Best Beaches on Maui
Probably more so than any other island, the Maui experience is centered around beaches. This is because Maui's beaches are the most accessible and centrally-located of all the Hawaiian Islands. Since they all tend to be on wind-protected leeward areas of West and South Maui, they tend to be the most user-friendly. The beaches you'll find below have been researched and compiled through firsthand experience. We hope you find these beaches to be enjoyable and fun. We had a lot of fun in putting this list together.
Resort Area : Kapalua
D. T. Fleming Beach, named "America's Best Beach" in 2006 on Dr. Beach's famous list, is a favorite swimming and snorkeling spot as well as a relatively competitive surf zone in Maui.
It's a cove named for the man who started commercial pineapple crops in the area and curves from the 16th hole of the Kapalua golf course at Makaluapuna Point round to the sea cliffs.
Snorkeling is fun - there are tons of colorful fish chasing each other around - and there's a shallow sandbar offshore that rounds out a nice swimming area.
The beach is popular but not too crowded and trees provide shade across the sandy strip. Waves are particularly good near the sea cliffs on the right edge of the beach and lifeguards are on duty. Facilities include parking, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecue grills.
The beach park is off Hwy. 30 north of Kapalua.
Resort Area : Paia
H.A. Baldwin Park is a community park with a beautiful long white-sand beach that is utilized well by Maui residents. Its facilities include picnic tables, restrooms, showers, parking areas, baseball diamond, and a soccer field.
The beach is within walking distance from Paia so it attracts locals and is a family outing place on the weekends.
The waves on this central North Maui beach are perfect for bodyboarding and sometimes for surfing. Lifeguards are present on the Paia end, but the wind usually picks up in the afternoons and can make strong currents hazardous - be especially careful outside of the reef just offshore.
There are two areas somewhat surrounded by rocks that are safe pools for young children to swim - one section near the large pavilion and another at the opposite end of the beach.
Most of the shore borders sandy and grassy dunes which block the beach from the parking lot view, so don't leave valuables in your car and be aware of personal safety.
Baldwin Park is located off Hana Hwy. between Sprecklesville and Paia.
Resort Area : Hana
Beautiful Hamoa Beach on East Maui has been voted one of Hawaii's favorites. Sea cliffs with lush tropical vegetation surround the bay of gray sand, which is made up of crushed coral and lava.
The Hotel Hana Maui maintains the beach, which is actually public property, and offers some amenities specific to their guests (chairs, towels, umbrellas, etc.). Their restrooms and outdoor showers, however, are open to everyone.
A nearby beach hut rents out bodyboard and snorkeling equipment. Although snorkeling is best near the rocky outcroppings on either side, the waves are very popular for surfers and bodyboarders along the entire 100 feet of sand. Powerful currents and offshore breaks are not protected by any fringing reefs, so it's an ideal spot for experienced surfers (but a tough place to start learning) and no lifeguards are present.
The Pacific scenery is topped off by the small island of Alau visible from the shore. Take the Hamoa Beach turnoff from Hana Hwy. (Hwy. 360) and park on the road then take the steps down to the beach.
Resort Area : Paia
Hookipa Beach is a world-famous windsurfing location and the site of two major world-class competitions each year. With coconut trees lining the gold sand, and strong winds and constant waves rolling in to shore, this beach has been described as a mecca for surfers since the 1930's and the "home of contemporary surfing."
A grassy cliff provides a great viewing spot for spectators of the sport, and there is a coral reef 1/8 mile long that creates a calmer pool in which to take a dip during less windy moments.
Snorkelers and divers enjoy the reef as well, but need to time their explorations around intense wind conditions and the daring surfers who might fly by on some of these ideal Maui coastline waves.
The beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, and parking available, but there are no lifeguards on duty and the shoreline is a bit rocky.
It's located a couple miles past Paia by mile marker 9 on Hana Hwy.
Resort Area : Kaanapali
Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui's resort hot spots, a four-mile stretch of golden sand completely open to the public but bordered by resorts, shops, and restaurants along the paved boardwalk or "the strip."
It's popular, but crowded only in spots, and definitely large enough to find your own section of paradise.
The Black Rock landmark (also called "Soul's leap") in front of the Sheraton is a popular if somewhat scary jumping point and also an incredible snorkeling location with clear and flat waters full of colorful fish and turtles.
Sunset views are always amazing and the summertime swimming is idyllic but there's some seasonal high surf and occasional strong currents, especially in winter.
There are lifeguards on duty, outdoor showers, and public restrooms in the nearby hotel pool areas. Vendors also line the strip with water activity equipment rentals.
Kaanapali is off Hwy. 30 in west Maui and although there are a few spots for public parking (near the Maui Kaanapali Villas), you'll almost always need to walk through one resort or another to reach the beach, so you may just want to park at one of the hotels and spend some money but save some time.
Resort Area : Kihei
The seaside town of Kihei in South Maui has three Kamaole beaches, named simply Kamaole I, II, and III, each with a slightly different ambiance.
The third one is the most popular, but all are easily accessible and busy with locals and tourists.
Kamaole I has a large strip of fine white sand with great swimming conditions and grassy picnic areas.
Number II is just south, with a smaller sandy area but is also good for swimming.
The third is the largest of the three and the most popular, with a strip of golden sand, playground for children, and lawn leading down to the water that's perfect for picnics, Frisbee-throwing, or kite-flying.
The waves are more consistent there and it's a good spot for boogie boarding and some surfing when the winter surf picks up. Fish like to hang out near the rocks at both ends of the beach so snorkeling is fun in those relatively shallow waters. Lava rocks are spread around the shoreline and the water dips quickly after a certain point out, so swimming is generally safe but currents and waves can gain strength quickly.
Kamaole has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecue grills, and is also an amazing place to see a Maui sunset.
These beaches are just off South Kihei Rd., with parking across from the Maui Parkshore condos.
Resort Area : Kapalua
Kapalua Beach is a golden sand cove in front of the Kapalua Bay hotel, with lava rock points protecting the water on both ends from any large swells.
The other edge of the sand is bordered by a coconut tree grove, a path, and lawns with swaying palm trees dotting the landscape. The beach gently slopes towards a calm, clear bay that's deep enough for snorkeling, wide enough for kayaking, and flat enough for young swimmers to safely paddle around, too.
A variety of tropical fish gather near the lava rocks, so it's a wonderful area to explore the sea life as well. Tranquil waves slowly roll in at this postcard perfect location and the surf is never too strong or powerful.
The hotel end includes chairs, umbrellas, and an activities center for its guests, but there is also public access on the other side and the entire beach is open to the public. Lifeguard, restroom, and outdoor shower facilities are provided.
It's popular and somewhat crowded at times, with only 30 or so public parking spots. You can walk to the beach if you're staying at the Kapalua Bay hotel, or use the small parking lot located off Lower Honoapiilani Rd. by Napili Kai Beach Club if you're not.
Resort Area : Makena
Maluaka Beach is one of four beaches surrounding Makena Bay in South Maui.
The somewhat isolated Maui Prince resort, some exquisite golf courses, and gentle sloping hills of kiawe trees are the only other scenery around, and the beaches are outstanding. Maluaka Beach is closest to the hotel and has mostly calm waters for some of the best swimming in the bay.
Snorkeling is also excellent near the two black lava points that sit at either end, and you can see Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokini from the shore.
Palm trees and grassy sand dunes offer shade and picnic spots, and there are restrooms and showers available and lifeguards on duty. Be on the lookout for seasonal high surf, especially in the winter.
You can park along Makena Rd.. To get there, turn right off Makena Alanui at the "Shoreline Access" sign near the hotel, then head towards the water.
Resort Area : Makena
The popular Maui location Oneloa Beach (sometimes called Big Beach, Makena Beach, or just THE beach), is almost a mile long and over 100 feet wide. It was part of an even larger beach that was divided by a 1970 earthquake and lava flow that created the cinder cone hill called Puu Olai ("Earthquake Hill") now sitting on Big Beach's northern end.
Across that hill and connected by a short path is a much smaller strip of sand called Little Beach. While that spot feels more deserted, with the lava rock surrounding a tiny bay on three sides and a steep hill starting just behind the golden sand, local authorities actually give it a bit of attention since it's become somewhat of a nudist hangout (watch out, you can actually get a lewd conduct ticket!).
Oneloa is Hawaiian for "long sand" and this long beach is especially busy on weekends. It was named favorite beach among Hawaii Magazine readers and has picnic areas and paved parking lots (but only portable toilets). You can see both Kahoolawe and Lanai from its shore and snorkeling is particularly good around the foot of Puu Olai.
The surfing and bodyboarding conditions are usually great, and the southern end of the beach draws a surfing crowd. Thunderous waves can build up during storms, and strong currents can be dangerous, especially since most of Big Beach's waters are directly open to the ocean.
It's off Makena Alanui Rd.. Drive past the Maui Prince hotel to the second dirt road and drive through the trees to the shore.
Resort Area : Wailea
Ulua Beach is yet another example of a perfect Maui strip of golden sand - wide and crescent-shaped with two rocky points at each end for great protection from the open ocean and for great snorkeling and diving when the waters are calm, especially near the south end.
Although it was named for an island and bird sanctuary that used to sit offshore, that land was actually destroyed during WWII artillery practice and Ulua doesn't have the nearby reef directly offshore that other Hawaiian beaches do to slow open ocean waves.
The sometimes rough waters make for good surfing or bodyboarding and swimming is generally safe, with the shallow and gently sloping sandy floor. But there are no lifeguards on duty and strong currents can occur quickly plus there are some rock hazards to look out for.
It's been named one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in America and is very popular with the general Wailea resort crowd staying nearby. The Ocean Activity Center is also close and rents a variety of water sports equipment.
The beach offers restrooms and shower facilities and there's a small parking lot under the blue "Shoreline Access" sign on South Kihei Rd. near the Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort.
Resort Area : Lahaina
Wahikuli County Wayside Park includes one of Lahaina's most popular beaches, a small stretch of sand that's great for family visits.
Its calm water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling amongst the fish but it isn't an ideal place to surf.
The park includes restrooms, showers, covered pavilions, picnic tables, and BBQ grills. There's also free parking in the paved parking lot and plenty of shady spots.
This lovely sandy area on the very northern edge of Lahaina Town is a favorite for the weekend crowd especially. You can reach the beach off Hwy. 30, it's on the left as you travel north on your way to Kaanapali.
Resort Area : Hana
Waianapanapa ("glistening waters") is a 120-acre state park with a black sand beach, fresh water caves, historical sites, and blowholes. King's Highway, an ancient coastal footpath, makes for a nice coastline hike from the beach to the town of Hana a few miles away, and the black sand of the small sea arch is actually tiny, smooth lava pebbles that formed when hot lava flow came into contact with the cool waters of the ocean and the waves shattered them against the shoreline.
The beach, also called Honokalani, is set against lava cliffs that include tidepools and volcanic tubes.
Legend has it that an ancient Hawaiian Chief killed his wife in one large cave, where she was hiding after her jealous husband wrongly suspected her of infidelity, and that the tidepool waters of Waianapanapa cave turn red at times during the year to commemorate her death. (The scientific reason for the color change is thought to be small red shrimp.)
There is tent camping allowed by permit, cabin camping by reservation, restrooms, showers, picnic, and parking facilities.
Powerful currents and strong waves hit the beach and swimming is dangerous, especially near the rocky reef. It's important to remember not to take any sand from this beach - it's a rare and limited natural resource that cannot be recreated.
Off Hana Hwy. (Hwy. 360), just past mile marker 32, take the paved road to the left.
Resort Area : Wailea
Wailea Beach is one of the best beaches serving Maui's South Shore resorts, with a perfectly curved wide shoreline and black lava points at each end.
The waters of this mini bay are protected from strong surf and lovely for swimming and snorkeling. Its waves aren't the professional surf wave sizes of other Hawaii beaches, but they're big enough and fun to ride.
The shore provides a great vantage point to see Pacific humpback whales as they swim by between December and April, and you can also see the islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokini plus spectacular sunsets from the soft Wailea sand.
A paved walkway connects the many resorts along this beach, with lush tropical plants, restaurants, and sandy coves to explore. There are restrooms, showers, and limited free parking on Wailea Alanui Dr. (park at the blue "Shoreline Access" sign).