5 Days In Maui itinerary

Day 4: Molokini Crater & South Coast Beaches

Day four of this Maui itinerary is another relatively calm day primarily centered around Maui’s beaches and marine life.

Snorkeling or Scuba diving in Molokini Crater

You may have seen it while driving to the summit of Haleakala, barely rising over the waterline and looking like the crescent of a week-old moon. Molokini is all that remains of an eroded ancient volcano that sunk into the ocean’s depths. Its naturally protected waters are a haven for fish, coral, and daytrippers from Maui.

Molokini Crater - Maui - Hawaii by Farid Askerov

Whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving in the Molokini Crater, getting here early in the morning is essential. The tiny crater cannot keep up with demand, and by 9 am, it fills up to the point where snorkelers outnumber fish.

If you are heading on a snorkeling trip to Molokini, avoid the super cheap tours and the afternoon departures (the water is too murky). Inquire about the boat size, understanding that the cheaper the tour, the larger the boat and the number of snorkelers it transports.

Snorkeling in Molokini Crater - Hawaii - by SNORKELINGDIVES.COM
Snorkeling in Molokini Crater - Hawaii - by SNORKELINGDIVES.COM 2

If you plan to scuba dive in Molokini, book with a dive center that leaves early and look for one that offers both dives in the crater (this is rare). Usually, the first dive will be inside the crater, and the second will be closer to shore. No matter what they tell you, the clarity of the water close to shore sucks, and there’s hardly any coral.

Beach Time

Once back on dry land, enjoy the rest of your day on the sunny south coast. I’ll recommend a few good options, but look at the list of Maui’s best beaches and choose your favorite south coast gems. As for dining, the town of Kihei is your best option.

Ahihi-Kinau Reserve

At the end of the line on the South Coast road, the scenic drive to the Ahihi-Kinau Reserve is just the beginning. A walking path along the coastline leads to several secluded coves before entering a barren lava field. There aren’t too many man-made structures around here, just pick and choose your favorite cove and chill. Swimming and snorkeling are optimal, but avoid entering the water when the surf is up.

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Secret Cove Beach

Secret Cove is a real postcard of a beach and one of the prettiest beaches in Maui. A few lucky residents get to live around this gem, but unfortunately, this cove isn’t a secret anymore. The sliver of sand is quite small, so you might run out of luck on busy days.

Secret Cove Beach Maui Hawaii

Big Beach

Big Beach is Maui’s most famous beach. Stretching for over a mile, Big Beach is the crown jewel of Makena State Park. Despite the lack of palm trees, Big Beach is stunning, thanks to its golden sand and turquoise water. That beautiful water, though, is often quite rough, attracting bodysurfers who get tossed up in the air by the waves. So listen to the lifeguards and their warnings as several hard-headed beachgoers have gotten seriously injured during high surf periods. If the winds are too strong, head further up the coast. Note that visitors to Mākena State Park must purchase tickets for entrance and parking (on the spot).

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Big Beach is also the gateway to “Little Beach”, a more secluded beach favored by hippies, nudists, and drum circle enthusiasts. To get to this “paradise,” however, you’ll have to climb over the rocky pinnacle that hugs the northern end of Big Beach.

Charley Young Beach

I really liked this beach, though it doesn’t have the glamor of Big Beach. I found it laid back, well-positioned for the sunset, and close enough to town to go for drinks and grab a bite to eat before wrapping up this awesome day.

Charley Young Beach - Maui - Hawaii