If you visit in the summertime, Keawakapu is the picture of tranquility- a peaceful white sand beach with a gently sloping shoreline and calm waters. In winter months, however, the unprotected shoreline is pounded by high surf. Keawakapu is best known for the man-made reef of old car bodies just offshore which makes this a natural gathering spot for a variety of tropical fish, and therefore snorkelers. Facilities here include a shower and paved parking, with other amenities found "next door" at Ulua and Mokapu beaches. Keawakapu is the most peaceful, if least distinct, of this group of beaches.
If you are looking for a beach on which to walk or run for long distances, this is a beach for you, as you will find hard- packed sand all the way to Kihei. If you have a surfboard under your arm, this area should be attractive as well.
Otherwise, you may want to head south to Kihei or Wailea for a beach excursion. The water here is not too clear (by Hawaii standards) making it unattractive for both swimming and snorkeling. The omnipresent wind can also be an annoyance for sunbathers and sand players. In short, if you are here during the winter this is a great place to catch glimpses of whales just offshore as you take a long stroll along the coastline. For anything else, jump in the car and head south.
This beach is part of the white sand shoreline that extends from Maalaea through Kihei. The name means "Forget Me Not", and this park which is dedicated to veterans won’t be forgotten if you are looking for a vantage point for incredible winter whale watching. The gentle slope of the beach and an inshore bottom that consists mostly of sand makes this a great spot for both swimming and wading. The park includes many amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. This is the beginning of the many nice, narrow beaches of Kihei which are great for a casual day at the beach.
The three "Kam" beaches all offer just about everything you could want in a day at the beach. They all offer full facilities, with lifeguards at One and Two, and each beach has spectacular views of Molokini, Kaho’olawe, Lanai, and northwest Maui. However, while they are all similar, each one has its own unique charms.
has soft and pure sand with plenty of room for laying out your beach towels and blankets. The beach slopes gently into the ocean where the calm waters and gradual grade are perfect for wading and swimming. For those itching to test out their new boards, Cove Park on the extreme north end of the beach is a popular sight for surf instruction. A sand volleyball court also adds to the fun here. The only detractor at Kam I is the proximity of the road which could divert attention from its otherwise pristine beauty.
is nearly identical to its sister to the north, lacking only the volleyball court but making up for it with more of a border from the road. A small sand knoll covered in plants cuts down on the presence of the road.Kamaole Beach Part II is the closest beach to Auntie Snorkel Shop! Come by the shop, and ask Mark or Paul about the local beaches. We're happy to share our unique local knowledge with visitors to Maui. There's a lot more to this island than you'll find in the guidebooks!
offers the most seclusion, with a small beach area being found on the other side of a large grass field. The beach has a little more of a shorebreak than Kam I or Kam II and is perfect for little kids who are eager to play in the surf. The real draw to Kam III, however, is the field which offers a playground, shade, and plenty of room for other activities. The proximity of all three Kamaole beaches makes it easy to visit each one (in Kihei) before deciding on the spot that suits you best. Wherever you decide to lay down your beach towels, you can’t go wrong with any of the Kamaoles.
Found just below the former Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort, Mokapu is more chic than its sister beaches Keawakapu and Ulua. Blue umbrellas shade patrons on white lounge chairs provided by the hotel, and the wood plank walkway behind the beach takes visitors to a resort sponsored activity center. The beach is pure white sand with calm tides (at least in summer) rounding out the tranquil setting.
One of the most popular of the Wailea beaches, Ulua offers something for everyone. When conditions are calm, this is one of the best Maui snorkeling sites and beginning scuba classes are often conducted here. When the surf is up, however, Ulua has some of the better swells around and attracts both body and board surfers. For sunbathers, Ulua offers a large crescent of white sand extending south, with most activities originating on the northern end. For those who enjoy shade, a large grassy knoll provides a perfect place to picnic and enjoy the sights. Public restrooms and showers round out this beach which caters to everyone’s wishes.
Wailea Beach appears to have been taken directly out of a travel brochure, and it is the quintessential upscale resort beach of Maui. Located below the Grand Wailea Resort, the beach is dotted with blue covered lounges, and a volleyball court occupies a piece of the soft white sand. The gentle slope of the shoreline makes this a perfect place for children to play, swimmers to swim, and beginning snorkelers to try out their new masks. If you are lucky, the ocean trampoline may be just offshore for your pleasure. The beach is open to the public, so even if you can’t afford the Grad Wailea, a trip to this beach makes you feel like you have splurged.
Polo Beach is a conglomerate of all the beaches of Wailea. Backed by resorts and private homes, with covered lounge chairs scattered over the sand, Polo is the less glamorous sister of the resort beach Wailea. On calm days, the snorkeling here can rival that of Ulua and Keawakapu, and when the surf is up the offshore bodyboarding can be as good as anywhere in the area. Facilities here are top notch, with shaded parking and paved walkways. So if you want a little of everything found in Wailea, Polo Beach offers it all.
Also referred to as Makena Beach, this is one of the true gems of the Maui coastline. One of the single largest white sand beaches, "Big Beach" looks like it is taken straight out of a tourist publication. The water is an unparalleled crystal blue, the shore bottom is pure sand, and the shorebreak often attracts bodyboarders. Surrounded by undeveloped land, Oneloa has a pristine look that you won’t find at any of the other major beaches. The only drawbacks here are the possibility of cloud-cover coming off of Haleakala and a lack of facilities. There are port-a-potties, however, and everything else is not truly necessary to enjoy this incredibly beautiful spot. For the truly adventurous, try a visit to "Little Beach" just on the other side of the cliff on the right…
Surrounded by the beauty of nature, this beach is usually packed by people getting into the spirit by going "au naturel". While public nudity is illegal, it is almost uniformly overlooked at this popular spot. "Little Beach" is also an excellent swimming beach, and the offshore surf break commonly attracts body boarders and surfers. The pure white sand is perfect for laying out, but you may find it difficult to find room for your beach blanket. If nudity does not bother you, Little Beach is one of the best beaches on Maui.
North Kihei's Sugar Beach is one of the area's best walking beaches. You're likely to find long stretches of deserted beach, some of which shows off the wilder, more local side of the south Maui shoreline. It speaks volumes that this area is also home to one of the area's best windsurfing spots: north Kihei's beaches are notoriously windy in the afternoons, which is why they're most popular among morning walkers.
Lahaina/Kaanapali (15 + minutes north of Lahaina) This is a beach park so the facilities are wonderful. The beach seems to go on forever and snorkeling is really nice at this spot. As it is fairly exposed to winds there can be a bit of a current here. Just be careful when you get in the water and keep your eyes on the shore. Traveling north past Lahaina Town, turn left on Kai Ala. Follow the "beach access" signs to the right.
This beach consists of one of the longest stretches of white sand coastline on the island and, as its nickname "Dig Me" implies, this is the place to "see and be seen". So, if you have the kind of body you just have to show off or you feel the need to satisfy your voyeuristic side, come on down to Kaanapali. This beach is much more than just a showplace, however, and offers an incredible array of activities and amenities. Charter boats regularly set sail from shore, and rental companies offer all kinds of activities. The sun-bathing here is world-class, although you will have to search for any shady areas if you need to get out of the midday sun. Beyond the beach Kaanapali offers some of the finest resort accomadations, shopping, and beachfront restaurants in the Hawaiian Islands. There is a reason that this is one of Hawaii’s top tourist destinations, so if the crowds don’t bother you, experience this beach for yourself. About 1 mile outside of Lahaina Town on the main highway (30), take the first Kaanapali Resorts entrance. Public parking can be hard to find, but does exist next to all the Resorts so keep an eye out for "Beach Parking" signs.
Used as the launching site for numerous canoe clubs (hence the nickname), this beach is also the beginning of a huge stretch of shoreline which extends all the through Kaanapali and on to Honokowai. Called Canoe Beach by almost everyone, this park area is perfect for a number of activities. The shorebreak often attracts bodyboarders, and once beyond the surf you will find the conditions to be perfect for swimming parallel to the expansive shoreline. Sunbathing here is also quite good, but the beach lacks the pristine quality of a Kaanapali or Kapalua Beach. Just north of Lahaina Town on Honoapiilani Highway (30), the parking entrance is the first left after Wahikuli State Beach, and just before the Kaanapali Resorts.
This beach is very close to Lahaina and is popular for visitors and residents of the area. A good spot for families to relax for the day, as there are plenty of tables, BBQ pits, and shady areas just up from the shore. The water here is not great for surfing, but calmer and better suited to good swimming and snorkeling. This beach is located right next to the Hanaka'o'o Beach Park, almost as an extension to the Canoe Beach, so parking may be found at both places. Located on the very northern edge of Lahaina Town, look for the sign on the left when traveling north on Honoapiilani Highway.
Known to some locals as "Hot Sands", this park just south of Lahaina Town is a popular spot for surfers looking for small but plentiful offshore swells. The ocean here is rather shallow with a rock and sand floor, making it good for swimmers and o.k. for young shoreline frolickers. Like many of the beaches along the highway between Maalaea and Lahaina, this is a nice spot but it lacks the qualities which would make it memorable enough to recount when you return home- unless of course, you test your skills riding the waves. Located on the very southern edge of Lahaina Town off of Honoapiilani Highway. Look for the sign.
This is a popular spot for novice surfers, but for those of you who lack boards, there is little to draw you to this spot other than a need to use the facilities. The shoreline is shallow and decent for wading, and while the sand isn’t of the pure white variety, it does offer plenty of space to lay out your towel or beach chair. There are plenty of facilities to enjoy, including bathrooms, showers, barbecues, and picnic tables. If you stop you should also make sure to take the time to enjoy the view of all three off-shore islands (*uh-oh, a quiz!). Overall, if you don’t have a surfboard, either rent one from one of the convenient activity rental companies or keep on going to one of the other great beach destinations on this side of the island. Found a few miles south of Lahaina Town. Look for the sign.
Sometimes referred to as "Thousand Peaks", this beach offers numerous offshore breaks for the surfers in the crowd. The beach itself is long and narrow, but there is plenty of room to lay out provided you keep a lookout for the numerous, and painful, kiawe tree stickers. Swimming and snorkeling here is decent enough, but not spectacular. Like other beaches along the highway, Papalaua can be convenient if not spectacular. On Honoapiilani Highway between mile markers 11 and 12. There is no turn lane and no paved parking so use caution getting on and off the highway.
Lahaina (15 minutes drive south from Lahaina) This area is protected from waves when the rest of the snorkel spots might be inaccessible due to swell conditions. The reef area reaches out to sea about 250 feet with perfect visibility due to the shallow 15-20 feet depth. Again, one of the favorites for fish and turtles. There is beach but it is rather thin, especially at low tide. You'll just be pulling off the road to enjoy this snorkel spot. No facilities. As the name suggests, the beach is located at mile marker 14 on Honoapiilani Highway(30). There are no turn lanes or paved parking, so be careful getting on and off the highway.
Popular with local fishermen, this beach has little else to make it stand out in the crowd of excellent Maui beaches. There is a paved parking lot, some grills and picnic tables, and a restroom. The beach is rather small and the shoreline is rocky. All in all, not a very exciting place for a day at the beach. Located between mile markers 12 and 13 on Honoapiilani Highway. Look for the sign.
25 + minutes north of Lahaina, the best time for snorkeling at Honolua Bay is during the summer (in the winter the north swell makes it difficult to go in the water except for wave riding). The snorkeling here is exceptional with a wonderful variety of fish and some great turtle watching. There are no facilities and it is a bit of a hike down a steep hill to get down to the beach. Do not leave valuables in your car and you might consider leaving your car unlocked. Unfortunately this area is known for cars being broken into and items being stolen. Two miles north past Kapalua Bay Resort on Honoapiilani Highway, there will be cars parked on the left-hand side of the road. The beach is accessed by walking a short distance under a canopy of tropical trees. Make sure not to leave valuables in your car.
Tucked against the cliff-slide, this little crescent of white sand provides a perfect environment for the sun-seeker, while the more active explore the incredible snorkeling found in this tiny bay. In winter months conditions can be dangerous as heavy surf pounds the shore, but the summer often bring perfect conditions for bodysurfers. Concrete stairs lead down to this incredibly picturesque beach that still bares the unfortunate name "Slaughterhouse" among the locals. The name is a holdover from the time when two sheds were constructed by Honolua Ranch on the cliffs overlooking the beach. The sheds were torn down in the mid- Sixties, but the name remains. Although the moniker doesn't conjure up pleasant images, a trip to Slaughterhouse will be rewarded by one of the most attractive beaches on the island. Head North on Honoapiilani Highway. The beach is located just short of two miles past the entrance to the Kapalua Bay Resorts.
Beautiful, big , and wide, Fleming Beach is one of the best on the Northwest side of the island and surprisingly uncrowded considering its beauty and many amenities. Located between two large reefs on either side, the swimming here can be ideal when the conditions permit. However, when the wind kicks up, this protected cove becomes choppy and bodysurfers are more likely to head into the water. Fleming Beach is situated at the bottom of the Kapalua Ritz-Carlton, and while the beach chairs are meant for guests an unoccupied chair is not too hard to find. Other amenities associated with the hotel include a restaurant overlooking the beach with an activity rental center attached. Accommodations provided by the park include restrooms, barbecue grills, showers, and a lifeguard. When conditions are rough, Fleming Beach is not ideal for families with small children who like to play in the surf. However, when things are good, Fleming can be great! Watch for red flags posted along the beach which warn of strong riptides- a fairly common occurrence in winter. Drive north on Honoapiilani Highway past Kapalua Bay Resort for about one mile. Turn left and follow the "shoreline access" signs.
Kapalua is Hawaiian for "arms embracing the sea", and nowhere is this more visible than at Kapalua Bay Beach. One of the most popular destinations for beach-goers on the Northwest side of the island, this crescent of white sand is nestled between two black lava rock points which reach out into the sea and protect the bay from the rough ocean currents. The soft white sand here is quite enticing, but the beach is also sloped toward the ocean and heavily populated by tourists. However, a small grassy area sprinkled with palm trees provides plenty of room to lay out for those who aren’t at the beach to be "seen". The swimming here is quite good, although confined, the snorkeling is decent, and there is occasional surf. Thus, while it may not have the best of these individual attractions, Kapalua Bay Beach offers a little bit of everything in a truly ideal environment. Public accomadations include bathrooms, two showers, and an activities rental shack. Access at the southern end of Kapalua on Lower Honoapiilani Highway, on the northern side of the Napili Kai Beach Club. There is public parking but it is limited, so if you park on the street make sure it is in a legal area.
One of our favorites for a casual day at the beach, Napili Bay has all of the amenities of a world class beach but lacks any one outstanding feature that would bring in flocks of tourists. The beach here is a large crescent of fine white sand with a flat shelf that slopes rather steeply toward the ocean. That slope continues into the crystal blue water, leading to a rather strong rip current and shorebreaks that draw bodyboarders during the winter months. All other times of the year, however, the water here is ideal for swimmers. Snorkeling is decent on the left-hand side of the beach, but not of a caliber to draw people here for that purpose. Napili Bay Beach is often overlooked in favor of its neighbor, Kapalua Beach, yet it offers many of the same perks without the density of beachgoers. Public access is found at the end of Hui St. off of Lower Honoapiilani Highway. Parking is legal along the street, with a convenience store and beach shower adding to the amenities.
Beginning at the Kahana Beach Resort and continuing past the Sands of Kahana, this stretch of beach offers plenty of space for you sunbathers. The swimming here is very good thanks to a protective offshore reef, but the combination of sand and rock as you enter the water may discourage the younger beach-goers from playing in the shore-break. Kahana is a nice beach which is never very crowded, but not one that you should actively search out if you are not staying in the area. Take Hoohui road off of Honoapiilani Highway and head west toward the ocean. Turn left on Lower Honoapiilani Highway and look for parking on the far side of the Kahana Beach Resort.
If you are on the north side of the island, this is the best beach around. For the active type, the body boarding here is usually perfect with numerous shorebreaks, and the hard packed sand is excellent for walking or running. The shore bottom is almost pure sand, and the crystal blue water is seemingly endless with no offshore islands to break up the horizon. As with all northern beaches, the wind can be an annoyance, but it usually isn’t too bad in the summer months. Public facilities here are unparalleled with restrooms, numerous picnic tables and grills, a basketball court, and a soccer field. Baldwin Beach is perfect for a day in the waves, a barbecue lunch, or a complete family outing.
Made famous in songs and travel literature, Ho’okipa is the number one destination for windsurfers. On any given day visitors will witness some of the world’s best windsurfers performing their stunning aerobatics. The constant ocean swells on the eastern side of the beach near the cliff makes this a perfect spot for surfers as well. The beach itself is a small strip of white sand which tends to whip through the air due to the constant wind. The mixture of rock, reef, and sand makes the shoreline uninviting for those not heading out into the waves. Amenities here include grills, covered tables, and bathrooms. While you may not want to test your prowess in the heavy surf, Ho’okipa is worth a visit just to see the aerial display put on by some of the world’s greatest windsurfers.
Inside one of the most popular State Parks which allows beachside camping, Wainapanapa Beach is spectacularly scenic and dangerous if not respected. The beach itself is a small pocket of black sand. The ocean here is rough with a large shorebreak and an ocean bottom that drops off quickly to overhead depths. This is a wonderful place to camp or rent a cabin (although the waiting list for these can be horrendous), but the beach itself offers only breathtaking scenery and stark beauty. Bring your camera, but leave your beach gear in the car for a trip south.
While this spot definitely offers some of the safest swimming on Maui’s eastside, it is also one of the less spectacular beaches in the Hana area. This cove is protected from the heavy eastern surf and it offers some decent snorkeling as long as you stay close to shore and avoid the strong outer currents. The beach itself is long and wide, but the hardpacked and dark brown sand is not as inviting as the multi- colored sands of nearby beaches. Hana Beach is popular with residents, but it lacks the romantic beauty associated with and easily found throughout Hana.
Kaihalulu beach is definitely in contention for the most visually stunning beach in the islands, and therefore the world. Formed when a volcanic cinder cone blew out its seawall, this rare red sand beach retains the appearance of violent creation, yet green trees amidst the rocks attest to the passage of time. Now, Kaihalulu is one of the most relaxing places in Maui. The difficulties in finding and reaching this beach keeps the population down and allows nudity to be commonplace. The red sand is coarse, but just fine for laying out on a beach towel or mat. A jagged offshore rock wall about twenty feet out provides the cove with some protection from the turbulent sea that surrounds the beach. The small swimming area that is created is perfect for casual swimming and snorkeling. While nudity may not be your forté, who knows, maybe the natural beauty of this idyllic spot will inspire you to go "au naturel" yourself.
It would be a crime for anyone who loves the beach to go to Hana without making a trip to Hamoa. This beach caters to those who prize idyllic beauty over tourist beaches with their long stretches of populated white sand. James Michener, the inveterate beachgoer, called it "a beach so perfectly formed that I wonder at its comparative obscurity." Although still relatively "obscure", high profile figures such as Hillary Clinton have come to Hamoa in recent years to enjoy this beautiful beach. Although affiliated with the Hana Hotel, the beach and most of its amenities are open to the public. The beach itself is a crescent of black and gold sand backed by a grass area, palm trees, and cliffs. The sand continues into the crystalline blue-green waters until overhead depths make the offshore rocks a moot point. The surf here is often quite high and can be perfect for a day of riding the undulating current but, as always, be very cautious and aware of dangerous conditions. Surrounded by black volcanic rock and in the midst of tropical splendour, Hamoa is a must for visitors and residents alike.
A large white sand beach, Koki is best to visit in summer, as the beach can become rather barren and exposed with dangerous rocks during winter. There are limited amenities here, but camping is allowed on the beach, giving it an advantage over many of the other Maui beaches. From Hana, take the Hana highway south towards Kula. Several miles past the Wananalua Church in Hana, look for signs directing you towards Koki Beach Park and Hamoa Beach.