THE BEST Maui Beach Guide
Having been a Realtor for many years its no surprise why you want to buy property on Maui and call yourself a local or part time local. Its the endless tropical days and nights and the warm embrace of our shores. So for you who seek the perfect beach – here is your guide. I have also taken videos of the beaches. Beaches are public in the state of Hawaii so one has access to a plethora of beaches. More to come.
Jeannie Kong REALTOR® (S)
South Maui Beaches
Makena Beach – AKA Oneloa or Big Beach Maui
Located on the South side of Maui, off of Makena Alanui Road, Big Beach claims our vote for the best beach Maui has to offer. You’ll find approximately a mile of perfect beige(with tinged with shads of orange) and white sand, with cliffs anchoring the sides, and water that’s brilliant blue and green. There is little reef as well. There are three entrances to Makena Beach (Big Beach.) The first has the largest parking area and is the closest point to Little Beach, which is just around the corner. The second entrance has a smaller paved lot. The 3rd is dirt parking only and of course off road parking. The beach over there is smaller than at the first 2 entrances. The 3rd entrance however is very popular amongst our locals and kids here. When the swells come in the waves tend to be a bit bigger on this side.
Big Beach is famous for its inclined shoreline and large shore break. Skimboarding, body boarding, and body surfing are all very popular here for this reason. Caution is advised for those with children or inexperienced ocean swimmers when there’s a large swell. These waves are deceptively powerful and can dump you into the sand without notice. We don’t recommend snorkeling in this area. Surfing also isn’t usually done here because of the shore break conditions but on a rare swell when conditions are conducive you will see surfers. Big Beach has port-a-potties, picnic tables, and shady areas under large trees. Be careful when walking out on the sand at first. These trees have large thorns (Keawe trees-not native but abundant) . We’ve seen these thorns go clear through a sandal while walking. Going barefoot can be dangerous near the trees. Wait to take off your sandals or shoes till you get out past the trees. Around the corner, to the North, is a path to Little Beach.
Maui has a couple (illegal) nudist beaches, which Little Beach is the Mecca. The waves here are perfect for bodysurfing, and sometimes surfing, but depending on what day and the time of day it is, you may be dodging naked people. During a South or Southwest Swell, the surf can be fun here (though unpredictable). It offers a left hand reef break off of the South side of the beach. This beach is the quintessential crescent beach. On Sundays, the crowds are typically unusually large for Little Beach. At sunset, everyone celebrates by swimming and cheering as a large drum circle beats away (yes, more than a few celebrities have been noted from time to time) . Once it gets dark, Little Beach becomes a real show. All types of people, nude or clothed, begin to dance in the circle with fire. The fire dancers at little beach are incredible. You’ll sometimes find professional fire twirlers with more than one ball of fire and fancy flaming outfits. So if you want to express your uninhibited self this may be the beach for you. You don’t need to get undressed either. Bring a flashlight to get back over the cliff at night but before 7pm is preferable.
Kama’ole Beach Parks 1, 2, 3
The three Kam’s are great beaches to enjoy with friends. The first, most Northern Kama’ole Beach, is the largest of the beaches. The second is small but can offer fun waves for body surfing if the swell is in. The third Kamaole Beach is the favorite for South Maui Locals with a large grass park. This area is usually filled with lawn games and bbq’s. Oftentimes on weekends many birthday parties or get togethers are had here due to large lawn areas. There is also a little playground at Kam 3. The Southern most Kamaole Beaches are smaller, but nice. All of the Kama’ole beaches have parking and facilities. With some lifeguards, showers, restrooms, and volleyball courts, the 3 kams can be a lot of fun. Kamaole I beach also has a sandy volleyball court.
Charley Young Beach
On the North end of Kamaole I Beach, you’ll find a large beach known as Charley Young Beach. This is part of Kamaole 1 Beach. It has a easy access parking and a great spot to enjoy the day.
This is good place for beginners to learn to surf or sup. The water is typically very shallow way out to the breaks. The cove is extremely popular for longboard surfing, and stand up paddling in Maui. Located off of South Kihei Road, in what I call midtown Kihei. The Cove has a little beach (if low tide) which is perfect for learning to surf. From this point northward, the ocean becomes a bit murky throughout Kihei until you reach Sugar Beach. The beaches are still nice, but the water is not ideal for snorkeling, diving, or swimming. There are no facilities (unless you use to Kalama park facilities which is nearby) or lifeguards here and you’ll have to park on the side of the road or in the little parking lot. Surf lesson available here with Maui Waveriders and other surf teachers. High Tech Surf shop is right across the Cove. Their store has a good selection but their Kahului store has the most comprehensive selection.
Kalama Beach Park
Possessing a large amount of land, but not much sandy beach, Kalama beach Park is more of a park than a beach. Kalama has areas for plenty of sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis. For those who like to play volleyball, Kalama is great. The volleyball courts are well lit. There’s also a small skate park and a roller rink for inline hockey.
Keawekapu is a world class beach. It’s a long beach that is in front of private residences worth over 20 million dollars. On low tide days you can walk south and connect to the Wailea Sea Walk path that ends at Polo Beach. There is parking and a shower at the southern most entrance, and also midway. This beach is gorgeous. Five Palms Restaurant below the Mana Kai has a great view of the beach. Decent happy hour too! Sarentos is also a great romantic dining spot with on the beach.
In front of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort (formerly the Maui Prince), Maluaka is one of Makena’s gems. Drive south from Makena Landing and you find the beach gets less rocky and sandier. This beach is what you might expect from a world class rating and it has great snorkeling and swimming. Areas around here are often referred to as Turtle Town Maui. It also has the only beach-entry cruise in south Maui aboard the Kai Kanani. This is the closest departure point if you’re wanting to visit the famous Molokini Crater.
Located in front of the Kea lani, Farimont Maui Resort, Polo Beach is world famous for it’s pristine sandy beach. The sand is soft and gorgeous and the area around it is immaculately maintained. Because of its resort location, Polo Beach can often be crowded. But don’t let the crowd deter you because you might be in the mood to be around some happy vacationers and enjoy the resort style atmosphere. Its worth it!
Ulua and Mokapu Beaches
Mokapu and Ulua are known for good snorkeling and beginner scuba diving on Maui. Many South Maui scuba schools take their students here because they recognize this as being one of the easiest beginner dives on Maui. You will often times see groups of divers in the morning. Both Mokapu and Ulua are great beaches for just taking in the sun and relaxing. Located right in front of Wailea Elua Condos. Keep in mind snorkeling and diving are best in the morning when the winds are typically calmer.
Paako Beach AKA Secret Cove or Makena Cove
Secret Cove in Makena is well, not so secret. Its nestled between Makena homes so if you don’t slow you just might miss it. You have to enter through a rock wall and then you find this little oasis. Some decent snorkeling. It can get crowded since the beach isn’t too big. There are no facilities and very little parking in this area.
Located right in front of the Four Seasons Resort, its no wonder why the world class resort picked this spot. Crescent shaped with soft sand makes this beach perfect. The Wailea Seawalk path goes right through it. It can be crowded but somehow being with a bunch of vacationers looking to have a great time makes it a festive. Have lunch at the great restaurants at Four Seasons Resort and make a day at the beach.
Photo taken by Quincy Dein Photography
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse is not what I call your typical sandy beach but one needs variety, right? La Perouse is beautiful for other reasons. The blackish rusty color lava rock stretches for miles and you feel like you are on another planet. You realize the force of lava and how its shaped the landscape. There is a really wonderful hike through lava rock (so bring comfortable close toed shoes) and can take several routes along the coastline. You will inevitable find some goats along the way. It is thought by geologists that this field was created by the last eruption of Haleakala in 1790. La Perouse is also known for it’s dangerous waves during big south swells. This left hand wave breaks on dry reef and is only rideable when it’s head high or bigger. The rule here is that the smaller it is, the more dangerous it is. The snorkeling and diving in this area are unparalleled. If you’re lucky, spinner dolphins can be seen here in large groups. This volcanic area is the most southern point on Maui. Bring plenty of water, hat , comfortable closed toe shoes and sun protection for the hike. You will find some little beach areas.
With a large sand beach and a lawn, Waipuilani Park is a great spot to enjoy an event or watch a sunset. It has restroom facilities and some shaded areas too. This north Kihei location has murky water, so it isn’t great for swimming or water activities other than kiting or windsurfing if Konas are blowing.
Mai Poina ‘Oe La’u Beach Park
This long beach park is well known for its perfect kiteboarding conditions during Kona winds. Located in North Kihei, the beach is nice, but the swimming isn’t ideal. With picnic tables, showers and restrooms, this is a great place to watch kiteboarding and whales while in season.
Makena Landing AKA Five Caves or Five Graves
An excellent spot for snorkeling, kayaking, outrigger canoe and scuba diving, Makena Landing is located off of Makena Road. The beaches here are not very big, but nestled in incredible spots with great views. This area is well known for its underwater sea caves and abundance of reef sharks.
Located in Kihei, Chang’s Beach is highly valued by Maui locals. A smaller beach tucked away near Kalama Park, Chang’s Beach has showers and picnic tables but no lifeguards or restrooms. The waves here can be good for surfing if a South Swell hits it right. Summer is best for surfing in this area, although seasoned surfers find it to be fickle.
South Maui’s only red sand beach, Oneuli Beach is tucked away off of Wailea Alanui Drive. The sand here is not like Hana’s Red Sand Beach in that the sand is finer and mixed with darker minerals. There’s a trail that leads to the top of the cinder cone from which the sand was made from. These eruptions created red and black cinder that has eroded to become the sand. Oneuli has great fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming but no lifeguards or restrooms. During South or West swells, this beach can be dangerous with large waves. Because the red sand is so dark, you may want to keep your shoes or sandals on. The sun can bake the sand till you get crispy so where a lot of sunblock and limit your exposure.
West Maui Beaches
D.T. Flemings Beach Park
Kapalua has many of the best beaches Maui offers. From Ironwoods to D.T. Flemings, you’ll love the beautiful perfect beaches here. Flemings is located on the Upper West of Maui, and the North of Kapalua. It is a public beach park with lifeguards, facilities, picnic tables, barbeque grills, and great water People swim, body surf, and surf here regularly. Flemings has a good-sized parking lot and plenty of beach to lounge on. Like most beaches in Maui, Flemings can get windy in the afternoon.
Ka’anapali Beach & Black Rock
Famous for its high volcanic ocean cliff which brave divers jump from, Black Rock is a wonderful place to snorkel and swim. The ocean is usually calm in this resort area inviting the masses to swim here. Off of the point, there are sometimes strong currents, so use caution. The beach is large and long with multiple hotels along it. Lifeguards are present, but you’ll not find any restrooms unless you’re staying at a hotel. Black Rock Maui can be found in the West in the middle of Ka’anapali Beach. Swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving at Black Rock are all amazing because of the abundant coral, bright tropical fish, and gentle sea turtles. Just watch out for cliff divers!
One of the most beautiful beaches in Maui, Kapalau Beach is the kind of tropical perfection you expect from Maui. It has great swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving all around this area. Another Kapalua Beach is Ironwoods. This beach is often uncrowded, but the water here isn’t great for swimming. The reef is shallow from the shore all the way out. It’s dangerous to be in the water here especially during the winter swells. But, in saying this, the beach is breath-taking.
Next to the Napili Kai Resort, Napili Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Maui. It has a steep incline into the water with unblemished white sand. The water is beautiful and bright blue. A monk seal has made this beach his home. If you see him, leave him alone and stay at least 15 feet away. Snorkeling is good on both sides of the bay. Parking is difficult unless you’re staying in the resorts in the area. Facilities are also reserved to residents and guests of the resorts.
Launiupoko Beach Park
Launiupoko Beach is fun for longboard surfers and picnics. With two parking areas, this park is easily accessed on the way to Lahaina right off of the road. This is a great park for families with small children because of a natural pool formed and enhanced with a lava rock wall surrounding it. This great beach has picnic facilities and restrooms. You’ll find Launiupoko is a local Maui favorite.
Puamana Beach County Park
Another great spot on the way to Lahaina is Puamana Beach. It has all the facilities you may need with picnic tables, bbq grills, and restrooms. A popular Maui surf spot for longboarding, Puamana Beach Park is a great place to swim and snorkel as well.
Wahikuli State Park
A great place to snorkel and swim is the Wahikuli State Park of Lahaina. Offering bbq grills, restroom facilities, and picnic tables, Wahikuli State Park is great for getting together with family and friends. Maui locals love to take advantage of this great location and ample facilities.
North (Central) Maui Beaches
Kanaha Beach Park
This is a great beach for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Kanaha’s ample afternoon wind conditions make this an excellent spot for these exciting sports. The swimming and beach are nice as well. Holding volleyball areas, lifeguards, showers, picnic tables, and restroom facilities, Kanaha is a local favorite for enjoying time with friends.
Famous for being the World’s best kite surfing beach, kite beach is home to those who originated the sport. These beaches are behind the airport and a bit tricky to find. Once there, you’ll find gorgeous beaches with many kites being launched into the air. These professionals are great to watch, but be careful where you sit your towel down. If your in the path of the kites, you could be in harms way.
H.A. Baldwin Beach Park
For a great park with a lot of beach, go to Baldwin Beach Park. This spot has flawless sand and gorgeous water. Though usually very windy, it can be a great place to swim and play beach games with friends and family. Baldwin even has a baby beach with a lagoon for lounging and playing with smaller children. The currents outside can be strong and hazardous so use caution when swimming.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Along the Hana Highway towards Haiku, The most consistent Maui surf spot, Hookipa is world famous for it’s afternoon windsurfing perfection. The beach is large with two narrow entrances to the water. Hookipa Beach Park has all the facilities you need. With bathrooms, lifeguards, picnic areas, showers, and plenty of parking, Ho’okipa is a great place to enjoy the beach while watching world-class surfers battle large powerful waves. Because the exits are so small and currents are persistent, Ho’okipa Beach Park can be a dangerous place to swim (and you’ll rarely see anyone swimming). Surfing and windsurfing should be left to experts and not attempted by anyone who may question their skills.
Mama’s Fish House Beach
Situated right in front of the world famous Mama’s Fish House is this gorgeous crescent shaped beach. It has some reef to break the waves which and create some calm pools. Have a wonderful lunch at the restaurant then lay out and play on this beach. There is Valet parking for the restaurant and some limited beach parking.
With good surfing in the winter, Waihe’e Beach is a small and narrow beach with low capacity. This may be its reason for being uncrowded most of the time. Waihe’e is perfect for those who want a little privacy on the beach.
East Maui Beaches
Honomanu is about half way to Hana from Paia area. This beach is a little difficult to get to with a regular Maui rental car. If you have a four-wheel-drive, you’ll want to see this beautiful unblemished beach. Located in a nestled bay between towering cliffs of rainforest, Honomanu is a black sand beach with not many people around. Surfing here can be very good with the right swell. The left side of the bay has one of the heaviest most dangerous waves in the islands when it breaks. There are a few downers to this incredible location. Being remote on the way to Hana, car theft can be high in this area. If you get your car stolen, it will take you quite a long time to get up to the road and to finally stop someone to get a ride in order to get to a phone or cell reception. All this makes for an ideal place to steal a car. Also, Quite possibly one of the sharkiest spots on the island, Honomanu is also not a good place to swim because of the shallow sharp rocky bottom.
Hana Beach Park
Hana Bay is the focal point of Hana, Maui, with good surf off the North side of the bay. This whole area is dominated by Hawaiian culture and activities. With no lifeguards, Hana Bay has picnic, and restroom facilities. This is a great place to people watch and enjoy outrigger canoe races while enjoying something tasty at the snack bar or at your own picnic.
Past Hana you can find a flawless beach to the South called Hamoa Beach just off of Haneo’o Road. With views of Alau Island and tropical foliage all around, Hamoa Beach is a favorite of anyone who visits it. Hamoa has been rated as one of the best bodysurfing beaches in Maui. The walk down to the beach from the parking can be steep past the Hotel Hana Maui. Hamoa has no lifeguards but ample picnic area and restrooms shared with the hotel. This beach can experience large surf in the winter and anytime that East swells are present.
Kaihalulu AKA Red Sand Beach
South of Hana Bay, on the far side of Ka’uiki hill, you’ll find one of Maui’s hidden gems. To access the beach, you’ll be crossing private property, so get permission first. The trail is dangerous and slippery along a cliff, so use caution when traversing the path. Once you get down, you’ll find a red-cliff enclosed beach. The sand is as red as you’ll find and the people will be as naked as can be. Just outside of the beach is a lava sea wall that keeps the inside water less turbulent. Some homeless have taken over this area at night and don’t care to share it for those of you who’d like to camp there. Because of its relative isolation, there are no lifeguards or facilities. Stay clear of the cliffs because some deaths have occurred recently due to unexpected slides.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
When it comes to Black Sand Beaches, Wai’anapanapa’s Honokalani Beach is the best beach Maui has. You’ll find the entire area is interesting. From the large sea cave down by the water, to the legendary caverns deep below, you’ll find this to be one of your favorite Maui beaches. The waves break on a shelf, so caution is recommended when swimming. The lush green flora and the black rock and beach fall in stark contrast to the bright blue ocean and white foam from crashing waves. Waianapanapa has the most picturesque of the beaches in Maui. On the way to Hana, stop at this beach and take a walk around.
They even offer camping here, though most people don’t. You have to get a permit in Kahului before you go camping. It’s a difficult thing to get and the people at the office at Wai’anapanapa State Park are far from friendly or helpful. Exploring this areas lava tubes, and great beaches is open to the public, so don’t worry about camping unless you plan well ahead. The Oheo Gulch has camping that you can enjoy without a hassle or going anywhere than the campground for a permit. Wai’anapanapa State Park has large parking lots, hiking trails, restrooms, picnic areas, but no lifeguards.
A desolate beautiful beach near Hana and Hamoa beach is Koki Beach. This incredible red cliff ridged beach is seldom visited. The main reason visitors tend to neglect this beach is because of the abundance of trash and washed up debris. We’re not certain why this beach accumulates so much trash, but it’s unfortunate.
All of the Maui Photography and Video was provided Jeannie Kong unless otherwise noted. Hana Pictures are from Brown.
Some of the info was taken from Maui Information Guide.
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