Best Beaches in Maui

Soft sand, swimmable surf, invigorating water sports and gorgeous sunsets — Maui’s best beaches offer it all.

Maui’s beach stats are impressive: 30 miles of sand — most of it sparkling white or gold but some of it dramatic black and even red — can be enjoyed along 120 miles of coastline.

Some are world famous, while others are hidden-away local favorites. All offer relaxation, scenic beauty and exciting water activities, but these 10 are consistently cited as the best beaches in Maui.

Note: Ocean conditions can be unpredictable, so before heading to any of Maui’s beaches, check for sea conditions (waves, wind, currents, undertows) and heed hazard warnings once there.


Kaanapali Beach

Best beaches in Maui - Kaanapali Beach at sunset
Kaanapali Beach is a popular resort area and Maui’s most famous beach. Shutterstock

The most famous beach in Maui, this resort-lined curve of golden sand has the enviable position of facing west, bestowing it with some of the most incredible sunsets in Hawaii.

Pronounced Ka-ah-na-pa-li and buzzing with activity from dawn to dusk (with lifeguards on duty), this beach is both family-friendly and romance-ready — it’s one of the island’s most popular spots for weddings (at sunset, of course).

Other top activities include snorkeling, parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoe paddling and the nightly sunset cliff dive at Black Rock. You can also take a break from the midday sun with shopping at Whaler’s Village.


Wailea Beach

The popular resort area of Wailea — where upscale hotels operated by Four Seasons, Fairmont, Waldorf-Astoria and Andaz are located — befittingly has a spectacular beach, or rather a series of spectacular beaches.

The largest of these is Wailea Beach, and the scenic Wailea Coastal Walk connects this beach to its neighbors, Keawakapu Beach to the north and Polo Beach to the south.

Enjoying a stroll here is especially relaxing just after sunrise or just before sunset, while midday offers opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddle board or learn to surf.


Hookipa Beach

If you’re an experienced windsurfer, Hookipa Beach (at Mile 9 on the Hana Highway) is probably already on your radar as one of the best beaches in Maui to challenge your skills.

If you simply like watching others glide and soar over impressive swells, stop here for a bit to enjoy the show. You’ll spot plenty of surfers, too.

There are picnic pavilions with barbecues and a restroom, and if you hang around until sunset you may even spy Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu) scampering ashore for an end-of-day rest.


Honokalani Beach

Best beaches in Maui - Honokalani Black-Sand Beach
Honokalani Beach is a black-sand beach found along the Road to Hana. Shutterstock

It’s not every day that you can see — and take a selfie — on a black-sand beach, so if you’re up for a drive on the infamous Road to Hana (with its 620 curves) have your smartphone charged and ready when you arrive at Honokalani Beach, located in Waianapanapa State Park.

Owing its dramatic look to lava that once flowed from Maui’s now-dormant volcano Haleakala, the black sand washed with white surf and backed by aquamarine sea is guaranteed to get you likes.

This isn’t really a swimming beach (it’s discouraged, in fact) and the dark sand can be very hot, but the attraction here is the spectacular view. Go ahead and snap away.

Baldwin Beach

Located just outside Paia on Maui’s North Shore and part of Baldwin State Park, this long, wide, totally captivating beach is the kind of place you never want to leave, so it makes sense that it’s one of the best beaches in Maui.

It’s 1 mile long and is great for swimming, especially on either end in spots known as Baldwin Cove and Baby Beach. Other things to do include surfing, body boarding and bodysurfing — or taking an invigorating walk or run if you’re more of a landlubber.

Like other North Shore beaches, Baldwin’s waves become dangerous in winter when only surf pros should challenge the strong shore breaks.

Makena Beach

Best beaches in Maui - Makena Beach, aka Big Beach
Makena Beach (also called Big Beach) is one of Maui’s most beautiful beaches. Shutterstock

Known to locals as Big Beach, with champagne-colored sand stretching for 2/3 of a mile and backed by rugged lava cliffs on Maui’s southern coast, Makena is often called the island’s most beautiful beach.

It’s part of Makena Beach State Park, which means it’s undeveloped (no resorts), but offers amenities like picnic tables, restrooms, food concessions and a lifeguard. You can also access Little Beach, a small cove frequented by nude sunbathers.

Keawakapu Beach

Located in Kihei, the resort area adjacent to Wailea, Keawakapu Beach stretches for 1 mile and is known for an uncrowded, low-key ambience that attracts a mix of locals and tourists in the know (it’s fronted by a residential community that shelters it from the roadside).

The sand is soft and golden, making it great for a relaxing stroll. There’s also easy access for swimming, but because there are no lifeguards and Keawakapu isn’t protected by a natural offshore reef, entering the water isn’t recommended during periods of high surf and big swells.

Kapalua Bay Beach

Named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by “Dr. Beach,” who has been ranking the world’s top strands of sand since 1991, crescent-shaped Kapalua Bay Beach offers wonderful swimming and snorkeling in crystalline waters bookended by protective headlands.

Part of the Kapalua Resort area, the beach and bay offer relaxation and easy entry into calm waters favored by schools of colorful tropical fish, although currents further out can be strong. There are restrooms and snorkel rentals onsite.

Koki Beach

Best beaches in Maui - Koki Beach, a rare red-sand beach
Koki Beach is a rare red-sand beach found near Hana. Shutterstock

Red-sand beaches are pretty rare, so when in Hana be sure to visit this one. Not to swim, but to check out the rusty-rosy hue, created by the remnants of volcanic cinder cone.

This beach is one of the area’s two famous surf breaks, so watch the intrepid surfers offshore. (Dangerous rip tides are common, so be sure to heed warning signs.)

This is the spot to pack a picnic (there are tables and barbecues) and take in the dramatic view.

Honolua Bay Beach

Visitors who love to snorkel will adore Honolua Bay Beach, which as its name reveals is located on a tranquil bay located on Maui’s northwestern coast about five minutes’ drive from Kaplua.

It’s part of a Marine Life Conservation District, and with a mask and fins and a moderate swim away from the beach you can expect to see a vast assortment of tropical fish and corals as well as Hawaiian green sea turtles.

But winter waves, which occur from November to April and typically reach 15 feet, turn Honolua Bay into a big-wave surfer’s paradise, which is exciting to watch — especially when you might see humpback whales breaching in the distance.


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