Honokowai is a heavily developed tourist area situated in West Maui Hawaii. The Seafront here is largely populated by budget-friendly Condo Complexes making ocean-side Real estate competition fierce. The entire front is almost completely dominated by these complexes making ocean access difficult. However a small 500 ft section has been reserved for everybody and this parcel of green space makes up the Honokowai Beach Park, giving everyone access to the beach and basic amenities to enjoy the Ocean. So whether you are planning on staying locally, or just passing through looking for some different beach locations our Honokowai Beach Guide will help you understand what the beach is like here at Honokowai.
- Location – West Maui – Lower Honoapiilani Road
- Amenities – Showers, Restrooms, Picnic Tables and BBQ’s – Kids Playground
- Beach Type – Narrow Sandy Beach with Fringing Reefs
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – Families and Those who do not like Sand
<<< Airport Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Napili Bay Beach Guide >>>
Things to Know about Honokowai Beach Park
The Seafront along Napili-Honokowai is a narrow band of sand that sometimes completely dries up and is simply seawall and rocks. At the HonKowai Peach Park, the sand is quite wide and backs directly onto the large Grassy playing fields.
The ocean entry here is very tricky this is not a beach that is blessed with a soft sandy bottom. Long rocky bands extend the length of the beach and while these large reefs beak up the surf before it hits the shore, it does make getting in and out of the water a challenge.
The Park itself is fantastic for those who want to enjoy the beach but are not too keen on getting sand everywhere and just want to relax and take in the views rather than going all-in with swimwear and taking the plunge. With Picnic tables, BBQ stations, and basic amenities it’s the perfect place for families to spend a few hours by the ocean without getting completely mucked up and covered in sand and saltwater.
This being said, we constantly feel that Snorkeling here is vastly underrated. The Fringing reef is covered in coral and is host to many accessible nooks and crannies filled with wired and wonderful sea creatures. Commit to spending time exploring the reefs here and you will be delighted with what is on offer, more below!
Getting There and Parking in Honokowai
Driving along the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30), heading north, at the major junction, just before Mile Marker 26, take a left onto the start of the Lower Honoapiilani Road. Follow the Lwr road along for less than a mile until you reach Honokowai Beach Park.
There is plenty of parking along the front of the Park, along with a small amount of on-street parking. It can be tricky on busy days to grab a spot but you can normally find a space on the highway just a short way up or down the road. There are many parking lots dotted around the immediate area but these are strictly for Residents of the many Condo Complexes or customers of the shops etc. None will take kidly to you using their lots for Beach parking.
If you cannot find a spot in the main beach park or a safe and legal On-Street spot your best bet is to circle a few times. Turnover is pretty high. Look for people heading back to the Carpark with beach gear and wait for them to load up and relinquish their spot.
The large grassy area that backs directly up to the beach makes the Park the perfect place to enjoy all manner of park activities while being right beside the ocean. There is plenty of space to have a game of football, throw a frisbee or generally just mess around. The Grass connects directly to the beach creating the perfect space to sunbathe without getting sand where you don’t want it. Large Fig Trees line the sea-front making the perfect place for a snooze or to read a book in the shade.
There are several Picnic tables and some BBQ Stations along with a Children’s play area. These all make the park a perfect place to just relax with the Family. Weekends get really busy and many Locals descend on the Park to do just that. The park has a fun, relaxed, family vibe that is just perfect for a nice chilled afternoon, with or without family.
Unfortunately, the Rocky seafloor makes the beach one of the less pleasant ones for bathing and water sports. The Rocky reefs start almost as soon as the water does making access difficult. In fact, the only suitable water sport a Honokowai is snorkeling, but we have good news there.
We love Snorkeling here.
It is a vastly underrated location as the snorkeling is not as spectacular as in other areas but that is the strength of Honokowai it’s Not the Same Old Same Old you find at the other beaches and Snorkelling spots. It is fairly advanced and does require some diving down. If you are looking for more basic snorkeling then this may not be the best location. If all you want to do is lie on the surface enjoying the spectacle below then look elsewhere.
The Joy of snorkeling at Honokawai is exploring all the little nooks and crannies that form along the reef. Long Coral ridges run the length of the beach and in most locations, these are undercut leaving swathes of easily accessible caves and nooks where the rarer and harder-to-find critters like to live.
You can find all sorts hiding away in these crevices such as Banded Coral Shrimp, Spiny Lobsters, Hawaiian Day Octopus(Tako), Moray eels, and Crabs. There is really no telling what may be hiding away in its lair! We spend hours here upsidedown poking our heads into the hidden world beneath the waves.
Between the fringing reef, all the usual suspects can be found. It is not a very good spot for turtles but, you can pretty much see turtles anywhere on the Island. There is limited deep water do you won’t get pelagics but any of the other reef fish of the island can make an appearance.
Access can be difficult as at low tide the innermost reef is almost exposed and you need to get across it to the deeper water. But from there you can use the sandy channels to explore at will. Naturally, if there is any level of surf then you run a serious risk of being bashed against the rocks. There is usually a strong current running parallel to the beach, along the channels, meaning you may end up quite a way further up or down the beach than you started, nothing a short stroll back up the beach won’t fix.
What to Eat?
The Beach park really screams Picnic. With several picnic tables and a large grassy area to set up a blanket and ample shade, it’s the perfect place to bring your own food. The Large Safeway or Farmland Foods in Lahaina is the perfect place to stock up. There is a smaller Times Supermarket at the end of Lower Honoapiilani Road.
the Honokowai Okazuya & Deli is a real local favorite offering Island Style Take-outs perfect for eating by the ocean. There are also several food outlets at the Honokowai Marketplace including a Hawaiian BBQ. The Hoopiilani Food Truck Park just across the street is also a fantastic spot to grab a takeaway to eat by the ocean if it’s open! There will be several trucks to choose from and plenty of different Cuisines.
The BBQs are all Coal-fired so you need to provide your own Charcoal. We find a disposable the best way of dealing with this when on Vacation.
The Area is brimming with Condo complexes and budget-friendly hotels. The area has a bit of an identity crisis, being named Napili-Honokowai is deemed by many to be too much of a mouthful so the “tourist-friendly” Kahana district is often used instead.
They are all interchangeable and it basically refers to the whole district after Kaanapili and before Napili Bay. Below are a few of our favorites in the area
However, with great parking, the beach is well worth visiting if you are staying in any of the surrounding areas too such as Napili Bay, Kapalua, or Kaanapali
On the whole, the beach is usually flat calm, and placid. The Honokowai area is one of the least affected by larger ocean swells and is largely protected by the islands of Lanai. In winter larger storms affect all areas of Maui’s coast even the most protected and venturing into the ocean here is a dangerous came in any kind of surf. The surf breaks right onto the sharp fringing reef and naturally, this is a dangerous place to be.
The other consideration is the currents along the reef. There can be quite a strong parallel current running the length of the reef that can easily carry a preoccupied snorkeler a few hundred feet up or down the beach. This is nothing to worry about if you are taken too far down simply exit at the beach and walk back. It is just something to consider.
The other issue here is water clarity. Most of the time the water is wonderful and clear. Exploring the Reef can be like swimming in a pool and it’s utterly wonderful. However, when the surf kicks up it really can much the water up and this persists for a few days afterward. The further-out reefs tend to be clearer but there is not much to see once you get beyond the reefs.
So if the water is murky there really is not much to recommend about snorkeling here. There will be sure to be another spot on the island clear and wonderful.
<<< Airport Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Napili Bay Beach Guide >>>
Have Your Say
Let us know your experiences at Honokowai Beach Park. Did you try snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach/grass? Do you take a Picnic or just spend the afternoon chilling out. What were the ocean conditions like? was it gin clear or murky as a ditch? Let us know in the comments below and if you have any questions just fire away.