The island of Maui tells two stories. One story is of romance, elegant beauty and luxury. The other story is of adventure, the great outdoors and volcanic activity. And all you need is a map of Maui to see the two stories unfold.
Pan out on a map of Maui, and you’ll see two distinct islands that are fused in the middle. The smaller island is to the east, and the larger island is westward.
The smaller eastern island tells the story of romance but with a troubled past. It’s home to former whaling stations that have now turned into luxurious resort towns. The sunsets here are unbelievable, and this side of Maui features some of the softest sand beaches in the state.
You’re likely to see weddings on this side of the island, and the resorts are full of honeymooners and romantic escapes. But the other side of the island -- the larger western half of Maui -- tells a completely different story.
Here, you’ll find the adventurous Road to Hana which wraps around the still-active Haleakala Volcano. The famous road is lined with hidden rainforests, isolated beaches, and towering waterfalls. And at the top of the towering 10,000-foot volcano, you’ll find perhaps the most unique National Park in the country -- The Haleakala Crater -- which boasts an otherworldly landscape above the clouds.
This is what makes Maui such an attractive island. You can venture out on the Road to Hana and then retreat to the luxury of the east side. And one of the best places to relax after the thrilling adventure of Maui is the soft, attractive and luxurious Kapalua Bay.
Kapalua Bay sits on the smaller eastern side of Maui and faces due east. You’ll have views of Molokai and Lanai off in the distance, and Kapalua Bay is one of the best beaches for whale watching from soft white sand. Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from January to March, and they can often be seen breaching off in the distance as they celebrate their mating season.
And Kapalua Bay is crowned by resorts. You’ll be steps away from all the amenities that Maui has to offer which makes a day on the beach easy. This beach lets you relax deeply. You don’t have to go through a packing checklist because there’s a beach shack that offers everything that you might need.
Kapalua Bay won the honor of America’s Best Beach back in 1991. The half-moon bay’s soft white sands, shade-giving palm trees, and almost turquoise water make it a sight to behold. And the beach offers up world-class snorkeling, as well.
The middle of the bay is full of soft, white sand which makes swimming great, but it can make the water a bit cloudy for snorkeling. You’ll want to head to the north side of the bay where you’ll find a fringing reef, less sand and plenty of visibility.
The bay has two fringing reefs -- one on the south side and one on the north side -- which protects the waters of the bay from the harsh conditions of the Pacific. There is no lifeguard on duty, so, despite the relative calm waters of the bay, your water safety is solely your responsibility.
You can check online surf reports before heading down to the beach to make sure the swimming is safe. But, if you feel at all uncomfortable with the conditions, then it’s best to stay out of the water. And if you choose to snorkel, keep your wits about you so that you don’t drift out beyond the protection of the bay’s fringing reefs.
You’ll find this gem of a beach on the northwest corner of Maui along Highway 30. Turn towards the ocean on Napilihau Road near the Napili Market. When the road ends, turn right onto Honoapiilani Road before taking a left to the beach at the Napili Kai Beach Resort.