Top 15 Beaches on Maui

Alexandra MitchellLast updated: September 19, 2016

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15 Maui beachesAloha, and Welcome to Pride of Maui’s Top 15 Beaches on Maui article. The most exciting thing about a vacation in Hawaii, is the beach!! Maui has over 30 miles of beaches, offering a handful of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Have you ever daydreamed for hours while staring at a beach in Hawaii on a calendar hanging in your cubicle at work? Or, how about those perfect fantasies where you can close your eyes and imagine the feeling of the glorious Hawaiian sunshine radiating against your skin? The best beaches to visit on Maui depend on what kind of vacation you’re planning. Whether it’s a honeymoon, a family vacation to Hawaii, or a surf trip to the North Shore of Maui, we can help direct you.

Eliminate the mystery of figuring out where the best beaches on Maui are. Relax, and feel confident trusting in our experienced perspective. Plan a beautiful holiday full of all the best things to do on Maui! Go snorkeling with Pride of Maui at Turtle Town with your family, or take surf lessons on Maui with your friends. Plan a delicious Hawaiian-style beach BBQ for a family celebration, go beach hopping, or just lay out in the sun and work on perfecting your well deserved Hawaiian tan. Enjoy Pride of Maui’s Top 15 Beaches on Maui article, and get ready for some fun in the sun!

15 best Maui Beaches

#1 Makena Beach State Park

Big Beach

Makena Beach State Park has three different entrances and is composed of ‘Big Beach’ and ‘Little Beach.’ No matter which one you find yourself spending time soaking up the gorgeous Maui sunshine, you will be super pleased that you did. Did you know that Makena Beach is the most photographed beach in all of Hawaii? That’s right, folks. Get your camera’s ready, grab some eco-sunscreen and a hat, and feel excited knowing that you’re about to see one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. Even if you don’t have a full afternoon to spend at Makena, you MUST make a stop here at least for a short visit.

Big Beach is the largest stretch of Baldwin Beach Park. Even if you’re heading to Little Beach, you have to access Big Beach to get there. The sand stretches about 2/3 of a mile long and is approximately 100 yards wide from sand to shoreline. This is a popular beach in Maui for weddings, swimming, body boarding, skim boarding and sun tanning. If you are planning to swim at Makena Beach, please make sure to heed all ocean safety signage and NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE OCEAN. Makena’s Big Beach is notorious for the frequent rogue wave situation, so make sure to always be aware of your surroundings. If you don’t feel comfortable in the ocean here, don’t go in. You might be better off climbing over the rocks on the West end of the beach to swim at Little Beach.

First of all, Little Beach is one of Maui’s very few nude beaches on island. It’s an eclectic kind of beach with colorful individuals, and great swimming opportunities. If you’re there on a late afternoon during a full moon, you may have a chance to see fire dancers and join in on a drum circle! The best time to swim at Makena Beach is during the mid-morning hours. This is when the ocean is at its calmest, and you’ll have the best water visibility. The water is crystal- clear here, but the sandy bottom can skew the clarity when the tide changes.

  • lifeguard on duty 8am-4pm (Big Beach)
  • picnic areas
  • public restrooms (Porta-Potty near first entrance)
  • shower (last entrance)

#2 Ka’anapali Beach

kaanapali beach

Ka’anapali Beach is one of the best beaches on Maui for many reasons. This area aspires to many different types of beach-goers and visitors because of all of Ka’anapali’s conveniences. To find the most central area of this beach, drive to Whalers Village Shopping Center and park your vehicle there. Walk through the shops, and you’ll find yourself just steps from the sand. The ocean here is divine! The sand is soft, and gently slopes into a calm and crystal-clear ocean. The water feels amazing, and you can always count on lots of sunshine. For those traveling with a bigger group, this area is perfect because there are many different restaurants, bars and shops easily in walking distance for those who tire of the sun easily. Many ocean activities are available from this Maui beach including parasailing, boating, surf board, boogie boards, and stand-up paddle board rentals. The far right of Ka’anapali Beach is ‘Black Rock,’ a popular place to jump off of a huge lava rock formation into the ocean, and also a great place for snorkeling.

  • lifeguard on duty 8am-4pm
  • public restrooms
  • showers

#3 Baldwin Beach Park

Baldwin Beach Maui

Baldwin Beach is definitely one of the most frequented beaches in Maui’s North Shore area. Not just because it’s insanely beautiful, but there’s a huge parking lot, public restrooms, showers and many different areas to throw a towel down and relax. If you’re headed towards Historic Paia Town, Baldwin Beach is about 2 minutes before you reach the town, pending traffic. There are two beaches in the vicinity; first Baldwin Beach Park (marked by the Baseball diamond, field and yellow lifeguard tower), then Paia Bay (marked by a skate park and the Paia Youth and Cultural Center). Many newcomers get these two beach areas confused.

There are many things to enjoy at Baldwin Beach Park in Maui. Favorite activities include running, dog walking, swimming, skim boarding, body boarding, sunbathing, socializing and hunting for seashells. This is a great beach for the whole family. The West end of Baldwin is known as ‘Baby Beach,’ and is where you’ll find a protective sea wall that provides a sheltered salt water pool- great for little kids and babies! The East end of Baldwin is referred to as the ‘Cove.’ Here, you’ll find a great zone for swimming and laying out in the sun. The Cove is also a place you’ll find North Shore residents basking in the glory of their life with family outings, drum circles, musicians, yogis and more. The middle section of Baldwin Beach should be reserved for confident swimmers. It’s not a difficult place to swim, but if you’re not totally comfortable with ocean entry and exit, this may not be the best area for you.

  • lifeguard on duty 8am-4pm
  • picnic areas and BBQs
  • public restrooms
  • showers

#4 Wai’anapanapa State Park


Wai’anapanapa literally means “glistening water” in the ancient Hawaiian language. En route to Hana, do not miss visiting this area. This beautiful Maui beach area is located at mile marker 32, right outside of Hana Town. This Maui beach park is infamous for its velvety smooth black sand beach, deep cobalt blue water, lava tubes, hiking trails, sea arches, a blowhole, Anchialine pools, and ancient Hawaiian birthing pools. Wai’anapanapa State Park is a 120-acre protected area with picnic pavilions, 12 rental cabins, tent camping areas, and all the necessary facilities for maximizing on a beautiful East Maui adventure. The serenity of this area is like no other, and everywhere you look is pure natural beauty, with vibrant green flora and fauna, and an essence of ‘Old Hawaii.’

  • picnic tables, BBQs, campgrounds
  • public restrooms
  • showers

#5 Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is located about a 20-minute drive North of the Historic Town of Lahaina. Not only is Honolua Bay a famous Maui surfing and snorkeling beach, but it is also one of the most beautiful, most colorful and vibrant beaches within all the Hawaiian Islands.

During the Winter months, Honolua is a popular surf spot for experienced surfers. During the calmer Summer months, Honolua is one of the best places on Maui for snorkeling and scuba diving. The bluffs above the beach area provide a perfect spot for watching surfers from a safe distance, or watching an incredibly gorgeous West Maui sunset.

To snorkel at Honolua Bay, guests have a couple of options. You can book a snorkel cruise that will bring you to the bay, or you can drive to Honolua, park near the sign for the Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District, and take a short hike through Honolua’s forest. When snorkeling at Honolua Bay, enter the water on the right hand side of the rocky beach. Most people choose to go left to the sandy entrance, but the water is sometimes cloudy there due to a freshwater stream on that side of the bay.

  • no public restrooms or showers
  • no lifeguard on duty
  • please do not leave valuables in your car

#6 Palauea (White Rock)

white rock

In the ancient Hawaiian language, Palauea translates to “lazy.” Palauea Beach, also known at White Rock is seldom visited by tourists, and mostly frequented by South Maui locals. Located South of the Kea Lani Beach Hotel in Wailea, White Rock offers a medium sized sandy beach with excellent snorkeling and diving spots. This area of the coastline is well protected, so guests can enjoy less windy conditions and clear visibility when snorkeling here.

To get to Maui’s White Rock Bay, follow Wailea Alanui Drive towards Makena. Take a right down the intersection that is after the Kea Lani Beach Hotel entrance. Drive down the paved road until you reach a dirt road. Follow a path approximately 100-feet to the beach.

  • no facilities
  • no lifeguard
  • stay out of the ocean if it looks murky, or if you are not confident about the ocean conditions

#7 Kapalua Bay

Kapalua bay

Kapalua Bay is one of the most beautiful sheltered beaches in Hawaii. The surrounding area is mostly dominated by the Kapalua Resort and condominium communities, but the bay is still open to the public. Conde Nast publication rated Kapalua Bay as the “Best Beach in the World,” and the Travel Channel declared it was the “Best Beach in America” in 1991. Kapalua Bay is awesome because it is also one of the best places to snorkel if you’d like a chance meeting with a parrot fish, butterfly fish, wrasse, boxfish, scorpion fish, or humuhumunukunukuapuaa, (former State of Hawaii Fish). You may also see a Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle! The waves break ever so gently upon the shoreline, and the water is clear blue, with and inviting underwater playground. This Maui beach is a great location for couples on a romantic Maui beach outing, or families looking for a quieter beach day. For those interested in ocean activities, there is a beach activities desk with watersports equipment for rent, and information about local activities.

  • public restrooms
  • showers

#8 Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach is a gorgeous East Maui crescent shaped beach located about a 1/2 mile past mile marker 51 on Highway 31. Hamoa shares space with the Travaasa Hana Hotel, so some available facilities are only open to hotel guests. This Maui beach is a great place for soaking up the East Maui sunshine and calm aloha vibes. Popular Maui beach activities at this locale include swimming, bodysurfing, snorkeling and surfing. This family friendly beach has salt and pepper colored sand, clear water, and plenty of shaded areas for a family picnic. This is a fabulous Maui beach for decompressing in a lush setting with gorgeous coastline views. Take it from us, you will not want to leave Hamoa Beach…

  • public restroom (to the right of Travaasa Hotel guests restrooms)
  • shower (fresh water shower at the end of the stairs to the beach, not always available)

#9 Olowalu


Olowalu Beach is located on the West Side of Maui, approximately 4 miles South of Lahaina when venturing down the Honoapi’ilani Highway. If you’re coming from South Maui and headed West, Olowalu is found before you reach Lahaina. You will drive through a grove of trees and see the Olowalu General Store and Leoda’s Bakery. The beach entrance is just before, across the road at mile marker 14.

At Olowalu, beachgoers can find hundreds of acres of beautiful reef for snorkeling. Olowalu is perhaps best experienced on a snorkeling tour because your charter will perch right where the snorkeling is best (approximately 200-400 yards offshore). If you are a confident swimmer, snorkeling is best 20+ yards out. The beach at Olowalu is great for families traveling with small children. The coastline is shallow and protected, and the ocean has very clear visibility.

  • shaded parking on the mauka (mountain side) of mile marker 14
  • no public facilities
  • no lifeguard on duty

#10 Ho’okipa Beach Park

Hookipa Beach

Ho’okipa State Beach Park is one of the most infamous water sports beaches in the world! When visiting Ho’okipa, look forward to awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean views and a chance to see many of Maui’s most proficient water sports athletes and professionals in action. The most popular activities to do at Ho’okipa include surfing, windsurfing, kite boarding, stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling- all pending season.

You must know that Ho’okipa Beach Park is an extremely popular local spot. The beautiful community of Maui residents that frequent Ho’okipa Beach do so on a daily and weekly basis; most have done so their whole entire lives. When visiting Ho’okipa, definitely make most of the opportunity. Bring only good vibes, and you might find yourself BBQ’ing and sharing laughs with some locals. If you don’t want to head down to the beach, there is a great lookout point above the beach park. The Ho’okipa Lookout is a perfect place to tailgate and take in a sunset, get some cool surfing shots, enjoy food vendors or a fresh cracked coconut.

The Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles are definitely known to frequent Ho’okipa’s shores. If you do see them, please do not touch or harass them in any way. They are still classified as an endangered species, and protected by both the NOAA, State of Hawaii and Ho’okipa’s local families. Ho’okipa means hospitality in the ancient Hawaiian language, so definitely bring an essence of that with you when visiting. Ho’okipa Beach Park is definitely one of the most incredible beaches in the universe. You’ll easily see and feel why once you get there.

  • lifeguard on duty 8am-4pm
  • picnic tables and BBQs
  • public restrooms
  • showers

#11 Oneuli Beach

Oneuli Beach

Located on the North edge of the Maluaka Wetlands in South Maui, Oneuli (aka Naupaka Beach) is a little bit of a ‘secret beach’ on Maui. It is mostly frequented by locals, experienced scuba divers, and naturalists.

Naupaka Beach is actually part of the Makena State Park, but located on the Wailea side of the Pu’u Ola’i Cinder Cone. In the ancient Hawaiian language, Oneuli means ‘black sands,’ and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this South Maui beach. Here, you’ll find that the black sand is actually ground lava rock. Also, as you reach the shoreline, you will notice that the edge of the water is actually hard lava.

Oneuli Black Sand Beach on Maui is not the best option to choose for a lazy day of sunbathing and taking frequent dips into the Pacific. This beach is best for experienced swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers.

To find Oneuli Black Sand Beach, drive South from Wailea towards Makena. Approximately 4 miles South of the Grand Wailea Resort, you will see a dirt access road before Makena’s Big Beach parking lot.

  • no public facilities
  • no lifeguard on duty
  • do not leave valuables in your car

#12 Charlie Young Beach

charley young

Charlie Young Beach is accessed through a residential neighborhood at the most northern end of Kamaole Beach Park, (Kam 1). It is located at the cross section of Ili Ili Road and Kaiau Place. The best time to go to this beach is in the morning, when the ocean conditions are at it’s calmest, and before any trade winds pick up. This Maui beach was named after a man that owned a home above the beach for many years, a very lucky man indeed. The length of the beach is approximately 1/3 of a mile long, which makes it great for a beach run on the soft golden sand, a sunset walk, swimming, sunbathing, or day-long picnics with the family. This is also a perfect Maui beach for stand-up paddling, or snorkeling alongside the lava rock formations near the baby tide pools.

  • lifeguard on duty 8am-4pm (Kamaole Beach 1)
  • shower

#13 Koki Beach

Koki Beach

When exploring East Maui, definitely make a stop at Koki on your list of priorities. When headed towards Kipahulu from Hana Town, you will find yourself driving past the Hana Ranch. On the makai (ocean) side of the road, you will see a sign for Koki Beach and Hamoa Bay. Take a left down that road, and you will be actually driving past the old Hana Airport (now, just an open field). As you get to the bottom of the road, you will be forced to go right and you’ll see parking stalls in front of Koki Beach

Koki Beach is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui, and it is super rich in Hawaiian history. If you are facing the ocean from Koki, look up to your left and you’ll see a large red cinder hill. This site is called Ka Iwi o Pele which means ‘the bones of Pele’ in the ancient Hawaiian language. In Hawaiian mythology, it is said that the bones of Fire Goddess Pele were left here after a morbid fight with her sister*

At Koki Beach, all guests should take precaution of the ocean conditions. During the Summer months, the shoreline opens up with lots of sand for sunbathing, and shallow waters that lead approximately 20-30 feet out pending time of day. After the shallow levels, there is a drop. During the Winter months, ocean conditions at Koki are best for experienced surfers, and strong swimmers only.

Koki is a great beach to explore in East Maui. During certain times of the year, you can find seashells and small pieces of Hawaiian peridot glimmering in the sand. But, NEVER take shells or any kind of rocks off the Hawaiian Islands! It is kapu, also known as really bad luck.

  • no public restrooms or showers
  • no lifeguard on duty
  • BBQ grill
  • parking lot

#14 La Perouse Bay

La Perouse

La Perouse Bay is definitely a must-see sight in South Maui! Located at the very end of Makena Alanui Road (Highway 31), all guests will be completely enthralled by this lava rock ridden bay, and the trail that opens into Maui’s historically famous Kings Hawaii. La Perouse Bay is named after French explorer Jean-Francois de Galup Comte de La Perouse, the first westerner to map this area of the Island of Maui.

The Bay at La Perouse is the sight of Maui’s most recent lava activity (approx. 1790), and also home to some of Maui’s most playful Spinner Dolphin pods. (If you’re traveling to La Perouse to see the dolphins, make sure to arrive early at daybreak.)

This South Maui bay is not a beach for swimming, snorkeling, or too much exploring. But, La Perouse does offer a beautiful vantage point for seeing the outer island of Kaho’olawe during a clear day. When at La Perouse, you will see a trail that heads towards East Maui. This trail has much Hawaiian cultural and historical significance, and is protected Hawaiian archeological land. If you do venture down this coastline trail, please do not travel off of the main path, and absolutely do not touch or move any rocks or stones. This area is part of Maui’s King’s Trail, and has many protected cultural and spiritual sights including salt pans, heiau stones (religious shrines), and fishing shrines. Look, but do not touch!

  • no public facilities
  • parking lot

#15 Honomanu Bay


Honomanu Bay can be found between mile markers 12 and 13 on the historic Hana Highway. This East Maui beach is definitely more frequented by residents of the area, a common gathering place for local family BBQ’s, surfing and fishing. It is definitely worth a pull over on the side of the road when headed towards Hana. Views of the bay and jungle surrounding are magical, and it’s definitely picture perfect!

If you do try to venture down to the beach, make sure you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and that you know how to use it! There are actually two access roads down to Honomanu Bay, but they are not always accessible. So, be careful driving, and make sure you know how to reverse 4-wheel drive in possibly muddy conditions! (BTW, If you do get stuck, Maui car rental companies will consider this off-road, and you will not be covered.)

From the bluffs, Honomanu is the first bay you’ll see since Ho’okipa Beach Park. The Bay in itself is rocky and not great for swimming. The surf break is expert level, and you will definitely experience some localism here* If you do venture into the water at Honomanu, beware of murky conditions (there have been many shark sightings here), rip currents, and hidden reef. There is a fresh water stream that flows from the valley into the Bay that creates a pool on the mauka (mountain) side of the beach. This is a popular spot for kids to play and float on inner tubes, but not deep enough for swimming.

  • no lifeguards
  • no public facilities
  • do not leave valuables in your car
beaches comments

Many thanks for taking the time to read Pride of Maui’s Top 15 Beaches on Maui post! We know that you will have the most amazing time while visiting all of Maui’s gorgeous beaches. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends, and leave us a note about your favorite Maui beaches in the comment section below…

Written By  Alexandra Mitchell

Alexandra is a marketing professional with a passion for writing about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, vacation rentals, and luxury real estate. She exposes readers to glimpses of 'Old Hawaii,' new destinations to explore, local events, and all the best things to do on Maui.