kaanapali restaurants leilanis ahi stack

Our recent family vacation to Kaanapali Beach Resort in Maui included sand, sun, crystal clear blue ocean water and food… lots of delicious food. Part of the reason why we love to travel is to sample local cuisine and open our daughter’s eyes up to the fact that every destination offers interesting dishes to try.

Our favorite thing to do is to tap into the knowledge of our servers, which is what I did at these Maui restaurants. Keiki (kids) menus were also available everywhere we went.

A Thriving Local Food Scene in Maui

things to eat kaanapali resort maui local produce

Of course, seafood is excellent. And I warn you that this post contains copious amounts of ahi. In addition to the famous Maui onions and sweet pineapple, I didn’t realize that there are hundreds farms on the island. Sustainable and farm-to-table are just as big of buzz words in Maui as they are here in California. For example, the Maui Fresh salad at Leilani’s (pictured above) from Leilani’s is made with produce and cheese sourced from the island.

Maui is very proud of its thriving food scene and there’s no better way to celebrate it than at the upcoming Kaanapali Fresh event over Labor Day weekend. Guests will be able to sample dishes from the island’s most popular chefs, chat with farmers and more over the course of the weekend.

Our Favorite Things to Eat in Maui’s Kaanapali Beach Resort

Remember, Kaanapali Beach Resort is a 3-mile stretch of beach with five luxury hotels and six condo and vacation rental resorts along with entertainment in Whalers Village. We stayed at both Kaanapali Alii and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa and ventured into Whalers Village multiple times. Here are a few of our many meal highlights.

1. Shave Ice at Whalers Village

things to eat kaanapali resort maui shave ice

After three trips to Hawaii this year alone, we’ve enjoyed our fair share of shave ice. There is something about the shave ice cart in Whalers Village though that’s delicious. I suspect it has something to do with the super fine grind that absorbs syrup perfectly. Whatever it is, it’s delicious enough to lure my daughter off of the beach. The cart is near Island Vintage Coffee, who I hear has the best acai bowl on the island.

2. Leilani’s Hula Pie

kaanapali restaurants leilanis hula pie

We had to order Hula Pie for dessert at Leilani’s on the Beach. Yes, I realize that Jake’s Restaurant in Del Mar has the same Hula Pie served on the same adorable plate but eating it in Hawaii is special.

What is Hula Pie? Originally created a long time ago by sister restaurant, Kimo’s, they say, “this is what the sailors swam ashore for in Lahaina,” and I can totally see why. Hula Pie is macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust and then topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream and more macadamia nuts. Yum.

3. Lots (and Lots) of Poke

The good news is that poke is everywhere. Here’s the ahi poke bowl from Leilani’s Beachside Grill which pairs perfectly with Hula Pie!

things to eat kaanapali resort maui poke leilanis

I also could not possibly pass up the poke tacos at Hula Grill in Whalers Village and I suggest that you don’t either if on vacation in Maui. Inside the metal lunchbox is warm focaccia bread.

kaanapali restaurants hula grill poke tacos

4. Blackened Ahi Roll at Japengo Maui

kaanapali restaurants japengo maui sushi roll

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s signature restaurant is called Japengo Maui. If you love high-quality sushi and Asian-fusion with an ocean view, this is the place for you. We dined here twice, once on the main restaurant’s ocean view patio (courtesy of the Hyatt) and once during happy hour where there’s a discounted tapas menu and live music for a cool vibe.

The Blackened Ahi Roll is made up of blackened ahi, avocado, Maui onion, crab, spicy dynamite sauce, tobiko, ponzu, and a garlic crumble. It’s seriously out of this world. Other Japengo Maui highlights include the Honolulu Roll (tuna, avocado, cucumber, sweet chili sauce, rolled inside-out with tempura crunchies on top) and the China Town Chow Fun noodle dish.

5. Salads at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

kaanapali restaurants hyatt maui salads

On vacation, you may indulge in a few pina coladas and slices of Hula Pie so there might be days when all you want is a salad. This isn’t always an easy feat, but I will tell you that the salads at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s Umalu poolside restaurant are delicious. This Volcano Seared Ahi salad (volcano spiced ahi sashimi, kula lettuce, Lahaina mango, avocado, tomatoes, fresh green beans, candied pecans, crystallized ginger dressing, wasabi aioli) is a favorite of staff and guests. And, the salads can be ordered to your poolside lounge chair.

I totally forgot to order Spam Musubi at Umalu and the Moco Loco looks amazing. Next time.

6. Hula Grill’s Cantonese Lamp Chops

things to eat kaanapali resort maui

I nearly died when my 7-year-old ordered these at Hula Grill. I don’t typically like lamb and she’s never, ever ordered it before but I must say these were pretty tasty and not too spicy. She wolfed down the entire plate paired with a strawberry smoothie.

7. A Kaanapali Luau Feast

kaanapali maui luau food

A fabulous way to sample traditional Hawaiian food is by attending one of Kaanapali Beach Resort’s luaus. We were guests of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s Drums of the Pacific luau where a huge buffet of roast pig, poi, fried rice, fruit, purple sweet potatoes, salad, chicken and more were on offer, not to mention an entirely separate buffet of desserts and all-you-can-drink festive drinks. We were stuffed and entertained. Find Maui luas also at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa and Westin Maui Resort and Spa.

Dining in Kaanapali Beach Resort Maui: Condo Cooking

A major benefit to staying in one of Kaanapali Beach Resort’s condos is that you can shop for and prepare your own locally-sourced Maui meals. Guests of Kaanapali Alii, for example, can use the barbecues onsite to grill up local seafood. In fact, a Grill Master is there in the evenings to help cook and spice up your meal.

kaanapali alii grill master

What is your favorite thing to eat in Kaanapali Beach Resort? I’m taking notes for next time.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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