The Best Beaches on Maui
Baldwin Beach Park
Baldwin Beach Park is a great place for watching waves on Maui’s northern coast. A large stretch of sand makes this the perfect destination for long walks or to set up your towel for an entire afternoon under the watch of lifeguards (on duty daily). Be sure to bring a change of clothes to stroll through the surf town of Pa’ia (think farm-to-table dining and local boutiques).
Ho'okipa Beach County Park
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Just east of Baldwin Beach Park lies Ho’okipa Beach Park, known as the windsurfing capital of the world. Most days, windsurfers can be seen commandeering the water with brightly colored sailboards. Watching the surf break takes precedence here, and swimming is not advised, but visitors can wade in the surrounding tide pools to cool off. Keep an eye out for honu—Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles—who regularly pop up to sunbathe here.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
A Road to Hana adventure would not be complete without a stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park, a 120-acre refuge marked by a black sand beach. The park invites adventure enthusiasts to explore the nearby hiking trails or freshwater caves and offers campsites as well as rental cabins for overnight guests. Be sure to book cabins ahead of time, since it’s a popular destination!
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Adventurous beach goers should pin Kaihalulu Beach, known as Red Sand Beach, on the map. The glittering crimson-hued sand gets its color from the adjacent cinder cone and provides a crisp contrast to the cerulean shoreline. Despite a close proximity to Hana town, the trek to this hidden gem is not for the faint of heart and should only be attempted by experienced hikers with proper footwear and gear, as the trail is steep and slippery.
A crescent shape and ombré turquoise water mark picturesque Hamoa Beach in east Maui, situated along the winding curves of Road to Hana. There are no lifeguards on duty (and occasionally large surf), so be mindful of water conditions before hopping in. Consistently rated one of Maui’s Best Beaches by Dr. Beach, it’s no surprise that luxury retreat Travaasa Hana Hotel flanks this alcove.
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Nestled between Wailea and Kihei sits Keawakapu Beach, a mostly residential strip of sand that is a prime sunbathing oasis once you track it down. Backed by luxury homes, Keawakapu Beach is typically less crowded, but there is no lifeguard and the surf can be unpredictable. An underwater artificial reef (comprised of car bodies) was created in 1963 to enhance the reef habitat, which makes Keawakapu a popular dive spot.
Makena Beach Park
Makena Beach Park, commonly referred to as Big Beach, lives up to the title with miles of golden sand and surfable waves. One of the most photographed beaches in all of Hawaii, Makena offers public restrooms and showers. Take advantage of these public facilities before hopping in the car and driving to neighboring Wailea for a famous Monkeypod Kitchen mai tai, topped with lilikoi foam.
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Renowned Ka’anapali Beach, located in west Maui, is home to three miles of powdery white sand and crystalline water. Perfect for swimming or relaxing, Ka’anapali’s real draw is cliff diving from the nearby cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. There are no bad angles here, but visitors seeking that perfect #viewfromabove shot for Instagram can book a zipline tour that soars above this famed beach. Before heading out, cruise through nearby Whaler’s Village in Lahaina for complimentary cultural activities like lei making and ukulele lessons, hosted daily.
20 minutes north of Lahaina sits Honolua Bay, a superior destination for experienced surfers in the winter and snorkelers in the summer. Part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, Honolua Bay boasts a bevy of sea life (think eels and butterfly fish), making it a choice destination for divers, too. Pro tip: Honolua Bay has no public restrooms, showers, or nearby concessions, so plan ahead—and make a day of it—by packing food and drinks for a picnic lunch or happy hour.
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Families traveling with keiki, Hawaiian for children, will want to swing into Kapalua Bay, a sheltered white sand beach in north west Maui. The calm waters and zero entry alcove make Kapalua Bay a favorable destination for kids, snorkelers, and the occasional beached sea turtle. Make sure to get here early to secure parking. There is no lifeguard on duty at this beach, so while waters remain relatively calm, use proper water safety precautions.