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Kaanapali Bound

Stunning sunsets, first-class cuisine, and crystal clear water beckon from West Maui

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

By Erin Jackson

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or it’s your first visit to Maui, the Ka’anapali Beach Resort is a prime location to set down your suitcase. Situated on a three-mile stretch of beach, the complex is home to a 36-hole championship golf course, luxe shopping and dining, and accommodations suited to everything from a romantic getaway to a family vacation you’ll never forget. Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers affordable rooms in a charming, retro setting with a host of free activities like lei making, ukulele lessons, and nightly hula shows. Hale Huaka`i, the hotel’s onsite activity center, is a great spot to rent a stand up paddle board, or book a lesson with an experienced guide. Nearby, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa is a prime pick for a luxurious escape. Highlights include a half-acre swimming pool with a 150-foot waterslide made for thrill-seekers and a breezy bar nestled between two waterfalls in the underground grotto. Set among verdant tropical gardens and a peaceful lagoon populated by several swans, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa charms guests with its five pools (including one just for adults), plentiful onsite dining, and complimentary shuttle services to Lahaina town and West Maui Kapalua airport—a plus for those planning to island hop.

Japengo, Leilani's on the Beach, Hula Grill, Sangrita Grill + Cantina (credit: Tony Novak-Clifford)

Top (L-R): Japengo, Leilani’s on the Beach; Bottom (L-R): Hula Grill, Sangrita Grill + Cantina (credit: Tony Novak-Clifford)

Top Restaurants

From high-end oceanfront dining to affordable fusion fare, add these dining destinations to your Kaanapali hit list.

Joey’s Kitchen {Whalers Village, 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway; 808.868.4474}
Don’t be fooled by the no-frills location; this food court stall pumps out some of the best eats on Maui, made fresh to order at prices that encourage return visits. The extensive menu spans Hawaiian staples like Loco Moco, Mac Nut pancakes, and Huli-Huli chicken, plus fish tacos and Filipino favorites like pancit and lumpia.

Japengo {200 Nohea Kai Drive; 808.667.4909}
You can’t beat the view from this oceanfront restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. Best bets include Tengu Duck Sliders, grilled local fish, and poi and sweet bread Malasadas served with a trio of dipping sauces. For the best possible experience, time your reservation to coincide with the sunset. maui.regency.hyatt.com

Sangrita Grill + Cantina {2580 Kekaa Drive; 808.662.6000}
Head here for a wide array of homestyle Mexican favorites at affordable prices. The “Mother Clucker” flauta with rotisserie chicken and sweet roasted jalapeño sauce, Carnitas braised in duck fat, and a deliciously tart Lilikoi Margarita makes for a memorable meal you’ll wish you could repeat on the mainland. sangritagrill.com

Hula Grill {Whalers Village, 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway; 808.667.6636}
Inside this Plantation-era beach house, diners indulge in elevated Hawaiian fare like Crab Wontons, local fish crusted with macadamia nuts and topped with lobster, and several creative presentations of local produce (opt for the herb-glazed, imu-roasted option, served with macadamia nut romesco). hulagrillkaanapali.com

Leilani’s on the Beach Ka’anapali {Whalers Village, 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway; 808.661.4495}
Premium proteins and freshly caught local fish are the highlight of this beachfront restaurant located beside Hula Grill in Whalers Village. Both restaurants serve a similar menu, including must-try desserts like Pono Pie and the famous Kimo’s Original Hula Pie (with chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and mounds of whipped cream). leilanis.com

Insider’s tip: Both Hula Grill and Leilani’s offer an affordable three-course chef’s tasting menu for early bird diners. At Leilani’s, it’s served between 5-5:45pm for $26 per person; at Hula Grill, it’s available from 4:45-5:45pm for $27, or all night at the chef’s counter. Visit the restaurants’ websites for more details.


When to Go

With temperatures ranging between 75-85 degrees, Maui is an ideal destination year-round. Culinary events worth timing your trip around include the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, a premier epicurean destination event that takes place over three weekends on multiple islands in October and the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival (June 8-11, 2017). Whale-watching season is November through May, with the peak in February. Several tours are available, but there is such an abundance of humpback whales around Kaanapali that you’re likely to see them from your hotel balcony—or even from shore.


Day Trip Destination: Kula

Much of the exotic produce served at Maui’s finest restaurants grows in the volcanic soil of Kula, a rustic area in Upcountry Maui, 35 miles from the shores of Kaanapali. Early risers should start at O’o Farm for a “Seed to Cup” coffee tour capped off with a farm-fresh breakfast featuring eggs, produce, and edible flowers grown on the property. Then, visit Surfing Goat Dairy for a casual tour to learn about the operation and feed baby goats. The onsite shop features more than 30 different cheeses available for tast­ing and purchase plus goat cheese truffles. The Kula Country Farm Stand is also worth a visit to stock up on packaged goods to take home like strawberry-banana jam, Kula onion barbecue sauce, and lilikoi butter (passionfruit curd). Cap off your visit at Maui Wine with a complimentary historical tour and samples of the winery’s pineapple and sparkling wines, or for a more immersive experience, make a reservation for the King’s Visit, an exclusive tour and tasting held in the Old Jail.

Kaanapali-Mai-TaiSo Ono!

Don’t leave Kaanapali without tasting these essential eats (and drinks)

Shave Ice
A bevy of exciting flavors, like passionfruit, almond, and Thai tea help make Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice a local institution, but it’s the smooth, creamy texture of the ice that really gives it the edge over other operators. Get a taste at the outpost within the Hyatt grounds or visit one of the locations in Lahania on a day trip.

Poke is everywhere in Maui, from the deli section at grocery stores, to food trucks and high-end restaurants. The poke tacos at Hula Grill in Whalers Village—made with local ahi tuna marinated with shoyu and topped with Maui onions, chile flakes, avocado, and wasabi aïoli—are particularly delicious.

Mai Tais
Relish Oceanside, the onsite bar at The Westin, serves some of the best signature cocktails in Ka’anapali. Try the potent yet perfectly balanced No Ka ‘Oi Mai Tai with Cruzan pineapple and coconut rums, Grand Marnier, muddled limes, pineapple and orange juices, a zesty citrus-infused sugar cane syrup, and a float of Old Lahaina dark rum crafted by bartender Junior Bumanglag.