Napili Bay is a small sandy cove high along the West Maui Coastline. Looking out over Molokai the bay offers calm sheltered waters, stunning views, and a deep coral sand beach. Lined by low-rise condo units the Beach offers a little slice of Hawaiian paradise. Our Napili Bay Beach Guide tells you everything you need to know about this stunning corner of West Maui.
- Location – West Maui – Mile Marker 29 (Hwy 30)
- Amenities – Showers, Restrooms (in Resorts), Restaurant and Cafe
- Beach Type – Sheltered Sandy Bay
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – A fun day playing on the beach
<<< Honokowai Beach Park – Beach Guide – Kapalua Bay Beach >>>
We try not to have favorites. We try and keep things balanced and objective, but every now and then we let the guard down. Napili Bay is not only our favorite Beach in West Maui, or even the whole island, It’s not even JUST our Favorite Beach in the WORLD. No, Napili bay actually ranks as just about our favorite place anywhere in the world. Quite a sales pitch! So what makes this small unassuming little cove so appealing to our senses?
It just seems to hit the perfect balance of beauty, amenities, beautiful water, stunning views, sea life, and relaxation. It is probably not the best beach parse on the Island, but it’s our Happy place and feels more like home than just about anywhere else.
Getting there and Parking in Napili Bay
Getting to Napili Bay is easy, Simply head along the Honoapiilani Hiway 30 and take a left at the junction after Mile Marker 29. The small Napili Mall is on your left, assuming you are heading up the highway from Lahina, and the junction is signposted Napili. Head down Napilihau St to the junction of Lower Honoapiilani Rd and follow the road around to the Bay.
We often stay in Napili bay so Parking is never an issue, but for those driving in Parking is scarce. The good news is it’s free but finding a spot is tricky. There is a public lot just past the Napili Kai, or there is paid parking sometimes just past the public lot at Bay Club Rd. Other than that look for a space along the Lower Honoapiilani Rd and also on Hui Dr if all the lots are full. Getting there early is key before 9 to get in the Parking lot, probably earlier in the busy periods. If you are late arriving you may need to circle a few times looking for someone leaving.
You can try parking in one of the restaurant Parking lots IF you are dining there and also use the beach, but they do get a bit funny about people arriving with Beach Gear as well. Make sure you pay attention to any Parking Information signs if you are using roadside parking and park WITH the direction of traffic and never in a dangerous spot. The Police don’t have a whole lot to do out here but issue tickets.
Things to Know
There are several Beach Access paths some run through resorts, but unless there are specific signs telling you not to enter you are free to pass through. All the Resorts are low-rise condo hotels, The Planning law here forbids any building over two stories so the area retains an undeveloped feeling.
The Beach is a steep sandy bank made up of deep soft coral/shell Sand. Your feet sink deeply into the sand giving a real sense of paradise. The Course grains do not blow around and do not quite get as everywhere as other sand. The beach is quite narrow and does get very busy. Space can quickly become a valuable commodity.
The water is usually pretty calm (See Conditions below) and access easy via the sloping sandy beach. It gets deep quickly and you are soon out of your depth. The Sandy floor gives way in many places to large jagged lava rocks, especially on the left-hand side of the beach. These can hurt or even quite seriously injure bare feet Water shoes are definitely recommended.
The Beach is perfect for playing in the waves. The Steep Beach and narrow focus of the surf mean the swell shoots up the beach quite quickly in the center of the bay. Using a boogie board or even just your back/stomach you can ride the wave right up the beach. On the left-hand side of the beach are a series of tide pools where kids can explore, looking for sea life.
Further out the sheltered waters are perfect for Stand Up paddleboarding or swimming, essentially the large bay feels like a giant swimming pool. Naturally, this is also very conducive to great Snorkelling. There is a surf break on occasion but it is rarely firing.
In Season, Whale watching is great at Napili Bay. The Whales come really close to shore and often breach and frolic within sight of the shoreline. There is a Whale sighting bell at Napili Shores so when you hear the bell ringing be sure to look out to sea to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.
The Snorkelling at Napili bay is excellent especially if you include the neighboring Honokeana Cove. There is a large group of Sea Turtles living in the cove and they regularly swim over to Napili bay to munch on seaweed and algae. Basically, you can see turtles everywhere in the bay and any snorkel over 10mins is pretty much guaranteed to encounter a turtle.
On top of this, there is excellent and varied Sealife. Many of Hawaii’s Reef Rish can be found around the bay and we have also seen large Eagle Rays and we regularly see Day Octopus foraging for food. Like most Sites the best snorkeling is found on either side of the bay, if the conditions are calm you can swim right around to Honokeana Cove, and but certain of seeing turtles. The rock along the shore in front of Napili Shores is also excellent. Finally, there is a large reef running parallel to the shore about 50-80 meters out that offers good snorkeling See Map Above.
Water Clarity is often very good. Following storms or large swells the water can cloud up a little for a few days but as soon as the surf dies down the fog starts to lift and is manageable very quickly. There is no stream or runoff to really murk things up, unlike Honolua Bay. The Left-hand side near the rocks can often be pretty murk but the further you swim out the better the clarity.
What to Eat?
Napili bay is the perfect place to spend the day and a cooler filled with your favorite foods right on the beach is a great way to dine inexpensively. However, if you want to eat out at the bay there are several great options.
Breakfast at the Gazebo is legendary. Hour-long queues form up to an hour before the Hut opens, and all morning the Small ocean side hut is rammed with guests with the queue snaking around the pool of Napili Shores Condo Complex. Breakfast dishes are HUGE and the giant fluffy pancakes easily feed two. The Fried Rice is a good month’s worth and the Epic breakfast burrito is to die for.
To Avoid Queues ring through your takeaway order and then enjoy the same amazing views across the channel to Molokini as the guests who spent 60+ mins queueing!
Sea House Restaurant
The Sea House has a really enviable position right down at the water’s edge. The outside Lanai offers stunning views and amazing cocktails. 2-4.45 pm is Happy hour with reduced drinks and amazing Pupus. The Dinner Menu is typically expensive but the food is pretty special and the location is breathtaking.
Technically this is Nextdoor in the Kapalua Bay, but it sits on the headland that separates the two bays so we mention it here. 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 checks at the end.
Looking for something simpler, quicker, and cheaper. Well, then Maui Taco’s has an outlet at the Napili Market. We adore Taco’s and Maui Tacos offer some of the best Fish Tacos on the Island!
The bay is pretty much surrounded by low-rise Hotel / Condo complexes. These fairly low-key resorts are wonderfully relaxing. Allowing you to experience and live a little bit of the Hawaii Lifestyle.
95% of the time the conditions in the bay are perfect. They vary from flat calm to just mild surf that is mainly concentrated at the center of the bay. The Bay sits quite far up the West Maui Portion of the Island, which can be exposed to rough seas, but the orientation of the bay means most of the time the bay is sheltered from the oceanic swells by Molokai and Lanai.
However, on the odd occasion, the winds blow a certain way the swells really can wrap around and hit the bay quite hard. The effect is quite dramatic. On the whole, the sandy part of the bay is not too badly effect and people can still safely play in the waves, however, heading further out to sea or snorkeling is very risky as the powerful Ocean swell can quickly bash you against the rocks. On these days the Popular Honokeane Surf break starts firing and you will find the locals hit the bay to grab some waves.
You can find the Live current conditions on the Napili Sunset Webcam – Warning if you are somewhere cold and dreary, this Webcam will not improve your mood!
<<< Honokowai Beach Park – Beach Guide – Kapalua Bay Beach >>>
Have Your Say
Have you been to the Hawaiian paradise of Napili Bay? What did you make of the beach? Did You try Snorkeling or playing in the surf? Did you check out the Gazebo or Sea House Happy Hour? How were the conditions? Flat calm or rough? What was the Parking situation like? Let us know in the comments below and if you have any questions about the incredible Napili Bay just fire away in the comments.