Oneloa Beach (Ironwood Beach) Guide, West Maui, Hawaii

Maui has some of the finest beaches in the world, these regularly tp Best beaches lists and draw people from all over the world. The big downfall for many of Maui’s beaches, however beautiful, is their popularity. Finding solitude on a beach in Maui is very challenging, and the most beautiful beach imaginable loses a lot of its charm when every inch of sand is covered in people. Oneloa is one such beach that is often overlooked and can be very quiet, even deserted, for large parts of the day.

This small strip of golden sand is a perfect escape for those looking to get away from the rat race and enjoy some solitude away from the crowds in a gorgeous setting with stunning views. Swimming and snorkeling however are questionable due to string surf and a rocky seafloor. The beach is best for simply relaxing and taking in the Hawaiian pace of life.

Oneloa Beach Guide (Ironwood Beach)
  • Location – West Maui – Mile Marker 30 (Hwy 30)
  • Amenities – Showers
  • Beach Type – Wide Sandy Beach Rocky Seafloor – Rough
  • Life Guards – None
  • Best For – Seclusion and romantic walks

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Oneloa Beach is also known as Ironwood Beach, named after the Ironwood trees (Oneloa) that used to line the bay. There is a little confusion over the beach with some people thinking it is Oneuli beach, located in South Maui in the Makena Beach Park, with others thinking this beach is called Mokuleia Beach (Slaughterhouse Beach) due to some wandering Markers on Google Maps. This article is about the correct beach, a sandy cove located in Kapalua in West Maui.

This is a wonderfully quiet beach lied only by residential lowrise property and shielded from any major road. It is a rare slice of peace and quiet, apart from the surf, in an otherwise crowded and busy part of the Island.

Getting there and Parking at Oneloa Beach

Oneloa Beach Parking

The most direct way to the beach is to take a left after Mile Marker 30 on the Honoapiilani Hwy down Office rd past the Ritz Carlton on your right. There is a Carpark on your right as Office road joins the Honoapiilani Rd. If this is full take a left here and there is another lot at the crossroads of Kapalua Pl and Ridge Rd. These are both very small lots but are not often busy and have a high turn over, try circling or waiting around as a space often frees up pretty quickly.

Drone

Things to Know

The Beach is around 400meters (1,300ft) long and has a wide band of deep soft coral sand. Lined by residential homes and hidden from view of any roadways the beach remains a secret of sorts and can often be completely deserted. At busy times only 2-3 groups are found on the beach and many just pass by on secluded walks.

The Kapalua Coastal trail runs the length of the beach leading to the Dragons Teeth Trail and Makalaupuna Pint that forms the eastern flank of the bay. The Direction the beach faces leaves it exposed to large swells that wrap around the rugged northern shore of West Maui. Most days the Beach is pounded with large shore breaks. Combined with a rocky seafloor this makes Oneloa a poor choice for Snorkelling or swimming.

Best Activities

There is not alot to reccomend on the beach. The surf Breaks directly onto a rocky bottom, meaning anyone caught in the worng place is in for a trip to the accident room. When the surf is up, then snorkelling is pretty much out due to viz, even if you were foolish enough to brave the surf.

The Break is not even a good surf break. It breaks in shallow water in a pretty un-appealing way, that is not desirable to Surfers, and the shallow rocky bottom makes boogie boarding a very poor idea. If you are going to venture into the surf there is a sandy portion towards the middle of the beach, but as soon as you venture even a little way out the rocks kick in. Wear water shoes, and only consider going in during light surf.

The beach however is great for just getting away from things. Sitting in the Sand, Listening to the waves crash, taking in the stunning ocean views over to Molokai, and just escaping the rat race. There is very little shelter and a stiff breeze most of the time so care must be taken not to enjoy too much sun!

Early morning or Sunset strolls are just magical along the beach, there are not many places to enjoy a Sunset in Maui all by yourself but Oneloa is one such place.

Snorkeling

Guide to Maui Snorkeling

As we said Snorkelling is not good on Oneloa most of the time. If there is any surf just forget it. However the way the waves move around the island mean that on occasion the beach is treated to a few days of flat calm conditions and then the snorkelling is pretty good. Just don’t expect it and do not take risks if there is a shore break stay dry.

The best entry in the middle where the sandiest portion of the beach is but this then requires a swim over to the right or left-hand side where the best snorkeling is. As the surf will be light you should be able to enter just about anywhere with care. The Snorkelling to the right-hand side is best as you can follow the wall of the dragon teeth trail right out. There is also a great reef on the left-hand side with access to some deep holes and blue water.

Conditions are rarely suitable though and if they are then they will equally be suitable at some of the better sites around the island. So there is really no reason to Snorkel here other than to obstinate.

Snorkeling Safety Tips

What to Eat?

This is a great place to Picnic, but other than that there are zero food options at the beach. You could pick up supplies at the Honolua Store, just up the road or Sansei Sushi (same location) offers takeout that you can enjoy down on the beach.

Local Accommodation

We find Oneloa is a beach to visit for a few hours. We like getting wet, and this beach is not often conductive to that. So we would not stay in the area just for oneloa, however Kapalua District has many great beaches on to of this and some wonderful hotels in the immediate area.

Ritz Carlton Kapalua

The Closest to the beach is the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. From here you will have access to both Oneloa and DT Flemming within easy walking distance. Enjoy your days frolicking on DT Flemming before relaxing on Oneloa at sunset. The Hotel is an ultra-high-end resort. It is a real breathtaking property with prices to match! If you can afford it this is what Hawaiian Dreams are made of.

Montage Kapalua Bay

The other option in the area is the Montage. Located on Kapalua Bay it is only a short walk over to Oneloa for some alone time by the ocean, something you are unlikely to find at Kapalua Bay. Again like the Carton prices are high, but you get a lot for your money if you can afford the eye-watering rates!

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.

Conditions

It really does not take much surf here to keep you out of the water. The rocky bottom really is not the place to be standing, swimming, boarding, etc.. when even moderate waves roll in. And this is the case 90% of the time. There are no lifeguards or flag system at the beach so you need to use your own judgment before entering the water. And really even in low surf if you are standing on jagged lava rock the chance of injury is pretty high.

If you want to play in the surf, just next door is DT Flemming Beach that has a similar powerful shore break but this one breaks on the sand!

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Have Your Say

Have you been to Onelua Beach? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below? What were the conditions like? How busy was the area? Were you able to park in the free lots? Whatever you have to say about the beach just fire away in the comments below and if you have any questions again just fire away.

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