South Side beaches
Kamaole Beaches – Kamaole beaches are designated as I, II or III. All of the ‘Kam‘ beaches are excellent for families. Lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, excellent snorkeling, BBQ’s and grassy parks. Kamaole II is ‘our’ beach and has very good snorkeling from sunrise to 9am. You’ll see lots of fish and it’s common to see Honu (turtles). Each of the beaches are within a few minutes walk of our condo with Kam II being just a few hundred yards. All Kam beaches have their own unique features and individual shorebreaks.
Ulua Beach – Excellent for snorkeling! You’ll often see SCUBA divers out on this beach in the early morning. Ulua is a small pocket beach about one quarter mile long and is flanked on either end by Mokapu and Keawakapu beaches. Parking fills up early but overflow parking is available at the south log at Keawakapu and walk. Snorkeling is best on the north end. You can snorkel from the north end of Ulua around the reef and over to Mokapu and then walk back to Ulua.
Keawakapu Beach – Nice beach that isn’t overly populated. Good for swimming, snorkeling and you’ll find tide pools on the north end.
One’lui Beach – Black sand beach. One’lui is located on the Wailea side of the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone. Wear shoes, it gets hot and bring your water shoes as the sand ends and becomes lava rock at the water’s edge. This beach is good for a quick stop over and visit or for excellent snorkeling. It gets quite hot so it’s not the best for sunbathing.
Palauea Beach – (aka White Rock Beach) – Nice quiet beach, good snorkeling and boogie boarding. Not overly crowded. We like to also come here for sunset.
Makena Landing – Small beach popular with sea kayakers/kayak rentals and snorkel boats. Often called ‘Turtle Town’ but take that with a grain of salt as many tour operators call many snorkel spots on the island ‘Turtle Town’ if turtles have been spotted there. That said, you will most likely see Honu, or sea turtles while snorkeling.
Makena Beach (aka Big Beach) – Awesome long beach with amazing sand. Big surf & rough shore break, so be careful and DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the surf here! Injuries happen here and at Little Beach. Good snorkeling if you start very early, boogie boarding, body surfing. At times this beach is best for strong swimmers as the surf can be calm to very rough for little ones, it depends on the seasons. There are gentler beaches for small children. Still, it’s an excellent beach. There are two parking lots. One on the north end and another smaller on the south end. They fill up fast. Bring chairs and umbrella!
Little Beach – Clothing Optional/Alternative Lifestyle beach. To get there you need to go to Big Beach and head to the far north end. Take the hike over the hill and it drops down into Little Beach. Little Beach can have big surf & rough shore break, be careful! There is no shade, take an umbrella, chairs and ice chest if you’re going for the day. There are no facilities. On Sunday sunsets, there is a drumming circle and fire dancers. Don’t feel intimidated about the clothing optional thing. There are plenty of folks on Sunday with their clothing on, just be prepared that there are often just as many without. Bring a head lamp or flashlight (cell phone lights work too) to find your way back over the hill. Wear good shoes or be confident hiking in flip-flops.
Secret Cove Beach – Not so secret, just a little hard to find and very few parking spots. Many weddings are preformed here. Just south of Big Beach small parking lot, you have to find the narrow opening in a lava-rock wall between luxury homes. (It’s probably best to park at the south parking lot for Big Beach and walk.)This is the public beach access path. It’s easy to miss if one doesn’t know it’s there Secret Cove isn’t a good beach for swimming and there are no facilities. Most people come here for the scenery and nice views. The two islands on the horizon are Kahoolawe and Molokini.
West Side Beaches
Ka’anapali Beach & Black Rock – Excellent for snorkeling around Black Rock. Not necessarily for the novice. No facilities but there are lifeguards.
Kapalua Bay – Beautiful sheltered beach. Snorkeling is excellent. Turtles. Public restrooms and showers.
Honolua Bay – Snorkeling in the summer when the water is calmer. Surfing in the winter. Enter at the north side of the bay after a hike through Honolua’s forest.
Ho’okipa Beach Park – Windsurfing, kite boarding. Great photo ops. Popular locals beach. Lots of turtles on the shore. Please show Aloha!
Wai’anapanapa State Park – Black sand beach, hiking trails, lava tubes, beautiful blue water. Well worth the long drive. Caution when swimming. Stop on the way to Hana/Oheo Gulch (7 Sacred Pools)
Hamoa Beach – Popular surf break and equally popular with boogie boarders and body surfers. Beautiful beach but currents can be strong. Parking is limited.
TIP – Snorkeling is best early in the day, before waves and wind kick up. It can be chilly so renting a wetsuit shorty or top is helpful. Wear a rash guard or light t-shirt. It’s not uncommon to sunburn from having your back exposed while your engrossed with the coral reefs full of fish below.
Maui is full of microclimates so if it’s raining on a beach in South Maui, chances are it’s sunny in Lahaina.
As gorgeous and fun as Maui beaches are we always like to inform our guests of ocean safety. Maui’s shore break can be stronger than you think. Take time to watch the PSA from Maui County on Ocean Safety and read the ocean safety brochure in our House Guide.
WATER SAFETY TIPS:
Some ocean safety tips that are highlighted in the video include the following:
• Don’t turn your back on the ocean: this can cause serious injuries to your neck and back. It’s advised that if you are in the water and a wave is approaching, dive under the wave instead of trying to jump over it.
• What to do if you are stuck in a strong current: Swim with the current and never against it. It’s advised that swimming against the current will tire you out and put strain on your body. Ocean goers are advised to swim diagonally to the current, allowing their body to move with the tide. This will often bring you back onto the shore, to an area slightly down the beach.
• Paddle boards can drift on windy days, It’s best to get as low as possible when paddling back in to create a smaller wind profile with your body.
• Snorkeling is strenuous: Although snorkeling is a popular tourist activity, it is a strenuous activity. Snorkel with a buddy!
•Talk to lifeguards: Visitors are encouraged to speak to lifeguards at guarded beaches, who can provide information on current water conditions and safety tips to those venturing out.
And remember, When in doubt, don’t go out
A few words on Sunscreen. Buy Reef Safe Sunscreens! Sunscreen is an absolute necessity in Maui. We’re close to the equator and the sun is intense. Sunburns are no fun so apply early and often. Maui reefs are experiencing a tremendous amount of damage and coral bleaching due to the chemicals in sunscreen. Please do your part to preserve our beautiful reef systems for generations to come and avoid sunscreens containing the ingredients
- 4-Methylbenzylidine Camphor
Generally speaking ‘Natural’ sunscreens are best. Look for brands that contain titanium or zinc oxide instead of chemical sun-block. You may have trouble finding natural sunscreens in the chain stores but we’ve found that Down To Earth natural market in Kahului and Hawaiian Moons in Kihei (just next door to our condo) both offer a wide selection of natural sunscreens.
** UPDATE: The state of Hawaii has passed legislation banning toxic sunscreens. Please take a moment to read our Ultimate Guide To Reef Safe Sunscreen for more information and tips.
Please take a moment and watch this very important video on sunscreen and the effects on coral.