The Insiders Guide to Black Rock Beach in Ka’anapali (Maui)

Ka’anapali Beach, also referred to as Black Rock Beach, is an iconic area on Hawaii Island and definitely West shore Maui’s signature calling card. It was even voted America’s best beach and Maui’s best beach for many years. The beauty and expanse of this white sand beach alone are enough to be the highlight of your trip to Hawaii Island. 

Key Features:

  • Location: Ka’anapali, West Maui
  • Lifeguard on Duty None
  • Beach Length (Approx.): 15,000 feet or 3 miles
  • Beach Width (Approx.): 1,000 feet
  • Facilities: Public showers, walking paths, restrooms are available in neighboring hotels
  • Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, paddleboarding, shoreline fishing, walking
  • Parking: Available but limited
  • Danger: Watch out for sea urchins

In this article, we’ll walk you through this beautiful area on West Maui’s shoreline to tell you why it’s such a nice place. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Kaanapali Is the #1 Beach on Maui

Ka’anapali Beach has three miles of beautiful white sand as you imagine a Hawaiian beach to be, crystal clear blue ocean water, and offers numerous fun beach activities. 

You cannot claim to have gone to Ka’anapali Beach without visiting Black Rock. Black Rock is a famous towering volcanic ocean cliff at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach, which explains the name.

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Ka’anapali Beach was an exclusive retreat destination for Maui royals in the olden days, indicating that it’s indeed a nice place. It is now one of the most popular getaways globally and fronts various hotels and resorts like the Sheraton Maui Resort, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, and Westin Maui Resort.

Where Is Black Rock Beach?

Kaanapali Beach is located on the west side of Maui in Hawaii. It is situated in the Ka’anapali Resort area, the largest on the West Maui shore. The nearby town is called Lahaina, just north of Black Rock Beach.

This coastline is unique because it is the leading tourist’s accommodation location, with six condominium villages and five hotels encompassing it. In fact, Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort and later became a model for resorts around the globe. 

Another must-visit is the open-air Whaler’s Village, a world-class shopping complex that features many shops and restaurants, free Hawaiian entertainment, and a renowned whaling museum.

Cliff Jumping at Black Rock

Ka’anapali translates to ‘rolling cliffs’ in English from the native Hawaiian. It is a befitting name since cliff jumping is popular here. 

Pu’u Keka’a, or Black Rock, is a high volcanic rock cliff at the north end of Black Rock Beach. The natives maintain a local tradition where they hold a cliff diving ceremony every day at the far north end cliffs of the towering Black Rock. 

The locals believed that the spirits jumped off to join their ancestors from here. Those that didn’t manage would attach themselves to the rocks in the area. The event is held every evening at sunset, where a diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.

Visitors can also jump off the cliff and into the calm sea waters. However, be careful because it is a 30-foot drop, and there are no lifeguards available. We recommend only absolute diving pros attempt this dangerous jump.

Other Activities at Black Rock

Kaanapali is a family-friendly beach, so do not hesitate to bring your family along. The expansive coast and the Hawaiian sun will have everybody’s preferences met.

The clear blue seawater makes swimming at Kaanapali a fantastic treat for all. The water is generally shallower near the beach, so even kids can enjoy swimming. Compared to other Maui beaches, Kaanapali waves are calmer and very optimal for water activities like paddle boarding and snorkeling.

For snorkeling, Black Rock, which is in the direction heading north offers the best waters. At this cliff, you’ll find the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles and numerous fish varieties like cardinal fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, snapper, hawk fish, and so much more. 

The water level starts at about 8 feet deep and gradually becomes deeper up to almost 25 feet or more as you start heading north, towards the point. 

Snorkeling fanatics can view the ocean bed and the underwater lava rocks clearly on most days as visibility is impeccable. The visibility is perfect even in the deeper parts around the point, making Black Rock a good snorkeling spot.

Watching the daily ceremonial cliff diving from the 30-foot-high volcanic cliff to the ocean below is a terrific way to end your day after a fun day of swimming, snorkeling, shoreline fishing, and paddleboarding.

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A great activity for lovebirds touring Black Rock is the walking path along Ka’anapali Beach, right between the resorts and restaurants. The sunlit sand and the ocean view give you the best backdrop for a relaxed evening walk at sunset. People can also jog on this walking path before the sun gets unbearable.

There are many hotels and restaurants along Kaanapali Beach that you can tour right away. There are also many shops and stalls to explore on your walk to Whaler’s Village, where you can enjoy the local culture and buy a souvenir to take back home.

Where Can You Park?

Ka’anapali Beach provides parking space and opens from 7.00 am to 8.00 pm. The area is like a parking garage with limited space and is located beneath the Sheraton Maui Resort. We recommend you get to the parking garage early to grab a convenient parking spot. 

Even if you do not manage to park here, drive over to the beach-access parking lot about a quarter-mile down on the same side, nestled against the left side of Whaler’s Village Shopping Center.

How to Get to Black Rock Beach

Ka’anapali Beach is easily accessible via several routes to West Maui, Hawaii. From Kapalua Airport, you will only need to travel 5 miles to reach Kaanapali. Take the road downhill from the airport on Akahele Street, and turn left onto Honoapi’ilani Highway. 

From here, Black Rock is easy to spot when you turn right at Ka’anapali parkway. The signs will lead you right to the white sand.

From the neighboring Lahania town, travel west towards Honoapi’ilani Highway. Once on it, head south till you reach Ka’anapali parkway and take that road. Kaanapali Beach will be on your left. The route from Lahania town is very scenic so enjoy a relaxed drive in your convertible to savor every moment.

From Kahului Airport in Maui, Kaanapali Beach is 24 miles away. Head northeast and stay left on Lanui Circle. Take right on to Airport Road and continue towards Kuihelani Highway, Route 380. From here, turn south into Honoapi’ilani Highway and proceed till you see Ka’anapali parkway. The beach will be on your left-hand side.

Tips for Visiting Black Rock Beach

  • Ka’anapali Beach does not have a lifeguard, so visitors will need to be alert at all times. Don’t let the calm waters fool you.
  • Although Black Rock is a snorkeling paradise, the waters at the far north end can experience strong currents. It’s best not to snorkel alone; always go in pairs or groups.
  • Sea urchins are well-hidden on the rocks and in crevices around Black Rock. When going for a walk be careful not to get stung. But if you do, break off the spines as close to skin level as possible, wash the area well, and soak (or compress) the affected area in white vinegar to dissolve the remaining pieces.
  • Avoid touching the green sea turtles, and heed the warning against harassing marine life.
  • When going for a walk or hike up the famous rock, ensure you read the warning signs and avoid climbing on any rocks.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Enjoy the Glorious White Sand and Black Rocks at Ka’anapali Beach

You are definitely bound to have a good time no matter which beach you find yourself on in Maui. However, Ka’anapali Beach tops the list effortlessly if you can’t seem to swim or snorkel enough every summer. We recommend you visit this aloha white sand paradise and experience everything in person.