This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
We will update our photos and review as soon as we can.
Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A low-key condo hotel on a peaceful bay, but not far from the action
With two-story cottages spread over 10 acres of beachfront in scenic and serene Napili Bay, the setting of this 163-room condo resort is truly idyllic. The hotel opened in the 1960s as a quiet retreat in a part of Maui that's not far from the airport or towns, but not too close either. While nearby Kaanapali continues to develop bigger and fancier resorts, Napili Kai has chosen to maintain its rustic Hawaiian vibe -- never building more than two stories high, and implementing strict rules (no talking on cellphones outside of the room, for one) to keep the atmosphere quiet and peaceful.
The hotel can't compete with other resorts in terms of amenities or services (there is no business center, no dedicated bellmen, no true spa), but it's got an old-fashioned appeal and local flavor that's missing from most mega-resorts in Maui. Special events like a free mai-tai party and a well-regarded slack-key guitar concert draw guests looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience. Many of the guests are multigenerational families who, based on their rapport with the friendly staff, seem to be returning guests.
But at times the rustic feel almost crosses over to a run-down feel. The hotel, especially some of the rooms, would benefit from even a modest renovation -- new beds would do wonders -- and the overgrown landscaping could use more upkeep. Rooms in buildings Puna 1, Puna 2, and Lani 1 were renovated in 2011.
As Maui hotels go, Napili Kai is virtually in a class of its own. The most similar hotel is the Royal Lahaina, another low-key resort whose best feature is a great beach. If you can afford to pay upwards of $100 more a night, Hotel Hana, on the other side of the island, is unbeatable when it comes to promoting peace and relaxation.
Limited -- no bellhops, no room service
Service is limited at this condo hotel. No one greets guests at the entrance, no bellmen help with bags. The receptionist found a staff member to take me and my luggage to my room in a golf cart. Most guests park their cars right outside their buildings, so it seems like the hotels expects people to handle their own luggage.
On a serene bay between busy Kaanapali and secluded Kapalua
Napili Kai Beach Resort is in Napili, a quiet village on Maui's west coast between tourist-heavy Kaanapali and secluded Kapalua. Both of those resort towns are a 10-minute drive away, but Napili, with just a handful of low-key, low-rise hotels surrounding a bay, feels cut off from the crowds. Reachable via a small, narrow street off the highway, the Napili Kai hotel sits at the northern edge of Napili Bay, in a section that gets little traffic and feels even more remote.
A small bay with calm water and great snorkeling
Virtually every room at the hotel is only a minute or two from the Napili Bay beach.
Simple furnishings, island vibe.
The hotel prides itself on "keeping things Hawaiian." That means simply furnished, even rustic rooms. Some don't even have air-conditioning (because Napili Bay is drier than other parts of Maui and enjoys a constant sea breeze, this omission isn't necessarily a bad thing). The plain design keeps guests' attention focused on what's important: the ocean views and the proximity to a quiet, idyllic beach. Uneven renovations have taken place in the last few years, with some buildings (Puna 1, Puna 2, and Lani 1) being completely renovated and others remaining dated.
One of the resort's many rules is that "lawns are meant for relaxing and sunbathing, not for games and horseplay." That edict says a lot about the activities and amenities at Napili Kai Beach Resort. The pools forbid floats and toys, parties are held on the putting green, and guests can borrow boccie balls and pingpong equipment. This quiet resort is all about quiet pleasures, including low-key Hawaiian cultural activities that are not typically found at other Maui resorts.
Nice for families, as long as the kids aren't rambunctious
This is a family resort, to be sure, but the hotel points out that "while many of our families bring third-generation offspring, many have also left their keiki (kids) at home or have their child-rearing experience long behind them." In other words, bring the kids but keep them quiet. "Boisterous conduct" must be kept to the beach. No "horseplay" on the lawn. Pool games like Marco Polo are a no-no.
The rooms could be cleaner.
At the Napili Kai, rustic charm can get in the way of eat-off-the-floor cleaning standards. My balcony had dusty lounge chairs, leaves on the ground, and stucco walls that could use a good scrubbing. The bathroom's brown-tinted tiles look less than pristine, especially under stark white fluorescent lights. And while the walkways are bursting with the colors of tropical foliage, they're also littered with the leaves and dead flowers of tropical foliage.
A peaceful patio overlooking the bay is the dining highlight.
This low-key, low-rise condo hotel in serene Napili Bay has an authentic Hawaiian vibe that you won't find at Maui's mega-resorts. The pools are small, the gym is small and dank, and some rooms could use renovation, but it's still a gem for travelers intent on quiet, beachside relaxation and an ocean view from every room.