Are you looking for the best beach South Maui has to offer? Look no further because we’ve described all of Maui’s finest beaches below. Our local knowledge will help find the perfect beach for you, your friends, and your family!
South Maui Beaches
Makena Beach – AKA Oneloa or Big Beach Maui
Located on the Southside of Maui, off of Makena Alanui Road, Big Beach claims our vote for the best beach Maui has to offer. You’ll find approximately a mile of perfect orange and white sand, cliffy dramatic landscape, and water that’s brilliant blue and green. There is little reef around here, which makes the sand bottom shine up through the water to give it that tropical brightness. There are three entrances to Makena Beach (Big Beach.) The first has the largest parking area and is the closest point to Little Beach, which is just around the corner. The second entrance has a smaller paved lot. The 3rd is dirt parking only. The beach over there is smaller than at the first 2 entrances.
Big Beach is famous for its inclined shoreline and large shore break. Skimboarding, body boarding, and body surfing are all very popular here for this reason. Caution is advised for those with children or inexperienced ocean swimmers when there’s large swell. These waves are deceptively powerful and can dump you into the sand without notice. We don’t recommend snorkeling in this area. Surfing also isn’t usually done here because of the shore break conditions. Big Beach has Port-a-potties, picnic tables, and shady areas under large trees. Be careful when walking out on the sand at first. These trees have large thorns that can be found on the ground underneath and around them. We’ve seen these thorns go clear through a sandal while walking. Going barefoot can be dangerous near the trees. Wait to take off your sandals or shoes till you get out past the trees. Around the corner, to the North, is a path to Little Beach.
Maui has a couple nudist beaches, which Little Beach is the Mecca. The waves here are perfect for bodysurfing, and sometimes surfing, but depending on what day and the time of day it is, you may be dodging naked people. During a South or Southwest Swell, the surf can be fun here (though fickle). It offers a left hand reef break off of the South side of the beach. This beach is beautiful and as perfect as can be. On Sundays, you’ll find a different atmosphere than usual with crowds unusually large for Little Beach. For sunset, everyone celebrates by swimming and cheering as a large drum circle beats away. Once it gets dark, Little Beach becomes a real spectacle. All types of people, nude or clothed, begin to dance in the circle with fire. The fire dancers at little beach are incredible. You’ll sometimes find professional fire twirlers with more than one ball of fire and fancy flaming outfits. The imagination is strong at Little Beach when it comes to new and entertaining ways to play with fire. We’ve seen everything from heated hula-hoops to burning bras. You’ll enjoy this ceremony that occurs every Sunday night. You don’t need to get undressed either. Bring a flashlight to get back over the cliff at night. Lately the police have limited the event to stop around 8-9pm, so get there before sunset to really experience Maui’s Little Beach activities.
Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Beach AKA Sunseeker Beach
This beautiful beach, in front of the Kohea Kai Resort Resort, is worth mentioning because it’s often completely empty. It’s also a great spot to take a long walk, since the beach connects with beaches all the way to Maalaea. You can walk for miles without seeing many people, and enjoy incredible views. This is also the perfect shore location to view whale watching (in season.)
Kama’ole Beach Parks 1, 2, 3
The three Kam’s are great beaches to enjoy with friends. The first, most Northern Kama’ole Beach, is the largest of the beaches. The second is small but can offer fun waves for body surfing if the swell cooperates. The third Kamaole Beach is the favorite for South Maui Locals with a large grass park. This area is usually filled with lawn games and bbq’s. The Southern most Kamaole Beaches are smaller, but nice. In peak summer, these little beaches can become very crowded. All of the Kama’ole beaches have parking and facilities. With some lifeguards, showers, restrooms, and volleyball courts, the 3 kams can be a lot of fun.
Charley Young Beach
On the North end of Kamaole I Beach, you’ll find a large beach known as Charley Young Beach. With great views and perfect sand, Charley Young Beach is a great spot to spend with family and/or friends. Charley Young Beach has port-a-potties, showers, but no lifeguards. The parking for this beach is limited to what you can find on the side of South Kihei Road. This is a swimming beach that offers visitors the best beach Kihei has to offer.
The cove is extremely popular for longboard surfing in Maui. Located off of South Kihei Road, a little south of the halfway mark in Kihei, The Cove has a little beach perfect for learning to surf. From this point Northward, the ocean becomes a bit murky throughout Kihei. The beaches are still nice, but the water is not ideal for snorkeling, diving, or swimming. There are no facilities or lifeguards here and you’ll have to park on the side of the road. Though not an ideal spot to enjoy a Maui beach, you’ll find the surfing here is often a lot of fun. They also offer Maui surf lessons here. If you have experience surfing, rent a board via Maui surfboard rentals and get free delivery and pick-up.
Kalama Beach Park
Possessing a large amount of land, but not much sandy beach, Kalama beach Park has great facilities and plenty of room for large gatherings. Kalama has areas for plenty of sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis. For those who like to play volleyball, Kalama is a dream come true. The volleyball courts are well lit well into the night. There’s also a small skate park and a roller rink for hockey.
Keawakapu is the best beach available when it comes to Maui portrait photography with your family. Vacationers tend to get great pictures of the rocks and sunset here. It’s a long beach that is in front of private residences. With some parking and a shower at the southern most entrance, this is also a local favorite. Five Palms Restaurant below the Mana Kai has the best view of the beach.
In front of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort (formerly the Maui Prince), Maluaka is one of Makena’s gems. This beach is beautiful and has great snorkeling and swimming. Areas around here are often referred to as Turtle Town Maui. With picnic areas, restrooms, and showers, Maluaka is the best beach Maui has close to the the Makena Beach and Golf Resort. It also has the only beach-entry cruise in south Maui aboard the Kai Kanani. This is the closest departure point if you’re wanting to visit the famous Molokini Crater.
Located in front of the Kea lani Maui Resort, Polo Beach is world famous for it’s beauty. The sand is gorgeous and the area around it is immaculately maintained. Because of its resort location, Polo Beach can often be crowded. Even with a crowed, this spot is pretty spectacular.
Ulua and Mokapu Beaches
Mokapu and Ulua are famous for the fun snorkeling and beginner scuba diving in Maui. This easy shore diving spot is well recognized by most of the South Maui scuba schools as being the easiest beginner dive in Maui waters. On the South side of Ulua, the water can stir up and makes for bad snorkeling. Both Mokapu and Ulua are great beaches for lying out and swimming too.
Paako Beach AKA Secret Cove or Makena Cove
Secret Cove in Makena is not so secret. They call it a secret because it’s tucked away between homes in Makena. You have to enter through a rock wall where one wouldn’t expect such a beautiful beach. It’s a very small beach and becomes much smaller with the constant weddings that are performed there. If you can manage to get this beach with only a few other people on it, you’ve got it made. The ocean can be entered in two spots and has some great snorkeling. There are no facilities and very little parking in this area.
With a paved path to walk past the Wailea resorts, this is a fun area to visit. Wailea Beach is adjacent to restaurants and shops with restrooms and equipment rentals. Though it can be crowded with tourists, Wailea Beach is really beautiful. Often you’ll find a local company offering stand up paddle boards for rent as well as access to a large trampoline over the water.
La Perouse Bay
La Perouse is not known for its beaches. The long walk to the bay from where you park is made by dodging sharp volcanic rock. The black and red rock looks as though it stretches on forever into the horizon. If you’re adventurous and have enough drinking water, hiking through and past La Perouse can be exciting. There are very small beaches (patches of sand) tucked into corners of the rock. La Perouse is also known for it’s heavy and dangerous waves during large south swells. This left hand wave breaks on dry reef and is only rideable when it’s head high or bigger. The rule here is that the smaller it is, the more dangerous it is. Evidence of reef fatalities speckle the area with makeshift crosses. The snorkeling and diving in this area are unparalleled. If you’re patient, spinner dolphins can be seen here in large groups. This volcanic area is the most southern point on Maui. The vast expanse of lava rich landscape was thought to have been created by the last eruption of Haleakala in 1790.
With a large sand beach and a lawn, Waipuilani Park is a great spot to enjoy an event or watch a sunset. It has restroom facilities and some shaded areas too. This north Kihei location has murky water, so it isn’t great for swimming or water activities other than kiting if Konas are blowing.
Mai Poina ‘Oe La’u Beach Park
This long beach park is well known for its perfect kiteboarding conditions during Kona winds. Located in North Kihei, the beach is nice, but the swimming isn’t ideal. With picnic tables, showers and restrooms, this is a great place to watch kiteboarding and whales while in season.
Makena Landing AKA Five Caves or Five Graves
An excellent spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, Makena Landing is located off of Makena Road. The beaches here are not very big, but nestled in incredible spots with great views. This area is well known for its underwater sea caves and abundance of reef sharks.
Located in Kihei, Chang’s Beach is highly valued by Maui locals. A smaller beach tucked away near Kalama Park, Chang’s Beach has showers and picnic tables but no lifeguards or restrooms. The waves here can be good for surfing if a South Swell hits it right. Summer is best for surfing in this area, although seasoned surfers find it to be fickle.
South Maui’s only red sand beach, Oneuli Beach is tucked away off of Wailea Alanui Drive. The sand here is not like Hana’s Red Sand Beach in that the sand is finer and mixed with darker minerals. There’s a trail that leads to the top of the cinder cone from which the sand was made from. These eruptions created red and black cinder that has eroded to become the sand. Oneuli has great fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming but no lifeguards or restrooms. During South or West swells, this beach can be dangerous with large waves. Because the red sand is so dark, you may want to keep your shoes or sandals on. The sun can bake the sand till you get crispy so where a lot of sunblock and limit your exposure.