As you head around West Maui on the Honoapiilani Hwy, Slaughterhouse Bay is the last real sandy beach you will pass until you get all the way around the island. This small half-moon crescent of sand is wild and completely undeveloped. IT is also a stone’s through from some of the best snorkeling on the planet. Don’t be put off by the unpleasant name, There are no dead animals involved at all.
- Location – West Maui – Mile Marker 32 (Hwy 30)
- Amenities – None (Porta-Potties at Honolua Bay)
- Beach Type – Sheltered Sandy Bay
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – When only one of you likes Snorkeling
First, let us address the name. Slaughter House beach is pretty much the worst image we could imagine for a beach, conjuring up images of severed cows’ heads, blood, and wails of dying animals. Not images that are very relaxing and far from the paradise Maui advertises. Fortunately, the name comes from the past and the small Slaughterhouse that uses to sit above the Bay has long gone. You can rest safe knowing there are no rivers of blood or spare animal parts floating in the bay. If it still bothers you, you can even use the Hawaiian Name, Mokuleia Beach.
So, what can you expect? Due to its proximity to the ever-popular Honolua Bay and the fact it is remote from any sort of built-up area and you can’t see it from the road makes Slaughterhouse Beach quite underused. The Truth is, it is an excellent beach. The 400 ft wide sandy crescent is deep and covered in wonderful coral sand. It is usually quiet and quite sheltered and offers some breathtaking snorkeling, especially for fit and adventurous snorkelers.
Things to Know about Slaughter House Beach
Honolua Bay is one of the best Snorkelling spots in Maui due in part to the Marine Reserve, However, this reserve also covers Slaughterhouse Beach/Mokuleia Bay and this means snorkeling off the beach is excellent (see below). What’s more, the Beach is not blighted by the same mountain runoff that turns Honolua Brown and stinky when rains fall up in the hills.
The beautiful sandy cove is also far more suitable if one of you isn’t looking to snorkel but wants to lounge on the beach. Honolua is an awful Stoney/pebble beach that is not much fun to sunbathe on, but Slaughter House Beach is perfect.
The Complete lack is development also gives the beach a wonderful paradise feel. The Bay is lined by jungle foliage and the steep sides of the bay make the beach very secluded. On quiet days you really can melt away into your very own tropical paradise!
The water entry is a little rocky in places as are parts of the beach. Water shoes are preferable here if you want to avoid painful stubbed toes or worse! The center of the beach is fairly rock-free and your best bet if there is a little surf running.
Getting there and Parking at Slaughter House Beach
Shortly after Mile Marker 32 on the Honoapiilani Hwy, there is a large pull-out with free parking for around 30 cars. It is pretty hard to miss, especially if you use the Mile Markers as a guide, although they are quite easy to miss. If you get to the Honolua Bay Look-out or parking lot then you have gone too far. If the main parking lot is full then there are a number of smaller pull-outs further up and down the road, you can use but be warned some are no parking so obey any signage and do not park booking the roadway (signified by the solid white line) if you intend on your car being there upon your return.
The Beach is not immediately visible from the Road, but you will get a peak from the parking lot. To access the beach a short, but quite steep, Stairway runs through the undergrowth down to the beach, Again you can’t miss it.
The beach is best suited to lazy days enjoying Maui’s incredible climate and wonderful oceans. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the Honolua-Mokuleia Bay Marine reserve while non-snorkellers relax on the beach. Honolua is very much a hit-it-and-then-leave sort of place, there is not much to do there out of the water, whereas Slaughterhouse Beach is just so much more inviting.
Of Course, the best activity at the beach is snorkeling. The Sea Life off the beach, is nearly as good as its more prestigious neighbor. To the left is a small rocky headland, beyond this are some excellent Lava Rock Features including Lava Fingers. Coral Growth here is good and there is an abundance of sea life. To the Right of the bay, the seafloor is littered with boulders and encrusting Corals. The whole gamut of Hawaii’s Incredible Sealife can be found around these two sides of the bay. The Central Channel of the bay is pretty dull, with a featureless sandy bottom. However, on occasion, large rays can glide into the bay here.
The snorkeling is not quite as great as next door, however, for the more adventurous there is nothing stopping you from swimming around the right-hand headland and straight into Honolua Bay. It’s a good 800m swim over to the right-hand side of Honolua where the best snorkeling is plus the distance you will cover exploring the bay and of course back round to Slaughterhouse. Overall expect to cover 2000 meters as a minimum to achieve this, so only consider it if that sort of distance is no issue, and expect to be in the water for well over an hour.
As we have said, Slaughterhouse does not have a stream entering the bay as Honolua does so when the rains are falling up in the mountains and Honolua is turned into a murky brown mess, Slaughterhouse Bay is likely to be perfect. Many reef fish also dislike this mucky water so will head round to Slaughterhouse too making the bay even better when Honolua is ruined.
What to Eat?
On the whole, there are no dining options in the local vicinity so plan on bringing food and drinks yourself. It’s a great beach for a picnic, but make sure you leave nothing behind and do your bit to keep this wonderful paradise perfect. It is after all a marine reserve.
There are sometimes food vans that park up at Honolua Overlook or down at the main car park. These vary, in both variety and quality so do not count on them.
The area is, for now, fairly undeveloped. There are a few large residential villas dotted around but that is largely it, There is no particular resort or hotel that would cater specifically to the bay or to Honolua next door.
The main Honolua-Mokuleia Bay sits quite far around West Maui’s coastline and outside of the sheltered waters of the Molokai-Lahina Channel, this exposes the coastline to more extreme surf conditions than the main tourist resorts of West Maui which line in more protected waters. However, the Kamane Headland, formed by an ancient Lava flow extends out into the channel to the right of the bay providing sufficient protection to both Slaughterhouse and Honolua Bays.
Most days this provides sheltered waters that are flat calm and perfect for snorkeling. Slaughterhouse is a little more exposed and on some days a fairly large shore break is present but for the most part, the water is still clear and calm once out past the break. Care should be taken near any rocky shoreline however and even small shore breaks onto rocks can be dangerous.
Unfortunately being so far around the coastline does mean that when the winds blow from a certain direction the Bay is subject to a full Pacific Swell. Large breakers will roll in and swamp the bay making swimming or snorkeling very dangerous. Surfers will likely be out in force and the parking lots will be filled with the pick-up trucks of locals looking for some waves on the great surf breaks that form here. These days will be very obvious and definitely stay out of the water.
These are the exceptions and probably account for 25% of the days. Honolua is plagued on another 25% of days with murky water caused by the mountain stream that enters the ocean here. This makes the Bay pretty hit-and-miss but here at Slaughterhouse Bay, the only issue is the Surf making it a much more reliable snorkeling destination and a perfect backup.
Have Your Say
Have you visited Slaughterhouse beach? What were the conditions like when you visited? Flat Calm or rough and ready? What were your reasons for visiting this little corner of paradise? Was it a backup to Honolua? Or did you seek our slaughterhouse specifically? Let us know in the comments below and if you have any questions just fire away.