When it comes to beaches, Maui has some of the best in the country, if not the world. The Hawaiian island is surrounded by 130 kilometers of coastline, 30 kilometers of which are beaches. In Hawaii, most beaches are wide, with a section of scrub brush and palm trees on the edge. When selecting a beach, your choices usually relate to location and accessibility, lack or abundance of services, and whether it is suitable for swimming. Some beaches have strong currents and surf and are best for surfing or water sports. Most beaches are within an hour or two of one of the island’s main resort areas: Wailea, Lahaina, and Kihei. Find out where you want to go with our list of Maui’s best beaches.
1 Napili Bay
The postcard-like setting at Lahaina on the west side of the island is the ultimate tropical beach. There is a wide, curved beach around a bay with deep blue water. The beach here slants towards the water, but flattens out the further you get from the ocean. There is a row of palm trees and the lush mountains beyond. On the soft sand beach are a few luxury resorts and condo buildings. The Napili Kai Beach Resort takes up a good portion of the beach and does well to provide a fully self-contained holiday without the need to leave the property.
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2Hana Beach Park
This natural, unguarded beach offers plenty of scenic beauty and usually a good taste of Hawaiian culture. The beach is wide in places with some shade from the trees. The sand is white and fine-grained, and here many groups practice their outrigger canoe skills. Picnic facilities, toilets and a small snack bar are also here. There is only one major luxury resort in Hana, the Travaasa Hana, Maui, that offers bungalow-type accommodations. If possible, choose a bungalow with an ocean view as the others face the Hana Highway and can be noisy.
3 Makena Beach
Also called Big Beach, this is one of Maui’s biggest, best and most popular places to enjoy the sun and sea. The surf and currents are strong and only recommended for good swimmers, but everyone can enjoy the beach and wade in the surf. The beach is soft sand and is quite wide in parts. It is almost two miles long, with a gentle curve. Makena Beach is south of Wailea (about an hour from Lahaina) and there are good facilities available, including restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Food trucks are also on hand to satisfy your appetite. If you are staying in Wailea, the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui is a luxury beachfront resort with great facilities for families.
4 Charlie Young Beach
Located at the northern end of Kamaole I Beach in Kihei, Charley Young Beach is a rugged stretch of beach dotted with some striking rock and lava structures at the edges. It’s a beautiful, unspoilt stretch of beach in busy Kihei. The beach is wide, gently sloping into the sea with dark golden sand. The Andaz Maui in Wailea is about two miles from the beach. It is a beautiful resort with several pools and the full range of resort amenities and activities.
5 Mokapu Beach
Usually referred to along with its neighbor, Ulua Beach, this area in Wailea is considered the best place in Maui for diving (and snorkeling). Ulua Beach mainly sees a lot of instructors and dive groups, so it can get busy. Mokapu Beach is less crowded and perfect for soaking up the warm sun. It is a beautiful, wide, curved beach with warm, light blue water. It’s a beach park so there are lifeguards and basic amenities. Both beaches have parking spaces; park at Keawakapu Beach (next beach) when they are full. The Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea is about a five minute drive from Mokapu Beach.
6 Kapalua Beach
There’s a reason why Kapalua is consistently ranked as the best beach in Hawaii. It is especially great for families as the water is extremely calm and warm and there are many tide pools to explore. Off the beach are attractions such as whale watching off the coast (mainly in winter). Aside from the beach, there is a good amount of development, with condos and hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on the beach. The shoreline has a row of palm trees and shrubs before becoming a white sand beach, sloping down to the aqua colored ocean. The Kapalua Villas, Maui is a modern condo-style resort, located right on the beach; Most units have a kitchen and laundry facilities.
7 Kaanapali Beach
Part of Lahaina, this mega-resort area is located in western Maui and was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. The nearly two miles of beach can get busy during busy holiday periods, but it’s usually possible to find your own space. It’s to Maui what Waikiki is to Oahu, but it offers an authentic Maui beach experience even if you never leave your resort. The wide beach, sometimes several hundred meters from trees to water at low tide, is bordered by shrubs and palm trees. At the north end of the beach there is the huge Black Rock, a great place for snorkelling. It is also where rock divers impress the tourists every day at sunset. The Royal Lahaina Resort is a very large resort in the center of Kaanapali Beach. There are various accommodations, from simple rooms to luxurious villas.
8 Kahekili Beach
Savvy tourists avoid busy Kaanapali Beach for the quieter Kahekili Beach right next door. Cross the lava rock and pass the hotel that separates the two and you’ll have a much more natural experience. The smooth beach is good for diving, but the current is strong, so it is bad for swimming. It is a popular picnic area with plenty of shady trees to set up and the beach here is flat. The Kaanapali Ocean Inn is located on Kaanapali Beach, a short walk from Kahekili. It is a luxury resort with prices slightly lower than the brand’s neighbors.
After visiting some of the more popular beaches in Maui, you may want to look for a more hidden, unspoiled location, and Keawakapu Beach fits the bill. It’s halfway between Wailea and Kihei off Kihei Road, and since there aren’t too many resorts nearby, it’s a bit off the radar. The sand here is soft and white, and there is a reef just off the beach that is good for snorkeling. There is a public car park opposite the beach. The Days Inn Maui Oceanfront is a budget property, but it’s right on the trail to Keawakapu, just steps from the beach.
10 Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
Waianapanapa Beach in Waianapanapa State Park is located on the famous Hana Highway, with beautiful black sand formed by waves breaking on flowing lava. It is a gently sloping beach with rocks on one side and trees on the other. The black sand is natural, but it’s still easy on the feet (except it gets really hot as the day goes on). The water here is shallow and gentle, great for swimming. It’s also a good area for sightseeing; the Hana Highway is one of the world’s most beautiful roads.
11 Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
After enjoying the black sand beach, head to Kaihalulu to explore the Red Sand Beach. It is in a hidden cove, surrounded by rocks of lava rock, with a red beach. The red comes from the high iron content in the sand, which rusts in the salty air, turning the beach red. The sand here is coarse, so shoes or sandals are recommended. Red Sand Beach is located off the Hana Highway and is accessible via a steep and sometimes crumbling path. The Hana Kai Maui is a beachfront condo property located in Hana, approximately 15 minutes from Red Sand Beach.
12 Hamoa Beach
The Hana area and Hana Highway are must-see attractions for all Maui tourists. Hamoa Beach is another one of Maui’s beaches that is consistently ranked as the best in Hawaii and lives up to the hype. While there is some development in the area, it retains a raw quality that is hard to find in Maui. There are no lifeguards, but there are bathrooms and showers, something that many Maui beaches lack. The beach is wide and flat, sloping gently into the sea. The sand is soft and fine here, perfect for barefoot walks. There are also many shady spots along the tree line. Street parking is available; read the posted signs carefully.