The best Beaches of Maui

Kahekili Sunset

Maui is an island in the Pacific belonging to the State of Hawaii. It is a premier destination for fun in the sun, besides the many other activities. Maui offers unbelievably beautiful beaches and postcard perfect sunsets. In this article I am going to review some of Maui's best beaches to give you an idea of what to expect when you come here. The islands laid back style, family friendly facilities, year round warm climate, Polynesian charm and entertainment make it the top choice for sun seekers from all over the world, and here is why ....


As with all reviews, you cannot be objective and I am not even trying to be. I am going to give you a breakdown of what I feel are the best beaches in Maui. You may feel differently or feel that I have left out an important beach. Just add your favorite beach as a comment to this article.
All Beaches are described in detail in the book referenced below this article and much more. I am not affiliated with them but it is the best book about Maui at a really affordable price. Detailed Maps will tell you how to get to each of the beaches.

Number 1: Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach
Hamoa Beach is my personal favorite. Its location at the east side of the island close to Hana protects the beach somewhat from the influx of the tourist hordes. The beach is among the favorite beaches of Islanders who tend to hang out around this area. Parking is somewhat of a gamble, since there aren't really any parking spots. You have to be creative and make sure the school bus will still be able to pass through after you found a spot at the curb.
Hamoa Beach does not have a coral reef protecting it from the waves and the steepness of the beach as it drops into the water make for perfect waves. This is an ideal opportunity to try body surfing.
Me Bodysurfing
Body surfing is a form of surfing without a surfboard. All you do is catch the wave and start to paddle while it carries you away on your belly (it helps to have a little bit of a belly like me). If the waves are really strong, be prepared to hit the beach (see photo of me bodysurfing). It is the most fun I ever had on the beach and this is another reason Hamoa came in first. After just a few wave rides I was exhausted and my shorts contained about two shovels of sand. Since I hit the beach head on a couple of times, I was pulling the fine salt and pepper sand out of the skin of my skull for a few weeks after being back in California.

Number 2: Black Sand Beach near Hana

Black Sand Beach
This beach is located within Waianapanapa State Park. It does not offer the best swimming and it is not the biggest, so why did I rate it Number2? This is a real black sand beach with a lava tube. The beach owes its black sand to lava that was meeting the ocean here. The rapid cooling shattered the lava and broke it up like glass. Over time the water washed it round and now it is black sand. To see this process in action, I recommend you read the article about Lava Hiking on the Big Island. So this may be what the lava flows of the Big Island will end up looking like. If you come here in the morning, you may still have the beach to yourself as most visitors from the hotels near Lahaina arrive much later during the day. The lava tube located at the east side of the beach (right when you are looking towards the water) is an example of how lava flows underground, barely cooling until it reaches the beach. You can climb inside the tube. There are more things to explore within the Park like salt-freshwater caves or a hole near the beach that blows water like a giant wale (it is being hit by waves which are being forced up through the hole like a geyser during high tides).

Number 3: Kahekili Beach and Kaanapali Beach

Kahekili Beach
This may be the beach you will see in many hotel brochures, mainly because the beach is flanked by Hotels, but also because it is a really good beach. There are only two things I did not like about the beach. There is virtually no shade (bring a beach umbrella) and it is one of the most visited beaches on the island. If you happen to have booked a hotel here, you have all the conveniences of your hotel right next to the beach. The waters are shallow and calm as well as crystal clear. The sunsets from this location are also spectacular (first picture in this article). You can lounge in one of the hotel restaurants and watch the sun set ending a perfect day in Maui.
At night you can stroll along this beach under palm trees and listen to gentle ocean waves. During the day it is a perfect playground for families with small children or for that relaxing day you dream about all year long.

Number 4: Black Rock

Daring Jump from Black Rock
Black Rock is not really a beach. It splits Kahekili Beach and Kaanapali Beach into two separate beaches. The ancient Polynesian inhabitants believed that Black Rock was the point from which their souls left our world by jumping into the ocean. In this tradition each night during a ceremony torches are lit and a young man jumps from the rock into the waters below. If you are in the area, you should come here before sunset and stick around to await this spectacle. It is a totally different way to experience an unforgettable sunset and thus, Black Rock has been given the honor of Number 4 even though it is not a Beach per definition.

Number 5: Beaches of South Maui

Sout Maui Beach Sunset
There are plenty of outstanding Beaches in South Maui. Many of them are so good, that I had a hard time assigning Numbers 3, 4, and 5. You may very well visit Maui and like the beaches here much better than the ones ranked higher.
There are in fact so many smaller beaches here, that it would be confusing to list them all. The book is an excellent guide if you are looking to do some beach hopping. South Maui's beaches all face west. They are therefore ideal for that sunset picture or for weddings at the beach. Every time I have been to Maui, I have seen at least one beach wedding at one of the beaches in South Maui.
One of my favorite beaches here is Poolenalena near Wailua. Here I spent a whole afternoon almost alone during my last visit. I was even able to record a whole hour of beach scene on my video camera without anyone showing up and disturbing the scene. I now use this as my window to the beach on my DIY digital picture frame :)
Maluaka Beach
According to the book this beach is also known as Paipu Beach, Pepeiao-lepo Beach, Love Beach, Keauhou Beach and Makena Surf Beach. Like many other beaches, lava rocks flank this beach on each side, which makes for wonderful snorkeling.
Another fine beach here is Maluaka beach (see picture).
Paako Beach (Secret Cove) is a smaller beach. It is one of the beaches where couples like to have their wedding ceremony.

Number 6: Big Beach

Big Beach
This is another picture perfect beach. As the name suggests, it is one of the larger beaches on Maui. It is a very popular beach, so don't ever expect to be alone here. There are many shady spots underneath palm trees, but most of them are taken. During high season you may have a hard time finding a really good spot or even finding tranquility.
Nevertheless it is a dream beach and if you are here during off-season you should not miss out on this one. The waters are perfect with enough waves to attract boogie boarders or maybe even enough for you to try body surfing. Lava rocks on its south side and the hill on the north side flank the beach and make it a wonderful playground for children. If you are looking for a party beach, I guess this is it. If you are looking for a quiet beach, it's not. So if you are the party type, you can consider this beach to be much higher on the list (if not even Number 1).

Number 7: Olivine Pools

Olivine Pools
The guys who wrote the book claimed to have discovered (and named) these pools. Either way they are located in West Maui and make for some excellent swimming. The one closest to the sea is formed like a huge hot tub. It is fun to sit here while the wild sea beyond the pool is gushing and spraying. Occasionally a little wave will spill over the top, which makes this a real fun experience. You have to climb down here from the road. Although we did that in our flip-flops, I would not advice you do the same. Be careful getting in and out of the pools so you won't hurt yourself.

Number 8: Koki Beach

Koki Beach
We conclude this list with Koki Beach. Koki lies just south of Hana near Hamoa Beach. A little offshore island (Alau Island) with palm trees is an attractive sight. The beach itself is usually not so much visited by tourists and rarely have we seen people swimming here. Nevertheless the beach is in a very quiet spot, making it a nice getaway from Hana or the crowded beaches of South and West Maui.


This was my personal list of favorite beaches. I hope you enjoyed the little outlook and maybe you will consider Maui your next vacation destination.
Maui has much more to offer than "just" beaches.
One of the most interesting things you can do is a visit of Haleakala National Park.


All images and Text by Andre Gunther.

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