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Hawaiian Hideaway – Napili Bay, Maui

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Sitting on my lanai with the warmth of the sun on my skin, a pina colada in one hand and a People magazine in the other, I’m tempted to think life doesn’t get much better than this. Fortunately, I chose that second to look up, just in time to spot a humpback whale breaching not far off the shoreline. Yep, life keeps getting better, especially in Maui. Hotels abound on the Valley Isle, but I recently found a little gem that’s fun for families AND doesn’t break the bank. No doubt about it, Hawaii can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you’re staying at Napili Bay.

View from the lanai at Outrigger Napili Shores

View from my lanai at Outrigger Napili Shores (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Why Napili Bay

Napili Bay, a crescent shaped bay along Maui’s west coast, ticks all the right boxes. You’ve got your golden sand, calm waters at one end for wee ones, and bigger waves for boogie boarding at the other. You can rent sea kayaks, snorkels and paddle boards off the beach or just spend some time sussing out the tide pools within the outcrop of lava rock.

Napili Bay is small, but perfect for families (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Napili Bay is small, but perfect for families (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Where to Stay in Napili Bay

There are several condominium-type hotels along Napili Bay, all well suited to families. If you’re on a budget, consider Outrigger Napili Shores. One-bedroom condo suites that sleep five (with two pull out couches) go for half the price of an average Maui hotel room. The rooms aren’t fancy (with just showers instead of a bathtub), but they are clean, have full kitchens and sit right on the beach. There’s a massive green space for families to tumble on, two pools, BBQ pits and laundry facilities. You won’t find any hidden resort fees. Plus parking and wifi are included, which is rare.

The Gazebo at Outrigger Napili Shores sits right on the beac

The Gazebo at Outrigger Napili Shores sits right on the beach (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Where to Eat in Napili Bay

While the Gazebo at Outrigger Napili Shores doesn’t open until 7:30 a.m., there is a line up outside its door a half an hour before then for good reason. Expect generous portions, savory omelets, and macadamia nut pancakes to die for. No need to wait in line if you’re staying at the hotel. Simply call the restaurant, place your order and take your breakfast to your lanai for a private meal.

At the other end of the Bay lies Sea House Restaurant, a.k.a. the place for happy hour. It’s great for families because not only does it have a children’s menu, but this happy hour starts an hour earlier than most running, from 2 to 5 pm. Their vegetarian quesadillas are super tasty (this coming from a meat lover), as are the ahi nachos and roasted brussel sprouts.

mexican appetizer

Lots of veggies are crammed inside this tasty quesidilla (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Down closer to Kapalua (a five-minute drive away), there’s Honolua General Store (part of the ABC chain) that serves up hot entrees, prepared meals and your basic sundry items. You’ll also find Sansei, a popular fusion Japanese restaurant. It’s pricy and reservations are a must, so aim for happy hour from either 5-6 pm or 9-10 pm.

family playing shuffle board

There’s a giant checker board and shuffle board on site. (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

What to Do In and Near Napili Bay

Whether you’re a runner or you just want to stretch your legs, the Kapalua Coastal Walk is a lovely trail that winds its way along the coastline. Start the path at Kapalua Bay, just in front of the Montage. Comprised of paved pathways, a boardwalk and lava rocks, the trail goes past too many scenic view points to count as well as nesting grounds for shorebirds. Be sure to bring your camera and budget plenty of time for kids to go off the beaten path to explore.

Bring along (or buy) your own mask and snorkel to spy on sea creatures during your Maui family vacation. While sea turtles bob along the sides of the Napili Bay, the water is a bit choppy as it crashes against the rocks. Far better for your snorkeling adventure is to hop over to Kapalua Bay, just around the bend from Napili. A family of green sea turtles live in the rocks smack dab in the middle of this bay. This is where the Ritz Carlton takes their guests to snorkel and it’s calm water, so ideal for little ones. One morning, my daughter saw a turtle swim right up to shore here! 

The warm, shallow waters off the Hawaiian islands are prime breeding and birthing ground for Pacific humpback whales. They reach their peak in mid February, but anytime from January till May you’ll spot them frolicking in water. You can try and get up close and personal on a whale watching expedition or just patiently peer out at the horizon anytime you’re in pensive mood.

And that’s how I spent much of my time on this family holiday. Sure, I swam in the ocean, snorkeled with the fishies and wrestled my daughter on the lush green space in front of our condo. But when I look back on this trip, it was those quiet moments of reflection on our patio that offered the biggest reward. 

Have you ever been to Hawaii? What’s your favorite Hawaiian vacation activity? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Saucy Travel Mama: My family was hosted by Napili Shores by Outrigger. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama

After a career in international marketing and a few years spent living the high life as an expat, Jody now resides with her family in Calgary, Canada. Figuring travel writing was a good way to combine her wanderlust and parental duties, she’s spent the past few years working with both print and online media, contributing to the Calgary Herald Travel and Real Life sections and blogging about her adventures at Travels with Baggage ( When not circling the globe with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband, one dog), she can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy hiking. Find Jody on Twitter at @Jody_Robbins.

  1. Luke Mitchell says

    Last time I went to Hawaii it wasn’t to Napili Bay, but I’ll have to bring the family back for another round, this destination looks incredible, and exactly like the kind of place I’d hoped we’d have had the first time round. We ended up in Waikiki however, and didn’t have the same sort of experience.

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