The hustle & night life of Lahaina & Ka'anapali; wild surf & luxury of Kapalua; smaller, friendly resorts in between
Following the signs to Lahaina and taking the beautiful drive around the south side of the West Maui Mountains, we discover the West Maui regions of Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Honokowai-Kahana-Napili and Kapalua. Lahaina is known as the old whaler’s town and boasts street after street of storefront shopping from T-shirts to paintings to jewelry to scrimshaw. It also has the oldest of Banyan trees, under whose branches you’ll find many vendors and festivals as well. The Lahaina harbor is one of the stops on Maui for cruise ships and offers many different boating trips – even a ferry to Lanai’i.
Continue up the coast to “resort row” with older hotel resorts including time-shares and the miles of beach in Kannapoli. Behind the Sheraton Hotel off Kaanapali Beach is Black Rock a famous snorkelling spot that everyone enjoys. This area has a lot of night life, action and people. There are condos here; 3 bedrooms are easier to find; accommodations tend to be a bit smaller than in South Maui but rooms in high rise resorts are right on the water – amazing views. The stretch of high rises and 4-lane roads at Ka’anapali remind me more of Miami Beach than a tropical island, but it is a widely popular resort and offers long strips of sandy beach. The action calls and many visitors prefer West Maui to the south side.
At the north end of Ka’anapali it is more peaceful yet offers easy access to night life if wanted. Honokowai, Kahana & Napili are well known and offer many different sizes and styles of resorts. We know folks who return to the same spot here year after year. Prices run lower in general because highrises mean greater density right on the water. It’s windier here and rain showers occur at a moment’s notice but the beaches are incomparable. Great golf is here too but afternoon play is definitely affected by the wind. There is a small airport here servicing private jets and helicopters. For shopping there is the long standing Whaler’s Village with hundreds of shops. Plus the hotels have shopping as they do on the South Side.
Keep going north to Kapalua and you’ll hit the Ritz Carlton recently renovated and the renovation/construction of more luxury properties that are being developed by the pineapple gang. You are now in the area of rocky shoreline and limited sandy beaches. Activities include snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. Water conditions can change rather dramatically in this Honolua Bay, West Shore area so at times the activities may be limited to experts only; especially surfing. To continue around the island to the east is dangerous as the roads get much narrower; all along the road now is local land and small town living. So, West Shore equals Historic Lahaina, filled with storefronts; beachy Ka’annapoli, and renovated Kapalua. 1 hour to the airport if there is not an accident on the two-lane road. Be careful not to miss your flight.