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The Best Beaches in Kihei: 10 Sun-Drenched Maui Sands

Named after a Polynesian demigod of wind and sky, ironically, what draws visitors to Maui’s shore year after year are the gorgeous beaches stretched along the island’s coast. With over 30 miles of beach, Maui is every beachgoer’s dream destination. And nowhere can visitors soak up more sun than the spectacular beaches of the south shore’s standout star: Kihei. Beaches here have it all, from stunning views to shady palms and some of the best water around.

Whether looking to take in epic sunsets or catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales, Kihei beaches deliver in every aspect. And we’ll take you through all the best beaches in Kihei with this handy beach guide. 

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Where Is Kihei?

Maui is home to some of the best beaches in Hawaii, and if you’re looking for the sunniest shore to work on your tan, look no further than Kihei. 

Kihei sits on Maui’s sunny and dry south shore, between Wailea to the south and Maalaea to the north. Initially home to only fishermen, the sun-scorched earth was once called Kama’ole, which means barren. But while the area may still be hot and dry, barren would be the last word anyone would use to describe present-day Kihei. It’s now one of the most densely populated areas on Maui. Resorts and shopping centers dot Kihei Road, running almost parallel to the miles of gorgeous sandy beaches that await along the coast. 

What Is Kihei, Hawaii, Known For?

The charming beach town of Kihei sits right in the heart of South Maui, a lively beach lovers’ paradise where the sun always shines. Offering easy accessibility to top Maui beaches and parks, Kihei’s long stretches of stunning white sand and breathtaking panoramas make it a one-of-a-kind destination.

But don’t take a commoner’s word for it. Kihei was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. We’d argue it holds as much allure for tourists today as it did for kings in the past. Because the city sees less than ten inches of annual rainfall, the beaches in Kihei can be enjoyed with barely any interruption, marking its sun-kissed shores as a true sunshine paradise.

Is North or South Kihei Better?

The two sides of Kihei, north and south, have distinct personalities, making it hard to determine which is “better” for the average visitor. But you can easily pick the better side for you based on whether you want a relaxing vacation, North Kihei, or an energetic party vibe, South Kihei.

If it’s a quiet vacation you’re after, North Kihei delivers, with less crowded sands and one of the longest beaches in Maui at Sugar Beach.

On the other hand, South Kihei is the life of the party. Visitors can find white sands, broad beaches, and some of the best water for swimming, snorkeling, and much more. 

Regarding the two coastlines, one section of Kihei clearly takes the crown. And while North Kihei beaches include off-the-beaten-path gems, South Kihei beaches cover white sand shores, epic views, and what many consider the pearls of Kihei, the three Kamaole beaches.

The 10 Best Beaches in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

The shores of sunny Kihei have played host to lounging royals, family adventurers, and couples getawayers. But from high-energy beaches to serene sands, Kihei delights and enchants all beachcombers. With something for everyone to enjoy, the perfect Maui shore awaits.

So, without further ado, let’s unpack the best beaches in Kihei.

1. Kamaole Beach Park

Nestled along the heart of Kihei’s coastline lie three famous Maui beaches making up Kamaole Beach Park. Known by their monikers of Kam I, Kam II, and Kam III, these stunning beaches sit just off South Kihei Road, making them easily accessible.

But accessibility isn’t all these Kihei beaches have going for them. Set up a chair and take in the incredible views of Lanai’i and the sacred island of Kaho’olawe in the distance from Kam I, or head to quieter Kam II to search tide pools, snap beautiful photos, and enjoy a peaceful picnic. Kam III has a little something for everyone, from barbecue grills on a grassy lawn to crystal-clear waters, the perfect playground for swimming and boogie boarding.

Amidst everything the Kamaole beaches offer, it can be hard for any other beach to compete. But the breadth of beauty and options are why many consider these gorgeous stretches of sand to be the best beaches in Kihei.

2. Kalama Beach Park

Kalama Beach Park has everything a family could want for a fun beach day—except a beach. Now, if there’s one thing you don’t joke about with die-hard beach lovers, it’s the presence of a sandy shore. While saying Kalama Beach Park has no beach may be exaggerating slightly, the small beach is hardly worth mentioning.

Where Kalama Beach Park truly shines is the fun-for-all-ages mentality that governed the park’s creation. The 36-acre park is host to sporting events, festivals, and concerts. On top of volleyball, soccer, and basketball courts, it also sports hockey rinks and a skate park, in addition to grassy lawns and covered pavilions. The cherry on top is the paved beach path that winds along the ocean, so rest assured, you won’t be deprived of the typical Maui views. And when the heat kicks up, you can still go for a dip in the sea. 

While it’s true that Kalama Beach Park may not have one of the best beaches in Kihei, it knocks it out of the, well, park for all your other beach-related activities.

3. Keawakapu Beach

The last beach on South Kihei Road, Keawakapu sits tucked between Kihei and Wailea. And while the road ends, the views stretch to infinity. Sweeping panoramas of West Maui to the right and Kaho’olawe to the left captivate, but just as enticing views await below the water.

Keawakapu Beach is one of the best beaches in Kihei for snorkeling and scuba diving. Tide pools on the northern end teem with life, while 400 yards offshore, curious divers will find an artificial reef of antique cars dumped there in 1962.

Though backed by ritzy residential homes, Keawakapu beach remains untouched by development, leaving a long stretch of sand for visitors to lay out and soak in the sun. Being at the end of the road has its perks. Not many tourists know about this “hidden cove,” so you’ll be able to enjoy some peace and quiet at this uncrowded gem.

4. Charley Young Beach

As if Kamaole Beach Park I needed any more reasons to tempt beachgoers to its shores, Charley Young Beach sits at its northern tip like a beacon to all who enjoy fishing, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and literally anything else you can dream up.

Charley Young Beach is the quintessential overachiever of beaches, managing to cater to all your beach desires, whether crafting sandcastles out of the soft sands or swimming right out into the shallow waters. Volleyball is just as common on the beaches as paddleboarding is on the water, where the gentle waves handle like a dream. 

With an ironwood forest at its back, the secluded feel of Charley Young Beach is perfect for escaping the lively energy of nearby downtown Kihei.

5. Mai Poina Beach Park

Considered a north Kihei Beach, Mai Poina is the last beach on the northern end of South Kihei Road. And while the north and south Kihei beaches sport their fair share of crowds, Mai Poina manages to escape the mob of bodies through sheer size. The mile-long sweep of sand is complimented by a shaded grass area, a pavilion dotted with picnic tables, and swaying palm trees on the south shore. While mornings can be calm, trade winds kick in around the afternoon, riling up the placid sea.

Choppy waters mean Mai Poina isn’t great for swimming, but it’s a perfect place to take to the waves. Water sports thrive here, with surfers and windsurfers heading out on the water year-round. Even if you don’t surf, spectating from the beach is fun when you’re not occupied picnicking or playing beach games.

6. Kalepolepo Beach Park

Another charming north Kihei beach, Kalepolepo Beach Park is a quiet and unassuming stretch of sand. You’d never guess it once played a significant role in Hawaiian history. Nevertheless, between 1400AD and 1500AD, Hawaiians built the Kalepolepo Fishpond, which ​​led to the creation of a thriving Hawaiian village. The ancient fishpond is one of three in the area, remaining well-preserved even as access is open to the public—quite the turnaround from the past when it was reserved for use only by Hawaiian royalty. 

The fishpond buffers against the waves, creating a shallow pool perfect for children to play. 

With most tourists running to the shores of beaches in South Kihei, Kalepolepo Beach Park is a perfect spot to relax and bask in a spectacular sunset or settle in for whale watching. During the winter months, it’s not uncommon to catch these impressive creatures breaching offshore. 

7. Waipuilani Beach Park

North Kihei beaches don’t lack beauty but truly stand apart for their serenity. Waipuilani Beach Park is no different. Mornings dawn calm and idyllic on this out-of-the-way beach frequented by locals and few others.

But for visitors who do make their way here, the long stretch of sand entices them to stay and enjoy the views and the fun. The West Maui Mountains rise in the distance, offering breathtaking views for your beach stroll. But if you let your eyes stray from the mountains, you may catch treasures underfoot in the mix of sand and corals along the shoreline. 

The grassy lawn and picnic tables make it a perfect spot for community events, and there’s no better way to cap off a day at Waipuilani Beach Park than with an epic sunset over the water.

8. Sugar Beach

Even considered the longest, uninterrupted beach on Maui, Sugar Beach isn’t the first one that comes to mind when people think of classic Maui. Yet it’s impossible to deny this beach’s enchanting aura. Sugar Beach stretches for miles along the shoreline, and the soft, powdery white sand makes it an ideal spot for romantic strolls along the shore. Gorgeous vistas of Kaho’olawe, Molokini, and Lana’i only enhance the sunrises and sunsets viewed here.

The incredible views alone make Sugar Beach one of the best beaches in Kihei, but the shore is also popular with green sea turtles and majestic humpback whales. 

The beach also sports two canoe clubs, one of which, the Kihei Canoe Club, offers an educational and thrilling Visitor Paddle Program that includes morning chants and opportunities to lay eyes on the myriad marine life that thrives on the Hawaiian Islands.

9. Cove Park

Oahu may be the king of surf, but Maui takes the crown for beginner surfers. And on the south shore, there’s no better place to ride the waves than Cove Park.

Nestled at the foot of Kalama Park, the golden-sand beach may be small, but the waves promise big-time fun out on the water. What it lacks in size, this south Kihei beach makes up for by offering surfs-up bliss. The sheltered cove creates gentle waves that break near the shore, making it a perfect spot to build up your surfing skills. And if you’re not up for surfing, you can take to the water in a kayak. 

Picnic tables and grills dot the area behind the beach, but with downtown Kihei so close, you may find yourself taking a break from the sun among the city’s vibrancy. Check out shopping malls and colorful farmer’s markets during the day or lively karaoke bars and dance clubs once the sun sets. Just don’t forget to stick around Cove Park for the painter’s palette sunset before heading out to enjoy the nightlife downtown Kihei has in store.

10. Maalaea Beach

Sunset walks were made for Maalaea Beach. Secluded and quiet, the sandy beach doesn’t draw many visitors, leaving the shores peaceful and uncrowded. Or, you can join the few other early morning beachgoers paddleboarding or snorkeling out on the water. Then, when the winds pick up, you can laze on the beach and watch the surfers head out.

If you’re looking for company on such a secluded beach, don’t worry. What Maalaea Beach lacks in human visitors, the sandy beach makes up for in others—mainly green sea turtles. You’ll often catch these fascinating creatures lounging on the shore, enjoying their own time under the sun.

Off to the west, the McGregor Point and Lighthouse stands guard over the coast, while behind the beach, the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk winds its way through a wildlife refuge. Maalaea easily pairs peace and quiet with fun and exciting things to do, making it one of the best beaches in Kihei to visit.

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The sun-drenched sands of Maui await. Get ready to say aloha to Hawaiian shores with the help of Next Vacay

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