The Centre Piece of the Upmarket Kapalua District of West Maui this secluded bay is lined with high-end condo units, palm trees, and deep coral sand. The Calm sheltered waters off phenomenal snorkeling lazy days on the sand letting the hours slip by. In Our Kapalua Bay Beach Guide, we reveal everything you need to know about this fantastic beach, how to get here, where to park, what to see and do, where to eat, and even where to stay.
Kapalua Bay Beach is a real Gem and we show you how to make the best of it!
- Location – West Maui – Mile Marker 29 (Hwy 30)
- Amenities – Showers and Restrooms
- Beach Type – Sheltered Sandy Bay
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – relaxing on the beach and snorkelling
<<< Napili Bay Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Oneloa Beach Guide >>>
Located high along West Maui’s coastline Kapalua is the final outpost of civilization as you head around the headland. From here on there are only small villages and natural wilderness. Comprising of rocky coastline, high-end resorts, and seemingly endless Golf Courses, Kapalua is an ultra-high-end resort and the entire location is heavily manicured.
The Star of the resort area is the Stunning Kapalua Bay Beach. A crescent of deep Coral sand lapped by incredible sheltered blue waters teeming with sea life. The Natural amphitheater protects the bay making for nearly year-round perfect conditions. Giving the bay the feeling of a giant natural swimming pool
Lined by both residential condo units and the Stunning Montage Kapalua Bay Hotel Resort the bay has a relaxed residential vibe. A more old-time Hawaii Vibe takes over and there is less of the tourism feel of other beaches. It still feels a touch developed not over commercialized like many resorts. The Kapalua Coastal trail starts ere and runs several miles down the coast offering fantastic walking opportunities for all abilities.
Getting there and Parking in Kapalua
Kapalua is signposted at Mile Marker 30 on the Honoapiilani Hwy 30, however for the actual bay we prefer to come off at the Junction at Mile Marker 29, Signposted Napili, you then follow the Lower Holoapiliani Rd round to the bay.
Parking is difficult as the beach Access parking is shared for Kapalua and Napili Bay Beaches along with the Kapalua Trial. The Small free lot fills up quickly. There are several Paid lots in the area such as the Tennis Garden or on Bay Club Rd. Failing that there is on-street parking on the lower Honoapiilina Rd and Hui St in Napili, a short walk to the bay.
Many people are coming and going in the area and if you fail to get an early morning spot (before 7-8 am on busy days) then you may need to circle around a few times looking for someone leaving. If you do park on-street ensure you park in the same direction of traffic and in a legal area as Parking enforcement is pretty strict.
Things to Know
The Beach is a wonderful deep soft Coral/Shell sand which is wonderful walking on in bare feet. However, the rocks and reef come right up to the shoreline so any wading or paddling must be done with water shoes. You will find toes stubbed n sharp rock / Coral very painful indeed.
While the proximity of the reef is bad for bathers, for snorkellers it is fantastic. The whole bay is great for snorkeling and the reef holds a huge array of life (more below). The natural protection of the horseshoe-shaped reef also makes swimming here fantastic. The flat calm water, deep blue in color, and beautifully clear is just heaven for swimmers.
There is a large lawned area directly behind the beach, most of this is private and off-limits but there is a good amount of grassy areas to sit on if the sand is getting too much. Sections of this are in Full sun or shaded by the Treeline and all come with amazing views of the Bay and out towards Molokai.
The Kapalua Trail Starts on the left-hand side of the beach and runs the length of the bay and right around the coast, past Oneloa Beach, as far as DT Felmmig Beach. Here you can hook up with the Mahana Ridge Trail or the Dragons Teeth Trail. This gives hiking options for any ability with the gentle Kapalua trail being well paved and offering stunning views along it’s 1.8 miles, with the Mahan Ridge offering a severe 6mile hike up into the mountains. The Dragons Teeth rail lining somewhere in the middle with a short 1mile extention as it heads out over the stunning Dragons toothth peninsular
The water in the bay is usually very calm and this leads to a number of water sports being available. The Rocky shoreline means any shore break is quite dangerous and should be avoided. Out in the deeper water, swimming, Paddle Boarding or kayaking are all reasonably safe inf the protected waters of the Bay.
If you head around the headland on the right you get to Namalu Bay. Another secluded bay but with no beach. Here you will find more snorkeling and the Kapalua Cliff House, a historic Plantation house now used for Private dining by the Montage Resort.
The Rocks on the right-hand side of Namalu Bay are used for Cliff Jumping. Not a particularly safe activity the rocks here are not too high so offer a moderately less risky thrill than some of the other terrifying locales used for this pursuit. Shoreline access here is iffy. The Kapalua Trail runs right by it but it is fenced off and access down would be fraught regardless. An unnamed trail leads around the headland mansion to the cliff jumping site, or you can simply swim around from Kapalua if the surf on the headland is flat.
Back in the bay, the main activity is relaxing. Many hours are spent relaxing on the beach and grassy areas just enjoying the scenery picnicking and generally just whiling the hour away. The Kapalua district is really one of Maui’s most beautiful locations!
The Bay is also a nice place for Whale Watching during the Season. The Whales pass the headlands of the bay quite closely as the water drops off quickly
Snorkeling is simply awesome inside the Bay. The Reef comes right up to the shoreline so you are into the sea life almost straight away. There is great snorkeling close to shore but gets even better if the conditions allow you to explore the fringing reefs that extend out the sides of the bay.
Snorkeling in the bay is largely confined to the colorful reef fish that populate the coral reefs around Maui. As the bay is enclosed there is less chance of big pelagic fish heading into the bay, but Eagle Rays and Bluefin Trevally are often sporting on the reef edges. Turtles are regularly spotted but not as frequently as the neighboring Napili Bay.
The Calm waters and lack of sand neat the shoreline mean the water clarity is excellent. It’s a fantastic spot for beginners as the close to shore reef puts you straight into the fish with very little swimming needed. Exploring the outer edges also should satisfy even the most experienced snorkelers.
What to Eat?
Dining options are very limited down on the beach. The Best option we find it a picnic or bring along takeaway from the Gazeebo in Napili or Maui Tacos up at NApili Market as you come in. For option down by the water there is only really one.
Merriman’s is a bit of a Hawaiian legend and they offer incredible Farm to Table Cuisine. The Menu itself is worthy of a special treat but the location out on the Headland makes dining here a real occasion. They also offer a Happy Hour Menu if you wish to enjoy the experience without the several hundred dollar check at the end. Sat out on the Rocky peninsular that separates Kapalua and Napili the Views here are utterly stunning.
The Upmarket vibe of Kapalua means most accommodation is in the horrendously expensive price bracket. However, expect the sort of luxury and opulence that sort of price tag brings! There are two main hotel resorts in the area.
This Luxury Oceanfront Hotel really is a statement property. The Grounds are utterly gorgeous, the rooms appointed to an amazing standard. The Stunning pool complex overlooks the ocean and is one of the most stunning places to relax imaginable. It really is a stunning property. Unfortunately, it comes with a price tag to match. With prices over $1000 a night at peak times, it is beyond the scope for most people!
Another real stunner of a property. Similar in vein and price to the Montage. The Ritz Carlton is smaller and more intimate and is further away from Kapala Bay. Overlooking DT Flemming Beach is still a gorgeous location.
Outside these Ultra Resorts, the next option is one of the many rental Villas in the area. These lack some of the amenities of the resorts but offer more affordable prices and your own space.
You can always stay over in Napili if you are looking for some more down to earth options that are still only a short walk from both Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay Beach.
Kapalua Bay is one of the most reliable bathing waters on the island. The Fringing headlines reach right around the bay and act as a breakwater in even really quite rough surf conditions. Only on very heavy days, or when the wave direction is just right does the bay get too choppy to swim.
If there is a Shore break extreme care must be taken as the sharp rocks and nearshore reef makes things very dangerous is waves are breaking onto the shore/rocks.
The Vast majority of the time the bay is flat calm, clear and utterly wonderful.
<<< Napili Bay Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Oneloa Beach Guide >>>
Have Your Say
Let us know what you love about Kapalua Bay? How was the snorkeling? What were the conditions like? Did you hike the Kapalua Trial? Were you staying locally or traveling for the day? Whatever you have to say about the Bay just fire away in the comments below. Any Questions? Again just drop us a comment.