Updated: May 21, 2015
The Whaler Maui Review - Beach Hotel and CondosWhen it comes to the best hotel and condo location in Maui, it's got to be right along Kaanapali Beach. Kaanapali is located in Western Maui (there's a detailed Maui Map here if you need to see where things are..), about 25-45 minutes (depends on traffic) from the airport. Kaanapali Beach itself regularly ranks among the best in the world, stretching more than a mile with deep white sand and the welcoming water of the Pacific. The Whaler is a 12 story, 2 tower condo resort located right on the beach, offering 360 rooms and suites for rent. It was built in 1975 and upgraded in 2002 (a fairly major construction project was taking place at then end of 2008 and into 2009 in the central courtyard area between the 2 buildings -- the whole area, including the pool, is being redone). Each condo is individually owned and decorated and maintained by their owner, not by the resort property management (Aston Hotels/ResortQuest manage the property). Keep this in mind when choosing the unit you want to rent -- you'll want to see pictures and read descriptions of that particular unit since they ARE NOT all the same. Just like with people's home, some are much cleaner, have nicer bedding and decor, etc. The condos at The Whaler come in a variety of sizes and styles, ranging from basic studio units (single room combining living area, sleeping area, and kitchenette), to 1BR condos, to 2BR/2BA condos (sizes range from 600sf to 2000sf, which includes lanai space..). The way the towers are arranged, one side is ocean front, the other 2 sides offer ocean views (either looking into the central courtyard or out towards the resorts next door), and the back side faces the mountains, though even the back units are really corner units with partial side views as well (you can see a layout map here that shows how the various condos are arranged in each tower).
Map of The Kaanapali Whaler at MauiThis Google map shows the exact location of The Whaler. At the top of the map is the hook shape known as Black Rock. The Sheraton Black Rock (blue marker #1 at top) is built both up on the rock promontory and to the south of it. The Sheraton is one of the original resorts on Maui. Just below the Sheraton is the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel (2nd blue marker).
And below that... is The Whaler (3rd blue marker - placed between the towers). You can see the two white towers and how close they are to the beach -- it is literally just steps to the sand. The north tower is called Tower 1, and the south tower is called Tower 2. If you zoom in you can see the pool -- it really is quite a small pool area (we counted just over 80 lounge chairs last time we were there). Kaanapali Beach beckons right off your doorstep, so you may not plan on spending all day at the pool -- just keep in mind it's not huge. When it comes to views, even the rooms facing the interior courtyard have diagonal views of the ocean and islands. The best views of course are from the end units that actually face the beach, and the higher up you are the views are also better. When you book a room, make sure you understand which tower it is in and which way it faces. SUNSETS: The sun sets in the west on the ocean side, so ocean view means sunset view.
Right below The Whaler on the map is Whaler's Village (bottom blue marker), a nice shopping mall with 2 beach front restaurants (be sure to have dinner one night in the sand at the Hula Grill), a small food court, and many interesting shops, including an ABC shop which carries a lot of small grocery items. Further south is a strip of additional resorts - Westin Maui, Kaanapali Alii, Marriott Maui Ocean Club, and Hyatt Regency Maui. The photo below is taken from Black Rock, looking south along Kaanapali Beach. The Whaler is the first 2 big white towers you see there (The Westin is a little further behind them).
View The Whaler at Kaanapali, Maui in a larger map
Whaler Kaanapali Beach - Room Rates and ReservationsWe checked rooms rates for 2009 for a couple of different times, just to give you an idea of what to expect. For May, we found 1BR/1BA Ocean View rooms for $228, 2BR/2BA Ocean View for $338 (these were "construction special" prices for the work and noise taking place). Their website lists official prices of:
- $270-$300 for studios
- $305-$360 for 1BR/1BA Garden View
- $360-$435 for 1BR/1BA Ocean View rooms
- $465-$550 for 1BR/2BA Ocean Front rooms
- $520-$660 for 2BR/2BA Ocean View
- $548-$736 for 2BR/2BA Ocean Front
You may also want to visit TheWhaler.com. Run by a realtor, this site showcases about 17 different private condo units at The Whaler, with lots of great photos of each so you can really see exactly what you are getting. Whaler's Realty site also offers about 25 Whaler condos for rent: http://www.vacation-maui.com/Whaler/Whaler_Overview.php. Finally, consider dealing directly with The Whaler condo owners at VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner). This website lets property owners from around the world list their vacation rentals directly. We found nearly 70 listings there on our last check - tons to choose from (just do a Google search for "vrbo the whaler").
To give you an idea of how much these condos cost to purchase outright, some recent sales include:
- Oceanfront 1BR/2BA - $1.8M -- March 2008
- Ocean View 1BR/1BA - $820K -- Feb 2008
- Ocean View 2BR/BA - $2.4M -- May 2008
- Oceanfront 2BR/2BA - $2.8M -- Oct 2006
- Check-in 3PM, check-out 11AM
- Maid service one-time during weekly rental, or daily if you book directly with ResortQuest
- All units have large lanais (patios)
- $12 per day parking fee
- 4 tennis courts
- 2 BBQ areas
- Central A/C
- Most units have washer and dryer
- Free wireless internet access
The Whaler Kaanapali - Final Comments and ReviewWhat I like best about The Maui Whaler is the location. Kaanapali Beach is just a great spot, you can't beat it. And The Whaler is just steps from the beach and ocean, a 2 minute walk from Black Rock for snorkeling, 1 minute from Whaler's Village for shopping and dining, AND you are surrounded by magnificent views on all sides -- what's not to like? (check out the view in the photo to the right -- this is from an ocean view room in Tower 2, looking towards Black Rock). Most of the condos offer very good views, and the ocean front units really have to be seen to be believed. If you are on a higher floor on those ocean front corners, it's like living in a tropical dream. In general, we say get on the highest floor possible for the best views. In terms of rooms, it can be hit and miss in terms of amenities since each condo is privately owned. Some have lovely granite kitchens, some don't. Some have elaborate marble and tile bathrooms, some don't. You'll usually pay more for the nicer units, but personally I like renting direct from an owner so I know what I am getting in advance. The 1BR units can be a little cramped if you are traveling as 2 couples, but they work fine for families. I love the large balcony spaces -- after all, this is Hawaii and you'll be spending a lot of time outside. The resort itself doesn't offer a lot of the amenities some of the fancier hotels do, like massive swimming pool complexes, exotic gardens, etc. The small pool area is probably my only real complaint about The Whaler. However, I'm also a big ocean fan, so I visit a lot of different beaches when visiting Maui, so the pool is not at the top of my list. Some people like spending the whole week by the pool -- The Whaler pool can be crowded. In closing, I give The Whaler an 8 out of 10 (assuming you get a good room) -- this is a very popular, highly recommended resort, and we add our accolades to the list. You will not be disappointed if you choose to vacation at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach.
Beyond our own opinion, we also looked at what people are saying at TripAdvisor.com. Out of 213 reviews, The Whaler received a 4 out of 5 rating. The biggest complaint we saw there was specific issues of cleanliness for specific condo units - people would say something like, "Don't rent condo #XX at The Whaler, the bathroom wasn't clean and carpets were dirty.." Most of the other comments are rave reviews from very satisfied guests.