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Maui Beaches


All of Maui’s Beaches are unique and have something different to offer. Only some beaches are suitable for swimming, and only some are suitable for surfing and other water sports. Remember that we are on an island, an there is a lot of ocean surrounding us. You should know where you are going, and what beaches are best for your chosen sport. Please be a responsible beach goer, and a good waterman, and know the conditions before you go. Please respect other beach users, always follow the local beach etiquette.

ISLAND GEOGRAPHY: The island of Maui has a volcanic geography, that makes for mostly rocky shorelines, We have our share of sandy beaches as well, and they are a precious resource. Some beaches are reserved just for swimming, and some are only for experienced ocean athletes. There are a few great beginner beaches as well, so please take care when entering the ocean, and when choosing which beach to access from. these could be some of the most important decisions you will make!.

BEACH TYPES: Our Island has many different types of beaches. These range from the gentle and friendly swimming beaches on the south shore like Kamaole 1, 2, and 3. And range up to the high surf, high energy beaches on the north shore. The high energy high surf beaches are for experts only, and are not good places to swim. if you are planning a family beach day, choose a user friendly beach. A user friendly beach has accessible parking, amenities like restrooms, and showers, and preferably swim at a guarded beach. Only a small number of Maui beaches actually have life guards on patrol, so try to chose one of these,.. Especially of you have small children, or a large group. There are many other beaches that offer different conditions, that are favored by different sports enthusiasts. Fishing for example s one of Hawaii’s favorite pastimes. You will see fishing from almost any beach, and rocky shoreline. You generally do not want to swim where people are fishing. But you may also see the local kids swimming and fishing in the same place. This does not mean that it is a good place for you to swim. Also there are many remote beaches, especially on the drive to Hana, that look like inviting places to swim, but be warned that these beaches can sometimes look friendly but can be dangerous. East side beaches have a reputation for strong currents that can sweep you out to sea. even from the shoreline. So experienced water persons only please. Generally there are nice sandy beaches in front of the hotels and resorts. But check to see if these have lifeguards. Many of these beaches are great for sunbathing, but may have deep water or may be unpatrolled. They will usually have signs saying swim at your own risk. etc. Always read and heed these warning signs.
Selected beaches: When you come to a lesson, we have already screened and selected the location based on our experience and our observations or the weather and ocean conditions. We know where to go, an we know each location in detail. When you become an independent surfer, you have the added responsibility of trying to decide where to surf yourself. This is by far the most difficult part of surfing, because locations and conditions vary so greatly. So if you have just learned to surf, it is best to stick to the beaches you know. The location where you had your lesson is usually the best bet, But always ask an instructor or lifeguard before swimming or surfing because conditions change daily.
Don’t be a sheep: Just because you see other people surfing a break, does not mean that it is a good place for you. The people there may have more experience than you, or know the hidden hazards at a spot. So do not assume that because other people are doing an activity at a location that it will be safe or advisable for you to go there. Simply following someone or copying them does not ensure that you will be in the right place at the crucial time. The Maui lifeguards are constantly pulling people out of the ocean who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. So please be sure to check with your instructor if you are thinking of going out on your own because they will usually tell you the safest options of where to go. Generally advanced surfers will go to the more challenging spots. So these are not good places for beginners. There are more user friendly locations to surf, where there the waves are gentle and you can hone your skills. Avoid large crowds, and remember that everyone is there to have fun too.
Sandy beaches and Rocky beaches: Sandy beaches provide the easiest access to the water. The sloping sand gives an easy place to enter and exit the water. Unless there is also shore break surf running. Entering the ocean over the rocks should be avoided. Do not launch kayaks and surfboards over the rocks, leave that to the experts. Find the safest place to enter and exit the water safely.

CONSERVATION: Our Island beaches have evolved over thousands of years, and the natural elements and biology is in a subtle balance. Our activity has an impact on the beach too so we should be mindful of the factors that affect the beach environment. Just offshore is a reef and marine habitat where many animals and plants make their home, the reef itself is made up from living animals called coral polyps, they build their calcium houses from the minerals in the seawater and build a living structure that protects themselves, but also protects the beaches from the wave action as well. The balance of the shoreline and reef line are interconnected, and any degradation of one will affect the other. Even if you do not touch the reef, your activity can affect the reef, chemicals in water runoff, sunscreen, and dirt in the water, with contaminate the water and negatively impact the water quality and in turn stress the reef. We want to preserve our reef and shoreline for future generations to enjoy, so we remind all our friends to be ocean aware, and respectful of the natural environment that we get to enjoy. There are many precious marine treasures that you can experience on Maui, and you can find a huge variety of underwater ecosystems and marine life if you go to some different types of beaches.

OUR OCEAN CONNECTION:  The entire ocean is connected, so whatever you do on one part of the ocean affects every other part. so every little thing we do counts. We are connected to the ocean and the ocean is connected to us. Be aware of your surroundings, and be conscious of everything you do in the ocean.

What to bring:  Keep in mind that you are going to be at the beach for at least half a day. Bring a sturdy bathing suit, bikinis are ok but ladies might prefer to wear board shorts over their bikini bottoms. (Hey guys, board shorts are way better than speedos!)  Bring your reef shoes (aquasox) if you have them, otherwise you can rent some. A “rash-guard” lycra shirt is advisable. Bring a towel and waterproof sunscreen. Bring dry clothes for after. Bring some water or other drinks, there are not always stores at every beach. Bring any medications you might need. If you want to stay all day bring a picnic lunch.  

What not to bring:  Do not bring jewelry, lots of cash, better to leave them at home or in the hotel safe. Hold off on the electronics and expensive cameras unless you really have to. You will be occupied most of the time in the water and not have time for them and cannot keep an eye on them unless you have a family member on shore watching your gear.  

Remember: to always “Lock your Car”. And take the keys with you. (Do not hide your key in the gas cap). Some cars have electronic keys so you may need to buy a little waterproof case or pouch. If you do take your car key in the water make sure that it is tied securely into your shorts.

SUN PROTECTION:  The Maui Sun is very strong. Most people will burn in 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. So wearing sun protection is essential. Rash Guard shirts, which are designed to be worn in the water, are fairly standard for surfers and swimmers. These protect you from the sun, and from board rash on your belly. Sunscreen, hats, lycra shirts, sunglasses and other cover-ups are good. In the water you will want to wear waterproof sunscreen. better yet, wear a combination is having some waterproof sunscreen on your face and legs, and wear a sun-shirt/rashguard shirt. If you are surfing supping of doing other ocean sports, sunscreen alone is not a great solution because sunscreen can also make the gear slippery and you may not be able to keep a grip. So less sunscreen and more cover-ups are advisable. There are surf hats designed with straps that hold on while surfing, and water-shirts, water-shoes and water-shorts (board shorts) that care tied on securely and wont fall off when you get rolled by a wave.
SUN SCREEN:  Sun screen in the form of a thick cream that is waterproof is best. because you will not have to reapply it as often. The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) number the better, it is good to use a 40 or 50 spf. use sunscreen sparingly, and do not get it in your eyes. Avoid getting any sunscreen on your board or kayak. Zinc Oxide (Zinc cream) is good for faces, and stays on well in water. There are also good sunscreens that are made from natural ingredients that do not harm the reef. We recommend that you always use an environmentally friendly Sunscreen like “reef safe”
PERSONAL GEAR: you can rent booties, and rashguards if renting for a few days, but if you are planning on doing more water activities (even just swimming or snorkeling or sitting on the beach), then it makes sense to buy your own personal gear.


RENTING GEAR: Rent your sports gear before you get to the beach. There is no rental at the beach parks. Think about what you will need for the day or the week, The renter assumes the risk for the activity, this means that whatever happens to you the gear and the public is the renters responsibility. So that means that  the renter is also responsible for damages to the equipment as well as any and all damages caused by the equipment. This includes injury to other persons and property damage. so make sure that you know how to use the gear, and care for the gear you are renting. (if in doubt ask, or take a lesson).
Gear Security: Always keep an eye on your gear, even at the beach. Do not loan out your gear to other persons. Overnight renters should have a secure place to keep the board when not in use. Do not leave boards on car racks overnight. Make sure that boards are securely fastened to your vehicle before driving anywhere, and check the straps often. If the board starts getting loose while driving, pull over and re-tighten the tie-down straps. You do not want to have your boards fly off the car as you are cruising down the road.


Guarded & Unguarded Beaches: only some of Maui’s beaches have lifeguards on duty, most beached are unguarded, so you swim at your own risk. This means that is you get into trouble help could be far away. Always plan your entry, and exit strategy when entering the ocean. Also know where the nearest help is and how to get there in an emergency. If you do go to a Lifeguarded beach, say hi to the lifeguards, and stay where they can see you. If you are in any doubt ask them where is the best place to swim. Generally you will not want to snorkel in the swimming areas. Ask the lifeguards is there is a good place to snorkel at that beach, or if it is beast to go somewhere else. Remember that Surfing/SUP and Kayak are not allowed in swimming areas. you will have to find somewhere else to do that. the lifeguard or local surf shop can help you with that information.
Stay Close to Shore: Wherever possible stay close to shore. even when kayaking or SUP paddle boarding there is not much reason to go past the reef line. if you go too far and the wind comes up, then you can get into trouble, and may get blown down the coast or out to sea. If you do get caught by the wind, always stay with your board/kayak. if you are snorkeling the reef and shallow water are best. Most marine life is visible in the first few feet of water up to about ten to 15 feet. You will not see much more in deeper water. Staying closer to shore and in shallow water means that you can be see more easily, if you get into trouble and need assistance. Also it means that assistance can get to you faster too.
Avoid Isolated BeachesWhen driving around the island you may find many isolated or empty beaches. Unless you know the beach and are experienced, it is best not to swim there alone or try to do water sports there. Isolated beaches may have unknown hazards (like currents or submerged rocks) and are also far from help. It is best to enjoy a picnic on these isolated beaches, and then find a more suitable beach for swimming that is known for that activity and has some people around. Preferably with lifeguards, or other compatible water users.
Always surf with a buddy: Always surf/kayak/snorkel with a buddy. Two people are safer than one. Make sure that you keep an eye on your buddy at all times, and that know how to help them if needed. Sometimes helping them just means calling 911 if they get into serious trouble, or they cannot get back to shore on their own.
Ocean Conditions change Daily: Waves, Wind, and Water conditions change daily. So just because you “snorkeled” at a beach the day before doesn’t mean that it will be suitable the next day. Surf, Wind and Water conditions can change overnight or even in a few hours or minutes, Wind can change suddenly. Check the ocean conditions before going to the beach, and again before going in the water. Be aware of any changes to the conditions while you are in the water too. Especially wind, wind can turn and change direction and change strength extremely quickly, and become a hazard to your safety. If the conditions change, big waves, strong wind, rain/storm, get out of the water quickly and carefully reevaluate the conditions.


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 archaeological 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.