Updated: December 2017
Napili Kai Resort MauiThe Napili Kai is one of the original resorts on Maui, dating to the early 1960s. When development got started, they established special zoning for Napili Bay -- no building would be taller than a tree. Today, Napili Bay still offers the feeling of a more traditional, laid-back Maui resort area, where the natural setting is the star of the show, not the fancy high-rise buildings and expensively manicured grounds. The Napili Kai resort occupies 10 acres on the north side and peninsula of Napili Bay. Below we will take a look at some maps showing where the resort is located and where the various buildings are, and we'll see many photos of the resort and beach area as we describe our recent stay at Napili Kai.
Here's an aerial view of Napili Bay from Google Maps. You can see the beige crescent of sand that forms the beach at Napili Bay. The Napili Kai Resort is at the top end of the beach, between the road and the rocky peninsula jutting out into the ocean -- just a small portion of the resort fronts the beach, most of it is along that peninsula. Slightly further north you can see part of the crescent of Kapalua Bay (as of 2008-2009 there has been some construction going on here, so it is not quite as peaceful and quiet as it could be..), another great beach that is a 2 minute walk from the Napili Kai.
The Napili Kai is a family-oriented resort (official website NapiliKai.com). Most units are individually owned, and owners and guests often return year after year. There are social gatherings offered each week like an adult mini-golf competition, a mai-tai party, and traditional Hawaiian music show starring local children. If you are looking for a loud party scene filled with singles, this ISN'T it!
If you want to see the other properties that make up the southern part of the bay, you can visit our Napili Bay Condo page here.
Napili Kai MapWe've seen where the Napili Kai sits on Napili Bay. The map below shows the layout of the resort. As you can see, there are a number of buildings spread out around the property, with rooms available in each. We stayed in Puna Point, the furthest building out along the peninsula. One nice feature is that there are several pools spread around the resort, so not everyone crowds around a single pool. The largest (and main) pool is the one closest to the beach, next to the Honolua wing. Right below it is the Makai Hale where you can get towels, masks and snorkels (no fins), golf clubs for mini-golf, beach mats, coolers, etc (also snack bar!). You'll have to give them your room number and they look up your name -- don't try to sneak in from some other condo to get gear! Napili Kai rooms vary depending on which building they are in. The Aloha and Lani 2 buildings offer oceanview (set back from the water a bit) studios and oceanview one bedroom suites, while the Lahaina and Honolua buildings offer beach front studios. For 1BR ocean front suites, you'll be in the Puna Point and Puna 2 buildings. The Keaka buildings house mainly oceanview hotel style rooms. All rooms have a private lanai (balcony) as well, though the ones on the ground floor normally are open to the area around them. A studio offers full kitchen facilities (refrigerator, stove, microwave, etc) combined with a single sitting-room/bedroom. The one bedroom suites offer a separate bedroom, a small kitchen area, and a sitting-room area that doubles as an extra sleeping area for kids (day-beds or pull-out sofas).
The Lahaina wing has been updated in recent years with marble counters and newer kitchen appliances. Room rates range from about $285-$305 for the hotel-style rooms (no kitchen, no suite), to $485-505 for ocean front suites (depending on season). They are also very generous when it comes to extra beds -- cribs and rollaways are available at no charge (I paid $70 PER NIGHT for a rollaway at the Sheraton Maui - ripoff!). That's a nice thing about the Napili Kai - they don't hit you up with extra fees for everything. Most resorts on Maui charge from $10-$20 per day for a "resort fee", which sometimes covers parking and internet expenses. Not here. You can get free beach gear at the Makai Hale by the pool -- snorkels, masks, towels, etc. Internet access is free. Parking is free. There are dedicated parking areas for each building, though they can be a pretty tight fit. There was rarely more than a single (maybe 2) open space in our Puna Point lot, and I believe some of the rooms around us were empty. I'm sure the management would let you park in any open spot if there were none right next to your building (they give you a parking pass that hangs from your rearview mirror when you check-in).
Napili Kai AmenitiesThe Napili Kai Resort offers a number of other amenities:
- Fitness room (weights, treadmills, etc.)
- Whirlpool/Hot Tub (the Hanky Panky)
- Four laundry rooms with soap (free!)
- Free morning coffee and tea
- Four BBQ areas - grill your own dinner by the ocean!
- Two 18-hole mini-golf courses
- 2 Shuffleboard courts
- Croquet and Ping Pong
- Lei-making and hula lessons
- Makai Massage Spa ($60 for 25 minutes)
- Keiki Club for kids (age 6-10)
- Snorkeling -- good rock and reef formations in the bay, we saw tons of fish and 4 sea turtles!
- Dining - Sea House Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (includes kid's menu, most dinner entrees in the $20's). Happy hour is 2PM to 5:30PM.
- Daily maid service (they DON'T do dishes)
- Staff -- we can honestly say that the staff in the lobby was the most friendly and accomodating out of all the properties we have visited on Maui -- very nice, without being obsequious.
Napili Kai Condo ReviewOK, the real value of this page is our information from our actual stay at the Napili Kai. Any site can reprint the same information that's all over the Internet - we actually stay there, review our experience, and show you our personal photos from the trip. As I said before, we stayed (Mar 2009) at the Puna Point building, unit #201 -- the very last one on the bottom. Below is a series of photos from our condo -- it was what is called a 1BR suite -- meaning 1BR in the back with bathroom, small kitchenette in hallway with 2nd bath, then a sitting room (also doubles as kids room with day beds) near the garden and lanai with ocean front view. Overall, it was very clean but very dated. Kitchen and bathrooms looked and felt dated, furnishings were clean and functional but not fancy (ie, no flat screen TVs). We were paying more than $500 per night for this suite. We have stayed at the Fairmont in Wailea for just slightly more for a garden view room, but the decor there was luxurious and elegant, with magnificent marble bathrooms and walk-in showers, etc.
Keep that in mind if you come here -- the rates are not real cheap, and the rooms are not real extravagant. This is an older family resort without a bunch of expensive upgrades. So we paid a lot extra for the private bedroom, since the studio rooms combine bedroom and sitting room into one with no privacy for adults. One problem with the kitchens -- no dishwasher (see photo at left). Now I don't know about you, but when I am on vacation I am not going to fill up a sink and hand wash dishes. We did a test one morning and left a few dirty glasses in the sink for maid service -- they were still there after the maid service. Ugh. So plan on rinsing and washing your own dishes (they do provide drying racks). The good news is that there is a full refrigerator, oven and stove, microwave, plus utensils and dishes and glassware. If you've been to Maui, you know the expense of dining in restaurants can rival your lodging expenses if you aren't careful. These condo kitchens let you prepare a few basic meals at home and can save you a ton of money. We've heard some people complain of the tiny ants they have here - we saw a few, just kept our food tucked away in the fridge or on top of the fridge, not a big problem. The bathrooms were old-style (see photo below) -- ie, barely any counter space for toiletries, but functional. Furnishings were fine, clean, no problems. We got a roll-away bed brought in -- it was crowded, but we managed to fit 2 adults and 3 kids into the space. The lanai was great with a grassy area out front for kids to run around. The view was spectacular -- it felt like we were on a cruise ship viewing the ocean rolling past our window. Since we were out on the point, we really were out in the middle of the ocean. With strong trade winds, we watched 10-12 foot swells sweeping past our sliding glass door. And the whales. Winter is whale season, and we literally saw whales just 200 yards off our lanai leaping out of the water and splashing -- just magnificent. We had a small pool and patio just a few doors down from our lanai -- very quiet, never more than 2-3 people there. There is a beach path that winds you down along the rock wall and takes you to the beach. The price you pay for these ocean views from the point is that you have to walk a minute or 2 to get to the beach -- not the end of the world, but you are kind of far from the beach. You get more quiet and privacy this way, at the expense of being kind of far from the action.
We swam in the main pool down by the Honolua wing. Warm enough for kids, plenty of chairs. The beach here is a great beach. There is a coral reef that stretches across the middle of the bay, keeping wave size to a minimum. Swimming and playing in the waves is easy, though the beach is pretty steep so waves build and crash fast -- keep an eye out with little kids. The snorkeling here in Napili Bay is really excellent. There are lava rocks along the north side (closest to the buildings) -- we found a huge sea turtle cruising along here one late afternoon. The middle of the bay has a coral formation that stretches across it -- just be careful swimming over it as it is very close to the surface and you can get scraped against it (go around the gaps in the sides to get beyond it). We saw plenty of fish here. On the south side is more rocky formations, where we watched 3 sea turtles from the shore as they moved in and out with the surf. Overall, one of our favorite beaches on Maui for hanging out with the family.
On TripAdvisor.com, the Napili Kai rates 4 out of 5 stars from 141 reviewers (87 5-stars, 28 4-stars, 16 3-stars, 6 2-stars), and is listed as a 3-star resort. We also give it 4 out of 5 -- if you want a glitzy, fancy resort, don't come here. If you want a relaxed, tropical paradise that has seen some years of wear and tear but offers a location that can't be beat, this is your place. I'd look into the Lahaina and Honolua buildings next time for quick beach access, though the Keaka buildings are also really close to the beach. Overall we love the family-friendly feeling this entire area offers, and if you want a break from the expensive Kaanapali resorts, consider the Napili Kai on your next visit.
Some more photos follow - the first shows the living/sitting room in the condo. Next is the view from our lanai looking out over Napili Bay (south). It was a cloudy day in March. Next shot is the small pool just down from our lanai -- usually empty. Next is the Puna 2 building, 3 stories with glass-enclosed balconies, looking out over the ocean. Then comes the beach walk path that takes you down to the beach. Then a view from the beach looking back at the main buildings of Napili Kai. The final shot is looking south along Napili Bay from the area just in front of the Sea House restaurant. Notice there are no high-rises or imposing buildings -- just small condos tucked into the trees along the beach.