Visitors and residents alike flock to Maui for its incredible natural landscapes and tranquil, low-key atmosphere. Although there’s more activity on the Valley Isle than on the Big Island or Kauai, you won’t find the four-lane highways or clusters of high-rise buildings that you’ll find on Oahu.
This relaxed vibe largely translates to Maui’s beaches. Sure, you’ll find your share of crowded beaches in the island’s tourism hubs. However, you’ll also find plenty of long, gorgeous white sand beaches that get much less foot traffic.
In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of 12 of our favorite beaches on Maui. We’ll show you the best spots for snorkeling, for spending a day with the whole family, for enjoying a quiet day on the shore and much, much more.
Below, you’ll also find a Google Map of all the beaches listed in this article to help you find each beach easily. Maui is bigger than many visitors realize. In fact, it can take an hour or more (depending on traffic!) to get from the Kaanapali in West Maui to Paia on the North Shore. If you’re headed over to Hana, it can be a two- to three-hour trip. Use the map below to find beaches near you and trade your time in the car for time in the sunshine.
In sun-drenched South Maui, you’ll find a big cluster of resorts and rental condos alongside a long shoreline of warm, gorgeous beaches. As a result, you’ll find that the beaches of Kihei and Wailea are a little more well-traveled than others. However, you’ll also find it easy to stock up on beach essentials—like snacks, drinks, and sunscreen—in the nearby stores, so South Maui makes for a pretty convenient day at the beach.
Kamaole Beach Parks – a.k.a. Kam 1, Kam 2, and Kam 3
Best for a fun day with the family
You’ll usually hear this series of beach parks referred to by their nicknames—Kam 1, Kam 2, and Kam 3. Everyone on Maui has their own personal favorite. Kam 1 has the longest stretch of sand, and a dedicated parking lot. Kam 2 is rumored to have the clearest water, and many people snorkel around the rocky outcrops at the edges of the beach. Kam 3 is best known for its big, grassy lawn and playground, which are both popular with families.
While these three beaches are pretty popular, they also offer a lot of conveniences, including lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, and easy access to the shops of Kihei if you need to snag a cold drink. All in all, they all offer a lively and comfortable beach experience with plenty of room and plenty of facilities.
Kihei Cove Beach Park
Best for learning how to surf
Some people come to Hawaii with the dream of learning to surf. If that’s the case, head on over to Kihei Cove. The gentle, rolling waves are perfect for those learning to find their feet, as evidenced by the number of surf schools who use this area as their training ground. Additionally, the area is well known as an area for beginners, so more likely to find fellow surfers in the lineup with patience for those still learning. The only downside? The Cove gets crowded quickly, so it’s not the best spot if you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach.
Makena Beach State Park – Big Beach
Best for finding your own quiet stretch of sand
Past the energy of Kihei and the glitzy resorts of Wailea, you’ll find Makena Beach State Park, home to Big Beach. Once you see the wide and long expanse of warm white sand, you’ll know exactly how it was named. Since Big Beach is a bit removed from Maui’s more developed areas, you won’t find big buildings looming behind you, just Kiawe trees.
If you’re feeling adventurous, at the north side of the beach, you’ll find a little path over to Little Beach. There, you’ll find what some consider a clothing-optional beach (although state regulations prohibit nudity). On many days, Little Beach can offer you even more seclusion if you want to get away from it all.
Note: Starting April 2021, non-residents need to pay a small entrance and parking fee to enter Makena State Park. Residents with Hawaii ID are exempt from these charges.
La Perouse Bay
Best for land and sea adventures
For a really different kind of day on the beach—one that might make you feel like you’re on another planet—keep driving past Big Beach, down scenic Makena Road. You’ll wind past lush estates, then through a bleak and windy jet black lava field, until the road ends in a gravel parking lot.
Let this be your jumping-off point for an adventurous morning in and around the water. (The area gets hot as the day goes on, so show up early to beat the heat!) Experienced snorkelers can use the rocky beaches as a launching pad to explore the underwater landscape. You can also explore the area by foot and take in the otherworldly landscape left behind from Haleakala’s last big eruption. Along the trail, you’ll also find little tide pools to explore. As you gaze upward toward the crater, you’ll see the lush green landscape of Upcountry Maui, offering a fascinating contrast to the desolate, windswept area you’ll find yourself in. A day at La Perouse may not be your typical day at the beach on Maui, but that’s exactly the point.
Like south Maui, west Maui features another resort hub that stretches about ten miles from Lahaina to Kapalua. Beyond Kapalua, you’ll find a wild stretch of coastline with incredible coastal views and hairpin curves—a completely different side of Maui than most are used to. We’ll show you the best of both sides of west Maui—the fun and lively resort beaches as well as the quiet ones.
Best for a classic day of equal measures of sand, sun, and salt water
Once named “America’s Best Beach” by Dr. Beach (a.k.a. author Stephen Leatherman), Kapalua Bay has a lot to offer: a wide sandy beach, calm turquoise waters, a shallow area for kids to splash in, plus snorkeling opportunities and rentals. It’s not as large as some of the other beaches on Maui, so you’ll want to get there early to stake out a spot and secure parking. Once you’re there, enjoy a classic Maui beach day as you alternate between dipping in the tropical water and drying off on the sand in the warm Maui sunshine.
Best for finding the perfect spot for you
With three miles of powdery white sand, Kaanapali Beach offers you plenty of opportunities to find the perfect spot to plunk down and enjoy the day. Along the beach, you’ll find the Kaanapali Beachwalk, a paved path that connects all of the resorts that line the beach, including the Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, and Sheraton resorts. Because the beach is located adjacent to a long line of resorts, you’ll find the area lively with people. However, with three miles of beach to choose from, you’re sure to find an area that suits you. Plus, if you have kids who are old enough to wander on their own a bit, they’ll love heading up and down the Beachwalk to see the sights and snag a shave ice along the way.
Note: You’ll find a few showers scattered up and down the beach. You’ll also find full showers and restroom facilities a little farther north at Kahekili Beach Park.
Best for pristine snorkeling
Located in a quiet cove away from the resorts of west Maui, Honolua Bay is a gem of a spot that’s perfect for the snorkelers in your group. Because it’s a Marine Life Conservation District, you’ll find plenty of diverse fish and coral to enjoy, all in a calm bay.
If there’s one downside to Honolua, it’s that there isn’t much beach to speak of. The cove is almost completely rocky. So, unlike at Kapalua Bay, there aren’t a lot of places for non-snorkelers to lounge while the others are paddling around. However, for those who want to explore Maui’s underwater landscape, Honolua is paradise.
Mokuleia Beach / Slaughterhouse Beach
Best for taking in the sound of the surf
If snorkeling at Honolua left you with a hunger for a classic Hawaii beach, head just next door to gorgeous Mokuleia Beach. You’ll also hear this beach referred to as Slaughterhouse, named for a facility that was formerly located on the ranch land above the beach.
Whereas Honolua’s shoreline is largely rocky, Mokuleia offers a broad expanse of pristine, powdery sand. It’s not as long as nearby(ish) Kaanapali, but it’s much quieter, due to its remote location and the fact that you have to traverse a long set of stairs to access the beach. If quiet, seclusion, and optional shade from the trees that line the beach sounds like your idea of a perfect beach day, head to Mokuleia. Parking fills up fast, so make sure to get there early.
Like Oahu’s famous North Shore, Maui’s North Shore is where you’ll find big wave action in the winter. It’s also home to a number of charming small towns, including Paia and Haiku, which lie along the famous Road to Hana. You don’t have to go all the way to Hana to enjoy several of Maui’s excellent North Shore beaches. In fact, you’ll find two choices less than 10 miles from Kahului Airport.
Baldwin Beach & Baby Beach (and Everything in Between!)
Best for a long, quiet beach walk
Kaanapali Beach isn’t for everyone. If you like the idea of a long beach walk, but you want to do it in a much more relaxed, low-key area, head to Baby Beach in Sprecklesville. From there, you can walk about two miles of white sand to Paia Bay. Along the way, you’ll have the blue waters of the Pacific on your left side and sand dunes and trees on your right. No big buildings, no condos, and much less foot traffic than you’ll find in other locations in Maui.
Although you won’t find any facilities on the Baby Beach end, you can also use Baldwin Beach Park as your access point. There, you’ll find a big parking lot, restrooms, showers, and lifeguards. Plus, a short walk from Baldwin will take you into the town of Paia, which has plenty of restaurants and boutiques to keep you busy for an afternoon.
Hookipa Beach Park
Best for taking in the sights
Keep driving along Maui’s North Shore past Paia, and about two miles later, you’ll see a sign for the Hookipa Lookout. Pull over and you’ll find a parking lot overlooking Hookipa Beach Park, with its popular (and challenging) surf break. At almost any time of the day, you’ll see surfers catching waves, as well as windsurfers and kitesurfers when the wind is cooperating. Between the displays of athleticism and the views of the North Shore beyond, it’s a mesmerizing sight.
If you feel like staying for a while, head down the hill to the beach, where you’ll find a nice curve of sand as well as comfort facilities. You may also get treated to a beach full of honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles. These regal creatures often flop on the warm shores of Hookipa to snooze in the sunshine. As you take in these impressive creatures, feel free to snap a photo or two, but make sure to keep your distance so as not to disturb their natural patterns.
East Maui is the least developed area of the island, anchored by the tiny town of Hana. Driving the Road to Hana can be a thrilling, if harrowing experience along a highway that was first completed in 1926. Expect narrow and twisty roads that take you across more than 70 bridges, many of which are a single lane wide. Enjoying the journey itself is all part of the charm, since there are plenty of sights to see along the way, including the following two beaches.
Waianapanapa State Park & Beach
Best for that only-in-Maui moment
Hawaii owes its entire existence to the volcanoes that created this island chain. They also left Maui with the eerie ocean of black rock you’ll enjoy in Makena, as well as the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park.
Whereas some black sand beaches simply tend toward greyish, there’s no mistaking the deep ebony tones of Waianapanapa. Enjoy this incredible sight, and don’t miss the opportunity to explore beyond the beach. You’ll find a trail that takes you past a Hawaiian heiau (temple), as well as the opportunity to duck into a lava tube or two.
Note: Advance reservations are now required for all vehicles and walk-in entry at Waianapanapa State Park & Beach. You can make your reservation at gowaianapanapa.com.
Best for a super low-key day at the beach
For the ultimate chill day at the beach, head to Hamoa. You’ll find shady areas, sunny spots, soft sand under your feet, and plenty of quiet. In fact, the most active thing at Hamoa Beach is the surf. In other words, if you’re looking for a beach to help you achieve a new level of Zen, Hamoa is it.
Note that you will find Hana’s one resort—currently called the Hana-Maui Resort—above Hamoa Beach. However, since it’s a boutique resort, guest presence on the beach historically hasn’t been very obtrusive.
Enjoy the Best Maui Beaches—Your Way
There’s no shortage of beaches on Maui, so it’s easy to find one that’s perfect for you. Whether you’re looking for a lively, family-friendly atmosphere, great snorkeling, quiet seclusion, or a land-and-water adventure, there’s a beach for you on Maui. These 12 will get you started, but they’re only the start of the incredible beaches you’ll find all over the Valley Isle.
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