Keawakppu beach is one of south Maui’s less well-known beaches. Hidden from view from the main thoroughfare this strip of golden sand offers some real tranquility but the majority of visitors just drive on by, unaware of its existence. In our Keawakapu beach guide we lift the lid on this, not quite secret, but often overlooked Beach Park and show you why you should definitely take the time to hunt it out.
- Location – South Maui – South Kehei Road
- Amenities – Showers and Restrooms
- Beach Type – Large Sandy Beach with placid conditions.
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – Lazy Days and Snorkelling
<<< Kamaole Beach Parks – Beach Guide – Ulua Beach Guide >>>
As you make your way through South Kehei, the town starts to peter out as you head towards Wailea. Large hedges and walls rise up as you appear to move away from the ocean. Eventually, you turn uphill as you enter the pristine manicured upmarket district of Wailea. It’s an uneventful exit and one that feels like you have missed nothing but a small residential area. However, you just drove straight by one of the nicest beaches o the Island…you never even saw it. For hidden behind those privacy walls, bushes and hedges is the Forbidden Cove, or Keawakapu Beach to give it its proper name.
This near one-mile stretch of beautiful golden sand is largely lined with upmarket residential homes and has a really nice lost world feeling. To the North views out over the West Maui mountain are staggering and to the south views of Kaho’olawe, Puu Olai, and Molokini. It really is a special place and one of the quieter beaches due to its partially hidden nature.
Getting there and Parking in
Getting there is a doddle provided you know where it is. It’s hidden but not really, you just need to know about it or get lucky and stumble upon it. Fortunately for you, we are here to tell you all about it so there is no luck involved. As you leave Kehei, on the South Kehei Road you will pass Kameole and the Kehei Boat Ramp both on your right. As you pass the boat ramp the hedgerows rise up and the views of the ocean dry up.
You will then pass the Kehei Surfside Resort and the Mana Kei Maui Resort entrance, The next right is the Keawakapu Beach (FREE) Parking Lot on your right. It is barely signposted and easily missed, but it’s only a few hundred meters from the Kehei Boat Ramp so just take it slow and keep an eye out. There is often a Surf Shack SUV parked outside advertising beach rentals, this is a clue, but it’s not always there.
The lot is large and there is normally space, so Parking is no issue. There are toilets at the back of the lot, but these are portapotty types and pretty grim. Beach Acess is also at this end of the Parking Lot.
Should the lot be full, or you just want to get away from this end of the beach there is a second lot servicing the other end of the beach. Keep on South Kehei Road and when the road turns left up the hill to Wailea and becomes Okolani Drive, turn right to stay on South Kehei road. The road is now a shadow of its former self and little more than a residential street. Keep going right to the end where you find the 20 or so Parking Spaces for the beach
Things to Know
Keawakapu means Forbidden Cove, or Forbidden Harbor, or Sacred Cove. Hawaiian translations are not always direct. Kapu means Taboo which really means something is religiously forbidden.
Quite why the Cove, which is not really a cove was considered forbidden or sacred is no longer known, or at least not widely. It’s possible it never was but Locals told newcomers this just to keep them away and the name stuck! If there is any local knowledge on this we would love to hear it, this is just our own bumbling western interpretation, we are sure some locals would have a much clearer reason, and probably translation, for the name!
The Beach access is shared with the 4 resorts in the immediate area so you will find this side of the beach pretty busy, as while many people miss the beach, the guests staying right on the beach certainly don’t! Head down towards the other end of the beach and it gets quieter quickly.
In the middle of the beach is a rocky section, great for snorkeling, see below, and beyond this, the beach developed a second crescent. This section of the beach can be really quiet. It is backed by just a few high-end residential houses and you can have the beach almost to yourselves.
Once past the Rocky outcrop of the second crescent, the beach kicks back into a third crescent, this is now technically Mokapu Beach. We tend to avoid the south section of this beach as it backs onto the Andaz reset and is quite busy with guests relaxing on their sun loungers. It’s as public as every other beach on the island but we just prefer as much personal space as possible. The one big exception to this is the snorkeling which is excellent at the far end of Mokapu, both ends actually.
The Southern end of the beach is often quiet and very serene although the water entry here is very rocky so we stick to the Keawakapu side if we want to swim.
Relaxing – The Large sandy beach, stunning views out over the Mountains, High Lush Green backdrop, and quiet nature make this the perfect place to just relax and while the hours away. Bring a picnic, set up base camp, and just melt away into paradise.
Beach Walks – At the height of the day the beach is quiet, early morning and evening it can be deserted, With nearly a mile of beach each way it’s perfect to just stroll down, barefoot taking in the sheer beauty. Sunset is particularly beautiful as the sun dips down into the Pacific.
Body Boarding – The Conditions here are often very serene but there can be a fairly strong shore break that is great for bodyboarding, especially at the northern end of the beach near the resorts. It’s not the best location on the island but great fun to play around in the waves. Take care in winter where the break can get dangerously strong.
Keawakapu Beach is excellent for snorkeling. Wherever rocky bottom form structure for coral and reef fish to find shelter will inevitably be good for snorkeling, but you also require good water clarity and placid conditions. All things found here in abundance.
The very northern end offers good snorkeling around the rock outcrops and you can snorkel all the way round to the Kehei Boat Ramp if you are an expert swimmer. However this portion of the beach suffers the worst swells, so this is only possible in calm conditions.
The Mid Section of the beach where the second crescent forms is one of the best and most reliable spots. Turtles, buckets of reef fish, and some decent coral all are to be found here. As you head south, to Mokupa and Ulua, all the rocky headland offer great snorkeling.
What to Eat?
Dining is extremely limited here. In fact, there is only really one restaurant. The up-scale 5 Palms restaurant
5 Palms – this is a very nice, upscale oceanside eatery that offers really good seafood dishes, especially at dinner. However, it never feels like a good beach restaurant option. Happy hour is decent and you can pop on for some cocktails and pupus, but you are going to have to change first, it doesn’t feel right just pooping a t-shirt on over your swimwear, it’s not that type of restaurant!
Really the beach just screams picnic. Its wild and remote feel, while actually being neither, just begs for you to pack something up and just eat in the sand. So stop off at Safeway or Foodland and pack a chiller. Or grab something in Kehei such as Maui Tacos and bring that along to enjoy on the beach.
Yeah, a Days Inn, really! And to be honest it is pretty much what you expect from a Days Inn, basic but comfortable. It just happens that this one, instead of being on a freeway intersection or behind a gas station happens to be perched on one of the most beautiful beaches in South Maui!
The Ekahi Village is a condo complex with a difference. The units are all spread out in lush gardens and are max two stories. This gives you a lot of space and a taste of Hawaiin outdoor living. The units are all away from the oceanfront but the complex lies right on the south end of Keawakapu Beach.
The Andaz Maui is actually located on Mokapu Beach but we included it here as it’s the closest high-end resort and the two beaches are interconnected. The Andaz sits right in the middle of four wonderful Maui beaches leaving you really spoiled for choice. The hotel itself offers high-end luxury at high-end prices.
There are no Life Guards at the beach but there is a Flag system in operation so take heed. Most of the time the beach is really calm, but shore breaks can build. When the wind blows a certain way, like all beaches in Maui, the wave can really pound. Especially in the winter when large pacific swells make it through the channel.
In Summer this is rare and most days the waves just lap the shore. When it’s calm and has been for a few days the south end of the beach really can be gin-clear and glassy-flat, especially in the mornings. But there is normally always some swell at the northern end.
<<< Kamaole Beach Parks – Beach Guide – Ulua Beach Guide >>>
Have Your Say
Have you visited Kaewakapu Beach? What are your thoughts on it? How were the conditions? What did you do there, Did you go snorkeling? We would love to hear your experiences of the beach, so just fire away in the comments and let us know and if you have any questions again just fire away.