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Beaches on Maui


Maui has 120 miles of coastline and 30 miles of beaches. There are a wide variety of beaches suitable to a range of activities. The following information is a general guide to some of the most popular and exciting beaches. Always follow the directives of the lifeguards, heed posted signs, and use common sense. Many of Maui’s beaches are far away from civilization, and quite isolated from emergency services should you get into trouble. Have fun exploring but keep in mind that beach conditions change daily. It is always a good idea to check the weather conditions and surf reports before going to the beach.







NORTH SHORE BEACHES (From West to east) Kahului – Haiku 
Camp One: at the end of the Kauhului Airport from Stable Road. Is mostly a fishing area. A tidal pool enclosed by a rockyCamp One reef in used by net fishermen and is a favorite place for families to put their keiki while they are at the beach fishing. This area is off limits to windsurfers. There is only one place to launch a windsurfer at camp one, and that is only at the most downwind (western end) of the beach where the inshore reef reef ends. There is a small dirt parking area. There are a few tree stumps in the water here and when you get offshore, there are numerous reef break waves to ride. This area has been changed since this photo, and the vehicular access to the beach has since been blocked and you now will likely have to park along the road at Stable road.
There is no kiteboarding allowed at Camp One because it is right under the runway. That is the law! You could get a $1100.fine and get arrested if you kite here. And that would also make the rest of the Maui kiteboarding community angry because you make them look irresponsible in the eyes of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the ATC (Air Traffic Controller). 

Spreklesville: Sprecks (aka Stables Beach) is Just off Stable road on the eastern side of the airport. You turn right onto a narrow, bumpy, windy dirt road that eventually takes you to a sandy beach parking area with room for about 20 cars (It used to be bigger here). Sprecks is on private land and public access is tenuous. Respect the surrounding landowners and stay at the main access point, don’t drive off the road, do not damage plants or fences etc. don’t litter etc. Sometimes there is a trashcan and portable toilet. This beach is a great intermediate/ advanced windsurfing launch. There are some reefs just in front of the launch area. Just offshore and slightly upwind there can be some surf able waves, suitable for long boarding. But do not surf here in strong “Kona” (offshore) winds. There are several small bays east of Sprecks beach that can be accessed along the shoreline. Windsurfers will usually sail upwind to ride these areas. There is Lobster cove and then Sugar Cove. The area downwind of Sprecks if off limits to windsurfers, and there is a sign posted there. Kiteboarding is not allowed at this beach because it is too close to the airport.

Lobster Cove: a small bay that is surrounded by private property. It is only accessible by walking from Sprecks, or down from Sugar Cove. It is a shallow bay, without any beach, but the waves offshore are good at times, mostly preferred by windsurfers launching at Sprecks.
Stable Road: At the end of stable road are a number of houses with private water access. These houses are a favorite place for windsurfers to stay, because they can launch right our of their back yards. This is relatively expensive to stay here because it is ocean front, and it has a lot of noise from airplanes directly overhead. There is almost no beach here, because thee is severe shoreline erosion. They recently tried to restore sand to a beach here but it was not very successful. There are many offshore reefs, and the windsurfing is more advanced here. not a good place for beginners. In the mornings it can be good for a SUP or some fishing.
Secrets: a secret spot that my buddies made me swear never to reveal. I could take you there some time. Like most of the best places on Maui you are not simply told about, rather you are shown by someone who knows the place and cares for it, and the place is shared with you. This ensures that the newcomer is indoctrinated with the correct sense of appreciation for what they are shown.
Baldwin Beach: A good place for boogie boarding, and some bodysurfing, water gets deep quickly and the surf can get strong here, especially in winter. And this is a location for more experienced surfers that can handle challenging surf. Most of the surf close to shore “shore pound” beach break, and the waves can pick up chunks of coral that can smash into your ankles. Some days it is better to just sit here and watch the surf breaking on the outer reef. There are lifeguards here, so always check with them about the water conditions. Baldwin is a nice long stretch of sandy beach. Good for strolling or jogging. Do not leave any valuables at the beach while you swim. I would not recommend staying around here after sunset. There are a few thug types that hang out there that will take advantage of isolated or solitary people. Numerous assaults have happened here to unsuspecting tourists. Even if a local appears friendly and offers to sell you some “weed” (Called “pakalolo” in Hawaiian) in the privacy of the bushes, Don’t go with them.

the “Baby beach”: Located at the western end of Baldwin Beach park. Baby BeachThe baby beach is a good natural ocean pool for babies and timid swimmers. The waves break over the rocky reef. Do not walk on the reef here, the waves breaking onto the rock ledge can be very dangerous at times. The rocks protect the pool from the brunt of the wave action creating a calm zone. The waves breaking over the rock wall create a water current which flows along the shoreline and flows seaward at the eastern end. The water flows swiftly during big surf, and is not good for babies to swim too close to eastern end where the water flows back out to sea.

Paia Bay: Some shore breaks and a few reef breaks. This park has a skateboard park and some basketball courts. Permanent washrooms, showers and a cafe built into the old surf club. Parking can get busy on weekends. This beach fills up with a lot of casual and semi serious surfers and bodyboarders. Paia Bay is a little more protected from the trade winds so it gets blown out less (or later) than other north shore spots. Watch your bags.
Tavares Bay: Tavares is an advanced surf break favored by short-boarders and body-boarders. There is a small parkingarea next to a house with a blue tile roof. There is a reef that you can paddle around and the break is off to the right in the bay. The wave is short and fast. Unless you are really desperate, you are better off leaving this wave to the locals. Tavares is protected from the wind and larger waves because it is situated deep in the bay. So it will be one of the last places on the north shore to get blown out when it is windy. This wave has a limited capacity for surfers, and any more than about ten surfers on the break is a crowd, so you better know your wave etiquette before paddling out here.

Kuau: Behind Kuau Mart is a rocky headland that has several limited shoreline access ways to some boulder beaches. This is an advanced surf and windsurf launch. There is virtually no parking here. Take care where you park and do not block private driveways. If you look carefully you can see some ocean access signs marking the right of ways. There are big ride able waves here in winter, but the launching and entry of the rocky shoreline is not for the faint hearted. There is a fast hollow left just offshore, and some challenging breaks in this area.
Mamas: (near Mama’s Fish House) this is a small sandy beach. And has a very nice rock pool for swimming. Waves are blocked by a rock ledge, and the water rushes over the ledge into the pool. The rock pool is great for kids and families wading and refreshing after sunbathing here. Take care in high surf. This area is all rocks and can provide access to the surf for advanced riders only please. Hmm, Pounding Waves, Rocks and Reef, in just the right proportions to turn you into fish food (if you are not careful). Come ashore immediately if you get cut because sharks live here.

The thin strip of sand on the left is “Lanes”, and the small crescent of sand to the right is Mama’s beach.

Lanes: Just downwind (west) of H’poko is Lanes. It is a long left hander, (that breaks into the same channel as H’poko). When it is high surf windsurfers love this wave which is usually less crowded than the other breaks.  this is a good surfing break, but it getsspectacular during kona winds. This is when you will see the best windsurfers ands kiters riding amongst huge plumes of spray. Windsurfers that get into trouble at lanes may have to swim their gear ashore at Wana Beach. Wana (pronounced var-nuh) Beach is basically a rock ledge covered with sea urchin. Windsurfers will usually launch at Ho’okipa and sail down to ride lanes. Surfers can Get in at Ho’okipa and paddle with the current past the rocks to get to lanes. The braver souls will Jump in at Wana beach. There is a Key hole at Wana that can be used if you have good timing in between waves. In big waves the sets will close out all the way down to “Mama’s”. If you get caught inside you may have to wait for a break in the waves, or ride down to one of the other channels. Since the parking area has been closed off, parking for Lanes is now only along the road. Take care crossing the road here because drivers go fast and are distracted by the surf too.

Ho’okipa:  Take Hana Highway 380,  2 miles past Paia going east. Ho’okipa is a sandy beach with 2 picnic pavilions and (2) life guard tower. Ho’okipa is famous place for watching the world’s best windsurfers at play. The headlands at each end of the beach are great vantage points for spectators, and the sandy beach below is a good sunbathing spot. Ho’okipa has some of the island’s most advanced Surfing and Windsurfing conditions. This beach is mostly enclosed by a rock ledge and has strong ocean currents. There’s a long rock ledge that runs for most of the width of the beach.

There are several “keyholes” in the reef where experienced surfers can get into the water between waves. One area at the western end of the beach has a open entry where the expert windsurfers can launch. This beach can get some huge waves. Even the experts get washed up on the rocks here. There are three main breaks at Ho’okipa.“Pavilions” at the eastern end, which is a point break favored by surfers. “Middles” is in the center of the beach, it  breaks right and left. And “H’poko” at the western point breaks well in high waves. There are very strong currents running here whenever there is decent surf, so this is definitely a place for strong surfers. The big rights break into a deep channel. Surfers and divers have the right of way here in the mornings. generally SUP surfers are not welcome here, there are many other places where  they can go. Windsurfers can only launch after 11am, (but not if there are more then 10 surfers on the break). This is called the “Ten Man Rule” and it is unique to Ho’okipa.

Diagram of Hookipa Beach park

There are now two lifeguard towers at Ho’okipa, but that does not mean that it is a good place to swim. In the mornings there may some divers here, and during the day there can be some people fishing off the rocks so take care of their lines.


Peahi (Jaws): Ten times a year or so you can hear a faint rumbling that gets steadily louder over a few days, and buildsPeahi "Jaws" on the Big a crescendo the night before a big wave day at Jaws. It is the rumor of swell and the gossip and predictions theories and formulas of storm tracking and swell modeling, that surfers will translate into wave predictions. As the day dawns the tow-in crews are already prepared and are launching their skis over heaving seas. Peahi dubbed “Jaws” has the reputation of being the biggest “ride able” wave in the world, and has definitely captured the attention of the expert watermen who ride it. The wave at Peahi is too big and fast to be ridden by conventional paddle-in surfing. So the teams use the skis to get the surfer up to speed on the massive waves that travel up to thirty miles per hour. The wave slows as it hits the reef and lifts the riders skyward. As fast as the surfer descends the wave the wave lifts itself up. The surfer has to out run the wave to escape the wave. There is nothing to see there when the wave isn’t breaking. But when it is on, there is a scramble to get a good vantage point on the cliffs overlooking the break. In the excitement some thoughtless spectators drive over the landowners pineapples to find a parking space. For the next few hours the crowd watches in admiration and amazement as the world’s top big wave surfers perform amazing feats of bravery and athleticism.

CENTRAL MAUI BEACHES (From East to west) Kahului – Waihe’e 
Kanaha Beach: This beach has it all. Windsurfing, surfing, kiteboarding, outriggers, fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking.  The conditions here can vary dramatically from calm and glassy to huge bone-crunching waves that create treacherous currents. Check with the lifeguards, local shops, and instructors to get the conditions report for the day. Winter waves can be as big here as anywhere on the north shore. Kanaha has five sections, Upper Kanaha (kooks) is the easternmost section of the beach. This curved beach is where beginner windsurfers can go early in the morning. Fishermen also use this beach at different times. Lowers from the new lifeguard tower up to the rocks that separate this section from Kooks beach.  This area has a swimming zone at the eastern end. the swim zone is off limits to windsurfers. The swimming area is usually marked by a line of buoys. At the western end there is a narrow cove in front of the canoe hale, that is sometimes called canoe beach. The next beach to the west called Naska by the locals, it starts at the campground, and ends at Ka’a Point. Kiteboarders have different names for the three sections of this beach. “Campground”, “Old mans”, and “Naish Beach”. At the eastern end is a swim zone, and the beach fronting the campground is for the campers, not kiters. Kiting starts west of the campground beach. At the western end there is a series of rock jetties that stick out into the water, so it is a can be risky place to launch and land.

Kiters mostly use the area between the old Hale to the Ka’a Point. There is no kiting allowed on the water before 11am. The next sections are called Ka’a Point, and Kite Beach (Ka’a Point to the water plant). Ka’a Point has its own access road, and parking, and this area is used by fishermen and local families especially on the weekend. There is some kiting here for advanced kiters. the one sandy area is called ProBeach. the next section of the beach down to the end of rockwall is where teh beginner kiters go. Beginner beach, has different names for each section, and the locals can point out the different parts. take care when strolling down this section on a windy day as beginner kiters tend to crash their kites a lot.  All together combined these sections are almost two a beach that is almost miles long. 

The distinct sections of Kanaha Beach can be clearly seen in this picture.

Pier One: Is the eastern pier of the Kahului harbor. it has a road to the container terminal. The gates get locked after dark. This is a fishing spot. Sometimes in large surf it could be paddled into, but nowadays is used infrequently by a few tow-in surfers and the occasional kiteboarder. This spot is not recommended for kiteboarders because if anything happens there is no exit point. It gets big at Pier one, but you know it has a deep channel too. My good buddy told me that it was way tougher to tow-in than Jaws (not necessarily bigger), because the wave breaks faster and less predictably. He has been caught inside “a seventeen wave close-out set” before the jet ski could get him out. This is a better fishing spot, and you can watch some large waves when it is huge surf. Do not get too close to the edge here. The rocks and huge concrete jacks are slimy and almost impossible to climb over. (for this reason I sometimes call it “Pier 9-1-1”)
Kahului Harbor: has several good breaks (inside and outside the break wall) when there is a large north swell. Surfers come here to find some sanctuary when the north shore gets too crazy. There is a pair of wedge shaped breaks that are popular and some nice waves deeper in the harbor that break less often. Don’t be caught off guard, the waves in there can get pretty mean sometimes and the currents are strong enough to fold the flat ocean in peculiar ways. Boats have right of way in the marked channels, so get out of their way. Watch out for broken glass when entering at the ramp.  There are several places where the bold surfer will jump in off the rocks. To not attempt to exit on the rocks when the waves are surging. There has been some dredging in there recently for the boat ramp improvements that may have affected the breaks. Also they are planning to expand the Piers for a “super-ferry”. Sometimes that water quality is questionable, and the murkiness may add to the spookiness, and occasionally you hear these stories….
Y-Hata: not much of a wave but one day when it was way too big everywhere else on the north shore (unless you had a jet-ski, which we didn’t), This can sometimes be surfed but the waves are challenging, and tricky. There was a rip current right in the elbow of the coast, that gave you a chance of getting through the wall of waves. There are a bunch of double-up waves from the echo waves reflected off the rocks. It gets kinda messy, fast and scary but we have surfed it a few times when there was nowhere else to go.
Paukakalo: Another break near here is Paukakalo which is more rocky and a little less friendly than Waiehu. It has a boulder beach, and can get big lefts. When the surf is up it is definitely for advanced surfers only.
Waiehu Beach Park: Lower Waiehu Beach Park Road. Waiehu, HI Waiehu
is a surfing and fishing beach. Mostly locals will be surfing here when the waves are just right. Do not surf close to where locals have been fishing all night because there will usually be a lot of bait in the water. Watch out for divers coming ashore and trailing there fish behind them. Do not surf close to any river mouths especially after the rain. Mostly a longboarding wave. This area usually has have strong currents when the wave has any size. A few people will kite here when the wind is too easterly at Kitebeach. These is very little room to move here and it is only for advanced kiters. Yes it is shallow and onshore too.
Sand Piles: Should be called wave piles. It can get big out there. and be prepared to do a lot of paddling against the strong currents. the huge volume of water dumping onto the reef creates a river like current that constantly wants to pull you away from the takeoff zone (when its big). It often gets blown out here, but if you’re there at the right time, it’s pretty sweet.

Waihe’e Beach: This beach is narrow and relatively free of crowds. Mostly local families and fishermen who sometimes camp here. The beach faces east and is a popular fishing spot with surfing on the surrounding reef. The water here is mostly shallow with channels through the reef. Beware of shallow water and coral heads.

 EAST MAUI BEACHES (west to east) Huelo – Hana – Hamoa
Honomanu Bay: point break surfing, Rocky beach, no lifeguard.
Wai’anapanapa State Park: Hana Hwy. at mile marker 32 N. of Hana. Excellent camping facilities, as well as cabins make Wai’anapanapa State Park features one of Maui’s best beach parks. At 122 acres this park features jagged lava cliffs overlooking a bay with a beautiful black-sand beach with good wading/swimming (in low surf conditions), advanced snorkeling, some hiking trails and freshwater spring fed pools in lava caves. Heiau, blowholes, and a natural stone arch. Public Restrooms. There is no entrance fee to the park. The campground is very pretty, quiet and shaded by trees, here but you will need to get a Camping permit before you come (Get your camping permit in Wailuku before you drive out here). Call 808-984-8109 for permit information. There are also cabins available that can accommodate up to 6 people, and nearby private accommodations can be found as well. If you are hiking in the area take good footwear and plenty of water. There are several coastal trails across the rugged lava.
Honokalani Black Sand Beach: in Wai’anapanapa State park. This is Maui’s premier black sand beach created by lava exploding as it met the sea, the beach has a distinct beauty. beware when there are waves, and occasional high surf there are strong currents and the bay is surrounded by sharp lava islands and shoreline so there are very few safe exits if you get caught in a current. At on end of the beach there are some sea caves, advanced snorkeling. There is a majestic stone arch visable from the beach, and a hiking trail to a blowhole to the east. Do not get too close to the blowhole. Access is from the parking lot above beach then a short trail to the beach. this beach is backed by pandanas (hala) palms and native naupaka plants. The sand gets hot so most people race to the water to cool off their feet. There are several hiking trails some easy, some more serious. No lifeguards.
Pa’iloa “always splashing”:  located in Wai’napanapa park. The sand is dark black from volcanic origin. This beach is about 100 feet wide an slopes steeply into the ocean. It is situated in a rocky bay that protects the beach from erosion but there can be strong waves here sometimes. You should exercise caution when wading here, and swimming is really only for the strongest swimmers only. There are many lava formations and strong currents around here. The black sand can get very hot when crossing it so wear your slippers.
Hana Beach Park: Hana Hwy to Uakea Rd. Hana Bay and its long dark sand beach is a favorite with local families, Hana Beach Park is one of the safest swimming beaches on the island.  Many local community events, and canoe races are held here. there is some kayaking and occasionally some surfing at the bay’s northern end. Picnic tables, picnic pavilion, snack bar and restrooms.
Red Sand Beach(Kaihalulu): with volcanic red sand, is extremely isolated and difficult to find unless you know where to find the trail. Located in an eroded cinder cone it has a fantastic red color and a natural rock pool open to the sea. There are no services here, no lifeguards, and the hiking trail trail down is very angled and can be slippery so be careful. Do not swim beyond the lava sea wall due to strong currents. Free spirits love this beach despite its challenging location.
Koki Beach: Water currents at this beach are often treacherous. However, the views of the road cutting through the cliffs and of the rugged coastline are worthwhile. There is a sea arch located near the point on the left end of the beach. Some surfers will ride here, but the waves get rough and confused. Body surfing is difficult, due to the strong currents, and should not be attempted without fins. Stay close to shore unless you are experienced.
Hamoa Beach: Down the stairs behind the bus stop. Part private resort and part public beach. This beach has outstanding swimming and bodysurfing. Strong currents. No lifeguard.
Waikoloa Beach: western side of Hana bay.
SOUTH MAUI BEACHES (from North to south) Ma’alaea – Kihei – Wailea – Makena
Maamaea “Freight Trains”: this wave is famous even though it only breaks about five times a year. When the swell is big and south, freight trains fires. The fastest right handed barrels you are likely to see. many surfers go into the barrel, but very few make it back out. There are a few nasty rocks that pop up here and there, and the water is shallow, so try to stay flat and not get too deep as you get thrown over the falls here. There are usually a few broken boards, leashes and egos, here after a big wave day.
Haycraft Park: End of Hauolii Street Maalaea. Located at the very end of the road after all the condominiums. It provides one of the only public access points in this area. This park has a small parking area, and gives access to this secluded strip of coastline and some long sandy beaches. This area gets waves when there is a large south swell running. But usually quiet and good for beach walking and maybe fishing.
Kealia:This beach usually has strong offshore winds. In the past this beach was used for windsurfing speed sailing events. The western end of Sugar beach is sometimes called Speed Beach or Mud Flats.
Sugar Beach: Stretching more than three miles, the South Kihei Beach runs all the way around the bay to Maalaea. It is one of the longest white sand beaches in the world, and has some of the strongest winds on the island. During whale season you may see whales and their calves come close to shore here. Don’t swim near whales giving birth or with young calves.
Memorial Park (Ma poina ‘Oe la’u) Memorial Park: The first beach park as you drive into the north of Kihei. It has a permanent bathroom with a windsurfing mural on the side. The windsurfers sometimes call it “Ohukai” because of the nearest cross street. This beach is great for windsurfing when the wind is north. It is also one of the only places to windsurf in a “Kona” wind. The beach is narrow so it is not very good here for kiteboarding. There is sometimes summer surf here, which makes it good for longboarding in the mornings or wavesailing when the wind picks up in the afternoons.

Kolepelepo: Once used as a fish pond, now makes a nice wading pool for kids. This was once a Hawaiian village. The blue building is the newly renovated Pacific Whale Foundation. The fish pond wall has been recently restored by community volunteers. Please do not walk on the sea wall. Just north of the Whale house is a wader sandy beach and a small stream. this beach is home to an outrigger canoe club, and other solitary beach goers. Take care is rain storms because the stream floods and washes out the beach. Recent storms have pushed trees into the water here so take care when fishing and swimming. The sand dunes are being restored and re-vegetated here so please stick to the walking trails and proper access points.
Waipuilani Park: A nice wide grassy park, with a narrow beach. Reefy and rocky with shallow water. This beach collects a lot of seaweed, so it is where many locals collect eating varieties of seaweed (“Limu”). take care when windsurfing or kiting here. Difficult launches and sharp reef.
Typhoon lagoon: a generally uncrowded south shore reef break that produces reliable longboarding year round. Summer and winter swells brings powerful steep rights and long fast lefts for shortboards and fast longboards. Several deep channels give access to the outside even when there is a wall of whitewater. Phantoms just to the north only breaks in larger surf, and it has a unique angle diffracting almost parallel to shore. Just to the south is “Dos Palmos”, a point break that breaks both ways over a shallow coral reef. Definitely not for the fainthearted.
Changs Beach: This park beach is located south of the Cove near Kalama Park and is favored by the local residents. It is known to have good surfing when the waves are pounding.
Kalama ParkKalama Park: Just north of the Cove is Kalama Park. Enter from Kalama park (the one with the large Whale statue). There is plenty of parking, skateboard ramps, sports field, baseball diamond, volleyball sand courts, large grassy areas and picnic tables shelters and barbeque facilities. This popular beach park is a good place to take a surfing lesson. Take care on weekends and holidays, the park and the water gets very crowded here. Although there is very little sand here, there are several good inshore reef breaks just beyond the rocky seawall. To assess the water there are entry staircases in the sea wall.

Cove Park: Good beginner wave for long boarding and Keiki. The gentle waves make this a favorite place for local families to take their children surfing. The water can get very shallow in the cove, it varies from chest deep to ankle deep close to shore in places. Take extra care at low tide, and wear booties. Never dive headfirst from your board here!! 

Charley Young Beach: just south of cove park. North from Kam I, or the street above. This is where the locals teach their friends to surf. The water is warm and shallow. and there are constant, regular breakers, giving beginners a chance to learn how to control their boards. This 3-acres beach park is located at the north end of Kamaole I Beach. The sand is soft and smooth. and slopes very gently into the ocean. The area is sheltered from the wind and affords beautiful views of the ocean and nearby town.
Punahoa Beach: Punahoa Beach is an intimate small golden-sand beach framed by black lava points and native naupaka plants. Good for swimming and snorkeling, located along a string of famous beaches in South Kihei, Maui. For those of you who know Kihei well, it is located between Kalama Beach Park and Charley 
Young Beach (Kameole I).
Kamaole I, II, III: These three beaches in south Kihei offer the easiest sunbathing and mellow swimming. Each park has its own lifeguard stand. Some beaches are more rocky than others. Don’t dive in headfirst. Watch for large waves. Great beaches for children and messing around with boogie boards and snorkels and such. Avoid these parks at night. Kam I, is the most northern park, opposite the Worldmark conds, it is a social beach, and has a sand volleyball court, showers, lifeguard tower, paved parking area, and restrooms. Kam II is the longest of the Kamaole beaches. It has roadside parking showers toilets, lifeguard, and barbeques, opposite Freds/mooses. Great place to watch a sunset and sometimes whales as well.Kam III (the southernmost one) is one of the best places to watch sunset along the south shore with a large grassy park that is grate for picnics and kids birthday parties. Also a good place to fly a kite. All these parks have permanent bathrooms and showers. Just south of Kam III is a walking trail around the headland to the Kihei Boat ramp.

The Kihei Boat Ramp is the main launch site for dive boats and Molokini tours in south Maui. It is also host to some occasional surf breaks when the conditions are right. The bluff above the harbor has a parking area with a view, and the harbor itself has a restroom and picnic tables.
Keawakapu Beach: This beach is long and usually wide and sandy. High surf can chop out the sand from time to time. This is a great beach for walking, jogging, swimming, or just hanging out. There are several access points along the beach. There are several sections separated by rocky outcrops. Do not dive headfirst into the water here. Take care in large surf. This beach sometimes has kayaking, but only very early before the tradewinds blow them away. mornings are best for sunbathing and swimming. The water gets deep here quickly, so swim close to shore.
Mokapu Beach Park: Excellent swimming and snorkeling. Water sports equipment rentals are available at concessions in front of  the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort
Ulua Beach Park: Has excellent swimming, snorkeling, and beachcombing. Early morning and sunset walkers and joggers abound. this beach is where many SCUBA instructors bring their students for their introductory beach dives, especially early in the morning. They have nice bathrooms and showers but the parking is tight.
Wailea Beach: The Grand Wailea and Four Seasons Resorts front Wailea Beach, there is limited public parking. You can valet park if you prefer. It is a a lovely crescent of white-yellow sand with a gentle ocean with waves broken up by lava jetties. As this beach serves the resorts, it is often crowded. If that’s not your scene, head south to some of the other more secluded Wailea and Makena beaches.
Polo Beach Club: A superb Wailea beach, popular with Maui residents and visitors. Excellent swimming and snorkeling, picnic tables and restrooms are available.
Palauea Beach: Wailea Alanui to road along the shoreline from Polo Beach. Swimming. No beach facilities.
Po’olenalena Beach Park/Paipu: Hidden between the South Maui resorts and the better-known Makena Big Beach, this secluded white sand beach offers the beautiful South Maui sun and views, but is usually less crowded. Watch out for the kiawe thorns on your way from the parking lot!Makena Alanui. S. of Wailea. Swimming. No facilities.
Nahuna Point (turtle town/5 graves): Snorkeling and diving.
Makena Landing: Kayaking, diving and fishing area. A sandy and rocky shoreline comprises Makena Landing Beach Park. You can dive here, but a lot of coral was killed in 1999 by storm runoff. This is the place to launch a kayak, or small boat, or do a shore dive. This area is known for its lava formations, fish and numerous turtles. There is a restroom and shower here, and a small parking area. Plan to bring your own food and drinks as there are no food vendors in walking distance. Additionally, exercise caution while swimming at this beach as the surf conditions and rocks can be dangerous. There are no lifeguards on duty.
Maluaka Beach (at Makena): Next to the Maui Prince Hotel, this beach has excellent swimming and snorkeling.  This is our favorite spot for watching the green sea turtles which are abundant here. Located directly in front of the Westin Maui Prince Resort. There are two public parking lots one for each end of this beach both of which are really hidden. On the main parking lot at the South end there is not even a sign, except something like dead end. I get the feeling no one what’s any body to know about this place. The turnoff for the parking lot is just before the Maui Fish Tacos Stand. There are picnic tables, beautiful grassy area, public restrooms and showers. There is even a concession stand right off the beach run by the Westin Maui Prince Resort where you can get a cold drink or rent all sorts of beach equipment. This beach is absolutely beautiful has incredible sand just asking to be walked in bare foot and it is a fantastic place to bring the family for the day for all beach activities and also to enjoy watching the beautiful Maui Sunsets.
Oneuli Beach (black sand beach): also known as Red Sand BeachBeneath the Red Hill (Pu’u Olai). Oneuli means “dark sand” and the sand of this beach is actually cinder from volcanic eruptions. This beach is great for exploring the geological aspects of Maui. A nearby trail leads to the top of the cinder cone. This spot is popular with fishermen. Strong currents here make it difficult for swimming.
Little Beach: Good beach to get an all over suntan. Bodysurfing and surfing. On Sundays they usually have an impromptu gathering of drummers and dancers, in the “Drum Circle”. Access via big beach, and a short hike over the rocks at the western (right hand) end. No lifeguard on duty.
Little Beach and Big BeachBig Beach (makena Beach/ Oneloa Beach): 3,000 feet of wide, white sand, Good waves for skim boarders and experienced bodysurfers. This long sandy beach is one of the best and most picturesque on Maui. Most visitors to south Maui with go to Big Beach at least once in their vacation. This beach now has two lifeguard towers, and can have small but powerful waves. People without ocean experience should swim close to the lifeguards. Take care when the surf is big. The shorebreak at Makena can easily turn you upside-down and stick your head in the sand. Dirt road off Makena Rd. 3 miles S. of Kaukahi Rd. and Makena Alanui. Snorkeling. No facilities.

In the foreground is Little beach, and Big beach in the background.

Pa’ako (secret Cove): a great place to watch the sunset and weddings. This tiny beach has sand and rocks. some fishing, no surfing. No amenities.

Ahihi Cove: located within the Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve. In between big beach and La Perouse. Marine creatures are protected here from fishing and harvesting. A great snorkeling & diving spot. Rock ledges surround this shallow cove making entry a little difficult. The water teams with tropical fish and other marine life. No kayak launching is permitted here. Parking is very limited. The easiest place to enter the water is at the western end, which has a small sandy spot. Take care swimming out the narrow gap through the rocks. You will get into slightly deeper water where the visibility is better. If you swim out a short distance you will see the fish and turtles. take care is the water is wavy or rough, because the waves can surge into the bay and make swimming difficult.

La Perouse Bay: This is the end of the road. More for fishermen than swimmers, this is a rocky area. With a pebbly beach of sorts and a rough ledge directly in front of the parking area. If you hike to the south there are a series of small sand beaches between rocky lava outcroppings. Entry to the ocean is tricky, especially during heavy surf. Do not disturb any rock piles because they may be archeological sites from an ancient Hawaiian village. Stay on the trails (elsewhere is very sharp lava). Take care at the shoreline because the waves can break violently on the rock ledges. There is snorkeling here when the surf is low, but only in the mornings before the trade winds get too strong. Kayaks can launch here in the early morning. The launch is over a rock ledge. But must stay close to shore and not get caught in the offshore trade winds.

WESTSIDE BEACHES (From southeast to northwest)
Little Cape St Francis (Cliffs): About 3/4 mile South of Ma’alaea, fishing area, advanced surfing in south swells usually in summer.
McGregor point (Lighthouse): About 1 mile South of Ma’alaea, steep 4wd access road, fishing area, advanced surfing in south swells usually in summer.

Papalaua Beach:  Just after the tunnel is a small beach under the trees that has small waves close to shore. “Grandmas” break is good for beginners because it is close to shore. There are many spots to surf all around here. The beach is long and narrow, with many overhanging kiawe trees that scatter their thorns beneath the sand. Swimming and snorkeling here is ok but if you swim around the rocks east, you will find some great snorkeling. Beware of strong offshore winds here. There is some camping along here although a recently installed fence separates the camping from the parking. On Honoapi’ilani Highway between mile markers 11 and 12. There is no turn lane and no paved parking so use caution getting on and off the highway.

Ukumehame Beach Park: Hwy 30, mm12, is a fishing and surfing beach in the thousand peaks area. Just past the tunnel driving from Ma’alaea to Lahaina. The park has a paved parking lot with room for about 15 cars and some portable toilets. This beach can have really nice waves. Sometimes the waves can get blown out by early morning offshore winds that funnel down the Olawalu valley. By late morning and in the afternoons the water can be smooth and glassy. At low tide the reef is exposed in places. Study the reef before you paddle out. As the waves get bigger there are breaks either side of the shallow spot in the middle of the main break. Coral cuts are common here. Do not dive off your board here!!.
Mile Marker 14: (Punahoa Beach) Not a surfing beach, but a great place to snorkel. The black sand tree covered beach is just beside the road. The water is almost always calm and the snorkeling can be good as soon as you put your face in the water. If the water is slightly murky just swim out a short distance to get clearer water. This is the easiest snorkeling spot on the island.

Olowalu Beach (Ka’ili’ili Beach): Excellent spot for snorkeling and scuba diving and the site of the famous Olowalu massacre. There are petroglyphs and the remains of a heiau. No amenities. Surf breaks in south swells, park 500 yards past jetty. Left/right beach break and a left-hand reef break. (this area has a reputation for being sharky). there is a campground here, that offers tent sites and cabins.

Awalua Beach: Hwy. 30. mile marker 16. S. of Lahaina. Swimming, Surfing.
Kulanaolala’i Beach: 
Launiopoko Beach Park: Launiopoko state wayside park is located at mile marker 18. Three miles south of Lahaina, this beach is one of the most popular surfing and picnicking spots on Maui. The large park, bathrooms, showers barbeques, picnic tables. There is a rock wall enclosing a tidal pool that is great for kids as a wading pool/ A sandy beach and another break wall on the right. There are several beginner/intermediate surf breaks at Launiopoko, depending on the wave  size. This is a friendly place to surf provided you a courteous and patient. This is usually a family surfing scene with quite a few beginners including women and children. This is what I like to call a social wave. If you don’t hog the waves, and don’t run over any keiki (children), and keep smiling you will probably end up sharing most of your waves with other surfers and have a great time. Launiopoko is situated in the middle of a wind shadow created by the west Maui mountains and is one of the few beaches that can be surfed all day long. The water here is shallow and the bottom is a mixture of lava and coral, so do not put your feet down. If you do not want to cut your feet you should invest in a pair of surf booties. Keep in mind that at low tide the water may be less than 1 foot deep in places and there may be coral heads sticking out of the water.

Puamana Beach Park: Just south of Lahaina. This small beach provides swimming, picnic tables, restrooms, grills and a grassy park. Waves are excellent for beginning and intermediate surfers. Parking here is tight with room for only about a dozen cars. Parking is also possible along the fence and roadway. This beach usually gets packed out on weekends and holidays.
Shark Pit: At the south end of Lahaina, past Shaw street, there is a couple of shoreline access paths from front street. Parking is difficult along this narrow residential street, so it is better to park in town. The paddle out is near the boats to the left across the  “Shark Pit” channel. It gets crowded with local surfers, breaks right and left, hollow waves.

Lahaina Beach: You can snorkel, scuba dive and surf right at the end of the harbor from this rocky beach along Front Street. Not much for swimming, though. South of this beach is “Shark Pit” and to the right is the “Breakwall” the most popular and sometimes over-crowded beginner breaks on the island.

The Breakwall: is the area south of the harbor rock wall and it has one of the most consistent waves on the island. There is a regular wave here that is good for longboarders. it is very popular and as a result can be very crowded. this spot has become a favorite place to learn surfing and many locals come here to teach their family and friends, there are also several surf schools teaching here regularly. if you surf here be patient, and gracious, share the waves with the beginners and surf with aloha. keep in mnd that the person surfing next to you may not have total board control so be careful. If you want uncrowded waves then go just about anywhere else. This break I would describe as more of a “social wave”, where it is normal for several people to catch a wave at once. This does not mean that it is ok to drop in on the guy already surfing the wave, but it often means that people do not mind sharing their wave with you, if you do so carefully and respectfully. A local surfer riding a wave may invite you onto their wave, and say “come on”, or catch it, accompanied with a smile. Do not confuse this with “Don’t Go” or “NO” which means do not drop it on that wave.  

Lahaina Break Wall

Lahaina Harbor Break

Baby Beach: In the north part of Lahaina, this is a place of sandy shallows perfect for little children, as its name implies. Swimming is safe and the snorkeling is ok, too. Park on Kai Pali Street, just off of Front Street.
Mala Wharf: Diving and Boat launching area. Occasional surfing in summer with a strong southerly swell. Left hander breaks over reefy bottom just off the old wharf. Good intermediate longboard wave.

Wahikuli Beach Park: This beach is very close to Lahaina and is popular for visitors and residents of the area. A good spot for families to relax for the day, as there are plenty of tables, BBQ pits, and shady areas just up from the shore. The water here is not great for surfing, but calmer and better suited to good swimming and snorkeling. This beach is located right next to the Hanaka’o’o Beach Park, almost as an extension to the Canoe Beach, so parking may be found at both places. Located on the very northern edge of Lahaina Town, look for the sign on the left when traveling north on Honoapi’ilani Highway.
Panakao’o Beach Park: Hwy. 30 N. of Lahaina. Picnic tables. Showers. Restrooms. Swimming.

Canoe (Hanaka’o’o) Beach: Actually the south end of Ka’anapali Beach fronting the Hyatt Regency, this is where the outrigger canoe teams practice; great photo ops! Picnicking; showers; restrooms; phones; lifeguard. A large sandy area perfect for volleyball.Used as the launching site for numerous canoe clubs, this beach is also the beginning of a huge stretch of shoreline which extends all the through Kaanapali and on to Honokowai.

Embassy Suites: A nice sandy beach great for sunbathing and relaxing, Also sometimes a kiteboarder and windsurfer launch in northerly winds, advanced riders only. This is a relatively narrow beach so Beware of other beach users when launching, there is usually gusty wind close to shore. Public restrooms and showers, parking for hotel guests.
Black Rock (Keka’a Point): Superb snorkeling and Scuba diving. the sandy beach provides an easy entry. There is usually little or no surf here so entering the water is relatively simple. The best snorkeling is along the edge of the rocks. Beware of people jumping off the cliff above, and avoid their landing area. The southern side of the rock is the calmest and the water gets deeper further out. Scuba divers can poke around in the small caves and ledges. There are many tropical fish here and some turtles too. farther round the point the wind can get stronger and the water choppy. Do not swim around the point unless you are a strong swimmer. occasional encounters with larger fish can happen here too. Do not stick your hands into any holes because of moray eels. also if there is a swell running do not get too close to the risks or you could get washed up onto them. if there is any sort of waves breaking onto the beach, then this place is not suitable for snorkeling. The beach adjacent to black rock is great for sunbathing and relaxing, and there are many bars within a short walk. Beach chairs and snorkel gear rental is available at the hotel kiosk by the pool. Showers are for hotel guests only.
Whalers Village: Hula Grill and other shops and bars. This place is great for shopping and people watching. The beach here is narrower, this is called “Dig me” beach.

UPPER WESTSIDE BEACHES (From southeast to northwest) Ka’anapali – Kapalua
Kahekili (Old Airport Beach): (15 + minutes north of Lahaina) This is a beach park so the facilities are wonderful. The beach seems to go on forever and snorkeling is really nice at this spot. As it is fairly exposed to winds there can be a bit of a current here. Just be careful when you get in the water and keep your eyes on the shore. Traveling north past Lahaina Town, turn left on Kai Ala. Follow the “beach access” signs to the right.

Ka’anapali Beach: Three miles long white sand beach, has many restaurants and activities, surfing lessons, sailing, parasailing, catamaran rides and more. Black Rock Beach is excellent for beginning snorkelers and swimmers to experienced SCUBA divers. Coral and tropical fish are abundant. This is the northernmost section of Ka’anapali Beach. A beach walk winds through Ka’anapali with easy access to beachfront hotels, shopping and restaurants.

Honokowai Beach Park: Lower Honoapi’ilani Rd. N. of Ka’anapali Bch Resort. Picnic tables. Showers. Restrooms. Parking. Snorkeling. Swimming.
S-Turns: Located in Mahinahina in Kahana. S-turns is a great beginner intermediate surfing spot. An offshore reef break. Two reefs give lefts and rights. The northern reef gives the rights and the south reef creates the lefts. The secondary reef is called “Mushrooms”. This spot can get murky and sharky.
Kahana (ka-ha-na) Beach: Beginning at the Kahana Beach Resort and continuing past the Sands of Kahana, this stretch of beach offers plenty of space for you sunbathers. The swimming here is very good thanks to a protective offshore reef, but the combination of sand and rock as you enter the water may discourage the younger beach-goers from playing in the shore-break. Kahana is a nice beach which is never very crowded, but not one that you should actively search out if you are not staying in the area. Take Hoohui road off of Honoapi’ilani Highway and head west toward the ocean. Turn left on Lower Honoapi’ilani Highway and look for parking on the far side of the Kahana Beach Resort.
Napili Bay: Napili Bay is noted for its sandy beaches and good swimming.  An excellent 
snorkeling spot for novice and expert.
Kapalua Beach: Kapalua Beach is 15 minutes north of Kaanapali beach. Formerly known as Old Fleming Beach. Very Nice Sandy beach. Swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.
D.T. (David Thomas) Fleming Beach Park: Hwy. 30. Mile marker 31. E. of Kapalua. Picnic. Grills. Showers. Restrooms. Phone. A favorite for body and board surfing, this public park also features good swimming. Facilities include picnic tables and restrooms. Lifeguards on duty.
Mokule’ia Beach (Slaughterhouse):  Hwy. 30 at mile marker 32. A good spot for snorkeling and swimming during summer months. Big waves in the winter make if a favorite spot for bodysurfing but hazardous for other water sports. That’s not why it’s called Slaughterhouse. There actually was a slaughterhouse here but it was torn down in the ’60s.
Honolua Bay:Take Highway 30 north past Kapalua until about mile marker 33. There is a dirt road that goes to the left beside a pineapple field. In summer the Bay has great diving and snorkeling conditions. In winter the Bay can produce some world class surfing waves for experienced board riders. Entry is either via The wave is a long right handed journey as it goes through some amazing transformations. There are great views from the headlands and pineapple fields overlooking the break. Respect the land owners and don’t steal pineapples or drive over them. FYI. Stealing pineapples carries a $5000.00 fine.
Osterizers & Rainbows:Surf break off Honokowai point north of Kaanapali. Right handers, works best in north and northwest swells, very shallow reef, and hollow wave, with strong current. Best at mid tide, Advanced surfers only.
BEST DIVING BEACH = Makena Landing : Kayaking, diving and fishing area. A sandy and rocky shoreline comprises Makena Landing Beach Park. Scuba divers, snorkelers have access to one of Maui’s most interesting underwater areas. Parking is limited.
BEST SNORKELING SPOT =  There are several great snorkeling spots. depending on your comfort level and how far you are prepared to swim. The easiest place to snorkel is at Mile marker 14. Where the water is calm and the fish are close to shore.  Molokini Crater, has the best day snorkeling experience. You will need a boat ride to get there. Boats leave from Kihei Boat ramp, or Ma’alaea Boat harbor.
BEST LONGBOARD SURFING =  Longboard Surfing at Launiupoko beach park. Launiupoko is located at the 17mile marker, just three miles from Lahaina town. Launiupoko has gentle waves and the area is protected from the trade winds. Take care because the water is quite shallow in places and you should wear booties to protect your feet from the coral. You should always take a lesson before attempting to surf on your own. Share the waves and surf with a smile. Launiupoko has a nice picnic area, restrooms, showers and plenty of parking. It may get a little crowded on weekends and public holidays.
BEST BEGINNER SURFING =  Beginner Surfing at Kalama beach park. Kalama park is on Maui’s south shore in Kihei. Kalama is best in the early mornings before the trade winds kick in. Kalama has several different breaks that are gentle and great for beginners. You should take a lesson from one of the good schools, and your instructor will show you how to surf, and where to surf, so that you do not get in other people’s way. Take care because the water is quite shallow in places and you should wear booties to protect your feet from the coral (and the coral from your feet). Kalama Park has great facilities, restrooms, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, skate parks, and much more. For more info on Surfing Lessons click here. Click here for information on Renting surfboards.
BEST WINDSURFING BEACH = Kanaha Beach is the state’s most popular windsurfing beach. It has great conditions for beginners and experts. The eastern end of Kanaha Beach is world famous for windsurfing. Windsurfers from all over the world come here to ride. This is also the best beach to do your windsurfing lessons, the last cove on the right is also called “Kooks Beach” and is where the beginners go. “Kooks” is also where you will see the slalom racing in summer. To see the windsurfing action from shore, the most famous windsurfing beach on Maui is Ho’okipa Beach park. Ho’okipa is located a few miles past Paia town. Spectators can sit on the grassy headland on the western end and watch the experts ride the waves close to shore. take your camera. For more info on Windsurfing Lessons click here.
BEST SUNBATHING BEACH =  Makena Beach “Big Beach” in south Maui. has several large parking lots, and a long wide sandy beach. There is plenty of room to spread out. Drive all the way south past Wailea, and the road veers to the left after the cinder cone, and the road rolls up and down, then look on the right for the entrance to one of several large parking areas. Lock your car, and take the short trail to the beach. This beach is a local favorite. There are some porta-potties, and now has a lifeguard on duty. the shore break can get extremely rough, and it is deceptively powerful. Many people have been taken unaware by the powerful surf and get tossed around in the pounding waves. Do not swim here when there are waves unless you are an experienced bodysurfer. Take care.
BEST CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEACH = The best clothing optional beach is Little Beach access from Big beach and a short hike to the right over the rocks at the end. This is a smaller sandy beach, that has some small surf and clothing optional is the norm. This beach is at the tip of the island so watch out for strong currents. Swimmers can get into trouble whilst swimming here. There is no lifeguard on duty.
BEST KITEBOARDING BEACH = Kanaha Beach in Kahului, behind the airport, has the best kiteboarding on the island. The western end closest to the harbor is known as Kite Beach. Here you will see kiteboarders of all levels from beginners to pros. When watching it is best to stay at the edge under the trees, and away from launching and landing kites. The kite scene is quite entertaining to watch. 

Colorful Sand Beaches

WHITE SAND BEACHES = White sand can be from silica, coral, or shells. Many beaches on Maui will have a high content of coral sand. Coral sand contains digested coral fragments from the byproduct of parrot fish digestion, as well as the remains of pulverized coral and shells.
BLACK SAND BEACHES = Black volcanic lava rock makes beautiful sand, when pounded into fine black sand it has formed several breathtaking beaches. The black sand beach in Wai’anapanapa state park, is a must see beach. It also has a mixture of small rounded lava pebbles that give a great foot massage as well. Other black sand beaches can be found in south Maui and in Hana bay.
RED SAND BEACHES = Red iron-rich volcanic lava rock also makes beautiful beaches. Kaihalulu beach aka “red sand beach” in Hana is a hidden treasure. it takes a hike to get there. but it is spectacular and unique. the beach is in the eroding cinder cone, it has a rich red sand that comes from the surrounding cliffs. It is ok to swim here within the natural pool inside the rocks. But be careful because the water can get rough, and is not safe for timid swimmers, and remember that there is no lifeguard ion duty here. Some people do go clothing optional here, but it is not a requirement. Take extreme care when traversing the trail to reach this beach. There is a steep trail around the cliff, that is sloped sideways, and slippery because it is constantly eroding. Many people have fallen off this trail and some have died.
GREEN SAND BEACHES = the most famous Green sand beach is on the big island, where an eroding cinder cone has contributed millions of tiny peridot (olivine) crystals into the sand there. The natural green color of the volcanic crystals gives the sand its distinctive color. But that is not the only green sand to be found, there are other places with green sand, with perhaps a lower concentration of the crystal, but it can be found on Maui if you are looking for it. Take a closer look at a handful of beach sand and see the mixture of sand grains, and see which ones you can recognize.

Conduct, Etiquette, Rules

Know before you go: Beaches are natural areas and gateways to the ocean environment. Be aware that ocean ecology deserves your respect and “kokua” (cooperation). Do not trample coral or pollute or interfere with the creatures in the sea. For more information go to the Ocean Etiquette page. Before you attempt to operate any surf craft you should be aware of ocean safetybeach safety, and surfing etiquette. Do not operate any surfcraft/watercraft without proper knowledge and training. There are also many rules that govern the use of different water craft at various locations. There include permits, licenses, and ROW (right of way rules). Not all water craft are allowed at certain beaches. There are legal restrictions on locations, times, and types of use. Check the local rules or ask the lifeguards before you paddling out.

Key to Symbols

Kiting Can
Kiting No Can
Windsurfing Can
Windsurfing No Can

Photos Suzie and David Dorn, Blue Hawaiian helicopters, and some aerial photos on this page taken by Kim and Forest Starr

Aloha, MauiFun 

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