The beaches of Maui are one of the main attractions that keep people coming
back time and again. All beaches on Maui are available for public use, and
public access is provided through the developed areas. The ocean is ordinarily
safe for swimming and snorkeling, but pay attention to any advisories that
might be out. Usually, the beaches on the leeward side are calmer, but the
North Shore can be very nice when the wind and surf are light. The early morning
before the wind comes up and the ocean is calm is usually the best time for
In the descriptions below, we'll start in Northwest Maui, going down through
West Maui and South Maui, and then jump up to the North Shore and go Eastward
Northwest Maui Beaches
Bay - Also known as "Slaughterhouse" because
the Honolua Ranch which sits above the bay once had a couple of slaughterhouses
nearby. They are gone, but the name remains. The small beach is accessible
by a long stairway down the cliff. There is good snorkeling, but during the
winter the ocean is often rough here. Parking is along the highway.
LOCATED: Past Kapalua on the Honopi'ilani Highway, and then past D.T. Fleming Beach Park at mile marker 32.
Honolua Bay Beach - This is a popular snorkeling spot
on Maui where the Hawaiian sea turtles can frequently be seen. You'll notice
a few charter boats docked in the bay. Honolua Bay offers a rocky shore (not
a sandy beach) and beautiful underwater reefs with lots of colorful reef fish.
LOCATED: The beach lies between mile markers 32 and 33 on Highway 30. Park in the turnout, and after a short walk through the jungle you'll come to the shore.
DT Flemming Beach - This popular beach is wide and beautiful with two large reefs to protect it. During winter months there can be large surf and riptides, so watch for red flags which means swimmers should use caution. The amenities include rest rooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, beach chairs, lifeguards, and paved parking.
LOCATED: At the Ritz-Carlton Resort. Take Honoapiilani Highway Route 30 1 mile north of Kapalua Resort, follow the signs to the left.
Kapalua Beach - A quite popular beach located on the northern
side of Napili Bay. Kapalua means "arms embracing the sea", and that is exactly
the situation here with two lava points reaching out and protecting the sandy
bay from the turbulent ocean. There is good swimming and snorkeling, and
a grassy area. Amenities include paved parking, rest rooms, showers.
LOCATED: Take Lower Honoapiilani Highway, past Bay Club restaurant just north of the Napili Kai Beach Club and before Kapalua Bay Hotel.
Napili Bay Beach - A beautiful cove with fine white sand,
and excellent conditions for swimming most of the year. It’s not as popular
as Kapalua Beach, but is just as beautiful without being as crowded. The snorkeling
is decent on one side. It is located near the Napili Kai Beach Club. Amenities
are minimal, but there are showers and a convenience store.
LOCATED: 5900 Lower Honoapiilani Hwy. From upper highway (30), take road toward beach closest to Kapalua Resort and then look to park at the end of Hui Street.
West Maui Beaches
Kahekili State Park (Airport Beach) –
This beach lies just to the north of Black Rock and is along the northern part
of Kaanapali. It is not as developed along here as the rest of the Kaanapali
area, so the beach is not as crowded, even though there is excellent swimming
and very good snorkeling here. Named for a Maui king, the beach is long and
sandy with rocky areas. Amenities include restrooms, covered picnic tables,
showers, telephones and pavilion.
Located: Along Honoapiilani Highway (30) going north from Lahaina, just past Mile Marker 25 turn left on Kai Ala Drive to Kahekili Beach Park.
Black Rock - Located in the middle of Kaanapali Beach,
this huge black lava rock reaches out into the sea and is a well known landmark.
The snorkeling here around the rock is some of the best on Maui with a large
assortment of fish and often large sea turtles. As you snorkel out about
400 feet to the end of the rock, the water is at about 70 feet deep, and
ordinarily the water clarity is such you have no problem seeing things clearly
on the bottom even at that depth. You will often see locals jumping off the
top into the ocean, and Hawaiian legend says that the spirits of warriors
left the earth to meet their ancestors by leaping from this rock. There are
no amenities here except what is available at the resorts.
LOCATED: On Kaanapali beach in front of the Sheraton Resort. From Highway 30 turn into the Kaanapali Parkway, and find parking as near the Sheraton you can. There is paid parking in the Whaler’s Village parking lot, or there is a lot between the Sheraton and Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
Kaanapali Beach - A very long stretch of beach along the
impressive resorts in the Kaanapali area. There is a paved walkway all along
the beach, and if you want action and people watching, this is the place to
come. You can windsurf, jet ski, parasail, kayak, snorkel, and much more. There
are no facilities as such here except what is available at the resorts, but
there are plenty of shops and concession stands nearby.
LOCATED: You can take any of the 3 Kaanapali exits from Honoapiilani Highway and watch for Beach Parking signs. Parking is limited, but there are paid parking lots which should have space.
Launiupoko State Wayside Park - This convenient wayside is perfect for a picnic with it’s large grassy lawn and beautiful view of Maui’s neighbor islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai. Beginner surfers like this spot for learning the sport. Amenities include restrooms, shower, and children’s wading pool.
LOCATED: Off Honoapiilani Highway (30) about three miles south of Lahaina.
Oluwalu - A premier spot for snorkeling because of the calm
protected waters which are shallow hundreds of feet out. You can view extensive
coral reefs and a multitude of colorful tropical fish. The beach is just a
narrow strip along the highway, but there are trees for shade. There is no
paved parking or amenities.
LOCATED: South of Lahaina at mile marker 14 on Honoapiilani Highway (30).
Papalaua Beach –
A convenient beach along the Honoapiilani Highway, but used mostly by locals
who surf or spear fish nearby, or by kayakers who take out from here to
explore the rocky shoreline to the southeast. A good reason to stop here
though is because of the excellent snorkeling and diving in an area to
the southeast called Coral Gardens. The water is clear, with large groupings
of coral teeming with fish. You will often see one of the tour or dive
boats anchored there. It is a good spot for whale watching, as they often
come very close to shore in this area. Very few amenities, which include
porta-potty and picnic tables.
LOCATED: On Honoapiilani Highway (30) between mile markers 11 and 12. No paved parking.
South Maui Beaches
Maalaea Beach and Sugar Beach - This 3 mile long stretch
of beach lies in the long flat area between the two mountains which form Maui.
The Kealia Wildlife Preserve lies on one side of the highway, and the beach
on the other. This area is a popular spot for the sea turtles to come ashore
and lay their eggs. You will see a “Watch out for Turtles” sign, and there
is “turtle fencing” along the highway here to keep the turtles off the highway.
This area is almost always windy, there is limited shade, and the water not
very good for snorkeling or diving. It is great for walking or jogging on the
hard packed sand though. There are no facilities except at the east end at
Kealia Beach Plaza where you can find snack bars, showers and restrooms. At
the west end in Maalaea is the new Maui Ocean Center Aquarium.
LOCATED: Along Honoapiilani Highway (30) between Kihei and Maalaea. Park anywhere along the highway in firm sand.
Kamaole I, II and III –
These three popular beach parks run along South Kihei Road near the south end
of Kihei. The beaches are separated by outcroppings of lava rock, and it’s easy
to walk from one to the other. Each beach is wide and sandy and excellent for
swimming and snorkeling. The most popular is Kam III which has a wide grassy
area, huge shade trees, and the largest beach. All the beaches have lifeguards,
showers, rest rooms, picnic tables and barbecues. Dolphin Plaza and Rainbow Shopping
Mall are conveniently right across the street for eats.
LOCATED: South end of Kihei on South Kihei Road. There is usually ample parking along the street. Sometimes traffic is heavy along South Kihei Road.
Keawakapu Beach – A long sandy beach with excellent swimming
and snorkeling in the clear waters which remain shallow fairly far out. It
is usually not as crowded as other beaches in the area because it is fronted
by private homes and not the resorts, and is a favorite of the locals for this
reason. There are no facilities here, but there are several shops and restaurants
LOCATED: Along South Kihei Road at the southern end of Kihei. There is a parking lot at the intersection of Kiohana Road, and another smaller lot near the end of South Kihei road (where Wailea Alanui begins).
Mokapu and Ulua Beaches –
These are adjoining beaches accessed by the same pathway, with Mokapu to the
north, and Ulua going southward. Mokapu means “sacred island” and the island
of Mokapu was destroyed during WWII by artillery practice. Both beaches are
beautiful, wide, sandy, and great for swimming and snorkeling. They are usually
not very crowded. Amenities include showers, restrooms and telephones.
LOCATED: At the South End of Highway 31, bear right onto Wailea Iki. Continue to the T, turn right on Wailea Alanui. In .4 miles, turn left into the public access. Watch for the sign for the parking, it is easy to miss.
Wailea Beach –
One of the more beautiful beaches on Maui. The north end fronts the resorts
and there are ample amenities located there. The south end is where the beach
access comes in, a bit away from the resorts, so that is where most local people
and fishermen stay. There is great swimming and snorkeling and great whale
watching in season. Amenities include restrooms and showers. There are concessions
nearby for beach rentals and food at the resorts.
LOCATED: Near the Grand Wailea Resort turn off Wailea Alanui Road at the sign for beach parking.
Polo Beach – Polo beach is separated from Wailea Beach by
a rocky outcropping (which is a great area for snorkeling). It is not a very
large beach, but not usually crowded, and has a shallow sandy bottom that goes
out quite a ways. Great swimming and snorkeling, and whale watching in season.
The only amenities are showers, and there is food available at one of the resorts.
LOCATED: At the South End of Highway 31, bear right onto Wailea Iki. Continue to the T, turn left on Wailea Alanui. In 1 mile, turn right onto Kuakahi. Drive down to the T and turn right into the public access.
Po'olenalena Beach /Paipu – Another beautiful big sandy beach
which slopes gently into the water making for great swimming and snorkeling.
The tourists usually pass this beach by, and it is never crowded. It is used
a lot by the locals, and you’ll often see fishermen there. The snorkeling
is best in the rocky areas at both ends of the beach. There are porta-poties
and few other amenities.
LOCATED: At the south end of Highway 31, bear right onto Wailea Iki. Continue down to the T, turn left on Wailea Alanui. Continue down and turn right onto Old Makena Road until it reaches the beach where you will find a sign for the parking.
Palauea Beach (White Rock Beach) –
This beach is not widely found or used by tourists and is great for swimming
with a sandy gently sloping bottom. There is good snorkeling in the rocky outcrop
to the right. There are no facilities.
LOCATED: Travel along Wailea Alanui Drive and take a right turn on the road just after the Kea Lani Beach Hotel. Go downhill to the end and turn left down an unimproved dirt and asphalt road. Drive slowly for about 300 feet past a few beach houses. Park along the road. The beach is located about 100 feet from the access road.
Maluaka Beach (Maui Prince) –
This is one of the nicer beaches on Maui with soft white sand which stays shallow
fairly far out making it great for swimming. At the south end of the beach
is a lava outcropping which reaches out underwater for some distance. The snorkeling
there is fantastic, with lots of fish, turtles, and several underwater caves
and arches you can swim through. A bit further offshore is a great diving area.
Amenities are at the south end and include showers, restrooms and picnic tables.
LOCATED: Fronting the Maui Prince Resort. There are two access points. For the north end of the beach, go down Wailea Alanui Road and right before the Maui Prince Hotel, take the turnoff towards Keawala’i Church. The parking lot is across the road from the Church. For the access to the south end of the beach, go past the Maui Prince Hotel, and after about 0.5 mile take the turnoff to the right which heads back toward the Hotel. There is a parking area at the end of the road.
Makena Beach – also called Big Beach - This is a beautiful
3,000 foot long, wide sandy beach in an undeveloped area in an amazingly beautiful
setting. It is long and wide enough that it never seems crowded. It is usually
great for swimming, but when the waves are large, they tend to break right
on shore making for difficult conditions. There are actually two beaches here,
Big Beach and Little Beach at the north end, separated by Puu Olai, a 360 foot
cinder cone. Little beach is in a secluded setting, and is unofficially a “clothing
optional” beach. You will find a path to it over the rock bluff you see at
the north end. There is great snorkeling around the lava outcropping near the
cinder cone. Going out from Little Beach there is great snorkeling at either
end. Amenities include restrooms and picnic tables. There are no lifeguards.
LOCATION: From Wailea take Wailea Alanui Road to the south several miles. About 1.5 miles past the Maui Prince Hotel and just past the cinder cone you will see a paved parking lot for the beach, and a bit further down is another one.
Ahihi - Kina'u –
Ahihi Cove is located inside the 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve. It is a protected area and it is illegal to spear or capture fish in the reserve. There is no sand beach here, but the cove is protected from wind and surf and the snorkeling is usually terrific. There is a small pebbly beach where you can enter the water. This area is the site of the last lava flow on Maui in 1790, and it looks like the lava came down just years ago instead of centuries. Since there is no sand and no soil around to silt up the water, it is ordinarily amazingly clear here.
LOCATION: Drive down Makena Alanui Road past Big Beach. The road will become narrow and wind right alongside the water on the lava rocks. Soon you will come to a beautiful little bay which the road curves tightly around. You’re there. It might be hard to find parking as it’s usually a popular spot, and not many spots to park.
La Perouse Bay – La Perouse was the first French explorer
to reach the Hawaiian Islands, and a historical marker is erected here to commemorate
his landing. This is an area of rugged beauty where a sea of lava meets the
ocean, and created a bay here protected from the ocean swells. There is excellent
snorkeling here, with many little shallow coves to explore. Early in the morning
the spinner dolphin are likely to be seen cruising around here before heading
out to the ocean. This is a favorite spot for kayakers to put in for a trip
around the lava fields and heading toward Makena. There is also a nice hike
southward from here following the jeep trail.
LOCATION: Travel down Makena Alanui Road past Ahihi Bay, all the way to where the pavement ends. Park here or go down the rocky dirt road to the right leading a short distance to the bay.
The North Shore
Spreckelsville Beach - This beach between
the Maui Airport in Kahului and Paia is a great launching spot for good
windsurfers, particularly in the summer months. When the afternoon winds
pick up, you’ll see the top windsurfers out there doing their bumping and
jumping. The blue-green waters can also be good for swimming when the tradewinds
aren't blowing hard.
LOCATED: Off Hana Highway (36), just north of the Kahului Airport.
Baldwin Beach Park - Baldwin has great facilities including picnic tables, grills, basketball court, soccer field, showers, restrooms and lifeguards. The waves are usually good for Body Boarding. Being on the north side of the island it can be a bit windy, although the early mornings are usually calm. Large sandy beach and shade trees.
LOCATED: close to the town of Paia, between Kahului and Paia. Ample parking right off the highway.
Ho'okipa Beach -
This is the place to go if you are into surfing or watching the more daring
of the surfers do their thing. It is known as possibly the best place in
the world for windsurfing. Generally, the surfers have the waves in the
morning, and then in the afternoon when the trade winds pick up the windsurfers
and kitesurfers take over. There can be huge waves here, and there are
occasionally tournaments. The best place to watch the action is from the
upper parking area. The lower area is reserved for the surfers and their
gear. It is not a great place for swimming or snorkeling because of the
high waves and surfers. The amenities include picnic tables, grills, restrooms
LOCATED: Off Hana Highway (30) about three miles east of Paia.
KANAHA BEACH PARK - Another windsurfer paradise. All levels
of skill can have fun here, and many windsurfing schools teach here. Long wide
sandy beach and shade trees with breath-taking views of the West Maui Mountains
and Iao Valley. Kanaha Beach has toilets, showers, picnic tables, and grills.
Close by is Kanaha Lake which is a bird sanctuary.
LOCATED: This beach is within walking distance of Kahului Airport. Drive through airport and back out to car-rental road (Koeheke), turn right, and keep going. Also easily-accessible from Hana Highway.
Honomanu Dark Sand Beach – You can’t fail to notice this huge beautiful bay that you drive around while going on the Road to Hana, and you can see the beach and Honomanu stream far below. This is a nice beach to explore, but not a great one for swimming because of the rip currents and waves, but it is good for surfing and diving. There is not much sand, but mostly pebbles along the water. For a better view continue along the highway to the pullout on the eastern side of the bay.
LOCATED: Take highway 360 toward Hana. Honomanu beach is located just after the Kaumahina State Wayside Park. There are two ways down to the beach, one at mile marker #13 and one at mile marker #14.
Wainapanapa Black Sand Beach –
This beach, who’s name means “Glistening Waters”, is located in Wainapanapa State Park, which is worth visiting for much more than just the beach. This is a great beach for swimming, snorkeling and diving, but it is open to the sea and the water here can be rough, so take care. The small black sand beach is in a beautiful setting with lava tubes and caves. There is a hiking trail which goes along the coast here all the way to Hana. Facilities include rest rooms, picnic tables, and showers. There is no lifeguard.
LOCATED: Take highway 360 toward Hana, and one mile beyond Ula’ino Road and the Hana Airport is the turnoff the Wainapanapa State Park. This is just a few miles before you reach Hana. You will see signs in the park directing you to the black sand beach.
Hana Beach Park - This is a wide 700 foot long beach with dark brown, fairly hard packed sand in a beautiful setting. The bay here is very protected and calm enough for safe swimming. You will find mostly local residents using this beach. Kauiki Lighthouse stands on a small island just off Hana Beach, and Kauiki Head, a large red cinder cone, is in the southeast corner of the bay.
LOCATED: Off Hana Highway take Uakea Road down toward the ocean.
Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach -The walk into this beach is a sight you won’t forget. The trail leading to it goes around the large cinder cone you can see in Hana. The beach is difficult to reach, so nudity is often common here. The bright red sand beach is only a few hundred feet long in a small cove created from the blown out side of the cinder cone. The ocean on this side is turbulent, but there is a rock reef protecting the swimming area making it safe even when the ocean gets rough. You can swim in the protected bay while the waves crash on the rock wall and shower you with water.
Koki Beach –
This beach in Hana offers unusually good bodysurfing because the sandy bottom stays shallow for a long way out. There are no facilities here, but this is a wild place rich in Hawaiian lore and worth coming just to see. Riptides can occur here, so watch out for conditions
LOCATED: Haneo'o Loop Rd. 2 mi east of Hana town.
Hamoa Beach Park - This beautiful beach was made
famous by James Michner when he deemed it the only North Pacific beach
he’d seen that truly conjures the South Pacific. He called it “a beach
so perfectly formed that I wonder at its comparative obscurity.” You will
see what he meant when you view the 1000 feet long and 100 feet wide black
and gold sand beach in a perfect half moon shape surrounded by grass, palm
trees and cliffs. The ocean can get rough here, and when it is, it’s better
for bodysurfing than swimming. The beach is controlled by Hana Hotel, but
the services are usually open to the public. Bath room facilities available.
LOCATED: From Hana go south on highway 36 about 2.5 miles to the access road,
then follow the access road for 1.5 miles, park along the road and take
the stairs to the beach.