Looking for a palm tree paradise? Say aloha to Kaanapali Beach, one of the most popular stretches of sunlit surf in the USA. This particular beach was once the playground of Hawaiian royalty and the location continues to provide a relaxing retreat thanks to its impressive assortment of resorts, amenities, dining, and entertainment.
Throughout this award-winning destination a curvy beachfront path is dotted with notable chefs serving regional fare at casual and fine dining establishments, popular luau venues sharing cultural heritage over family-style dinners, and a wide assortment of resort properties catering to all sort of travelers. It was here on the south end of the Kaanapali Beachwalk where I began my own recent Maui vacation at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa.
The lush grounds of Hyatt Regency Maui first appeals to the senses with towering palm trees swaying overhead as the sound of lapping waves hits the sandy beach. Visitors will also note a rainbow assortment of plants and flowers blossoming throughout the open air lobby. This immersion in nature continued throughout my stay as my oceanfront king room had a well-sized private lanai with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui Mountains.
Just below my room, I also had a great view of the sprawling pool deck below, with six different pools set against lava rocks and waterfall features. Quite possibly my favorite feature of the pools was that they were open around the clock with 24-hour access. That’s rarely an option, and I so appreciated being able to dip in for a late night swim after a long flight from the mainland. The next day, I discovered another delightful treat poolside: a 150 foot lava tube waterslide that gave serious thrills rounding its curves.
Throughout the day, my spouse and I camped out at an oceanfront cabana that gave easy access to the Hyatt pools along with easy entry for an ocean swim. Our cabana was stocked with fresh towels, cold water, and a grand basket of island fruits. For lunch, we ordered fish tacos from ’Ūmalu, which is a full-service poolside eatery with island favorites, but we loved having cabana service too, as it meant we could relax in our own private paradise. For an afternoon treat, we enjoyed on-site Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. You’ll probably notice this award-winning venue throughout the island, but the Hyatt location rarely has a line-up so you can dig in quick with flavors like passion orange, mango, and guava ice served atop vanilla ice cream.
There are actually ten unique dining options at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, ranging from quick bites to acclaimed fine dining establishments. From sushi at Japengo to sizzling cuts at Son’z Steakhouse, you’ll never go hungry at this Kaanapali resort. What I definitely recommend, though, is making sure to book tickets for the on-site Drums of the Pacific Luau, hosted nightly along the beachfront. You’ll start the evening with an open bar of island cocktails and light music, be introduced to Hawaiian heritage as you dine family-style on a fabulous luau buffet, and then complete the evening with an impressive performance featuring dance under the stars.
Speaking of stars, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has been recognized as the World’s Top Hotel for Stargazing. Nightly tours are offered through the rooftop astronomy program, so you can take in the amazing nightlit sky above Kaanapali. Even when you’re strolling about the Kaanapali Beachwalk, take a moment to look up in the evening after sunset. You’ll be amazed by the spectacle that shines through on a clear night.
If you’re staying at Hyatt, be sure to also stop by during the morning penguin feeding session. Just outside the lobby area a whole family of African blackfoot penguins live here in paradise, and it’s wonderful to learn about their warm weather nature while watching them play. Just beyond the lobby area, you’ll also find the Regency Club, a perk to consider when booking your room. At this exclusive club, amenities include a private lounge with personal concierge service along with a business center for printing reservations or checking the day’s headlines. For breakfast, you’ll find an assortment of fresh pineapple and papaya, pastries, bagels, eggs, and espresso, while snacks throughout the day included salads and quick bites.
As you venture out to explore Kaanapali Beach, Hyatt has an on-site ocean activity center for beach rentals like snorkel gear and boogie boards, along with ocean kayaks and SUP boards. As you the beachfront path, you’ll also come upon Whalers Village: home to a great variety of entertainment, shops, and eateries. You’ll find free movies after sunset so the whole family can gather under the stars for a film. Just remember to pick up treats from Honolulu Cookie Company and Maui Style potato chips!
To fully immerse yourself in this little slice of royal paradise, take the time to wander Kaanapali’s historic trails. You’ll take in little details of the area history, from its mango and taro fields to the former airfield location, and be able to appreciate this island gem that much more for all it has been and continues to be, for locals and visitors alike. For more information and planning tips, visit the Kaanapali Beach Resort website.
Lori A. May is a Seattle-based travel writer.
Photos by Lori A. May and CT Shier.