Kaanapali Beach & Black Rock at the Sheraton Maui

Traveling to Maui, there are many Hotel and Resort choices.  Having made several trips to the island we always like to spread out our time exploring different areas of the island and spend some nights enjoying the beach and resorts down in Wailea and also a few days up in Kaanapali Beach.  Kaanapali Beach is considered by many to be one of the best beaches in the USA.  We love Kaanapali Beach because it is more casual than Wailea, lined with a strip of classic older 4 Star classic Maui Resorts, restaurants, and shops along 3 miles of golden sand beach and beautiful blue Hawaiian ocean.  We appreciate the laid back Kaanapali vibe and the close proximity to Lahania Town for going out at night.  No matter where you stay in Kaanapali Beach your eyes will be drawn down the beach to the legendary Black Rock.  The Sheraton Maui was the first Resort built on Kaanapali Beach in the 1960s and thus has the ultimate location situated around and on top of the beautiful Black Rock.  Tourists flock to Black Rock to observe its beauty and for the ease of swim up snorkeling at its base.

We booked our stay at the Sheraton Maui to maximize our time snorkeling and playing on the beach by Black Rock and to explore this historic hotel on one of our favorite beaches.


Here are our favorite highlights of a family stay at the Sheraton Maui:

Prime Location: Poised on and around the iconic Maui Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach the Sheraton Maui is a perfect location to enjoy all the best the beach has to offer. Our family enjoys snorkeling and swimming near the giant sea turtles sunning along the Black Rocks. While Harry plays in the sand on the beach I bask in the sun and take in the gorgeous views of both Molokai and Lanai islands. We love to take an evening stroll along the lighted beach walk paths on the beach to the nearby Whalers Village for fantastic dining and shopping. We always are sure to pop by Leilani’s on the Beach for a delicious meal and a slice of the world famous Hula Pie! We adore spending time in Old Lahania Town and appreciate that its just a quick ride down the road from the resort. Another worthwhile nearby family favorite drive we recommend is to grab breakfast one morning at Slappy Cakes just up the road where families can cook their own pancake creations right at the table.


Lagoon Pools: My 4-year-old, Harry, loved the interconnected maze of fresh water lagoon pools surrounded by the lush tropical flowers, bridges, and gorgeous landscaping.  His favorite part was a small water slide with steps along it where kids would play and slide all day.


Evening Cliff Diving Ceremony: The best part of a stay at the Sheraton Maui is observing the evening cliff diving ceremony.  Just before sunset, a traditional Hawaiian warrior with a torch and a conch shell runs all along the perimeter of the resort lighting torches while the legend of the Black Rock is shared with all who watch over the resort’s speakers.  The warrior makes his way to the top of the Black Rock as the music and the story build and then he offers his torch to the ocean below, casts his flower lei into the sea; and finally takes the breathtaking dive from Black Rock into the rolling surf below.  This is an amazing sight and absolutely not to be missed.


Dining: The Sheraton offers many dining options with views of Black Rock, the beach, and their immaculate grounds.  Our family favorites included savoring fresh grilled burgers and Hawaiian Mai Tais at the Cliff Dive Grill and gourmet hot dogs poolside at Hank’s Haute Dogs.

Maui Nui Luau: No need to leave the resort to enjoy a traditional Hawaiian Luau! We felt the lively beach side Maui Nui Luau was a treat for families of all ages.  Harry was thrilled when the children were all invited up on stage to dance the traditional hula dances and entertain the crowd.  Through out the evening the audience was wowed by the Hawaiian & Polynesian music, stories, and dances.  They saved the best for last with an incredibly thrilling fire knife dance at the end.


Family suites: We recommend staying in the enormous family suites. The breathtaking views from our lanai and being able to spread out with two large rooms and 2 bathrooms made for a very comfortable family stay.


For all the reasons above, I would absolutely recommend this hotel for families.  However, here are a few things I feel are worth mentioning to be aware of when booking.  The resort has a strict pool towel card system (I hate when resorts do this as it can be frustrating and really taint a relaxing vacation experience).  For some reason, we didn’t notice that we were only given 2 towel cards at check in for 3 people.  When we went down to the pools and the beach the team that issues the towels was extremely rude to us and would not allow us to have any additional towel cards. They refused to give us enough towels and ultimately only gave us 2 towels for the 3 of us to use. TIP: Ask for extra towel cards at check in and make sure you have at least one per person (I usually need at least 2 per person so that we can cover our chairs and dry off after a swim).  The pools are kept cold and not heated, this is tough on little ones and makes it difficult to swim unless the sun is beating down on you.  Keep in mind that this is an old hotel, regular rooms small but the ocean and beach views are all amazing.  Rooms are clean but outdated and could all use a major update.

We were guests of the Maui Nui Luau for purposes of this review. As always, I give my honest options no matter who is picking up the check.

Sarah Hirsch
Sarah Hirsch

Sarah is a Chicago-based luxury travel influencer, Virtuoso luxury travel advisor, luxury family travel writer, an Oprah Daily Ambassador, and the founder of WellTraveledKids.com. Sarah’s best travel companion is her sweet 12-year-old son, Harry. Her favorite getaways include a luxe hotel stay, quality family playtime, champagne & chocolate-covered strawberries.

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