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.
Keep in mind that many of the beaches do NOT have lifeguards so EXTRA Caution is always recommended. The waves are deceptive and can be very dangerous.
Jeannie Kong REALTOR® (S) 808-276-1832 Email: Jeannie@JeannieKong.com
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 is one of the best beach Maui has to offer. You’ll find approximately a mile of perfect beige and white sand, with cliffs anchoring the sides, and water that’s brilliant turquoise. 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 up the hill and around the corner. The second entrance has a smaller paved lot. The 3rd is mostly 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 due to the shorebreak. Caution is advised for those with children or inexperienced ocean swimmers especially in large swells. These waves are deceptively powerful and can dump you into the sand without notice- happened to me and I won’t forget it!
Maui has a couple (illegal) nudist beaches, which Little Beach is the most popular. 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). There is a left hand reef break off of the South side of the beach. This beach is the quintessential crescent beach. On Sundays, the crowds gather 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. Bring a flashlight to help you find your way back over the hill.
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 great kiteboarding conditions during Kona winds. Located in North Kihei, the beach is nice, but the swimming isn’t the best. 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
A great 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. Multi million dollar homes overlook this spot that was once the main harbor for Maui.
Located in Kihei, Chang’s Beach is highly prized 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 comes in right. Summer is best for surfing in this area, unless you get that occasional winter swell.
South Maui’s only red sand beach, Oneuli Beach is hidden away off of Wailea Alanui Drive. The sand here is finer and mixed with darker minerals than Hana red sand beach. 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. Caution during South or West swells! Because the red sand is so dark, you may want to keep your shoes or sandals on. The color traps in the heat.
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 gorgeous perfect beaches here. D.T. Flemings is located on the Upper West of Maui, and the North of Kapalua. Near the Ritz Carleton. It is a public beach park with lifeguards, facilities, picnic tables, barbeque grills. People swim, body surf, and surf here regularly. Flemings has a good-sized parking lot and plenty of beach to soak up the sun. Afternoons can be a bit windy like many of Maui’s beaches.
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 stunning beaches in Maui, Kapalua Beach is postcard perfect. 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 best for swimming. The reef is shallow from the shore all the way out. It can be dangerous to be in the water here especially during the winter swells. Make sunset reservations at Merrimans Restaurant and gaze out over this incredible land and waterscape. Absolutely romantic.
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 caramel sand. The water is simply turquoise.
Launiupoko Beach Park
Launiupoko Beach is fun for longboard surfers, surfers and SUP. 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 with many birthday parties and family celebrations on weekends and holidays. Good place for picnics.
Puamana Beach County Park
A wonderful 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, SUP. 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.
North (Central) Maui Beaches
Kanaha Beach Park
This is a great beach for kiteboarding and windsurfing and surfing (when conditions are good). Kanaha’s strong afternoon wind conditions make this an excellent spot for these sports. The swimming and beach are nice as well. Great Sand beach volleyball areas, lifeguards, showers, picnic tables, and restroom facilities. This is also where you can take windsurf and kitesurf lessons. Sign up for lessons at the local surf shop like High Tech and learn!
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 not easy to find. Of course the planes flying overhead are fun to watch but quite noisy. These pros 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 their way.
H.A. Baldwin Beach Park
You get a lot of beach here. Typically wide sandy beach and blue blue water. Though usually very windy, it can be a great place to swim and play. 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 sessions. 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! 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 is definitely meant for the well experienced!
Mama’s Fish House Beach (Kuau Cove)
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 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 the right swell, you will find surfers, wind and kite.
With good surfing in the winter, Waihe’e Beach is a small and narrow beach that is typically pretty low key.
East Maui Beaches
Hana Beach Park
Hana Bay is the focal point of Hana, Maui, with good surf off the North side of the bay. Lots of cultural activities. With no lifeguards, Hana Bay has picnic, and restroom facilities.
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 one of my favorites . Hamoa has been rated as one of the best bodysurfing beaches in Maui.
Kaihalulu AKA Red Sand Beach
South of Hana Bay, on the far side of Ka’uiki hill, you’ll find one of Maui’s treasures. To access the beach, you’ll be traversing private property, so get permission first. The trail is dangerous and slippery along a cliff, so use caution! Once you get down, you’ll find a red-cliff enclosed beach. The sand is red and you may even find nudists.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Black Sand Beaches, Wai’anapanapa’s Honokalani Beach is intriguing. From the large sea cave down by the water, to the mythical 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 create a dramatic backdrop to the bright blue ocean and white foam from crashing waves.
A secluded and often unattended beautiful beach near Hana and Hamoa beach is Koki Beach. For some reason the debris tends to collect here. Not sure why but this may be the reason why its not frequented by visitors.
All of the Maui Photography and Video was provided Jeannie Kong unless otherwise noted.
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