In 1956, a number of influential board members of a large Hawaiian sugar plantation sat down to determine the future of industry on Maui. Upon their decision to designate Ka’anapali Beach as the site of the first destination resort on the island, they formulated a tourism blueprint that would be repeated many times across the globe. The resort opened in 1962 and has since asserted itself as one of the best travel destinations on the planet, and for good reason.
Three miles of turquoise water meet soft white sand punctuated by Black Rock, a large lava flow that plunges several hundred feet into the sea. It serves as the geological marker between the two halves of Ka’anapali Beach and a site of significance to native Hawaiians. They believe it to be a Pu’u Keka’a, or a jumping-off point for departed souls. It’s from here that souls travel to join their ancestors.
Along with its historical significance, Black Rock is known to be a legendary snorkel site as well as a well-known cliff jumping spot and a deep water soloing crag. As for the snorkeling, it’s best when started from the Sheraton side of the beach. Slowly make your way around Black Rock, being hyper aware of cliff jumpers while you do. At the terminus of Black Rock you’ll find the best clusters of coral that have attached themselves to the lava rock, and it’s here that many report turtle sightings. Raccoon butterflyfish and four-spot butterflyfish abound among other species, and one could spend hours floating in the gentle waves gazing at sea creatures meandering by. Be cautious of a strong current around the corner—swim away from the rock parallel to about 75 feet before trying to swim to shore. The current will end there and swimming back to the beach will be much easier.
As for the climbing, be sure to bring your shoes; the lava rock can quickly cut up your feet. Once you clamber out to the end of Black Rock from the Sheraton, you’ll be able to look down and see lines of chalk. The traversing line never rises more than 15 feet out of the water, and it is a fun, moderate challenge. Always spot your landing and remain aware of where snorkelers are at all times.