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Makena Beach State Park
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The 10 best Maui beaches

Nothing screams "paradise" like a day (and night) at the beach, and these are the very best beaches in magical Maui

Written by
Lori A May

While it is always nice to shine a light on other aspects of Hawaiian tourism, sooner or later, the conversation always comes back to the beaches. How could it not? Hawaii’s beaches are just about as idyllic as they come, and the beaches of Maui stand tall in this lofty company. The Valley Isle has 80 distinct beaches and more than 30 miles of public coastline, filled with everything from windsurfing to all the sunbathing you can handle.

Whether you are looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure or crisp, refreshing craft beer, you’re going to find it on Maui’s beaches. Romance and relaxation await where sea meets sand, and the crystal clear waters of the place they call “Paradise” will have you swooning in no time. Maui has plenty of great things to do, fantastic restaurants, and incredible hotels, but the beaches remain at the top of this gorgeous table.

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Maui beaches

Kaanapali Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

1. Kaanapali Beach

Vacation like royalty at Kaanapali Beach, where Maui’s monarchy once enjoyed waves and sunsets. This popular three-mile stretch of white sand is home to surf schools, cocktail bars and a nightly torch lighting ceremony with cliff divers reenacting King Kahekili’s traditions. Visit the Maui Ocean Center kiosk on the beach before a snorkeling session to help identify the colorful marine life you encounter. Then walk along the boardwalk and revel in the eateries and luau performances that pepper its length.

Makena Beach State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Makena Beach State Park

One of the most beloved stretches of sand on the island, Makena Beach is divided into two sections, Big Beach and Little Beach, with a dormant volcanic cinder cone in the center of the park. On Big Beach, you’ll find sunbathers and swimmers, body surfers and picnic lovers all enjoying the undeveloped shoreline. On the north end sits Little Beach, where clothing is traditionally optional.

Keawakapu Beach
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3. Keawakapu Beach

Although its smooth shore is highly rated, Keawakapu Beach is rarely crowded. Usually, you’ll find a few folks paddle boarding light waves and the odd family splashing around. There are no lifeguards here, so be careful and pay attention to changing winds that could quickly alter swimming conditions. When it’s time for refreshments, Maui Brewing Company is just four miles up the road.

Honokalani Beach
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4. Honokalani Beach

Driving the legendary road to Hana is a requisite for experiencing Maui’s diverse terrain and, along the way, you’ll find an incredible black sand beach: go ahead and lose the sandals. The black sand is actually tiny pieces of lava rock that will feel like smoothed gravel underfoot. Be sure to take a stroll through a lava tube to get an intimate look at this marvelous landscape.


5. Mai Poina Beach Park

On a windy day, you’ll find plenty of kitesurfers and boarders enjoying the breeze.  But when conditions are calm, this is a favorite local spot for a quick dip in the ocean. There are fewer tourists in the area, and there are no lifeguards on site. But if you long for a bit of quiet, you’re in luck. With plenty of trees lining the beach, this is also the perfect slice of shaded paradise.

Ho'okipa Beach Park
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6. Ho'okipa Beach Park

Big waves and generous winds are what make the kiteboarders and windsurfers flock to Ho'okipa Beach Park. It’s not really the best spot for casual swimming, but you’ll see plenty of spectators lounging on land to watch pros in action. Visit when the water is calm and you may catch a glimpse of green sea turtles lolling about in the tide pools. Grab some local fare from on-site food trucks and stick around for an incredible sunset view.

Kanaha Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Kanaha Beach

Who’s up for some beach volleyball? Take your pick of the three sand courts at Kanaha Beach or spend some leisure time wandering the coastline while taking in fabulous views of the West Maui Mountains. Most days, you’ll see windsurfers in action and kids building sandcastles. Taking a stroll? Be sure to explore the neighboring Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary for a glimpse at the local birds.

8. Hāna Bay Beach Park

After the scenic drive over, spend an afternoon splashing in the gentle waves at Hāna Bay Beach Park. Given the presence of a coral reef in the bay, the water breaks evenly here, making this one of Maui’s most popular leisure swimming nooks—especially after a long journey over. Keep an eye out for outrigger canoes in the distance: the annual canoe regatta takes place in the area.

Wailea Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Wailea Beach

If you want to see and be seen, this is your spot. Wailea Beach gets busy for good reason: the water is perfect for a relaxing swim, the long stretch of soft sand makes it easy to find a picnic spot for the day, and it’s only a short distance to various art galleries and local eateries. Whether you prefer to splash in warm waves or balance on a board, you’ll find a slice of island bliss here.

Baldwin Beach Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Baldwin Beach Park

The west end of Baldwin Beach Park is known by locals as Baby Beach: the calm waters that are perfect for families with small kids. Year-round, this is a quiet spot frequented by islanders but the winter months can get a little busier with experienced boarders taking advantage of stronger surf conditions. Enjoy crystal clear water, on-site showers and lifeguards on duty.

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