The Best Beaches In Maui

Maui is one of the most visited islands in Hawaii and it’s beach scene is one of the prime reasons to visit. From the golden west coast beaches, to the black and red sand beaches on the road the Hana, Maui’s diverse beaches will surely keep you busy. I spent a full week in the “Valley Isle” and in this post, I’ll share my list of the best beaches in Maui.

Visiting other Hawaiian islands? Sample itineraries, guides to the best beaches, and the must-see highlights are all waiting for you in the Hawaii Travel Guide collection. Aloha!

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Maui’s Best Beaches: Things To Keep In Mind

This extensive list of the best beaches in Maui covers most of the accessible and less accessible beaches on the island. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that best fit into your Maui itinerary. Keep in mind two things:

  • Some beaches have facilities (showers, toilets, etc.) and lifeguards while others don’t.
  • Beaches inside official state or county parks may have opening hours so have a look at the signs before entering. Few allow camping.
  • Non Hawaii residents must pay parking and entrance fees to some beaches.
Quick Finds

Map of the Best Beaches in Maui

This map features the best beaches in Maui mentioned in this guide. Click on the image to open in Google Maps.

Map of the Best Beaches in Maui

The best beaches in west Maui

Resort-friendly West Maui’s finest beaches are pretty much dotted in succession along its western shore, facing the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Traffic and parking can be especially challenging between Lahaina – and Kaanapali, and for the best sunset views, the further south you head, the better.

Olowalu Beach

The stretch of coastal road between Papawai Point and Lahaina is dotted with narrow beaches preferred by locals and sunset seekers. I found Olowalu Beach (mile marker 14) to be the most attractive stop along this stretch. The beach is a popular snorkeling spot, thanks to a coral reef extending from its brown-sand beach. Narrow channels with a sandy bottom carve into the reef, creating multiple routes for snorkelers. Sharks are sometimes sighted off Olowalu’s coast, with a number of attacks reported in recent years, so don’t venture out too far.

Olowalu Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Kaanapali Beach

The prettiest strip of golden sand on West Maui is, for better or for worse, taken up by the Kaanapali resort area. Kaanapali is the first master-planned resort area in the United States. A magnet for families, couples, honeymooners, and package holidaymakers, Kaanapali boasts over a dozen high-end resorts, a couple of golf courses, shopping complexes, and a few thousand beach chairs and cabanas. The beach is quite immense both in length and width, so you’ll have no problem finding your spot; just be sure to bring some shade with you.

Kaanapali Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Black Rock Beach

Capping Kaanapali Beach at its northern end, get to Black Rock Beach (Pu’u Keka’a) via the soft golden sand or by heading north along the paved Ka’anapali Beach Walk, which runs parallel to the blue. This is the most scenic section of the beach, and you can snorkel, jump from the rocky cliff, or simply climb up to catch panoramic views of the coastline and the surrounding mountains.

Ka'anapali Beach - Maui Hawaii

Kahekili Beach Park

The laid-back alternative to neighboring Kaanapali Beach, Kahekili Beach is essentially on the “other side” of Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock Beach – see above). There’s plenty of shade and free parking, the snorkeling is decent, and you might even spot a few sea turtles if you’re lucky. What I especially liked about this beach is the long stretch of golden sand running in both directions, perfect for a long stroll during the day or before sunset.

Kapalua Bay Beach

Reminiscent of Mauna Kea Beach on the Big Island, rocky outcrops shelter Kapalua Beach on both ends by rocky outcrops. Its protected waters, palm trees, and golden sand make it one of the most popular beaches in West Maui. The beach is backed by two Kapalua resorts so it is a very popular place for families with children and resort guests. If you’re looking for a rugged setting, this beach isn’t for you. Otherwise, you’ll find safe year-round swimming, decent snorkeling, paddleboarding conditions, and dining options. Kapalua Beach is also the start/endpoint for the Coastal Trail, which runs from here to D.T. Fleming Beach – 1.76 miles to the north.

Oneloa Beach

Also known as Ironwoods Beach, Oneloa Beach is a long and narrow sliver of white sand that has the appearance and vibe of more of a locals’ beach rather than a tourist magnet. Parking is tricky – like in Kaanapali Beach – with just a few spots designated for non-resort guests. Easily spot Makaluapuna Point (Dragon’s Teeth) from the beach. It offers a welcomed activity if you need to stretch your legs (it’s a good snorkeling spot as well). If it weren’t for the resort villas and the golf course in the back, Oneloa Bay would be a welcomed off-the-grid beach.

Oneloa Ironwoods Beach - Maui

Honolua Bay Beach

Both a surfer’s and snorkeler’s paradise – depending on the day – Honolua Bay is a protected marine area that’s only worth visiting if you plan on exploring what lies beneath the gentle waves. You can catch panoramic views of the bay and its magnificent backdrop (minus the resorts) from a lookout point. The beach itself is rocky, with the best snorkeling (by Hawaii standards) along its eastern cliff wall. Parking isn’t tricky to find along the main road, but don’t leave anything visible inside, and leave your car unlocked as break-ins do occur.

Honolua Bay - Maui - Hawaii

The Best Beaches in East Maui

The beaches in East Maui greatly vary between the tropical north shore and the arid south shore. In general, north shore beaches are surf-friendly and wilder, while on the busier south coast, they are more for chilling and swimming.

Best Maui North Shore Beaches

We’ll start in Kahului in the west and work our way east past the town of Hana.

Ho’aloha Park

It’s not really a swimming beach but more of a sightseeing beach. Come here just before sunset to get a rare taste of traditional Maui. In late afternoons, fishermen come to try their luck as fathers teach their children the value of hard work and locals take to the waters of the bay in their canoes, practicing their skills in Polynesia’s unofficial “national sport”. This slice of authenticity is wrapped in a beautiful natural setting, as the sun’s last rays pierce through the openings of the Iao Valley.

Ho'aloha Park - Maui - Hawaii

Kanaha Beach Park

Like in the case of Ho’aloha Beach, come to Kanaha Beach to see more than to swim. This is where the local kite and windsurfers come to ride serious swells in one of the best beaches in the world for windsurfing. Enjoy a long stretch of sand, gorgeous views of the Iao Valley, beautiful and fit men and women, and of course – the action out in the water!

Kitesurfers in Kahana Beach Park - Maui - Hawaii
Sunset in Kahana Beach Park - Maui - Hawaii

Baldwin Beach Park

Baldwin Beach Park is a relatively low-key beach in Maui, especially in the late afternoon as the sun begins to set. Enjoy a seriously long stretch of golden sand, palm and ironwood trees, and the odd kitesurfer flying in the air. The swimming is a bit rough, as is the case in most windward beaches, but the vibe is inviting.

Baldwin Beach Park - Maui

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Don’t miss a visit to Ho’okipa Beach and its scenic overlook. From the overlook, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the coastline and the daring surfers that ride its waves. This is one of the top surfing beaches in Hawaii, best visited in the afternoons when surfing conditions are usually optimal. But that’s not all; head from the overlook to the beach or just follow the crowd. Dozens of sea turtles huddle together as they “work on their tan” in a specific area of the beach.

Wave surfing in Ho’okipa Beach - Maui - Hawaii
Sea turtles in Ho’okipa Beach - Maui Hawaii
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Pailoa Black Sand Beach

Within the Waianapanapa State Park along the famous scenic Hana Highway (reservations required) , Pailoa is considered the best black sand beach in Maui. Swimming is often dangerous but just relaxing and wetting your feet are enough. Within the park itself, you can camp, enjoy a picnic lunch, hike, and visit lava tubes (if they are open to the public). The setting is superb and finding such a pretty black sand beach in Maui is a rarity.

Pa'iloa Black Sand Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Red Sand Beach

Officially known as Kaihalulu Beach, you can easily see why this gem is better known as “Red Sand Beach”. Easily one of the best beaches in Hawaii and perhaps even one of the prettiest beaches in the world, this is yet another unmissable stop along the Hana Highway. The sheltered beach is more or less protected by sharp pinnacles just a few meters offshore, creating a small zone safe for swimming. It’s also a great place for a picnic lunch or stretching your legs before heading back to the scenic road.

Red Sand Beach - Maui - Hawaii
Holding soil in Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach - road to Hana - Maui Hawaii

Hamoa Beach

Another stop on the Hana Highway, locals absolutely love Hamoa Beach: a crescent of soft charcoal sand backed by palm trees. It’s a popular beach for families with children and bodysurfers, though you need to refrain from swimming out too much. Parking is very challenging on the narrow road which leads down to the beach.

Hamoa Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Best Maui South Shore Beaches

We’ll start near the town of Kihei and work our way south.

Charley Young Beach

I really loved this beach, retaining somewhat of a pristine look despite its location smack in the middle of Kihei. There’s plenty of space on the golden sand, no resorts around to ruin the vibe, and even shade by the volleyball field on the grassy area overlooking the beach. Another plus to the beach is that it can be combined with lunch or dinner and drinks in Kihei without further driving.

Charley Young Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach

Keawakapu Beach is similar in looks to Charley Young Beach, except for the resort wedged on the beach’s northern end. The best time to visit Keawakapu Beach is in the morning, when palm trees provide shade before the sun begins to cook the sand as you get closer to noon

Keawakapu Beach - Maui - Hawaii
Keawakapu Beach 2 - Maui - Hawaii

Ulua Beach

We’re now in the Wailea resort area. Ulua Beach lies in a sheltered cove with a rocky outcrop that offers decent snorkeling. There isn’t much beach left when the surf is high, but the scenery is quite spectacular otherwise. The only negatives are the resorts in the back but I must admit that they erected a very inviting green buffer zone between them and the beach that makes swallowing this pill a bit easier.

Ulua Beach 2 - Maui - Hawaii
Ulua Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach must have been stunning, that is before all the posh resorts sprung up along its sandy shores. A paved path leads up and down the beach for those not in favor of the sand, and a cocktail bar is never too far away. I would say that Wailea Beach is great for families with children staying in one of the resorts, but for a more rugged setting, head further south.

Wailea Beach - Maui Hawaii
West maui from Wailea Beach - Hawaii

Po’olenalena Beach Park

There’s nothing fancy about this beach, but the fact that it’s rarely crowded awards it with so many extra bonus points, just bring your own shade!

Po'olenalena Beach Park - Maui - Hawaii
Po'olenalena Beach Park 2 - Maui - Hawaii

Maluaka Beach

Quite a stunner, Maluaka Beach is pretty much just on the “other side” of the scenic cliff that caps Big Beach. Since most folks head south to Big Beach, Maluaka stays relatively quiet and there’s a very good chance of spotting sea turtles when snorkeling in its waters on a  calm day. While you’re here, you can catch a quick glimpse of the picturesque Keawala’i Congregational Church and stick around for sunset! Full facilities, no lifeguards.

Maluaka Beach - Maui - Hawaii

Big Beach

The most famous beach in Maui stretches for over a mile, well deserving of its official name – Oneloa Beach – which means “long sand” in Hawaiian. 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 literally get tossed up in the air by the waves. Big Beach is part of Makena State Park (fees required for non-residents).

Big Beach Maui Hawaii
Body surfing in Big Beach Maui Hawaii

Little Beach

“Little Beach” is more secluded than its big sister to the south, so it is 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.

Little Beach - Maui - Hawaii - by dronepicr

Secret Cove Beach

Secret Cove Beach is a true postcard of a beach and definitely one of the prettiest 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. No facilities or lifeguards, limited street parking.

Secret Cove Beach Maui Hawaii

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

The end of the south coast road is the scenic entrance to the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve. A walking path along the coastline leads to several secluded beaches before entering a barren lava field. There aren’t too many man-made structures around here, pick and choose your favorite cove and chill. Both swimming and snorkeling are optimal but when the surf is up, avoid entering the water.

Ahihi-Kinau Reserve - Maui - Hawaii - Remote Beach

What’s Next?

You’re now in the know-how about the absolute best beaches in Maui. I recommend to select the ones that fit into your itinerary. Visiting other Hawaiian islands? Sample itineraries, guides to the best beaches and the must-see highlights are all waiting for you in the Hawaii Travel Guide collection. Aloha!

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