Kaanapali Alii Review | Maui with Kids | Ciao Bambino!

Family Paradise Found at Maui’s Kaanapali Alii

It doesn’t matter how old or young the kids are, family travel tires you out. Even though it was a short flight from Kauai, my teens were thrilled to get out of the car and start making themselves home at Kaanapali Alii. After grabbing keys, my family went directly to the condo while I did a quick tour of the resort.

Walking around the practically on the beach oceanfront pools, I saw a humpback whale in the distant waves. No, I didn’t have my camera, but first impressions don’t get much better.

Patio View Kaanapali Alii
Patio View from Our Kaanapali Alii Condo

I was making my way to my condo, waiting at the elevator when the doors opened and my 15 year-old daughter stepped off. There was no “Hi, Mom”, no groaning about unloading the car, just an excited and almost automatic blurting out loud, “The condo is incredible.”

Family-Friendly Review of Kaanapali Alii

Happy Kids = Happy Parents

Ask any parent, happy kids make for great vacations. Being comfortable, and not on top of each other, is one of the best ways to stack the odds in your family’s favor. Our two bedroom condo had everything we could possibly need, including the first thing I noticed when I walked in, a separate laundry room with door. An added bonus; our bag of dirty laundry had already found its way there.

Living Room Kaanapali Alii
Perfect for Lounging, If We Had Time

The kitchen, dining room and living room are one spacious area with numerous windows that bring outside views in. The kitchen is well-stocked with top of the line appliances, and plenty of counter space to prepare meals or to sit down for a quick bite. There’s also a formal dining area, but my family ate every vacation home-cooked meal on the large balcony. Both bedrooms, the master especially, were roomy and bright and with two teenagers, there were many moments when we were thankful for two bathrooms.

The attention to details is obvious and added to the overall enjoyment of our stay. The complimentary WIFI is fast and easy to use. I didn’t need to run to the store for laundry detergent because it was already there. The hall closet was full of assorted beach toys, pool toys and board games. And though I don’t think we ever actually turned on a television, (there were so many other great things to do in Maui with kids) we had three to choose from, one in the living room and one in each bedroom.

Kaanapali Alii Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

Unlike many other condo rental resorts, daily housekeeping is included. There’s just something about having the beds made that makes vacation, well, vacation. We were all anxious to hit the beach, but we’d opted not to pack and carry our snorkel gear, so we made the quick trip to nearby Snorkel Bob’s to rent gear.

For about $6 a day, with week-long rental discounts their gear is a bargain for families. An added bonus, you can return to any location on any Hawaiian Island even after hours, using a drop box with combination code.

Sunset Swim
Sunset Swim

Location, Location, Location

There were many things about Kaanapali Alii that impressed me during my family’s stay, but its location was high on the list. Armed with snorkel gear we headed down the beach to Black Rock. It’s a short walk, but I don’t think any of us were dry when we arrived; dipping in and out of the waves just seemed like the best way to travel.

When we dropped our towels on the sand at Black Rock, I handed my 13 year-old an underwater camera. At first she hesitated, “I don’t know what I’m going to see,” she said. I encouraged her to take it, so she slid it on her wrist and off she went.

Turtle at Black Rock
Quality Turtle Time

Swim with Sea Turtles

She had maybe a two minute head start on me. I never lost sight of her, but by the time I reached her side in the water, I couldn’t believe what was waiting under the waves. A curious family of green sea turtles was lunching on an abundance of seaweed in a calm section off the rocks. Other swimmers would come and go, but not my daughter.

She spent more than two hours, diving, swimming and snapping more than 100 photos. That’s on top of the 100 or so I took with a second camera strapped to my wrist.

Trilogy Whale Watch Tours
Splashy Beach Entry

Whale of a Time

Our wet and wild adventures weren’t limited to turtles. Humpback whales could be Hawaii’s most famous visitors. Whale watching tours run during whale season, approximately November through May. Some leave from the marina in Lahaina, but Trilogy’s boats depart directly from Kaanapali Beach.

Wear your swimsuit under your clothes, and be prepared to get a little wet as you climb aboard from shore. You never know how many whales you’ll see, but just like people, whales have personalities, and all it takes is one that’s feeling curious or in the mood to show off to make your day at sea.

Maui Whale Watching tour
Flukes & Fun

Hula Anyone?

Our kitchen made cooking quick and easy, but even families deserve a night out on the town. A quick walk on the beach or the pedestrian walk way leads you to the nightly free Hawaiian Hula Show at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel. Everyone’s invited to come and watch the show, not just property guests.

You don’t have to have dinner at the Tiki Terrace, but it’s a tasty way to end a day filled with whales or turtles. It’s hard, but save room for dessert. Extra spoons have been known to do battle over the The Banana Carmel Eruption. Hot fudge brownie, macadamia nut ice cream, caramelized bananas, whipped cream – I’ll stop now.

Lahaina Banyan Tree
Shade Doesn’t Get Any Cooler

Lahaina’s Banyan Tree

You will need to jump in the car if you decide to make the short trip to Lahaina. My advice, skip the shopping, grab a shave ice and head directly to the shady part of town. One of the largest banyan trees in the United States is right on Front Street in Lahaina. Planted in 1873, it’s grown to 60-plus feet tall, spans an entire city block and shades nearly two-thirds of an acre.

We’ve featured this resort on Ciao Bambino for years. Read our full resort review of Kaanapali Alii for more family-focused details and to request a quote. When you use our Check Availability Form to reach out for a quote, one of our Family Vacation Consultants will follow up to ensure all is well. This is a free service on Ciao Bambino and costs you the same as if you were to go to the hotel directly.

Need Help Planning a Hawaii Family Vacation?

We can help! Our Family Vacation Consultants can provide expert advice on the best accommodations and activities for your family. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.

Relevant Links:

Walking in the Footsteps of King Kamehameha the Great

Hawaii family hotels

Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Review: Paradise Helicopters

Five family-friendly activities on the Big Island of Hawaii with kids

Editor’s Note: Dana’s trip was organized by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, but as always Dana’s thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Dana Rebmann.

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