Maui Beaches



Sugar Beach - Said to be the longest beach on Maui, Sugar Beach - also known as Kealia Beach - is perfect for a long beach stroll. This sandy shoreline stretches for about 2.5 miles (4 km), from Haycraft Park in Ma'alaea all the way to north Kihei. There aren't any buildings on the beach until you reach north Kihei and you won't find many other people here. Sugar Beach is mainly used by kite and windsurfers who take advantage of the breezy offshore winds. Kayakers also launch from here.

Cove Park - located in Kihei on Maui's south shore, has a small sandy beach and is a nice spot to just hang out, read a book and enjoy the surroundings. Seaweed can be a bit of a problem here, so the cove is not that popular among swimmers. The ocean is usually the clearest in the early mornings and in the winter months (November to March) due to ocean currents.

Cove Park is also a good surfing beach, and surf lessons are given here. There are no lifeguards and no facilities, so bring supplies and be careful when swimming here. High surf and powerful rip currents may occur. The park is mainly used by local residents and can get crowded during weekends because there isn't much room. Also, it is located on a busy street (the main road that leads through Kihei).

Charlie Young Beach - Located in Kihei on Maui's south shore, Charley Young Beach is a great spot for family picnics. It is right next to Kamaole I Beach (in fact it is difficult to tell where Charley Young Beach ends and Kamaole I begins because it's basically one long stretch of sand).

The ocean bottom drops off gently here, and the snorkeling conditions can be good when the ocean is calm. However, even though the beach is a nice place for swimming and other ocean activities on most days of the year, high surf and strong rip currents may occur, especially in the winter months (November to March).

Kamaole Beach Park I - The largest and nicest beach of the three with fine white sand and great swimming conditions. This is the magical point where Maui's southern coast starts to really throw out all the stops, so to speak, as the sand here is simply amazing- similar to that found further south in Wailea and Makena. This crescent-shaped slice of paradise is about one-third of a mile long. Snorkeling is good towards the points of the beach and lovely white sand bottom in the middle makes for some great swimming. There's also a grassy area at the south end for picnics and playing.

There is parking available in the lot as well as along Kihei Rd. There's also a dirt lot across the street. Showers, picnic tables BBQ areas, and a restroom add to the comfort and fun. There's also a lifeguard station and, if you're lucky, you might even find a volleyball net set up!

Kamaole Beach Park II - Located a little further south along South Kihei Road you'll find Kama'ole II, the middle child of the Kamaole Beach Park siblings.  This beach is similar to Kama'ole I, but it is a tad smaller, at just under a third of a mile long from end to end. Snorkeling is pretty good here at the ends of the beach, while swimmers should enjoy the entire length of its nice sandy bottom. 

There's a restroom, on-street parking, two water fountains, a shower, and ADA-accessible ramps from the beach park to the beach.

Kamaole Beach Park III - In thinking of these beaches as siblings, let's call Kama'ole III the black sheep of the family, so to speak. The beach is simply beautiful, but it is quite different from I and II. First, it is much smaller. Second, it has rocky areas along several parts of the beach. Waves crash onto the rocks, sending huge splashes water into the air and making for a nice show!

And while the beach area may be smaller than the other two beaches here, the grassy area is significantly larger and makes the perfect spot for picnics, kite flying, or simply relaxing. There are also more facilities, as well. Note that Kam III is quite popular with the locals, so weekends and holidays can get especially busy.

Secret Cove Beach - Secret Cove is a really beautiful, hidden little pocket of sand that's actually not so secret anymore. However, if you get there bright and early in the morning, before anyone else has had a chance to leave fresh footprints in the sand, it will FEEL secret... if only for a little while!

This intimate spot is popular for Maui beach weddings... hidden behind a rock wall, with a generous helping of lava rock sprinkled along the shoreline, palm trees swaying in the breeze - you couldn't ask for a better spot to get married - you're hidden from those passing by, and will have the most beautiful photos to show for it.

Kalepolepo Beach Park - The beach here is small, and uncrowded. With a dozen beaches that are the definition of perfection just minutes away, few visitors from the resorts further south will wind up coming here. From that perspective, this is more in the class of a “convenience beach” left for residents and visitors staying in the area (yeah, we’re that spoiled here!) For those looking to get away from crowds, Kalepolepo is also a nice escape for a BBQ (there are several in the park) or to simply enjoy a glorious sunset in peace.

An interesting fact is that the water in the fishpond is fed by natural springs just under the surface – ancient Hawaiians understood this, and it is one of the reasons this fishpond was among the highest class reserved only for the use of Hawaiian royalty.



Kanahena Cove - The cove is a popular spot for snorkeling with both tourists and locals but it's not for everyone. The beach doesn't really exist here, it's more of a rocky shoreline which makes getting in and out of the water a challenge for some. You also won't find any lifeguards here so you're swimming at your own risk. On that note, there are no facilities of any kind here.

Parking is scarce so this place is never crowded. But this is a snorkeler's beach near with beautiful views of Lana'i nestled between some of Maui's nicest private homes. If you can find a place to park, it's a neat place to stop even if just to grab some photos.

Wailea Beach - Wailea Beach is unquestionably a study in beach perfection, and if you don’t mind a resort vibe (and a crowd to go with it) this is a truly outstanding beach.

The beach is wide, the sand perfect, and the ocean inviting. Views of Kaho’olawe, Molokini, Lana’i and the sights (and sounds) of whales are common in winter.

When the ocean is calm, snorkeling is very good around the rocky outcroppings that define both ends of the beach. Boogie boarding and body surfing are also fun in the typically regularly formed, small waves and gentle slope.

Wailea means “the water of Lea”, the goddess of canoe makers. Prior to resort development, this beach was called Kahamanini, and the name Wailea referred only to the rocky point defining the south end of this beach. Original Hawaiian place names often reveal deeper insight to locations, and this is no exception – the name Kahamanini means “place of the surgeon fish.”

The Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea resorts sit like jewel-encrusted Maltese-Falcon bookends smack on either end of this beach. So, unless you show up at the crack of dawn, the beach will be crowded with people, beach chairs and cabanas.

As a result of the original approval for development of this area, visitors will find well maintained public access and facilities, including a paved walkway that runs the length of the beach (and beyond.) Bathrooms, showers and plenty of free public parking are also provided for all to use.

Palauea Beach - Also known as White rock beach, is tucked away in a residential area between Makena and Wailea just south of Polo beach. This is yet another beach that is flanked by lava rock formations where fish congregate. Visibility varies, but's worth investigating if you're exploring snorkeling possibilities. The beach is mostly utilized by residents and may be less crowded than neighboring beaches on weekdays. Palauea Bach is about 300 yards long and has a gentle slope which makes for good swimming conditions when the ocean is calm..

Po’Olenalena Beach - Also known as Paipu Beach, Po’olenalena is a nice, long sandy beach, that until recent years was mostly known only by locals. Because it has spectacular sunset views, and often becomes uncrowded late in the day, it is a favorite location for wedding photographers and ceremonies.

Po’olenalena means “yellow head” and is said to refer to a longtime landmark, a yellow-streaked rock on the golf course mauka the roadside.

Mostly popular with local families, during the week it is less crowded. To read other guidebooks you’ll think you’re going to end up all alone on a spectacular deserted beach all day long – but you’ll need to come during the week early or late in the day for that. The main parking lot is big, but on weekends you’ll often have a tough time finding a spot to park.

The south end of this beach fronts the Makena Surf Condos, and the north end fronts several high-end houses located on on Makena Rd. The central portion of the beach, directly off of the main parking area, is currently undeveloped and is popular with locals, families and fishermen.

Snorkeling is excellent around the rocky outcroppings at the south end of the beach. Boogie boarding is also decent during south swells and perfect for kiddies or beginners when seas are calm. The sandy bottom entry is sloped gently for pleasant swimming and playing. Note: During Kona storms or large swells the ocean here can become unsafe with rip currents.

There is a port-a-potty at the north parking lot and a shower at the south entry.

Makena State Beach Park - This is one of Maui's signature beaches. With white sands extending nearly 2/3 of a mile long, it is one of the largest, undeveloped beaches in Maui. Enjoy relaxing on the beach with only nature in sight. Nestled between two black-lava outcroppings, Makena offers protection from the trade winds and provides great views of the islands of Molokini and Kahoolawe. 

The area is divided into two beaches known as Big Beach and Little Beach. Big Beach is located south of Wailea near the Makena Beach and Golf Resort and provides a secluded alternative to more crowded beaches in Kaanapali and Lahaina. Little Beach is a small cove without amenities and no lifeguard. Although state park regulations prohibit nudity, Little Beach is frequently used as a nude beach.




Kaanapali Beach

With three miles of white sand and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder why Kaanapali Beach was once named America’s Best Beach. Fronting Kaanapali’s hotels and resorts, this former retreat for the royalty of Maui is now a popular getaway for the world.

One of Kaanapali Beach’s most famous attractions is the daily cliff diving ceremony off the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili. To soar above Kaanapali‘s breathtaking coastline yourself, try a zipline tour by Kaanapali Skyline Eco Adventures and enjoy a royally good view of one of Maui’s signature beaches.

Napili Bay

Napili Bay has a sandy cove nestled in mid-range resort which is itself nestled in a residential neighborhood. This “resort” is reminiscent of an older mainland beach town; multiple low-rise condos make up the resort area. Much more basic than the high-end Ka’anapali resorts, and also less expensive and less commercialized which seems to attract families and European travelers.

Entry is sandy, and the bottom is sandy with moderately steep entry and then reef further out. Sea turtles frequent the bay, and snorkeling can be fair when the surf is mellow. When the surf is up visibility, and thus snorkeling, is poor.

The water is frequently glassy, but when big swells come in waves can become quite large, and the rip currents which form here pull directly out to sea. Less experienced swimmers should avoid the water here during such conditions.

Kahekili Beach Park

This beach is the Northern most beach in the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, but is less crowded and commercialized than its sister to the South, Ka’anapali Beach. Kahekili Beach is long, there are ample facilities – and like most Ka’anapali beaches, Kahekili does not disappoint.

The reef comes right up to the shore here – and the surf is typically mild. Since snorkelers don’t have to swim into deeper waters, or close to shallow/partially exposed rock, snorkeling here is as easy as it gets: you just dive in, and you’re right there. Kahekili Beach Park is also a favorite place for diving outfits to take beginning divers. An easy walk-in right from the beach, and the area is relatively shallow as far as diving goes.

Slaughterhouse Beach

The name “Slaughterhouse Beach” comes from the Honolua Ranch slaughterhouse and tanning/storage shed that were (oh, so conveniently) located on the cliff’s edge above the ocean. The buildings were torn down in the 60’s, but the lovely name stuck. In contrast, the Hawaiian name Mokule’ia means “district of abundance”, and like most Hawaiian names, is a very accurate description.

Mokule’ia Bay is part of the same preserve as its neighbor Honolua Bay: the Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. But unlike its rocky neighbor to the north, much of the year this bay has a nice sandy beach to relax on.

During the winter months there are often large well-formed waves that are perfect for the more experienced boogie boarders and surfers. But the large surf can often become dangerous, and even the most experienced need to keep a healthy respect for the ocean in mind. In summer months the waves are much more mellow and are often suitable for beginners. When the ocean is tame there is also very good snorkeling around the north point and into Honolua Bay.

The cliff faces and trees give shade early and late in the day. Parking is on-street and minimal. There are concrete stairs with a railing that will take you from the ~100′ elevation parking down most of the way to the beach. This area suffers from break-ins so take your valuables with you and leave your car unlocked so you don’t lose a window.

Baby Beach

Baby Beach is a beautiful beach and protected lagoon just before Paia on the North Shore of Maui. An exposed stretch of reef, connected to a rocky red-dirt point on the west end of the beach creates a calm lagoon protected from the ocean. This lagoon is perfect for young keiki and parents. It is also a great place to swim laps, explore, or just and hang out on the beach soaking in the scenery.

Backing the beach are large sand dunes and a wooded area, forming a buffer between the beach, some beach homes and the Maui Country Club. This area is a favorite for kids (and adults) to explore. There are also impressive views all the way down the coastline.

If the tradewinds are blowing strong, a pleasant afternoon at Baby Beach can shift into an irritating sandblasting. Escape into the water, or head to the other end of Baldwin Beach (Baldwin Cove) which is sheltered from the wind.

Honokowai Beach Park

Very pretty beach park to sit out and just enjoy being there – swimming is restricted to a shallow pool situated between rocky ledges of reef. This long shallow pool is perfect for kids and there is also plenty of shade at the beaches edge.

Beyond the rocky ledges the ocean is shallow and even though it doesn’t appear in popular snorkel maps and guidebooks, there is actually pretty good snorkeling here.

Honokowai means “bay for drawing water”; in the old days there were freshwater springs at the water’s edge. The beach was also said to have been a canoe landing.

This park is a convenient place for a beach picnic, and there are several great takeout joints in Honokowai. Honokowai Okazuya and Fish Market Maui are two favorites, but there are so many more great choices – in fact there is more inexpensive takeout in the immediate area of Honokowai than anywhere else in West Maui.

This beach park also has playgrounds, picnic tables and and BBQ’s. (Note: While alcohol consumption is allowed at many beaches, it is not permitted at this beach park.)

Hanakao’o Beach Park

Hanakao'o Beach park is located on the southern extremity of Kaanapali Beach just off the Honoapiilani Highway (Rt. 30) about two miles north of the town of Lahaina. Its more popular name is "Canoe Beach" because this is the home of the Lahaina Canoe Club and is the site of numerous outrigger canoe regalia competitions throughout the year. When the competitions occur, all the canoe clubs on the island show up to race along the course which has been created with colorful buoys forming lanes for each contestant. These competitions are generally held on Saturdays and the beach becomes totally mobbed with people.

Hanakao'o Beach Park is a popular favorite among locals not just because of the canoe races but because it has such easy access from the Highway and because it is a white sand beach, like Kaanapali Beach around the corner, but it is free of any form of commercialism. Snorkeling is an option as you swim further out and this location is close to surf breaks when the swells are rolling in.

One of the great things about Hanakao'o Beach Park is that it has the only other life guard tower on West Maui other than at D.T. Fleming Beach Park. This guard station has super powerful jet-skis that allow the lifeguards to assist in rescues up the coast toward Flemings but also down the coast all the way to the tunnel south of Olowalu.

There is plenty of parking at Hoankao'o Beach Park though it can be a bit crowed on race days. Picnic tables are available as are barbecue stations and there is a large public bathroom and showers. As mentioned above there is also a lifeguard tower.;o-beach-park-(canoe-beach)/179

Ukumehame Beach Park 

On weekdays this beach is relatively mellow, and is mostly frequented by morning surfers who've packed their favorite longboard. On weekends, however, Ukumehame Beach Park is a white sand carnival of trucks, fishing poles, EZ-up tents, and coolers packed with green bottles. It's a local favorite for that island pastime of simply cruising at the beach, where reggae's on the radio and everyone's smiling—especially if there are waves. Even on crowded days, however, there's still plenty of room to stretch out and find your own patch of sand, although don't expect to find any shade—this is a beach made for sun!

Some morning surf lessons also meet here for the long, gently rolling waves, and mornings offer the calmest conditions since the afternoons can get gusty.

Puamana Beach Park

Puamana is a narrow detrital sand beach, located just south of downtown Lahaina. The beach has a shallow nearshore ocean bottom that extends all the way out to the edge of the reef. Because of that, the swimming conditions are poor. The beach is mainly used by fishermen and surfers, mainly beginners and longboarders since the waves are usually not too big and easy to catch.