Ah Maui. One of the most beautiful islands in the world – with no exaggeration. It’s a dream destination for its lush vegetation, luxurious resorts and restaurants, scenic golf courses and it’s spectacular sandy beaches. Many of the best beaches in the world are found on Maui, and this guide can help you decide which ones, if not all, you should hit.
South Maui Beaches
Makena Beach (Big Beach)
Located off of Makena Alanui Road, Big Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach in Maui. With its mile of bright yellow sand beach and pristine blue waters, it is truly breathtaking! You won’t find any condos or resorts in view, which is perhaps the best part. It’s popular for boogie boarding because of its large shore break, but not recommended for surfing or snorkeling. Be careful when walking barefoot by the trees, because there are sharp thrones on the ground. You can find picnic tables and port-a-potties here, but no other amenities.
Best for: Swimming, body surfing, boogie boarding
Located beside Makena Beach and accessed by hiking over a cliff, Little Beach is the mecca of the illegal nude beaches on the island. Clothing is optional, so don’t feel intimidated if you’d prefer to remain clothed. The beach has a left hand reef for snorkeling, as well as the same beautiful sand as its neighbouring beach.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about this beach happens on Sunday nights. If you are in the area, you cannot miss the amazing beach party that starts around 4pm with drummers and dancing until sunset, and continues with fire-dancers into the night. Most of the locals are very free-spirited and you’ll find it to be a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The experience is unreal and definitely a memorable Hawaiian night. Bring a flashlight so you can find your way back up the cliff in the dark, and park outside on the road to avoid having your car locked in by the park gates.
Best for: Swimming, sunset parties
Located in front of the Kea lani Maui Resort, this beach is renowned for its beauty. Even though it can get crowded by resort guests, it’s still beautiful. The beach can get high surfs and be windy at times. Be careful to read the surf warnings before swimming, but it can be great for body surfing and boogie boarding. The resort offers a bar and grill for lunch as well as loungers and umbrellas to rent. Parking is plentiful and there is a paved ocean side trail linking Polo Beach to Wailea Beach that offers great views, vegetation and the occasional spotting of sea turtles on the reef.
Best for: swimming, boogie boarding, families
This beach is located in front of luxurious resorts like The Four Seasons Maui and the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, and although it can be touristy, it is still a stunning beach. You’ll find all the amenities you need here like paddle board, snorkeling and boogie board rentals, restaurants, washrooms and even nearby shopping. Come here for a beach with everything you need at your finger tips.
Best for: swimming, watersports, amenities
West Maui Beaches
This beach is surrounded by several high-end 1980s hotels and resorts including the Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui Marriott , Westin and Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. It offers all the amenities you could ever need, including beach front restaurants, bars and Whaler’s Village shopping centre. The beach itself is famous for its volcanic rock cliff called the “Black Rock”, a good spot for snorkeling or cliff diving. Every evening at sunset there is a ritual cliff dive ceremony. The water is fairly calm and the reef offers an abundance of coral, fish and sea turtles. You can also rent paddle boards and canoes here.
Best for: swimming, snorkeling, amenities, watersports
A breathtaking beach and voted the best beach in America in 1991, this is one of the most beautiful in Maui. Located on an exclusive resort, this beach offers golden sand, lava formed cliffs to shelter the beach, and a picturesque view of Molokai Island. You cannot take a bad photo here! Snorkeling is great here, you can spot sea-turtles almost every time you go out if you have a keen eye! They are usually hiding under the reefs until they have to come up for air.
Best for: swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, amenities, sea turtles
Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach)
You might wonder where everyone is when you go to this beach. It’s a breath-taking beach to go to, especially if you want to avoid the crowds. Molokai Island offers a beautiful backdrop for your pictures. The surf can get high and be dangerous for swimming at times, but it’s a great place for boogie boarding and surfing. Snorkeling is decent too, on both sides of the beach. This is the perfect beach to just relax at and take in the scenery.
Best for: boogie boarding, body surfing, surfing
Napili Bay Beach
Located in front of Napili Kai Resort, this beach offers white sand, clear blue waters and good snorkeling on either side of the beach. The Sea House Restaurant is a great break from the beach during happy hour, from 2-5, offering half-priced appetizers and drinks. Most amenities are meant for hotel guests and parking can be tricky.
Best for: swimming, snorkeling, amenities
North (Central) Maui Beaches
Ho’okipa Beach Park
On the road to Hana you’ll find this beach well-known for its consistent surf perfect for afternoon wind-surfing. It’s a great place to see world-class windsurfing and surfing from either the parking lot cliff, or by driving down to the beach. This beach is not for swimming and should be reserved for expert surfers only. The beach has all basic amenities like picnic tables, restrooms and lifeguards on duty.
Best for: Wind-surfing, surfing
East Maui Beaches
Wai’anapanapa State Park
This state park offers Maui’s best Black Sand Beach. At the parking lot, take the path to the right facing the ocean and walk down to the beach. Immediately to your right you’ll find a small entrance to a cave that leads to the water – a great spot to explore. The black sand can be quite hot in the sun, however the black sand is unique, making it a special beach to visit. This is a popular spot for tourists doing the “Road to Hana”, so this small beach can appear crowded at times. However, it’s a must-see if you are in the area, and you can even camp here if you wish.
Best for: swimming