Ka‘anapali Beach, Maui’s most accessible, stretches about three miles from the Hyatt Regency on the south almost to Honokowai at the north. Black Rock or Pu‘u Kea‘a, bisects the golden sand strip in front of the Sheraton Maui. The paved beach walk stops here, but follow the signs to North Ka‘anapali or Kahekili Beach Park. Condos crowd North Ka‘anapali now, but it’s still quieter than the southern end. And the beach in front of them is yours to enjoy.
Of course, “Dr. Beach” has picked it as America’s number one beach — in 2003.
Activity centers around Whalers Village. Spring through fall parasails soar over the water and people rent various water toys. The parasails are grounded during the whaling season. North of Black Rock — a primo snorkeling spot — the reef moves in toward shore and so you only need to take one or two steps into the water and start swimming. With fins and a mask you’ll find most of the species on your Maui reef fish card. This area also attracts scuba divers, especially beginners. The beach tends to be rocky at the far north end and the water can have riptides, but aficionados still like it.
A nightly cliff-diving ceremony takes place in front of the Sheraton Maui. A flame bearer runs through the grounds, lighting torches along the way, and out onto Black Rock. Here he poises at the edge and then swan dives into the water, just when the sky is turning its reddest. The crowd on the beach collectively lets out its breath. Recommended viewing is to get a drink and pupus at the hotel’s Cliff Dive Grill, sit back and enjoy.
If you’re not a hotel guest, beach access can be tricky. South of Black Rock look for small parking lots and paths north of Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel, north of Marriott Maui Ocean Club, and on either side of the Hyatt Regency. Easier access at the north end is from Kai Ala Drive off Honoapi‘ilani Highway. Plenty of parking at Kahekili Beach Park. Showers and restrooms at the north end.
Whalers Village has a paid parking lot, but discourages beach parking.