Heading to Maui soon? We’re sharing the 14 best beaches on Maui, as well as important things to know about each one, to help you plan your beach adventures on the island!
With Maui being the second largest island in Hawaii, there is no shortage of amazing beaches to choose from. We have now been to Maui twice together, once for our honeymoon in 2014 and again in 2018 for a quick getaway. And while we aren’t huge lay out on the beach type people, we do love beach hopping, so between both trips, we have explored many of the beaches all around the island and fallen in love with many of them.
Whether you love to lay on the beach all day or prefer visiting multiple beaches in one day, we’re excited to share 14 of the best beaches on Maui to consider adding to your Maui adventure. These beaches are located all around the island, so you’re guaranteed to have one close to where you’ll be, have a variety of sand colors, and range from great snorkeling spots, surf spots, or just a spot to plop down a towel.
We hope this guide can help you choose the right beaches for you and give you all of the tips you need to visit them, such as parking, costs (if applicable), and more. Have a favorite beach we missed? Let us know in the comments so we can check it out next time!
Need more ideas or inspiration for your Maui trip?
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The Ultimate Road to Hana Guide
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Best Beaches on the Big Island
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
Maui Beaches Map
One of the best things about the Hawaiian islands is the diverse scenery across each island. And Maui is no exception! The island is split into the leeward side (South and West), which gets less rain and has drier scenery, and the windward side (North and East), which gets a lot more rain and is more lush. Each area has its own unique vibe and has a variety of different types of beaches!
For the sake of this Maui beaches guide, we’re splitting Maui into four regions: West Maui, South Maui, North Shore, and East Maui. That way, you can easily know which beaches you can combine into one day of your trip, or which beaches are closest to your accommodations.
But we’re also including a map of all 14 of the beaches on Maui in this guide above so you can see where they are on the island and in relation to each other.
Maui Beach Tips
Before you hit the beach, we have a few tips to make sure you’re prepared and have a safe time!
Wear reef safe sunscreen. As of January 2021, you cannot wear sunscreen that includes coral harming chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Not sure if your sunscreen is safe? Here is a list of 15 options to buy.
Not all beaches have lifeguards. If you’re not a strong ocean swimmer (we definitely aren’t!), you may want to stick to beaches with lifeguards, just to be safe.
Check the beach conditions. You can check the conditions of the beaches on Maui on Hawaii Beach Safety, including surf and wind reports, as well as safety information. Make sure to listen to the flags on the beach (if applicable)!
Keep an eye on your belongings. A common question we have gotten on some of our Hawaii vlogs is “what do you do with your personal items when you’re on the beach and in the ocean?” While Maui is very safe, there can be car break-ins at the beach parking lots. Here is what we do when visiting beaches in Hawaii:
- We do not leave valuables in the car.
- We typically have a lot of gear (due to filming), but we try to bring the least amount of items possible to the beach.
- Since we aren’t big ocean swimmers, we usually are just on the beach with our items, so we can have them right with us and keep a close eye on them. But if we want to go into the water, we either take turns or stay close to our stuff and keep an eye on it (assuming things feel safe enough). You could also bring a waterproof pouch for your phone to keep it with you!
Want more Maui tips? see our tips on where to stay and how to maximize, Check out our 5 Days on Maui guide, where we share where to stay, when to visit, how to get around, and an itinerary to help you make the most of your time there!
West Maui (Kapalua, Ka’anapali)
If you’re visiting Maui, there is a good chance you’re staying on the west side. This part of the island is home to many resorts, the cool town of Lahaina, and a bunch of the iconic, tan sand and palm tree lined beaches.
This is where we have stayed during both trips to Maui and while the beaches may be filled with more tourists than some other areas, these beaches are popular for a reason!
Facilities: Restrooms and showers
Activities: Swimming, cliff diving, and snorkeling
Ka’anapali is one of the most popular beaches on the island! This beach is located in the Ka’anapali resort area, which was Hawaii’s first planned resort and has been a model for resort areas around the world.
The beach is lined with hotels, shops, and pathways, so if you’re looking for more of a resort beach experience, then this is your beach. Your day can be filled with laying out all day, going for a bite to eat (we highly recommend an Island Latte and acai bowl from Island Vintage Coffee!), strolling along the concrete path, laying out some more, and going shopping to your heart’s content.
The beach is also great for snorkeling and if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the more northern end of Ka’anapali Beach to Black Rock Beach, where there is a giant rock you can jump off of into the ocean. And if you’re staying until sunset, make sure to see the sunset ceremony at Black Rock! Every night at sunset, since 1963, a cliff diver will light torches along the cliffs and then jump off Black Rock, reenacting a feat by King Kahekili.
Unless you’re staying at one of the resorts here, we’d suggest spending only part of a day at this beach, as it is a bit commercialized and parking here can be a bit tricky. There are a few small free parking lots, but as you can imagine, they can fill quickly. There is also paid parking at the Whalers Village, which can be validated for 3 hours with most purchases, and after the 3 hours it will be $2 per half hour.
Facilities: Porta potties
Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, and surfing
While not a sandy beach, the rocky Honolua Bay is one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii. It is part of a Marine Life Conservation District, which means fishing or taking any resources from the area is not allowed, leaving it in a more pristine condition.
While there isn’t sand to lay out on, there are plenty of fish, turtles, and coral to explore! The water can be murky near the beach, so you’ll have the best luck to see wildlife if you swim out a bit away from shore. We hear if you visit between May and September you’re almost guaranteed to see a turtle! In the winter months, the surf can be a bit larger, which is great if you want to surf, but can make snorkeling in the bay a bit harder.
Getting to Honolua Bay requires parking along the road (it fills up fast, so go early!) and walking 0.3 miles down a beautiful trail to the beach. We do hear there have been break-ins in the parking area, so make sure to bring valuables with you.
Kapalua Bay Beach
Facilities: Restrooms and showers
Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, and laying out
Kapalua Bay Beach was America’s ‘Best Beach’ in 1991 and once you get there you will understand why! It is absolutely gorgeous!
With beautiful sand, palm trees, and some of the clearest and bluest water we have seen on the island, this beach has been one of our favorites during every trip we have taken to Maui. While the Kapalua area has resorts, it feels a bit less commercialized than Ka’anapali.
And because it’s located in a bay, the water is calmer here, so it’s great for families and for swimming and snorkeling. In fact, you can rent snorkeling gear and buy other items including snacks and drinks from a shack at one end of the beach. And if you need a break from the beach and water, there is the 2.5 mile long Kapalua Coastal Trail you can enjoy too!
The biggest downside of Kapalua Bay is that it can get crowded and similar to many beaches on the island, parking can be tough. We suggest arriving before 9 AM to snag a parking spot and a spot to lay out your towel.
Napili Bay Beach
Facilities: Restrooms at the resort
Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, and laying out
With a very similar vibe to Kapalua, and just down the street, Napili Bay Beach is a great alternative to Kapalua. The beach has a coral reef about 100 feet out from the shore, which makes this beach great for swimming and snorkeling. And since you’re facing west, you’ll have gorgeous sunsets!
One of our favorite things about this beach though is the Gazebo Restaurant. This tiny spot whips up a mean breakfast (get the pancakes and coconut syrup!) with a killer view. It can have a bit of a wait, so we suggest arriving early and then enjoying the beach afterwards!
Napili Bay is home to various condo complexes, but no major resorts, so it has a bit of a calmer vibe and is a little less busy than neighboring beaches. Although similar to all of the other beaches, parking is limited here as well.
South Maui Beaches (Kihei, Wailea)
With a mix of condo complexes and high end resorts, tons of shops and restaurants, and many beaches to choose from, the South Maui area is not only a great place to homebase while in Maui, but fun to go beach hopping! Compared to Ka’anapali, portions of this region, specifically Kihei, has a more local vibe, which we loved.
Makena “Big” Beach
Facilities: Restrooms and picnic tables
Activities: Surfing, bodyboarding, and laying out
Big Beach, also known as Makena Beach or Oneloa Beach, is one of the biggest beaches on the island. At over a half mile long and much wider than most Maui beaches, there is a lot of room to spread out and it never feels too crowded.
The beach is located in Makena Beach State Park, which is free to enter, but does have a parking fee for non-residents, which is $10 per vehicle. There are parking kiosks where you can pay, or you can pay online beforehand. There are also food trucks located in the parking lot, so you can grab a snack on the way to the beach!
Once at the beach, you may notice a large shore break (the waves break right near the shore), so be aware that the waves can be dangerous for inexperienced swimmers and most times are not safe for children. Don’t let the rough surf warning keep you from this beach. It should not be missed!
During our visit, we loved not only laying out on this beach, but also hiking up the lava rocks to see the beach from above! To get to this overlook, head to the northern side of the beach and make the quick hike up the rocks. It requires a bit of climbing, but isn’t too hard and the view is AMAZING!
Secret Cove (Pa’ako Cove)
Activities: Photography and relaxing
We try to visit new beaches everyday while in Hawaii, so that we can see as many as possible, but we loved Secret Cove so much that we went back twice! This tiny beach is a bit hidden from many on the island and in our opinion, is one of the most scenic!
With gorgeous water, large rocks on the beach, and soft sand, all framed by beautiful palm trees, this beach looks like it’s from a postcard. And despite its name, it’s not really a secret and is actually one of the most photographed beaches on Maui, especially for elopements!
During our visits to the beach, it was never that busy and we didn’t have an issue finding parking or a spot on the sand, but it is pretty small, so be prepared to not have a ton of space. It is very worth the visit though!
To find Secret Beach, you’ll drive past Makena “Big” Beach and then park on the side of this stone wall. Just at the end of this stone wall is the entrance to the beach!
Facilities: Restrooms and showers
Activities: Laying out, swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding
Wailea Beach, which is located in front of the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea resorts, is a favorite among those visiting South Maui. Since the beach is shared by two large resorts, some of the beach is reserved for the resort’s guests, and will definitely not be empty, but there is still space for the public to enjoy (and park!).
The beach is definitely more of a tourist spot and has a resort vibe, but it still is a beautiful place to lay out for the day, with views of several islands visible in the distance (Molokini and Lana’i).
And if you get sick of the beach, take a stroll along the Wailea Beach Path, which will take you along the ocean and to other beaches!
Kamaole Beach Parks
Facilities: All 3 have showers and restrooms
Activities: Swimming, laying out, bodyboarding, and snorkeling
This beach park is a set of 3 beautiful beaches near Kihei referred to as “Kam I, II, and III.” It is a popular beach with tourists and locals because of its facilities, proximity to town, and the fact they are really nice!
Kam I is the largest of the three beaches and is great for swimming! On the far north end of this beach is Charley Young Beach, which is named after Charley Young, a military reporter who came during WWII and wanted to build a house on the beach. However, there was a problem. These beaches were used as training grounds for the military to simulate beach landings. But after the war, Charley Young was finally able to build his house!
The Charley Young portion of Kam I is less busy and more tucked away from the road. Although, it does not have lifeguards.
Kam II is very similar to Kam I, just a little bit smaller, while Kam III is a bit different from the others, as it’s the smallest and has more rocks. However, it does have a large grassy area for picnics and games.
All of the beaches have pretty good parking, either on the street or in parking lots, as well as are close to tons of great restaurants. We recommend Coconut’s Fish Cafe for tacos!
Facilities: Restrooms and showers on either end
Activities: Swimming, laying out, bodyboarding, and snorkeling
Keawakapu Beach is definitely one of our favorites in the Kihei area! The beach is nice and long, so it doesn’t get too crowded, especially as you go south on the beach.
The beach is great for almost any activity you can think of and you can rent stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkel gear from the Mana Kai hotel. But what we have loved doing at the beach is watching the sunset! You have an amazing view of Lanai as the sun goes down and on the northern corner there is a super picturesque palm tree for sunset photos.
There are two parking lots for Keawakapu Beach, so you should have pretty good luck getting a spot!
East Maui Beaches (Hana Highway)
With lush rainforests, cliffs, cool roadside stands, and the famous Road to Hana, East Maui is one of the most beautiful parts of the island of Maui. And it has some pretty unique beaches!
Unlike the majority of the beaches on this guide, which have a golden sand and lots of palm trees, the beaches on the East side of Maui are all very unique, with epic mountain backdrops and different colored sand!
Pa‘iola Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park
Hours: 7 AM- 6 PM
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables
Activities: There is a lot to do at this state park, including sitting on the beach, hiking, fishing, camping, and Hawaiian cultural sites.
As of March 1, 2021, all visitors must make a reservation to enter the park, including choosing a time slot to visit. This reservation is free for Hawaii residents, but $5 per person for non-residents, as well as a $10 parking fee (parking is free for residents). The reason for this is to spread visitation throughout the day, as this beach is very popular.
The Pa‘iola black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park is a must-visit stop on the Road to Hana on Maui! The contrast of bright green plants, gorgeous blue water, and the black sand is absolutely stunning. After possibly spending lots of time on the west side of the island, the black sand is very unique to see!
And while you may originally be attracted to this beach because of its black sand, don’t let that be the only thing you see here. There is tons to do at Wai’anapanapa State Park besides the beach! There are lava tubes, hiking trails, and fresh water caves to explore as well!
As soon as you get on the black sand beach, look to your right and you should see an opening in the rocks. Enter this opening and after a few seconds you’ll see the opening on the other end, which is out to the ocean!
Also, be sure to check out the blowhole which can be found when walking east on the paved path from the overlook. Be careful when viewing blowholes too up close because even if the ocean looks calm, it can blow at any moment without notice.
Kipapa O Kihapi’ilani Trail
There are two trails you can hike here. They both are part of the King’s Trail which is a trail that was built before contact with Hawaii around 1550! There are many Hawaiian cultural sites all along this trail. Please be respectful of signed and unsigned man made sites. Do not touch or move any stones.
You can go east toward Hana (to the right when facing the ocean) and this trail can be up to 5 miles long. The views are gorgeous the entire way. You will pass Hawaiian cultural sites and it gets a bit more rugged the further you go so feel free to turn around whenever you feel like you’ve had your fill of gorgeous.
There is also another beautiful coastal trail that you can access by going to the left once you’re on the black sand beach. This 2.1-2.75 mile trail (we have read conflicting mileage) will take you along the rugged, lava rock cliffs, burial sites, coves, and to Pukaula Point, which is a sacred site with burial mounds. Due to time constraints, we just walked a little bit of it, but if you have time, definitely check it out!
A short walk from the parking lot are two freshwater caves, one of which was the scene of a sad Hawaiian legend. It is said that a Hawaiian princess named Popalaea escaped to this cave to get away from her horrible husband, the Chief Kakae. Chief Kakae discovered her hiding spot and killed her and during certain times of the year, red shrimp fill the pool and turn the water red. It is said to be a reminder of the blood of the princess.
Facilities: Restrooms and showers
Activities: Surfing and boogie boarding
Located in Hana town, along the Hana Highway, is the gorgeous 100 feet x 1000 feet long crescent shaped beach known as Hamoa Beach. It is said to be one of the best beaches on the island, but unlike some of the beaches on the tourist-filled west side of the island, Hamoa Beach is in a very undeveloped area, giving it a remote and local feel, with tons of natural beauty surrounding it.
The waves at Hamoa Beach can be a bit larger, so if you love to surf or boogie board, you’ll have a blast! But the nice sand and large beach also makes for a great place to lay out if you want to avoid the harsher waters.
To get to Hamoa Beach, you will park on Haneoo Road and then take the stairs down to the beach. It does get busy though, so parking can be a bit tricky.
When we visited, it was rainy out, so the beach was a bit dark, but from the photos we have seen online, it looks gorgeous on a sunny day!
Kaihalulu Beach (Red Sand Beach)
Facilities: No facilities (please pack out what you pack in!)
Activities: Swimming and wading
Kaihalulu Beach is one of the few red sand beaches in the world! The beach was formed from a collapsing red cinder cone, which gives the sand a unique, deep crimson color. And on top of the cool red color, the water here seems to be extra blue compared to other beaches on the island.
The trail is only 0.4 miles round trip, but it is dangerous if you’re not prepared or careful. We hesitated even including this beach on this guide, but it’s very unique and we really enjoyed it, so we are including it with a warning.
Warning: We would not recommend this stop to anyone without steady footing, appropriate hiking footwear, or for children. The trail is very slick and steep, narrow in some spots, and has drop offs on the side. We have heard that due to a landslide, the trail is even more dangerous than when we went, but still doable. If it has been raining or you’re not careful, you could get seriously injured…or worse. If you feel unsafe, please turn around!
We’re not trying to scare you, we just want to be honest and make sure you’re prepared. We suggest reading some recent reviews before you go to see others’ experiences.
Once you reach the beach, there is a protected cove you can swim in, but swimming beyond this is dangerous, as the waves can be rough. We have also heard that nudists frequent this beach, so don’t be alarmed if you see a bit more than planned!
When we visited, it started to rain right after we reached the beach, so we quickly snapped a few photos and then headed back up the trail to avoid getting into too slippery of a situation. Although our time was short here, we are so glad we visited!
North Shore Maui Beaches (Pa’ia)
We LOVE the north shore of Maui! It is free of big resorts and has a much more laid back, local vibe. From the amazing town of Paia to the crazy waves, we’d highly suggest dedicating a full day in this area!
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Facilities: Pavilion area, restrooms, and showers
Activities: Surfing and windsurfing
Ho’okipa Beach Park is located at the beginning of the Road to Hana and is a MUST visit spot! This beach is home to some big waves and is all about the action sports like windsurfing and surfing. It’s such a big deal that a professional windsurfing competition, called the Aloha Classic, is held here!
Besides the waves, you may see wildlife! There is an exposed reef along much of the beach where Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Honu) like to hang out. If you don’t see them there, you might get lucky and see them hanging out on the sand toward the overlook end, especially around sunset.
We haven’t actually laid out at this beach, but we love coming here every single trip to watch the surfers and see the amazing views of the island from the parking area. Speaking of parking, there are three large parking areas, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem finding a spot, especially because there is a lot of come and go traffic from those who just come to check out the overlook.
Baldwin Beach Park
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQs, and a covered pavilion
Activities: Swimming, surfing, laying out, and body surfing/boarding
Located near the cute little town of Paia is Baldwin Beach Park, which is a popular spot for locals. This beach has some gorgeous water, a mile long white sand beach, and is undeveloped, which gives it a much more natural vibe.
The waves at this beach can be pretty large, making it great for surfing and there are two protected swimming areas at either end of the beach that are perfect for all ages. And despite being popular, you can typically find plenty of room to lay out!
Ready to hit the beach?
Pin this blog with the best beaches on the Big Island to plan your beach days!