Best Beaches in Maui, Hawaii – Our Ultimate Maui Beach Guide

 

Best Beaches in Maui Hawaii

If thinking about Maui, Hawaii conjures up images of beautiful golden beaches, drinking Cocktails while the warm waves lap your feet then you are in luck as that is EXACTLY what you can expect. If you hit the RIGHT beaches. Maui’s shoreline is teaming with beaches some peaceful and remote, some busier tourist beaches, some truly out of this world. You would be hard pushed to find a bad one. and our Guide to the best beaches in Maui, Hawaii will definitely find the right beach for you.

We don’t intend to rate or order the beaches as it’s so objective. Just guide you on what the beach is really like, and what it is suited for. The Best beaches on Maui is a very subjective Subject. Be warned Maui has ALOT of beaches this list is LONG. as such we have broken it down into areas and attempted to cluster a few beaches together to help keep things concise. This isn’t a Snorkelling guide but we can’t help briefly mention if a beach has good or bad snorkelling either.

We have provided handy Google Maps links so you can see exactly where all the beaches are! Just click the heading.

West Maui Beaches

West Maui is the Jewel in Maui’s crown and home to some fantastic beaches. Stunningly beautiful with crystal clear warm water and incredible underwater life. The area really hosts a great number of truly special beaches.

Lahaina – Baby Beach

  • Good for – Families and relaxing
  • Amenities – Showers, Restrooms

Lahaina is not known for its beaches and really there is a lot more to do in the town apart from relaxing on the beach, but if you do fancy grabbing some beach time when visiting the Town this is the place to head. The beach is shallow and calm. protected by a reef just offshore so it’s perfect for families with young children.

Kaanapali Beach

  • Good for – Most things
  • Amenities – Restrooms, Showers, Bars and restaurants.

kaanapali

A Big Wide beach with tons of clean golden sand set with a backdrop of 5-star resorts. Kaanapali Beach is a great for doing just about anything, The sea is fairly shallow with gentle drop-offs and fairly calm most of the time, the Sand clean and perfect for lounging on, and the array of bars and restaurants behind give you a place to retreat to out of the midday sun. Black rock at the right-hand side of the beach offers Great Snorkelling with tons of fish and turtles. And a favourite past time of the thrill-seeking generation is leaping off the rock into the ocean.

The only real downside to this incredible strip of sand is its excellence is not exactly secret. and the many residents of the many hotels that border it all head out for their days of relaxation. Yep Kaanapali will be busy MOST days. Don’t expect a remote island getaway feel, you will have a LOT of company. The beach is big so handles these crowds well and you will easily find space to build your camp. But if you feel uncomfortable with people in close quarters this isn’t the best choice.

If Crowds don’t bother you much then Kaanapali has a lot to offer, and a visit to West Maui should always include a day or afternoon at Kaanapali Beach. Unless you’re staying in Kaanapali then you’ll be here almost every day…lucky you.

Remember to check out the nightly Cliff Diving ceremonies on Black rock provided by the Sheraton at sunset. It’s not a big show but a lovely, authentic feeling way to see the day out.

Airport Beach

  • Good for – Snorkelling And Relaxing
  • Amenities – Restrooms, showers, Picnic Tables BBQ’s

 

The other side Of Black Rock to Kaanapali is Airport Beach or Kahekili Beach. The beach is oddly nowhere near an Airport. Instead, it derives its’ name from its history. This beach was once used as a runway serving West Maui before the Airport up the road was built.

The beaches Features are similar to Kaanapali Beach. Wide clean sand with beautiful calm waters. The Different is as you head further Away from Black Rock Areas of Reef begin to form nearshore leading to some excellent Snorkelling. The whole area and beach have a slightly more downscale and relaxed feel. It can be less crowded and more suited to a really nice relaxing day.

Honokowai Beach Park

  • Good for – Snorkelling and bbq’s and family
  • Amenities – Showers, Restrooms, Picnic Tables, BBQ’s and playground.

Honokowai Tree

The actual beach at Honokowai isn’t really the best. Its pretty narrow and the water entry can be very tricky. But the beach is attached to a fantastic park area, with communal BBQ areas, child’s playground and areas to play and sit. It makes a great place for families and groups to spend time.

The grassy areas near to the shore also make a great place for sunbathing for those who prefer to avoid the sand. Great if one half of you loves to snorkel. Speaking of which the snorkelling here is really interesting. There are ridges of coral encrusted rock just offshore that are fantastic for exploring with all sorts of critters and hiding in the nooks and crannies.

Overall we love the Park, while it’s not a conventional picture perfect beach It makes for a really fun day.

Napili Bay

  • Good for – Playing in the surf
  • Amenities – Showers, Restrooms(in Resorts)

Napili Bay

First, a Confession When we stay in Maui this is where we favour. We have stayed here far more than any other area of the Island and we quite simply love it. So we will try and be as impartial as possible.  The beach here is made of deep soft coral sand, You literally sink up to your ankles in the sand. The shape of the bay concentrates any surf to the centre of the beach and it washes up the shore making a perfect shoot to ride up on a boogie board or even without. It’s great to get used to the concept of surfing or just generally playing around in the surf. There will be plenty of people already riding so just follow the others.

With the surf being funnelled to the centre it leaves the edges of the bay calm and flat most of the time this makes it the ideal spot for SUP or Snorkelling. The rocky outcrops at both sides offer great Snorkelling with abundant sea life. Honokeana Bay next door is home to a large collection of sea turtles who regularly swim round to Napili Bay to feed. You will see huge turtles just hanging out in the shallows nibbling on the algae and seaweed.

There are a number of bars and restaurants dotted around the bay. So there is somewhere to head to when you have had enough frolicking. Also home to the Famous Gazebo Restaurant, where people queue for hours for the chance to have breakfast with the best view on the Island. If you don’t fancy the queue, they offer takeaway which you can eat on the beach. The Seahouse restaurant also offers great cocktails which are even greater at its happy hour prices with cut-price Pupus to boot.

Downsides? Well, there is very little parking and this can definitely be an issue. Also, the beach is not huge and it can quickly appear very crowded, somewhat detracting from the picture perfect view. Still, if you can get a parking spot and somewhere on the beach it doesn’t get a lot better than this.

 

Kapalua Bay

  • Good for – Swimming and sunset drinks
  • Amenities – Showers

Kapalua Bay July

Next door to Napili Bay and very similar in appearance this bay feels a little more upmarket. hotels lining the cove are a little fancier and the clientele is more likely to be soaking up the rays than splashing around in the surf. That’s a good thing as the bay is overall much calmer.

The soft sand is a little wider than Napili and overall it seems to be less crowded. The water is calm and clear and good for snorkelling at both ends of the beach amongst the rocky outcrops. Although the clarity is sometimes less than perfect.

Parking is a still limited as the two beaches are so close they share facilities. The main parking lot id at the Kapalua Coastal Trial Head. Merriman’s restaurant sits proudly on the Headland offering upscale dining and cocktails on its breathtaking terrace. Happy hour is highly recommended.

DT Flemming Park & Oneloa Beach

  • Good for – Surf
  • Amenities – Restrooms, showers, Picnic Tables BBQ’s
  • LifeGuards DT Flemming(08:00-16:45)

Fleming Beach Maui

This large beach has the feel of being a bit more remote and windswept however the proximity to a number of large resorts makes it actually quite busy at times. The beach is beginning to get around the top of the island and as such can have more vigorous swells and currents. This can make the beach a little bit dangerous at times but as the beach is Lifeguarded you should have no issues as long as you obey instructions and flags. When the Swells are right it makes for a very popular surf spot.

The Rougher Nature of the beach means we don’t really recommend it as a snorkel spot. You would be much better off at another destination. The more exposed nature also means it can be a little cooler than elsewhere which can either be a good or bad thing!

Slaughterhouse Beach

  • Good for – Snorkelling and Relaxing
  • Amenities – None

slaughterhouse beach

Don’t let the rather unappealing name put you off, the Bay is named after a slaughterhouse that has long gone from the hillside above. All that’s left is a carpark and a beach, with some great snorkelling. The perfect getaway for those looking for a more remote beach away from the crowds. Snorkelling on the right-hand side of the Bay is excellent and very strong swimmer can even head around the headland into Honolua Bay (see below) for some of the best snorkelling on the island.

Great is one person loves snorkelling and the other prefers lounging on a beautiful Quiet beach.

Honolua Bay

  • Good for – Snorkelling
  • Amenities – None

Hawaii Maui Honolua Bay

The worst beach in the area. Zero Facilities, crowded and the “beach” is made up of large rocks and uncomfortable boulders. Really nothing at all to recommend this as a beach. Of course, if your intention is to come here for the snorkelling then you would be hard-pressed to find a better location on the island*

The crowd draw here is the incredible reef and abundant sea-life. It is a fabulous location…just not a good beach. It also houses a great surf break in the right conditions.

* the Caveat here is the water has a horrible habit of clouding up. Rain high up in the hills runs into the bay and ruins visibility until really quite far out. Our advice is as you head through the jungle path if you get to a flowing stream, turn round the water will be bad. If it’s a mere trickle you are good to go. It won’t make the rocks any comfier though.

South Maui Beaches

Lying on the Leeward side of Haleakala directly in it rain shadow South Maui’s Beaches see sun almost every day of the year. So it’s not hard to see why they are popular. With many high-class hotels along with cheaper alternatives and many restaurants and bars catering to beachgoers, it seems the perfect place for a beach day. But what the actual Beaches themselves like as this is the true make or break factor. Spoiler, they are incredible.

Kihei Beach

  • Good for – Sunbathing
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Ample Parking and Shops and Restaurants.

Beach Kihei Maui

The very long stretch of golden sand that runs in front of Northern Kihei is the picture-perfect idyllic beach on the surface. This makes it perfect for those seeking golden sands to sunbathe and relax on. Long walks along the beautiful coastline again are perfect as the beach runs on and on. In parts, it gets busy others are near deserted.

The issue we have with Kihei beach is the quality of the water. It’s just a bit murky and stinky. At least compared to other beaches on Maui. If all you want is a paddle and cool off from the sun then it’s fine. For more serious watersports such as snorkelling, it is just not up to scratch. How important that is to you is a personal thing for many it makes no difference at all. For others, it’s a show stopper. We would certainly travel to this beach for a day, there are just better. If we were staying in the vicinity it would be a fine place to relax.

Being exposed to the Valley can lead to some fairly strong winds too, these can be cooling but at times too cooling. On the plus side, there are loads of amenities and bars and restaurants to retreat to in Kihei. Overall it’s not a brilliant start to South Maui’s beaches. But don’t worry, it gets a lot better.

Kamaole i ii iii

  • Good for – Fun Beach Days.
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Ample Parking
  • LifeGuards (08:00-16:45)

kamaole beach

These 3 adjacent beach coves are where things start getting better for South Maui. Large Clean stretches of sand with clear water with excellent snorkelling at the rocky outcrops separating the bays. The beaches are very popular and can get busy especially considering the proximity of large hotel and condo complexes. But with 3 large beaches to choose from they accommodate people quite well and never appear overly busy, apart from very busy periods times of the year.

The beach parks connected to the bays offer everything you could want for a beach day and there are plenty of nearby shops and restaurants you can retreat to get out the midday sun. The Lifeguards on the beach make these a very popular choice for families who want some added protection while bathing. There are many parking lots in and around Kihei so you should have no issue finding somewhere to park.

The Rocky outcrops make excellent refuges for fish coral and turtles and as such, there is great snorkelling to be had especially for a busy tourist beach area. Really the toughest part is choosing which of the three beaches to choose. We recommend you try them all and pick your favourite.

Keawakapu Beach

  • Good for – Sun Bathing and General Beach days.
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Ample Parking

Keawakapu Beach sunset

Heading down from the Kamaole’s the Shore becomes an almost endless stretch of beautiful golden sands running in front of the upmarket Hotels of Wailea. The different Stretches all go by varying names, from Keawakapu, Wailea-ekahi, Mokapu and Ulua. But really they are one long expanse of beautiful uncrowded beach. Of course, when we say uncrowded there will be a lot of people, just the beach is large so you can usually find a little peace and quiet.

Snorkelling is so-so and concentrated around the edges and anywhere you can make out a reef, but it’s not where we would head for snorkelling if in the area. But we might take a dip if sunbathing becomes a chore.

Amenities are centred around the many beach parks and entrances along the way and the fantastic Wailea Beach Bath terminates at the south end of the beach and leads to the exclusive Wailea Beach.

Wailea Beach

  • Good for – Being Seen
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Ample Parking

Wailea Maui

Wailea beach is the Hang-out for the residence of Wailea’s ultra high-end hotels and where any celebs or high flyers would take their beach days. Of course, Maui’s beaches are ALL open to the public by law so there is nothing stopping us mortals rocking up to enjoy the splendid beach that fronts up the hotels. Even if we can’t hope to stay there.

 

Po’olenalena Beach Area

  • Good for – Snorkelling and Peace
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms
  • in order – Polo Beach, Paluea Beach, Po’olenalena Beach, Makena Snorkelling Beach, Maluaka Beach and Oneuli Beach

Polo Beach area

After Wailea beach, the Shore turns more into lava rock with smaller sandy coves dotted along. This can lead to finding a bit more seclusion and maybe even a beach to yourself or just a few others. The endless rocky outcrops also lead to some exceptional snorkelling. Many of the Snorkelling Boats and catamarans have stops along here at what they call “turtle town”, this magical place doesn’t technically exist it’s just where they moor up where they know there will be turtles. Which are most places along part of this part of the coast.

We find these beaches best for exploring. Just spending the day checking the beaches out and seeing what we can under the sea.

Big Beach and Little Beach

  • Good for – Taco’s and Taking your clothes off (Little Beach ONLY)
  • Amenities – Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Food Trucks
  • LifeGuards – Big Beach (08:00-16:45)

Big beach Hawaii

Big Beach is as close to a perfect Hawaiian paradise as you are likely to find. The long wide beach with unbelievable blue-green water with almost zero buildings is the stuff of fantasy. The little beach is just as pretty and even more remote, however, it has a reputation for being a clothes optional beach so you need to decide if that’s for you or not? We tend to stick to big beach.

The swell can get a little rough here and there is potential for strong currents, but the lifeguards present will warn of any dangerous conditions so you should be perfectly safe as long as you abide by any instructions or flags given. If in doubt ask away. The guards are there for your safety.

Snorkelling is decent around any rocky outcrops but as the main part of the beach is a long shallow sandbank snorkelling for the main part is pretty uneventful when calm the water is beautifully clear there just isn’t a lot to see other than sand.

At the large parking lot for the beaches is Jaws Tacos Food truck. This legendary Food truck is an absolute must try when visiting the beach, hell we recommend you come here for tacos even if you have no interest in the beach whatsoever. But Jaws Taco’s while sitting on Big Beach is an absolute winner.

 

From here onwards the Sand runs out and all that is left is rocky coves and rugged lava rock. This makes for some incredible Snorkelling sites, some of the best on the Island, but as far as Beaches there is nothing really to recommend.

 

Hana Beaches

Hana lacks any golden sand beaches but it makes up for that with some incredibly exotic looking beaches with varying colours of sand. The sea is a bit cooler this side of the Island as the deep Ocean is closer to shore, but they are still excellent beaches with a really exotic feel.

Waianapananapa State Park Beach – Black Sand

  • Good for – Selfies / Photoshoots
  • Amenities – Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Camping.

waianapanapa state park

The Black Sand at the Waianapanapa State Park is a striking phenomenon. Unlike most Black sand beaches that are more Dirty grey than Black. This is a true Black Sand, actually made up from billions of teeny tiny shiny black pebbles along with the Balck Cliffs and rocks the beach contrasts strikingly with the deep blue ocean and the lush greenery adorning the cliff tops. It is a very special place to visit.

The State park is top of anyone Must stop list on a Hana Roadtrip and the Beach is a big Draw. Along with hiking, Fishing, Bird watching, ancient temples and burial sites or visiting the sacred Princess pool. It’s a great place to stop. But the incredible beach is the Star of the show for us. We have just never seen anything like it before. Often used for lingerie or Glamour shoots including being a regular Victorias Secret location. It is the perfect place to get the Ultimate Exotic Selfie for Instagram.

The Beach is more of a Vista point than a true beach most people only linger for an hour top. The Sea is a lot cooler than much of the island and it drops off quickly with big swells and strong currents. We don’t advise anyone but the strongest swimmers venture out further than wading distance. It more of a splash about in the waves kind of place. But as most people are on a whistle-stop tour of Hana this is all most people want. Just a place to escape the road, relax and cool off, in the most incredible setting imaginable.

Hana Beach

  • Good for – Breakfast
  • Amenities – Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Restaurant.

Really the beach at Hana is a pretty poor offering. Its black sand is the dirty grey we have mentioned before and not particularly pleasant to walk on. The sea is often pretty cold and it generally is a bit uninspiring. At least compared to Maui’s other offerings. We Love Hana but it’s not our go-to for beach days even when staying in the town (definitely not if not). We find the best use of Hana’s beach is for breakfast from the Barefoot Cafe before spending the day exploring Hana’s other delights, Like…

Red Sand Beach

  • Good for – Staring in AWE
  • Amenities – None, we are not even sure you are meant to be here.

red sand beach

Hana’s hidden red sand beach is a must-see for anyone staying in Hana and worth hunting out even on a day trip. Probably Maui’s hardest to find beaches it does mean hiking a cliff trail that leaves very little between you and a trip to the hospital or worse. Take care and you will have no issues, however.

Once there It is a truly incredible place. It feels completely cut off from civilisation, and it kind of is which really adds to the magic. The red sand comes from the eroding cliffs and piles up on the beach contrasting with the deep blue ocean. The sea can be really rough here and swimming is not always a very good idea. But the rocks for a natural pool which can be calm and beautiful if the sea is not in full swing. and even then wear water shoes as the bottom is rocky. Expect it to be cool as well.

In the past, this has been a nudist hippie hotspot but the influx of families and tourist seem to be keeping them away. The beach is a sacred area and you are strongly advised to leave shell’s, coral, lava rock, and sand where it is and try elsewhere if you wish to take a souvenir back from the island.

The trail getting there is only for people well versed in navigating uneven loose and slippery terrain. It’s not a hard trail and well within the means of any fit and active person but for those with unsure footing it can be deadly. Every year people are needed to be rescued from the trail after getting into difficulties. Know your limitations and don’t take risks. Below is the trail map from Google. You need to cross the field in front of the community centre onto the trailhead which should be obvious, follow the trail but don’t take the old trail unless you are very confident on your feet (I am a mountain runner who happily Parcours through very severe terrain but I won’t take this trial) instead head down towards the first beach and head left over the lava until you pick up the old trail to the red sand beach.

Trickey but well worth it.

Oheo Gulch – Closed

  • Good for – Hiking
  • Amenities – Restrooms, Shared Grills, Picnic Tables, Free Camping. $20 Entry Fee

Oheo Gulch was never really a Beach area but it’s often mentioned as good for swimming as the area has a number (supposedly 7) of Pools (that may be Sacred) Known as the 7 Sacred Pools. However, these are now closed due to Landslides in the area. Really only head to Oheo Gulch if you intend to do some hiking, Which we highly recommend. For Beach activities, it’s a no, unfortunately. The closure is tempory but indefinite.

North Shore Beaches

At first impressions, the beaches of the north shore are a little underwhelming. Typically windier and exposed they don’t seem to offer the tropical beauty the tourist beaches do. But on closer inspection, they are typically far less busy and almost completely unbuilt (due to strict building regs). The North actually offers something quite special and very different to the beaches found elsewhere on the island

Kiteboarding School Beach

  • Good for – Guess
  • Amenities – Kiteboarding school.

The more exposed and windier north shore makes it the perfect place for watersports. Kitesurfing is big in Maui and this area is almost dedicated to it. As such bathing isn’t particularly safe. Just sitting and watching others can be engrossing. However, there are better beached further along if you are looking for more traditional beaches.

Baldwin Beach Park

  • Good for –
  • Amenities – Showers, BBQ’s, Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Ample Parking
  • LifeGuards (08:00-16:45)

Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach is the Most popular beach in the area and with good reason. The huge beautiful golden beach runs for well over a mile offering everything from protected bathing in the Baby Beach area through good surf in the centre during large swells to a nudist area at the far end (east).

With great amenities and lifeguard cover, it’s the perfect place to spend a day on the beach in the North of the island.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

  • Good for – Turtles
  • Amenities –

The beach at Ho’okipa is rocky with a tough water entry, there really isn’t much going for this beach for beachgoers. The two main attractions are surfing and the local Hawaiian Green Sea turtles that can be seen frolicking in the water or pulled up onto the beach, that’s the turtle, not the surfers.

While the abundance of turtles is a great draw it’s not quite the spectacle it was and Turtles are now so widespread and abundant all over the islands, which is great news. It’s really not hard to find Turtles in Maui anymore. However when the Surf is up this is a great place to sit back and watch how surfing is really done, by the experts. This is not the best place to learn the craft.

 

 

We said at the beginning this was going to be long! Let us know your Favourite beach? Have you been to any beaches on our list? Are you planning on going to Maui and want any more info? Just drop us a comment below. We would love to hear from you. Talking about Maui Beaches is one of our favourite things to do…you know apart from sitting on them.

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8 comments

  1. I am headed to Hawaii in a month. The timing of finding this information is exquisite! We will not be there long enough to find the best beaches on our own, so your tips are amazing! We are definitely interested in great beach experiences while there. We are thinking of going to Kauaii while there. Do you have recommendations for that island?

    1. Hi Annie,

      Hope you have a fantastic time in Hawaii, Feel free to check out the rest of our site for many tips and advice for your trip. Glad you found our guide before heading out.

      Hope the beach guide serves you well. There are so many beaches on the island and most of them are pretty special. 

      We are currently writing out Kauai guide now but it is unlikely to be finished before your trip to Hawaii. Kauai is much less developed than the other islands so finding a beautiful remote paradise beach should be no problem. Try Hanalei Bay Beach which many consider to be the best on the island.

  2. You really took me back to an exciting time of my life with this post, Steve. My wife and I enjoyed a great honeymoon in Maui – it feels like WAY too long ago. I remember we were also disappointed in the Hana beach…but loved the drive on the Hana Highway.

    We also made it to the Waianapananapa State Park Beach, and your article is spot on…the Black Sand there is impressive.

    A restaurant we really enjoyed after hitting the beaches was Mama’s Fish House. Is it still open?

    Thanks again for the great post. I really hope we can go back to Maui again someday…

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for reading, Glad the article took you back to your honeymoon. We too spent our honeymoon on and it was utterly fantastic. Sounds like you too had a great trip. Mama’s fish house has been on the island since 1973 and we doubt very much it will be going anywhere soon. If you have eaten there you will know exactly why. 

      Hop you both get back to Maui soon and get to relive your honeymoon in paradise again.

  3. Wow these all look like Heaven! Amazing!
    I especially like Kapalua Bay! Sooo beautiful! Hawaii is my dream place to go, I have been planning this for a while, so maybe this year. I just wish tickets weren’t so expensive… I also really like the picture of Honolua Bay, it’s so unfortunate there are no amenities there

    1. Kapalua Bay is one of favourites, along with the neighbouring Napili Bay. True Paradise. While the lack of amenities at Honolua is regrettable it’s part of it’s charm and keep it remote and wild. It’s a great place to snorkel.

      Cheap airfares do come up from time to time to the islands but really cheap tickets are unpredictable. The hotel costs don’t help either. We hope you get there soon though we are sure you will have a fantastic time!

      Thanks for reading. 

  4. Wow This is awesome! loving the look of the beaches over on Maui. I need to take a trip there soon.

    The USA Road Trip Guide page is also particularly interesting for me. I love to travel but the pre-or impromptu planning that goes with it is a huge pain. It almost merits another vacation to rest and recuperate from vacationing. This makes it so much easier! I actually saved it to my favourites!

    1. Hi Jenn,

      Glad you liked our website, we are building fast and adding more and more info all the time so keep checking back for more updates. Or like us on Facebook so you can be sure to see when we add / update anything.

      Thanks for reading.

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