18 Exciting Things to Do in Kaanapali, Maui in 2024

Looking for the best things to do in Kaanapali? I’ve got you covered – read on for all the details!

On the Hawaiian island of Maui is the absolutely gorgeous Kaanapali Beach, with breathtaking scenery and endless entertaining experiences.

Palm trees swaying, tiki torches lighting the sand, lush flowers and greenery encircling inviting pools, and whales breaching in the distance. This is what you’ll find on Kaanapali!

Kaanapali is part of the city of Lahaina, on the northwest coast of Maui. There are many, many activities to do in this part of Maui, from snorkeling and whale watching, to golfing, to shopping, to nighttime luaus and traditional ceremonies on the beach.

My family, and in particular, my parents love going to Kaanapali, and my trip to Maui was with my parents. They’ve also visited on numerous other occasions with other siblings and family members, and the recommendations in this guide draw on my personal experiences as well as the general experiences and preferences that have been developed over multiple trips to the island.

Travel Resources – Quickly get your trip planned with these top activities in and near Kaanapali:

18 Beautiful, Scenic, and Adventurous Things to Do in Kaanapali

Okay! Let’s start with why you’re here and talk about the amazing activities and things to do in Kaanapali!

1. Snorkeling Catamaran Excursion

Recommended Tour: Half-Day Snorkeling Cruise from Ka’anapali Beach

Heading out on a snorkeling cruise to experience the beautiful tropical fish of Hawaii is one of the quintessential things to do in Maui, and this *excellent* snorkeling cruise conveniently departs right from the middle of Kaanapali Beach.

Sail from Kaanapali Beach on a comfortable and relaxing catamaran, enjoying the sea views and the tropical breeze. You’ll stop at a few different spots (the exact location depends on the sea conditions) for some excellent snorkeling, where you can see colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and possibly even dolphins or whales.

Breakfast and lunch is provided on board and the crew is incredibly pleasant and exceptionally attentive to your needs, making this a relaxing, idyllic day on the water. The fact that you’ll likely see dolphins and whales makes this cruise almost a two-for-one deal!

Check rates and availability for snorkeling here

2. Go Whale Watching

Recommended Tour: 2-hour Whale Watching Tour

Alternatively, if you don’t want to snorkel in the middle of the ocean or just want a tour dedicated to the whales specifically, this whale-watching tour is your best bet!

Whale watching season in Maui runs from November to May, with the peak season from January to March, though you still may be able to see some whales out of season, too.

Thousands of humpback whales migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to breed and nurse their babies. The shallow waters near the Kaanapali beaches are a popular spot for whales, making it an excellent spot to go on a tour.

This whale-watching tour is an amazing experience because you are a small group on a small, inflatable boat (thus, close to the water with better views), and the crew shares a lot of information about the whales. During the best months, you’ll almost certainly get a lot of up close and personal encounters with the whales. It is just an incredible experience all around! 

Check rates and availability for this whale watching tour here

3. Learn How to Surf

My brother catching some waves!

Recommended Class: Small Group Surf Lesson at Ka’anapali Beach

Surfboards and longboards are available to rent at many locations up and down Kaanapali Beach. If you know how to surf and just need a rental, swing by any of these beach shops to pick up what you need.

However, if you are a newbie to surfing and want some instruction, a surf class is the way to go!

These surfing classes have a very small instructor-to-student ratio (usually 4 students per instructor). You start with a quick lesson on land and then get into the water. The instructor is there to help you learn the techniques and get you up on the waves.

Our group really liked the surfing class – it was really fun and really gave you a solid foundation, and people were actually surfing by the end!

Check prices and book your surfing lesson here

4. Watch the Sunset Ceremony at Black Rock

Black Rock is a rocky outcropping jutting into the water at the north end of the Kaanapali Beachwalk, right by the Sheraton Resort. 

Right before sunset, a conch blows to announce the arrival of a Hawaiian warrior, who runs from the Sheraton up to Black Rock with a torch, lighting tiki torches along the way. At the tip of Black Rock, he throws the torch and a lei into the water and then dives in headfirst. 

This ceremony is intended to honor the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by jumping from the Pu’u Keka’a (now called Black Rock) into the ocean. 

The Sunset Ceremony

This is a free “show” and you can watch from the beach or the beachwalk. It’s a fun experience and cool way to transition to your evening activities.

5. Go Snorkeling Off the Beach

Snorkeling near Blackrock

Snorkeling gear is available for rent at many spots up and down the beach. There’s excellent sea life all along Kaanapali (my brother and mom saw a sea turtle swim right in front of them once!) and the clear waters afford fantastic views. 

Pro tip: The waters right around Blackrock have some really cool underwater structures, making it an excellent and popular snorkeling area.

6. Take Scuba Diving Lessons

Recommended Class: Beginner’s Scuba Diving Class

Learning how to scuba dive is a really cool way to level up your underwater Hawaiian experience. I recommend this class, as there’s no need for prior experience, and the class is designed for beginners, and class sizes are very small.

When you show up for your scuba lessons, you’ll do some practice first, then head into the ocean waters to practice in shallow water and continue deeper in when you feel ready. Group sizes are very small and a guide is always with you, attentive to helping you when you need it.

While snorkeling gives a great view of the sea life, there is nothing like scuba diving and getting up close and personal with all the creatures under the surface. You get to explore coral reefs and admire the sunlight dancing along the bottom of the ocean floor. This small group experience is a great way to have your first introduction to scuba!

Note that if you have health issues, you will need a doctor’s note to participate, so consider that in advance!

Check prices and book your scuba diving lesson here

7. Stroll Along the Kaanapali Beachwalk

The beachwalk as it passes by Whalers Village

It’s simple, but strolling the Kaanapali Beachwalk is one of my favorite things to do in Kaanapali. This landscaped path is right next to the beach and under the shadow of swaying palms.

We love walking past the beautifully manicured grounds of the resorts, admiring the sea, stopping for something to eat, and peeking in on the luaus at night. 

With so many restaurants, activities, and luaus right on the beach, the paved beachwalk is a convenient and beautiful way to get around, and an activity in its own right!

Strolling the beachwalk at dusk

8. Get in a Round of Golf

The Kaanapali Golf Course is located on the southern end of the beach, tucked behind the Marriott and the Hyatt, but with views over the ocean. If you like golf, getting in a round on the beach is a must!

Reserve your spot here

9. Watch the Sunset

Sunsets on Kaanapali Beach are absolutely phenomenal. The way the sun gets huge as it makes contact with the water is *chefs kiss*. It’s one of the most beautiful experiences on Kaanapali Beach, so make sure that you’re on the beach for sunset at least once during your stay.

Sunset is always between 6pm-7:15pm.

10. Attend a Luau

Experiencing a luau is a must when visiting Hawaii, and with several different luaus on the beach, it’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Kaanapali. 

There are three luaus on Kaanapali Beach:

All of these luaus are outdoors and take place right along the beach walk. Just walking along the beachwalk, you can actually see the show at the Westin and the Hyatt, which adds a lot of ambiance as you’re out for an evening stroll.

However, getting a sneak peek from the beachwalk is not enough – you definitely need to attend one! 

When you arrive at a luau, you are warmly welcomed with a flower lei and an opportunity to get drinks. Then the traditional whole roast pig (kalua pig) is paraded through the crowd, and the buffet opens to guests. 

A luau buffet dinner is a tantalizing spread of traditional Polynesian dishes, which includes kalua roast pig, huli huli chicken, oven roasted mahi, fried rice, a variety of salads, grilled vegetables, fresh fruits, and taro rolls (taro rolls are unique in that they’re purple!), plus other dishes and desserts.

If you’re up for something new, you can join in the hula dance lessons they do before the show. 

Then the real entertainment starts! Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture as you watch the incredible dancing routines. Sometimes the men perform, doing dances like the haka or the ever popular fire knife dance.

Sometimes the women dance, swaying to graceful hulas or executing impressive hip-shaking dances from Tahiti. The drums are rhythmic and the atmosphere is just fun!

While all three resorts had good luaus, I think the Drums of the Pacific luau at the Hyatt Regency was the best — it had our favorite dinner and show. 

Honestly, though, you’re not going to be disappointed with any of the luaus in Kaanapali! 

You don’t need to be a guest at any of these resorts to go to the luau, but you should make a reservation in advance, because they do fill up. 

11. Shop at Whalers Village

Whalers Village is an open air shopping complex right on the beach. Here, you’ll find a combination of boutiques, local products, name brands, luxury brands, souvenir shops, and restaurants. 

It’s a popular shopping area and is very convenient, as it’s located right on the Kaanapali Beachwalk. There are also several restaurants around Whaler’s Village, including one of our favorite restaurants on the island: The Hula Grill.

12. Visit Rugged Coastline Viewpoints

About 20 minutes north of Kaanapali Beach, on HI-30, are some ruggedly beautiful lookout points. These areas are more rocky and higher up from the sea. You can simply drive around the point, but I recommend you stop at some of the many pull-off locations to admire the view, watch the sunset, or be by yourself in nature. 

We particularly like the lookout spot at Papua Gulch and the views from Acid War Zone Trail. You can find these points on the map below:

13. Go Parasailing

If you are visiting Kaanapali outside of whale season, you can go parasailing instead! (There is no parasailing during whale season.)

Parasailing is a really fun water sport! You are harnessed to a parachute, which is tied to a boat. When the boat starts, the parachute raises you in the air ~500 feet above the turquoise waters of the Pacific. Keep your eyes open below you – you just might see some sea life swimming in the waves!  

Check rates and availability here

More Favorite Things to Do Close to Kaanapali

The final things on our list are not right on Kaanapali Beach, but have consistently been favorite activities during my family’s trips to Maui.

14. Bike Down the Haleakala Volcano

Recommended Tour: Haleakala Downhill Self-Guided Bike Tour

Haleakala is the massive volcano that covers more than half of the island of Maui, and you can actually bike down the volcano!

To do this adventurous activity, you need to book a tour that leaves from the city of Paia. We love and recommend this self-guided bike ride down Haleakala, as an outfitter equips you with all the needed gear and mountain bikes, drives you up the volcano, and then drops you off at the biking launch point.

What I particularly love about this tour is that it’s a self-guided tour, meaning you get dropped off at the starting point and then are free to go at your own speed back down the volcano, stopping at your leisure when you want to admire the view or take pictures. 

The first half of the ride is primarily a series of switchbacks and great vistas. Then you’ll start biking through forests and fields, passing through a couple of cute little Hawaiian towns on your way down the mountain.

Check out my detailed guide about what it’s like to bike down Haleakala!

Check rates and availability for biking down Haleakala here

15. Get Adventurous on an ATV Tour

Ready to venture off the beach for more epic experiences? 

Recommended Tour: Lahaina ATV Adventure

For a combination of adventure + high speeds + rugged roads + scenic views, an ATV tour around Maui is a great way to have fun in a beautiful area. You’ll have the opportunity to go into the more mountainous areas and see unique spots and stunning views. Definitely wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, as you’ll get either muddy or dusty (depending on when the last rainfall was!)

This was a really fun and rugged activity on Kaanapali and I really enjoyed it!

Check rates and availability for ATV tours here

16. Get Incredible Views on a Helicopter ride

Recommended Flight: West Maui and Molokai 60-Minute Helicopter Tour

Okay, a helicopter tour over Maui is obviously a big ticket item and there’s no getting around the fact that this is a pricey experience.

But dang is this a cool experience!

You get 180 degree unobstructed views over the islands (you will see parts of Maui and Molokai – a neighboring island), which are just jaw-dropping from the air.

The crew is friendly and the pilot is engaging – sharing interesting tidbits and fun facts as you fly around. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? HECK YES.

Check prices and book your helicopter ride here!

17. Get Adventurous While Ziplining

The Flyin’ Hawaiian ziplining course on Maui has one of the best zips that I have ever experienced and is a fun adventure near Kaanapali! This course is found in the west Maui mountains, where you’ll experience 8 different zips that take you across 9 mountain ridges and 11 valleys. 

From the Welcome Center, your guides will drive you up into the mountains and outfit you with gear (Note: Wearing closed toed shoes is required!)

After a safety lesson and a practice zip, you start on the real course, zipping between mountain ridges, sailing high and fast above the canyon floor below you. You are often flying along up to 450 feet in the air as the valley between mountain ridges drops off underneath you, reaching speeds up to 60 mph.

The views are incredible, with lush vegetation, steep mountain slopes,  and sparkling ocean vistas on every side. The longest zip is 3600 feet long and is thrilling, exhilarating and gorgeous!

Check prices and book your ziplining course here

18. Drive the Road to Hana

Driving the road to Hana is probably THE most popular thing to do near Kaanapali on Maui. This drive through the tropical forest is known to be absolutely stunning, with beautiful foliage and viewpoints as you drive along. 

There are bamboo forests, waterfalls you can stop off to see, gorgeous ocean viewpoints, and little markets on the side of the road. 

This is a fantastic thing to do near Kaanapali, and indeed, on Maui in general.

And if you don’t want to do the crazy adventures (like ziplining or biking a volcano) but still want to see some epically pretty places, this is a particularly great option. 

Note: The road to Hana is extremely winding, so if you’re prone to carsickness, I would absolutely recommend taking some anti-nausea medication before you embark. 

When you arrive in Hana, one gorgeous spot to visit is the Waianapanapa State Park, with its rugged views and some stunning black sand beaches. As of 2021, you need to make a reservation to visit Waianapanapa. You can make reservations here.

It’s highly recommended to stay one or two nights in Hana, since it takes 3 hours to get there from the Kaanapali area , not including any stops you take. You’ll want some time to really explore the area in Hana!

Check out a list of the best stops to make and everything to know about the Road to Hana here.

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Kaanapali Beach

A Hawaiian vacation is a bucket list experience for many people, and I can’t deny that writing about it here has me itching to go back!

The chill, laid-back vibes of Hawaii, combined with music, the tiki torches, the traditional food, and the welcoming locals make a visit to Kaanapali an experience like none other.

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