Those of you who have frequented the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui over the years will remember the queen of Ka‘anapali Beach: the Sheraton Maui.
The hotel was new and glamorous in 1963. Back then, it was sitting quietly alone near the legendary and now famous lava jetty called Black Rock. It has been 50 years, and you should see the resort now!
The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
Renovated many times through the decades, this classic Hawaiian resort still sits on 23 acres of pristine sand and tropical landscaping and overlooks the island of Lanai, just a short sail to the west.
Warm trade-winds float through the 508 spacious rooms and suites, most of which face the ocean.
We have watched this Sheraton resort blossom and become a favorite for generations of tourists. To stay at the Sheraton Maui is like coming home to a rich Hawaiian heritage, and we always find new and exciting things to write about during each visit.
Explore the underwater world of Maui
The Black Rock lava outcropping is at the far end of the resort, and is the best venue for oceanic underwater activity in the area.
Known as Pu‘u Keka‘a to the locals, it’s the “in” place to get up-close and personal with turtles, rays and scores of Hawaii’s colorful tropical fish.
SNUBA is similar to SCUBA, but the air tank is not on your back; instead it floats above you on a small raft. You breathe air through a long hose that extends from the air reservoir to a regulator that you put in your mouth, much like a snorkel.
Since your depth is limited by the length of the air hose, there’s no danger of going too deep; therefore certification is not necessary. The guides teach you everything you need to know.
Watch the time honored Black Rock cliff dive
The acclaimed Black Cliff Dive Ceremony, which has taken place every evening at the Sheraton Maui since its opening in 1963, is a tradition that dates back to island royalty. The story is that Maui Chieftains made ceremonial dives from these same lava cliffs while their admiring warriors looked on.
We watched the youthful diver start his fire run from the Cliff Dive Bar across the wide lawn and onto the sand that would bring him to the base of the great lava jetty.
He climbed at a speed indicative of his age and prowess and was soon atop the rocks, lighting a series of torches as he made his way to the place where he would call upon the gods to watch his entry into the dark water below.
With a burst of energy the diver reached for the stars; then his outstretched body slowly turned downward toward the sea. He made a perfect entry, all to the wild applause of the spectators.
A great place to watch the ceremony is from the Cliff Dive Bar. Try the resort’s signature Black Rock Lager and some homemade potato chips while you are there. Tasty!
More for the foodies
Start the morning with breakfast at the Black Rock Terrace; it has a very nice buffet with all the trimmings – and really great coffee.
We had lunch at the Cliff Dive Bar and enjoyed the grilled hamburgers and giant chips while watching some kids take their first lesson in the Hula. What a kick!
There were guests swimming along the lagoon that encircles the bar, and after walking off lunch, we joined them in a refreshing swim odyssey through pools, landscaped settings, under bridges, alongside waterfalls and down a water slide. This is a splendid way to enjoy a tropical afternoon in paradise.
There’s a luau
The Ka‘anapali Sunset Luau takes place on the Ocean Lawn of the Sheraton Maui. The luau comes with all the time-honored trappings of a great Hawaiian celebration that includes stories and songs of the islands and an awesome fire knife dance.
A stroll along the Ka’anapali paved beach path is a great way to walk off a delicious Hawaiian dinner, while you check out the resorts, shops, restaurants and bars. Mid-way along the footpath is the famous Whaler’s Village, a great place to watch people, window shop and grab a drink or food. If you forgot to pack anything, you can shop at one of Hawaii’s ubiquitous ABC Stores, located in the Village.
Pièce de résistance
For an extra special treat don’t miss the romance of a Sheraton Maui “Dinner under the Stars.” It is an extraordinarily romantic event that you will remember forever.
Our dinner under the stars took place in a quiet corner of the resort, just in back of Black Rock.
We arrived at our reserved tropical hut just after the torches on Black Rock were lighted and the sunset was flooding across the far horizon. Sunset was bittersweet that evening. The day had been perfect, and we did not want it to end.
Our personal waiter showed us a chilled bottle of champagne. What better way to celebrate a wonderful day – and a magnificent vacation – than with a cold glass of sparkling wine?
There is a choice of three unique offerings in the Sheraton Dinner under the Stars program. We selected the Moonlit Menu.
Our starter was presented in Ice Pearls, which are large globes of hollowed ice surrounding the most delicious fresh island sashimi, served with a savory wasabi dipping sauce. It was almost too elegant to eat, but we did.
Salad consisted of a floral of upcountry greens with oriental dressing, sour dough Kaiser Bread and whipped Molokai Honey Butter.
The entrée was seared filet mignon with crab legs and asparagus, glazed with Béarnaise sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes.
All this was topped off with — what else? Grandma’s apple pie and coffee. However, we could have also selected heavenly haupia cake, double chocolate dobash, or Italian tiramisu. We don’t know about the other desserts, but we can certainly recommend the apple pie.
There are only three available outdoor settings for your private Dinner under the Stars. To avoid disappointment, make reservations early.
If you go
The award winning Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa is on the northwest shore of the island and a 45-minute ride from the Kahului Airport.
The resort is situated at the northernmost point of three-mile long Ka’anapali Beach. The silky sand beach is lined with many condominiums, resorts, shops and restaurants. On the eastern side of the buildings are two of Maui’s ten popular golf courses.
For more information about the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa visit their website at www.sheraton-maui.com.
© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Wayne and Judy Bayliff – Underwater photos courtesy of Shoreline SNUBA