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It’s no surprise that West Maui is hands down the most popular region for vacationers on the island.
Within Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kapalua alone you’ll find shopping and dining par-excellence, 5 star resorts, championship Maui golf courses, miles of pristine beaches, and many of the most exciting things to do in Maui.
Not only does West Maui offer a swarm of fun activities and fascinating historical sites, it’s also home to a series of protected coves and bays that provide ideal conditions for snorkeling.
The best snorkeling in the world often takes place in bays or coves that are protected from wind, waves, and strong ocean currents. Fortunately for us, West Maui is flush with favorable geography.
Snorkeling hot-spots such as Kapalua Bay and Black Rock allow sea creatures (and snorkelers) to hang-out in Maui’s secluded, tropical environment unperturbed.
Here’s a list of West Maui’s top snorkel destinations from north to south. Grab some quality gear and get out there among the turtles!
If you’re planning a trip to Maui, there’s a decent chance you may choose Ka’anapali Beach for your final destination.
Offering the largest strip of premier Maui resorts and one of the most fabulous beaches in the world, it’s no wonder that when it comes to vacationing in Maui, Ka’anapali is king!
Kaanapali Beach is, by far and away, the most popular of the Maui beaches—excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
With a meandering, palm-fringed pathway that spans the entire mile-long shoreline, Kaanapali Beach is perfect for romantic, sunset strolls.
Walking along the beach you’ll encounter excellent shopping, dining, golf, nightly entertainment, and ocean activities galore.
On the northernmost end of Kaanapali Beach, right in front of the Sheraton, you’ll find Maui’s most popular snorkeling spot, Black Rock.
In addition to seeing loads of snorkelers and green sea turtles, you’ll often find locals leaping and diving from the top of the rock.
Since Black Rock is so easily accessible, this spot is one of your best bets for interacting with tropical sea-life without putting out a ton of extra effort.
Snorkeling is absolutely one of the most rewarding things to do in Maui. Grab some quality gear, stroll down Ka’anapali Beach and get out in the water!
The benefit of staying on Ka’anapali Beach on your Maui vacation is that snorkeling, shopping, and dining are available right outside your front door.
Where else in Maui can you find this many things to do, so close to your hotel?
If you’re considering a vacation near Kaanapali Beach (which you should, if you have the cash), here are some of the most popular places to stay:
When you’re looking to book you own place on Maui’s West Side (or South Side) check out Maui Hawaii Vacations for quality, and consistently affordable condo rentals. Here are a couple Ka’anapali classics:
Of these popular Kaanapali hotels, one in particular stands out as truly unique. The famous Kaanapali Beach Hotel, is recognized as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel.”
If you’re looking for authentic, “Hawaiiana” atmosphere and charm, KBH is the spot for you. Not to mention their world-famous Tiki Bar is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
All Kaanapali hotels have restaurants and bars with spectacular ocean views. But Whalers Village, an upscale shopping center in the heart of Kaanapali, is also home to some terrific beachside restaurants.
Here you’ll enjoy digging your toes into the sand while sipping your favorite tropical libation. Not too shabby.
Hula Grill offers a variety of fresh island fish and Maui’s only “barefoot” bar.
Whether you soaring high above the ocean on a parasail, sipping a Mai-Tai on a catamaran at sunset, or paddle boarding along Maui’s world-famous coastline, you’ll find endless activities to inspire you in Ka’anapali.
Here’s a list of some of the most exciting things to do in Ka’anapali.
A luau is more than an excuse to eat to your heart’s content and relax with a Mai Tai in hand.
In addition to the famous Old Lahaina Luau, which is actually in Lahaina, there are some truly fantastic luaus in Kaanapali.
Reserve a luau on day without any other Maui tours and activities. By choosing a relaxed evening your luau will become one of the most memorable events of your trip.
Here’s a list of Ka’anapali’s top luaus. We recommend The Legends of Ka’anapali at The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.
An excellent alternative to a Kaanapali luau is the Kupanaha Magic Show and Dinner. This show delivers mind-bending magic, great food, and a fun experience for the whole family.
Lahaina is known for its pulsating nightlife, excellent shopping, and relaxed boardwalk promenade. Many bars and restaurants offer “pupus” (appetizers), live music, and dancing and will stay open as late as 2:00 a.m. on the weekends.
Since most shops, restaurants, and art galleries on Front Street remain open until 10:00pm or later, there are all kinds of fun things to do in Lahaina, well into the night!
From the Lahaina Cannery Mall all the way to 505 Front Street, Lahaina offers the best selection of restaurants in Maui.
Ranging from very affordable to quite expensive, and in no particular order, here’s a taste of some favorite Lahaina restaurants worth checking out:
Lahaina’s Maui Theater is one of the few places on the island that offers performances that can rival any show on the mainland.
The local production, ‘Ulalena is a theatrical journey through Hawaii’s past that is so beautifully choreographed, and so visually stunning that it may very well move you to tears.
It’s really that good.
Here are a few of Lahaina’s most popular activities and attractions:
Lahaina Harbor, adjacent to the giant Maui Banyan tree on Front Street, is the launch site for snorkel trips to Molokini and Lan’ai.
It’s also where you’ll go for most of your west side whale-watching excursions, submarine tours, parasail trips, and ferry trips to Maui’s neighboring islands.
During whale season we recommend you book a dinner cruise early in the trip. You’ll likely see tons of whales and you can decide if you want a dedicated whale watch later on.
Humans aren’t the only ones vacationing in Maui each winter. Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate from the frigid, Alaskan waters to frolic in the warm, tropics just off Maui.
Who can blame them, right?!
Whether you book a whale watch, a dinner cruise, or simply rent a beach chair and relax, experiencing humpback whales is an absolute must if you’ll be visiting Maui during the winter months.
Surf’s up! Maui is famous for its surfing, so why not take a surfing lesson while you’re in town?
When you book a surf lesson, it comes with a guarantee that you’ll stand up in one lesson.
Get your SUP delivered, with a roof-rack, to your hotel, with a roof rack at no additional charge. Talk about a good excuse to explore Maui.
Stand-up paddle boarding has become wildly popular in Maui as an alternative to surfing in the past couple of years. To enjoy Maui’s coastline at eye-level, a kayak tour is an invigorating way to catch epic views of Lahaina and the West Maui Mountains, as well as Lana’i and Molokini.
A short 15 minute van shuttle from Kaanapali you’ll glide through the air on a zipline that offers panoramic views of the world-famous Maui coastline.
If you’re in a hurry, don’t worry. The shuttle will pick you up right in Kaanapali.
Want to get even closer to those steep, serrated West Maui Mountains? The answer is a resounding, YES!
Roll up your sleeves, strap on a helmet, and prepare to get a little dusty, because an ATV tour gives you the opportunity to access areas around the West Maui Mountains that you otherwise couldn’t.
Unlike Kaanapali and Kapalua, Lahaina isn’t known for its beaches. But there are a couple gems in Lahaina that are easy to access from Front Street, Lahaina.
These easily accessible beaches are also particularly nice for families with small children.
South of the Lahaina Cannery Mall (but before you reach the Hard Rock Café) is a lovely stretch of sand known as “Baby Beach.”
This picturesque, palm-fringed beach is tucked away from view. To find it, simply park on Front Street and take a short stroll down the “beach access” path.
Because it’s reef-protected, Baby Beach has incredibly calm, temperate water, making it perfect for young children.
Baby Beach also affords incredible views of Lanai, Molokai, and Lahaina Harbor.
Located just south of Lahaina, Launiupoko is a very popular hangout for locals and visitors alike.
You’ll find grassy lawns, shade trees, BBQ pits, restrooms, and showers. There’s a nature-made “kiddy pool,” making it ideal for the little ones to frolic.
Further north of Lahaina and Kaanapali, you’ll find the resort communities of Kahana and Napili.
Both Kahana and Napili offer a few nice beaches and accommodations that are typically more affordable than neighboring Ka’anapali and Kapalua.
Kahana consists of a cluster of several condos, a small shopping center, a hillside residential community, and a couple tiny beaches.
On the border of Napili and Kapalua, you’ll find Napili Bay, a popular playground for tropical fish, turtles, and dolphins. It should come as no surprise that this beautiful, crescent shaped bay is a popular playground for people as well!
Offering incredible conditions for swimming, snorkeling, body boarding, and surfing, Napili Bay is absolutely gorgeous but it can be a bit busy at times.
Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins playing in adjacent Napili Bay while you’re eating the Gazebo’s famous macadamia nut pancakes.
One caveat: It’s West Maui’s most popular breakfast spot, so you can plan on waiting a bit to get in. Still, the food and views are worth the wait.
If you find that Napili Bay is too crowded, Kapalua Bay and DT Fleming Beach Park are each a short 5-minute drive away.
Kapalua is “da Big Kahuna” of Maui when it comes to luxury.
This ultra-wealthy, impeccably manicured resort community boasts opulent hotels and villas, swanky restaurants, world-class golf, spectacular beaches, and private residences that price well into the tens of millions.
Kapalua is home several fine restaurants, including Merriman’s on Kapalua Bay and The Plantation House Restaurant. Breakfast at both The Plantation House and Merriman’s is relatively affordable, and is served with sweeping views of the Pacific.
At The Plantation House be sure to try the “paniolo” (cowboy) breakfast with a side of golden pineapple and cinnamon sour cream sauce. It’s oh so “ono” (good). Another excellent spot in Kapalua is West Maui’s favorite place to get sushi, Sensei.
With delicious, Asian inspired food and an energetic atmosphere, Sansei is a great choice for dinner, appetizers, and, of course, sake!
What’s more, pop by during their “late night” happy hour on Thursdays and Fridays, and save 50% on most appetizers on the menu.
Here’s a list of some of the best places to grab a bite to eat in upscale Kapalua:
Golfing in Kapalua is nothing short of amazing. Kapalua is also proudly home to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which attracts all of the top PGA stars.
Considered one of the best golf resorts in the world, Kapalua offers two stunning courses—The Plantation Course and The Bay Course.
Whether you plan to stay in Kapalua or only pass through, you’ll find plenty of things to do while you’re there…that don’t have to break the bank.
If you’re looking for things to do in Kapalua without breaking your budget, we’ve got you covered:
While the Ritz Carlton Kapalua may be very expensive, the beach that it’s nestled on (DT Fleming Beach) is absolutely free for everyone to enjoy.
Fleming is great for swimming and boogie boarding. And since it’s equipped with showers, restrooms, picnic tables, and BBQ pits, it’s also perfect for families.
Pack some lunch supplies, an umbrella, beach chairs, boogie boards, and enjoy a fun, enjoyable beach day at DT Fleming.
A tad south of DT Fleming Beach a beach that was once ranked “America’s Best Beach”, Kapalua.
Palm-fringed and perfect, Kapalua Bay is not only famous for its natural beauty, but also for its superb snorkeling.
Protected by two reefs, Kapalua attracts a wide assortment of tropical fish, as well as green sea turtles and dolphins.
You’ll find miles of great hiking trails throughout Kapalua including the Kapalua Coastal Trail, and Kapalua Village Walking Trails. Varying in difficulty and distance, from mountain to coastline, Kapalua has hiking for pretty much everyone. Stop by the Kapalua Village Center to check in and pick up a free trail map, or consult The Snorkel Store’s Hiking Guide for more info.
If you’ve never tried a Maui zipline adventure, Kapalua might be the place to get your adrenaline pumping for the first time.
Tucked into the West Maui Mountains, is a tour with epic views of the island on parallel lines, so you can zip next to your buddy for nearly a half a mile!
Maui horseback riding is a rewarding and unique way to explore the island’s natural beauty. Because of Kapalua’s lush, hilly terrain, horseback riding is popular in the area. Your small group will journey from the mountain to sea, and back, on a 1 1/2 hour tour of some of Maui’s most lush landscape.
This Marine Life Conservation District a hop, skip, and a jump from Kapalua, is a safe haven for colorful fish and green sea turtles. Ask The Snorkel Store’s customer care team about conditions at Honolua Bay to get the thumbs-up on snorkeling safety and water clarity.
Lahaina, Ka’anapali, and Kapalua are a tropical universe all unto themselves. If you took 3 trips to the island, you could stay in West Maui and never tire of the adventure. Since the fun is right on your doorstep, try to balance nightlife, with boating activities, and tons snorkeling on your next trip to West Maui. By getting a little of everything you’ll create a well-rounded Maui vacation.
For adventure opportunities outside of West Maui proper, here’s a list of things to do in Maui within arm’s reach of the greater Lahaina area:
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If you pre-pay online for 2 or more snorkel sets you’ll receive an additional boogie board or beach chair rental free for the same time period! One freebie per party. We’ll see you soon in Maui, Mahalo!