, in the middle of Whalers Village, has fascinating memorabilia from Lahaina's prominent whaling days.
  • About a 10-minute drive from the historic village of Lahaina, with tons of shopping, restaurants, and Maui's best nightlife
  • The Sugarcane Train Tour -- offering a history of Maui's sugar plantation days -- leaves from the station across from the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas in North Kaanapali.
  • A 40-minute drive from Maui's Kahului Airport

 Beach

On uncrowded section of Kaanapali Beach, with great views of Black Rock

The hotel's beach is fine for swimming.
The hotel's beach is fine for swimming.

Kaanapali Beach Hotel is located in the middle of Kaanapali's four-mile stretch of white coral sand beach. The wide crescent-shaped beach directly in front of the hotel is mostly swimmable (though currents can get strong) and far less crowded than much of Kaanapali Beach to the south, where the area's bigger resorts sit. Black Rock is directly north of the hotel.

  • Located along Kaanapali's four miles of swimmable beach
  • Paved walkway runs the entire length of the beach.
  • Unobstructed views of Black Rock's nightly torch-lighting and diving ceremony against the beautiful backdrop of the West Maui Mountains.
  • Beach is public (like all beaches in Hawaii), so even in front of the resort alcohol is prohibited.
  • No lifeguard stands
  • Winds and currents vary, but water sports from kayaking and snorkeling to windsurfing and beginner's surfing lessons are possible.
  • Excellent snorkeling at Black Rock, located at the north end of Kaanapali Beach (about a five-minute walk from the hotel)
  • A few beach chairs and umbrellas provided by the resort

 Rooms

Clean but bland rooms

The Garden Room
The Garden Room

Last renovated in 1991, the rooms at the Kaanapali Beach Resort were gradually overhauled in 2010 The new décor -- print bedding and upholstery, colonial-style bed furniture, and framed photos of local scenes and Hawaiian artwork -- is modern but still feels authentically Hawaiian. However, the electronics are dated. At an average of 425 square feet, the rooms are smaller than what you'll find at nearby resorts, but the bathrooms are reasonably large.

  • Balconies with space for a table and two chairs in all rooms
  • Views range from direct ocean to garden.
  • Comfortable beds, configured as either king plus a daybed, or two doubles
  • Small tube TVs are subpar for a Kaanapali resort.
  • Cable television and pay-per-view movies available
  • No music player or iPod dock (only a simple alarm clock)
  • Wi-Fi or wired Internet charged daily; most rooms don't get good Wi-Fi reception.
  • Spacious bathrooms have full tub and shower.
  • Personal Paradise Hawaiian brand toiletries
  • Coffeemakers and mini-fridges in each room; no minibars

 Features

Light on amenities but heavy on free Hawaiian cultural activities, including nightly music and hula

The pool is small for a Kaanapali resort.
The pool is small for a Kaanapali resort.

Instead of filling its 11 acres with a pool complex, over-the-top gardens stocked with wild animals, and a shopping mall like the nearby Hyatt Regency or Westin Maui do, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel sticks to simple basics. The cool, whale-shaped pool is a low-tech take on the most prominent feature at most Maui hotels, the gardens are simple but well kept. And the extras mainly revolve around Hawaiian culture.

  • Single whale-shaped pool, while not large by Kaanapali standards, is fun. The shallow tail and mouth sections are especially good for kids.
  • Free nightly hula and music performances
  • Lively Tiki Bar & Grill stays busy with locals and guests until 10 p.m.
  • Free Hawaiian activities every morning and afternoon, including hula, lei-making, ukulele lessons and pineapple-cutting demos.
  • No gym
  • Small beauty salon and spa offers hair and nail services, massages and traditional Hawaiian treatments such as lomi lomi and wela pohaku.
  • Giant checkerboard on the lawn
  • Three shops, including Gigi's jewelry shop, Maui Breeze gift shop, and the Deli Corner shop
  • "Ohana Fun" desk books activities such as zip-line tours and trips to Haleakala crater.

 Golf

Two championship, designer courses; hotel guests get discounted rates

The hotel is a five-minute drive north of the 36-hole Kaanapali Golf Resort, which stretches across 1,200 acres of land situated between the beachfront resorts of Kaanapali and the West Maui Mountains. Built in the 1960s, these two championship courses have been home to the Champions Tour Kaanapali Classic and the LPGA Kemper Open. Wind and rain are less common than at the neaby Kapalua courses, though the South Maui courses (those in Wailea and Makena) are reputably the best in Maui.

  • The par-71, 6,700-yard Royal Course, also known as the North Course, is the more popular of the two since it features a more challenging terrain.
  • Course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and recently renovated by golf architect Robin Nelson. Wide fairways extend from Kaanapali's main road to the beach, so holes are never far from traffic and buildings.
  • The par-70, 6,388-yard Kai Course (or South Course) was designed (by Arthur Jack Synder) for easier play, though it's suitable for all levels.
  • The greens are less undulating than those of its sister course, but offer great views of neighboring islands.
  • Both courses offer reduced green fees for guests.

 Family

Family-friendly rooms and the simple pleasures of a beach and pool

Resort activities
Resort activities

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel has plenty to offer families, but it's an old-fashioned sort of fun. Some guests will embrace this return to the days when kids could have a good time at the beach and pool with not much more than a water noodle. But families looking for a mini water park and video game terminals at the kids' club should move on to (and pay more for) a hotel like the Hyatt Regency or Grand Wailea Resort.

  • Whale-shaped pool is great for kids, but far more low key than neighboring mega-resorts.
  • Free Hawaiian educational activities and special events
  • Aloha Passport program awards kids free gifts and stamps for participating in resort activities.
  • Free cribs; rooms have either a king plus daybed or two double beds.
  • No kitchens, minibars, or room service
  • Live music is audible in many rooms until 9 p.m., but the resort is usually quiet by 10 or 11 p.m.
  • Restaurants all have kid-friendly menu options.

 Cleanliness

Well-kept but old property

Built in 1964, the hotel is a Kaanapali old-timer, and though the staff obviously works hard to keep the property clean, it's teetering on the edge of worse for wear -- carpeted outdoor hallways seem dingy, and details like fluorescent lighting make the property feel dated. Last fully renovated in 1991, the rooms underwent gradual redos in 2010 and 2011, getting everything from new wallpaper to fresh carpet. Grounds are mostly kept clean, save for the occasional pool toy and dirty cup left out on the lawn.

  • Old property is somewhat dated but well maintained.
  • Designated smoking areas and smoking floors keep the rest of the property odor free.

 Food

Three restaurants, including a buffet and a poolside bar and grill

Tiki Terrace emphasizes local cuisine
Tiki Terrace emphasizes local cuisine

Among the hotel's three restaurants, the Kaanapali Mixed Plate and the Tiki Bar & Grill serve fairly mediocre food but charge more reasonable prices than many Maui resort restaurants. The culinary highlight here is the Tiki Terrace restaurant, which serves authentic specialty Hawaiian dishes that give travelers a better taste of local food than what they'll find at hotel luau buffets.

  • Free breakfast buffet at Kaanapali Mixed Plate, which also serves a buffet lunch and dinner
  • Tiki Bar & Grill has good drinks, including mai tais and pina coladas; great service, convenient poolside location.
  • Tiki Terrace serves good-quality Hawaiian and American breakfasts and dinners, with a focus on local, traditional dishes and fresh seafood.
  • Less than 10-minute walk from many dining options at nearby Whalers Village

 Destination Weddings

Affordable low-key weddings in a quiet, beautiful location, but it's a $90 taxi from the airport

A semiprivate ceremony location
A semiprivate ceremony location
  • Wedding Size: Up to 450 guests; up to five weddings performed daily
  • Extra Fees and Requirements: If you don't opt for a package, there's a fee for the wedding certificate and site fees.
  • Wedding Packages: The basic, Maui Aloha Wedding Package includes a minister, a ceremony with music, a wedding certificate, leis for the bride and groom, a half-hour of photography (26 prints and a DVD slideshow), and a bottle of sparkling wine.
  • Ceremony Locations: The Molokai Lawn, the Naupaka Lawn, the Plumeria Lawn, the Luau Grounds, the Signature Lawn, or the Kalo Lawn; you can host the reception at any of these ceremony sites as well.
  • Photographers and Videographers: Photo and video packages each range from 30 minutes to two hours; outside photographers and videographers permitted at no extra fee.
  • Music: You can book a Hawaiian band from the resort per hour, which includes two hula dancers, otherwise you'll have to arrange for your own music (outside bands permitted at no extra fee).
  • Food: Plated dinners and buffets charged per person; at most other large-scale Hawaiian resorts, a basic dinner can cost three times as much.
  • Drinks: Open bar rates range depending on quality of liquor. Also note that there's an extra bartender fee per hour and that alcohol is only available until 10 p.m.
  • Cocktail Hour: Hors d'oeuvres are charged per person, per hour
  • Cakes: A one-tier cake serves 14 people, a two-tier serves 32, a three-tier serves 44.
  • Flowers and Decorations: For elaborate arrangements, you'll have to contact an outside vendor, but the hotel can handle the basics -- a bridal bouquet, a boutonniere, petals for the ceremony.
  • Spa Treatments: The on-site spa offers a full range of services, including makeup and hair styling. Wedding spa packages also available.
  • Honeymoon Suite: There's no special honeymoon suite, but the more recently renovated Ocean View Rooms in the main tower are generally nicer than the standard rooms.
  • Airport Transportation: The hotel doesn't provide a shuttle.

 Bottom Line

A modest property that prides itself on being the "Most Hawaiian Resort," the 430-room Kaanapali Beach Hotel sits right on Kaanapali's four-mile beach. More affordable than many nearby resorts, this low-key hotel has a great tiki bar, free Hawaiian activities, and live nightly entertainment. Yet even after some renovations, rooms aren't anything special.

Things You Should Know About Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Address

  • 2525 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Hotel Ka Anapali Beach
  • Ka Anapali Beach Hotel

Room Types

  • Aloha Value Room
  • Garden Room
  • Ocean Front Room
  • Ocean View Room
  • Partial Ocean Room
  • Pool Room

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

Sheraton Maui Resort
Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Kaanapali Alii

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 432
Pool: N/A
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Maui, Hawaii
Address: 2525 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
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