Aloha, fellow beach lovers! As a born-and-bred Maui local, I’m thrilled to guide you on a virtual tour of the best beaches in Maui, our picturesque coastline’s top spots. From popular hotspots to secluded gems, my lifelong love affair with Maui’s sands has bestowed upon me a profound understanding of these beachfront havens, all steeped in the ‘Aloha spirit.’
So, whether you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, a sunset picnic lover, or someone seeking a tranquil sanctuary, our beach tour around Maui will help you find the perfect spot. E komo mai (Welcome)! Let’s embark on this exciting coastal adventure, soaking up the sun and savoring the heart of our island paradise.
Table of Contents
Photo credit: Expedia
Step onto the golden sands of Ka’anapali Beach and you’ll quickly understand why it’s frequently touted as one of Maui’s best. Its three miles of white sands and crystal clear waters offer an invigorating setting for swimming, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the Hawaiian sun. After a refreshing dip, take a stroll along the beachfront path, where luxury resorts, inviting restaurants, and whimsical shops await your discovery. If you’re looking for a place to stay, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is a solid choice if you’re looking for hotels on the beach.
As the day winds down, gather around the cliff-diving ceremony off Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. This traditional ceremony pays homage to Maui’s culture and provides an awe-inspiring spectacle against the backdrop of the setting sun. Ka’anapali Beach isn’t just a destination—it’s an experience that encapsulates the island’s vibrant spirit.
Photo credit: Napili Kai Beach Resort
Nestled between two rocky points on Maui’s west coast, Napili Bay is a hidden gem that hosts some of the island’s most coveted luxury villa rentals. Its crescent-shaped shoreline is less crowded, providing a sense of peace and seclusion. The turquoise water is calm and clear, making it perfect for snorkeling. Here, you can explore the underwater world and encounter vibrant marine life, including the enchanting Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.
The sandy beach itself is perfect for sunbathing or watching a mesmerizing sunset. The lack of high-rise buildings enhances Napili Bay’s charm, giving you an unobstructed view of the magnificent horizon. If you crave a serene beach experience intertwined with natural beauty, Napili Bay is a must-visit.
Photo credit: Grand Wailea Maui
Luxury and leisure go hand in hand at Wailea Beach. This award-winning beach, located in south Maui, boasts golden sands and calm, clear waters. The well-maintained beach is excellent for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. You might also find yourself sharing the water with graceful sea turtles.
Lining the beach is the Wailea Beach Path, a picturesque trail that winds past opulent resorts, manicured landscapes, and public art displays. Along the way, stop by one of the many ocean-side eateries for a delicious bite with a view. Wailea Beach effortlessly blends Maui’s natural beauty with a touch of sophistication.
Makena Beach (Big Beach)
Photo credit: Makena Surf
Discover the raw, untouched beauty of Maui at Makena Beach, affectionately known as Big Beach. As one of Maui’s largest beaches, Big Beach offers plenty of room to spread out your beach towel and soak up the sun. The powdery, golden sands stretch nearly two-thirds of a mile long and 100 yards wide, met by the pulsating waves that are perfect for bodyboarding.
Secluded and relatively undeveloped, Makena Beach gives you a sense of being off the beaten path. The lack of buildings contributes to the stunning panoramic view, letting nature be the star of the show. Whether you’re a sun worshipper, an adventure seeker, or a nature lover, Makena Beach is the ultimate beach escape.
Photo credit: Expedia
Dubbed as the most beautiful beach in the Pacific by author James Michener, Hamoa Beach lives up to the hype. Located near Hana, this crescent-shaped beach is framed by lush vegetation and cliffs, creating an intimate, almost isolated feeling. The blend of white and black sand from the surrounding lava rock gives the beach an exotic appeal.
Venture into the clear blue water, which provides excellent conditions for bodysurfing and swimming. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear—you’ll want to explore the colorful reef just offshore. Experiencing the tranquility and beauty of Hamoa Beach is truly a treat for the senses.
Kapalua Bay Beach
Calm, clear, and captivating, Kapalua Bay Beach is a paradise for swimmers, snorkelers, and lovers of scenic hikes in Maui. The bay’s natural “arms” provide protection from strong currents, making it a safe haven for exploring the vibrant underwater world. You’ll marvel at the beautiful coral formations and be enchanted by the array of tropical fish darting about.
Onshore, the golden sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing or picnics. The beach is equipped with restrooms, showers, and a concession stand for your convenience. The real charm of Kapalua Bay Beach lies in its unhurried, relaxed atmosphere—a place where time seems to stand still as you bask in the Maui sun.
Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park
For a unique experience at one of the best beaches in Maui, consider staying at one of the many Maui Vrbos near the Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park. Located along the famous Road to Hana, this beach’s jet-black sand, formed from volcanic lava, is a stark contrast to Maui’s typically golden shores. The surrounding lush green foliage and azure ocean create a truly dramatic scene that’s ripe for photography.
Beyond its distinctive color, the beach offers plenty more to explore. Discover sea stacks, blowholes, and freshwater caves in the vicinity. Be sure to tread lightly, though. The area is rich in Hawaiian history and culture, with ancient burial sites nearby. Visiting Black Sand Beach is more than just a beach trip; it’s an immersion in Hawaii’s fascinating geological and cultural tapestry.
Baldwin Beach Park
North Shore’s Baldwin Beach Park is beloved by locals for its long stretch of white sand and scenic views. It’s perfect for beach walks, picnics, and sunbathing. The beach park’s central section is often excellent for swimming when the ocean is calm.
The west end of the beach, known as “Baby Beach,” has a protective offshore reef, creating a natural pool with gentle water—ideal for families with children. You might even spot a rainbow arcing across the sky if you’re there in the morning. Baldwin Beach Park is more than just a beach; it’s a community gathering spot where you can experience Maui’s aloha spirit.
Kamaole Beach Park
Located in Kihei, Kamaole Beach Park is a series of three beaches, each with its own character. Kamaole I, the largest and busiest, boasts a wide sandy beach and a grassy park area. Kamaole II, in the middle, is smaller but still great for sunbathing and swimming. Kamaole III, to the south, has more rocks and is a favorite spot for snorkeling.
The parks provide picnic tables, barbecues, restrooms, and showers for a comfortable beach day. During the winter months, keep an eye on the horizon. You might catch a glimpse of humpback whales breaching offshore. For a fun, family-friendly beach experience, Kamaole Beach Park is a sure bet.
A prime spot for turtle sightings, Maluaka Beach is a snorkeler’s paradise. The coral reef just offshore is a habitat for a variety of marine life, including the beloved Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. The beach’s golden sand and clear water also make it perfect for lounging and swimming.
Maluaka Beach is somewhat hidden, as it’s not visible from the road, adding to its charm. The beautiful view of the islands of Kaho’olawe and Molokini in the distance enhances the tranquil setting. If you’re looking for a beach that combines relaxation, swimming, and snorkeling opportunities, Maluaka Beach is a must-visit.
Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu)
Tucked away in Hana, Red Sand Beach, or Kaihalulu, is one of the best beaches in Maui and indeed one of the few red sand beaches in the world. It’s a sight to behold, with its reddish-black sand contrasting against the deep blue sea. Getting there involves a somewhat tricky trail, so it’s best suited for confident hikers.
The dramatic cove is partially shielded from the rough ocean by an offshore reef, forming a natural sea wall. This creates a unique ocean pool perfect for swimming or snorkeling when the sea is calm. A visit to Red Sand Beach is a truly unique experience that feels like a well-earned secret, shared only by those adventurous enough to make the trek.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
World-renowned for its surfing and windsurfing, Ho’okipa Beach Park is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. It’s a place where you can watch seasoned surfers and windsurfers perform thrilling maneuvers on the waves. Even if you’re not participating, it’s a spectacular show to watch from the shore.
But there’s more to Ho’okipa than wind and waves. The east end of the beach is often home to a resting group of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close, while respecting their space, adds to the magic of Ho’okipa Beach Park. It’s a place where nature and adventure sports converge to create a vibrant, exciting atmosphere.
Secret Beach (Pa’ako Cove)
Hidden between homes and a lava rock wall in Makena is the aptly named Secret Beach, also known as Pa’ako Cove. This hidden gem is among the less-trodden beaches in Maui, and its seclusion makes it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful beach experience. The small, sandy cove is enclosed by lava rocks, creating a beautiful backdrop for sunbathing or snorkeling.
The cove’s intimate setting also makes it a popular spot for wedding ceremonies. At sunset, the light dances on the water, creating a romantic, dreamy scene. It’s not so much a beach for activities, but rather a place to unwind, take in the beautiful surroundings and perhaps snap a few pictures. Pa’ako Cove is one of Maui’s delightful hidden secrets, waiting to be discovered.
Kanaha Beach Park
Located near Kahului Airport, Kanaha Beach Park is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts. Its consistent winds make it ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you’re new to these sports, you’ll find schools nearby offering lessons.
The large beach park also offers plenty of space for picnics, beach games, and simply relaxing. The shallow sandy bottom near the shoreline is great for swimming, and you might even spot a sea turtle or two. With its combination of relaxation and adventure, Kanaha Beach Park encapsulates the spirit of Maui’s beaches.
Charley Young Beach
Charley Young Beach, part of the Kamaole Beach Park complex, offers a quieter escape from its busier counterparts. This long, sandy beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, and sometimes boogie boarding, depending on the conditions.
The beach is lined with towering palm trees, adding to its tropical charm. It’s also a wonderful spot to catch a stunning Maui sunset. Whether you’re a family, a couple, or a solo traveler, Charley Young Beach is a serene and beautiful place to unwind.
Last but not least, Honolua Bay is a marine life conservation district known for its superb snorkeling and diving conditions. The bay is teeming with tropical fish and healthy coral formations. During the winter months, it transforms into one of Maui’s premier surf spots.
Although it lacks a sandy beach for lounging, the underwater experience more than makes up for it. The surrounding area is also worth exploring, with its lush forest offering hiking trails. A visit to Honolua Bay brings you face to face with Maui’s abundant marine life and its vibrant terrestrial ecosystems, providing a fitting end to this exploration of Maui’s best beaches.