The 16 Best Beaches in Maui for Swimming, Surfing, & Sun

It’s no secret that Maui is the ultimate beach vacation destination. The prettiest beaches dot the island’s golden coasts, offering up views of stunning waters, dramatic panoramas, and fantastic sunsets. Between swimming the gentle waves of the sunny south coast or riding the epic swells of the north, Maui beaches seemingly have it all. And we’ll guide you through the best beach destinations for all your swimming, surfing, and sunshine needs.

Table of Contents

1. Makena Beach (Big Beach)

Ever-sunny south Maui has many gems, but Makena Beach shines as a top-tier beach destination among the Hawaiian Islands. Called by many names, including Makena or Oneloa Beach, the local moniker of Big Beach is perhaps the most fitting. 

Stretching nearly two-thirds of a mile, with no development in sight, it’s just you, the sand, and the sky. Dramatic cliffs and a white sand shore make it one of the best beaches in Maui, but the clear, turquoise waters make it a staple among Maui’s best swimming beaches too. 

Whatever you’re in the mood for—sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, or riding the waves—Big Beach is among the best and most picturesque places in Maui to do it.

2. Wailea Beach

Nestled into a small cove on the shores of south Maui, Wailea Beach is protected from the larger waves, making it an excellent choice for swimming and one of the best beaches for relaxing on Maui.

The vast expanse of white sand calls sun-seekers to lounge on the shore and enjoy stunning views. Rocky outcroppings make Wailea a great snorkeling beach, while the rolling waves guarantee a fun time for boogie boarders and body surfers. 

Unlike some of the more rugged Maui beaches, Wailea sits sandwiched between the Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea resorts. While this guarantees bigger crowds, they do little to detract from the beauty found at Wailea Beach. The ​​public facilities add a touch of convenience that makes enjoying the beach for longer that much easier.

3. Baby Beach (Spreckelsville Beach)

Families looking for the perfect beach need look no further than one of the best, family-friendly swimming beaches on Maui: Baby Beach. Now don’t get confused by the doppelganger beach you’ll find in Lahaina on the west shore. 

Thankfully, the dramatic color palette of Baby Beach on Maui’s north coast helps set it apart. The sharp contrasts of bright red dirt, black lava rocks, golden sand, and lapping green waves are nothing short of eye-catching.

With the large shore as their sandbox and the protected lagoon as their swimming pool, kids get the best of both worlds year-round. The calm, shallow waters make swimming conditions ideal, and the dramatic scenery makes the beach iconic. Mixed with its remote feel, Baby Beach is genuinely one-of-a-kind.

4. Oneuli Beach

Raw beauty awaits at Oneuli Beach. Tucked away within Makena State Park, Oneuli means “dark sands,” which is an apt name for this pseudo black sand beach in South Maui. 

Because the sand doesn’t come from ground volcanic rock, it doesn’t have that classic, deep black appearance you’d find at other black sand beaches like Honolakani. It’s still a treat to see it in person. In some cases, Oneuli looks more like a red sand beach than black or even a fascinating mix of the two. 

While the rocky water makes swimming conditions not so great, Oneuli is one of the best beaches in Maui for snorkeling, with easy shore access. Quiet and remote, it’s the perfect place to hide away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful moment basking in the beauty of Maui.

5. Ho’okipa Beach 

Sometimes, it’s not swimming that draws you to the best beaches in Maui; it’s the surf. And nowhere is the surf more impressive than Maui’s north shore. The scenic Hana Highway leads adventurous wave-riders right to the shores of Ho’okipa Beach Park. 

With a beautiful white sand beach, rocky coastline, and sweeping views of the West Maui Mountains, Ho’okipa Beach combines beauty with heart-pumping thrills. Swells here can rise as high as 25 feet. Consequently, it’s no surprise Ho’okipa Beach has been home to some serious competitions like The Aloha Classic and Red Bull King of the Air.

That said, you don’t have to be a wave rider to enjoy Ho’okipa Beach. Relaxed beachgoers can sunbathe on the sand, picnic on one of three pavilions (picnic tables included), or take a dip on days when the water is calm. And if you only want to catch a glimpse of the surfers, windsurfers, and sea turtles bobbing in the water, Ho’okipa Lookout is your quick stop to take in the sights before hopping back on the Hana Highway.

6. Slaughterhouse Beach (Mokule’ia Bay)

Don’t let the name scare you away from this treasure among west Maui beaches. While the 90-step staircase may look like it leads to oblivion, traveling this well-worn path will unveil a beautiful beach surrounded by lush greenery and sheer cliffs. You can even explore sea caves carved into the cliff walls at low tide.  

Calm mornings all but guarantee this place a spot on your list of favorite swimming beaches in Maui, with some of the best conditions for snorkeling and swimming out in the bay. However, if you want to catch some sun on the shore, plan your visit for the afternoon. 

If you’re curious how such a charming beach got such a brutal name, the moniker comes from a nearby slaughterhouse that shut down in the 1960s. The Hawaiian name, Mokule’ia Bay (isle of abundance) seems a much more fitting name for this beautiful cove with its wealth of wonders.

7. Hamoa Beach

Close your eyes and picture paradise. Now open your eyes to see Hamoa Beach. This dream come to life quickly becomes a favorite for many visitors. The crescent-shaped beach slopes into a pristine blue lagoon ripe for adventure. With no outlying reefs, the water changes with the surf. On calm days, families flock to the water to frolic in the shallows and enjoy swimming at one of the best beaches in Maui. But come winter, the shoreline is dominated by surfers eager to ride the swells as they follow in the footsteps of ancient Hawaiians. 

East Maui can’t lay claim to many of the best beaches on the island, swimming or otherwise. But with its crown jewel of Hamoa and the abundance of bests it brings to the coast, there’s little need for many different shores when Hamoa presents a picture-perfect postcard for the east coast.

8. Ka’anapali Beach & Black Rock

Second only to the south shore, west Maui has many of the best beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and just about anything else you could want. And the crown jewel among them has to be the three-mile stretch of white shore and shimmering blue water at Ka’anapali Beach.

The defining feature of Ka’anapali Beach—aside from the jaw-dropping coast—has to be Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock). King Kahekili repeatedly braved jumping from Black Rock as a show of strength. Now, every evening hosts a cliff diving ceremony, with a cliff diver lighting torches and performing the same jump as the beloved King Kahekili.

With world-class entertainment, from golf courses to resorts and restaurants, it’s not hard to imagine Ka’anapali Beach as the royal retreat it once was. But with all its accouterments, nothing comes close to simply enjoying the water and basking in the natural beauty.

9. Olowalu Beach

The singing crab had it right. Life is better under the sea. Just ask the abundance of marine life swimming in the Olowalu Reef. 

Located on Maui’s west shore, Olowalu Beach is a narrow stretch of gold sand seemingly lacking in any extraordinary wonders. However, those that swim below the surface will come to know a very different Olowalu and one of the best beaches in Maui. The Olowalu Reef has some of the oldest reef systems in Hawaii and is home to incredible creatures. 

Blacktip reef sharks regularly nurse in the deeper water while one of the largest populations of manta rays glide among the coral heads. Bursting with life, Olawalu Beach is hands down one of the best snorkeling beaches in Maui and great for scuba diving too.

10. Kapalua Bay Beach

This little crescent-shaped cove is buffeted by sand dunes and lush vegetation, giving it a relaxed and intimate feel. The calm waters make it one of the best swimming beaches for families visiting Maui, but there is plenty to do both in and out of the water. 

Famous for snorkeling, Kapalua Beach also boasts frequent visits from green sea turtles. It’s common to see them swimming or resting on the shore as they too enjoy one of Maui’s best beaches. You’ll also encounter plenty of tropical fish swimming among the coral.

But if the water gets too crowded, the coastal path that runs along the beach is an excellent alternative for soaking up the view. Plan to arrive first thing in the morning and you can stake out a little section of paradise.

11. Secret Cove Beach 

Secret Cove Beach isn’t really a secret, or at least not a well-kept one. The fact that this is a popular spot for Maui Beach weddings should tell you all you need to know about this idyllic strip of sand. 

Bask in the sun on the sandy shore or go for a dip in the waters. While the shoreline is a bit rocky, once you slip past, you’re free and clear for swimming at one of the best beaches in South Maui.

While the cat’s out of the bag on this not-so-hidden paradise in Kihei, if you time it right, you could end up enjoying this cove all to yourself. And if it’s just you and the beach, it’ll still feel like a secret you can call your own.

12. Kamaole Beach Park I, II, III

Three of the best beaches in Maui share the same white sand shore, dazzling blue waters, and, oh yeah, the same name. Kamaole Beach Park is actually three different beaches, all located right off of South Kihei Road. While the views are similar, just like triplets, Kam I, Kam II, and Kam III all have a distinct vibe and personality that makes them fun for any occasion. 

Kam I has the largest beach and some of the best swimming conditions among the three Kam beaches and, indeed, all of the south Maui shore. A bit smaller than its older sibling, Kam II has great snorkeling spots at either end. That leaves Kam III the odd one out. Still unquestionably beautiful, Kam III’s standout feature isn’t the sandy shore but the grassy lawn overlooking it. With picnic tables, BBQs, and fun games, Kam III is often a favorite of South Maui locals.

The Kamaole Beaches are perfect for enjoying the sun, sand, and surf with family and friends.

13. Charley Young Beach

This pretty beach in South Maui sits at the northern end of Kamaole I and is the perfect spot to catch a famed Maui sunset. 

But before the end of the day rolls around, Charley Young Beach promises plenty of entertainment. With no rocks or coral bordering the shoreline, water access is easy. That’s just one of the reasons why this ranks as a favorite beach destination in Maui. Crystal clear water and super soft sand make it one of the best beaches in South Kihei for swimming or lounging. 

The large expanse of sand means you’ll have little trouble carving out a spot and relaxing on this gorgeous slice of heaven.

14. H.A. Baldwin Beach Park

H.A. Baldwin Beach Park is the fully equipped beach alternative to Baby Beach, which sits on the park’s west end. You won’t find crowds of resort-goers here; the beach stretches uninterrupted for almost a mile. The soft expanse of sand makes Baldwin Beach an ideal spot for lounging or going for a beach stroll with epic views of the rolling waves and the looming West Maui Mountains. 

Protected swimming areas on both ends of the beach mean calm waters perfect for swimming. However, winter months unveil hardier swells that make it a fun boogie-boarding destination too. And in any season, visitors can enjoy amenities, including BBQs and picnic tables.

Considered one of the best beaches in Maui for everything from swimming to friendly gatherings, it’s abundantly clear what’s to love about this local favorite.

15. Palauea Beach

Lazy beach days are what island trips are all about. So, what better place to spend a lazy day than at a beach with a name meaning just that? Palauea translates to lazy, and it’s a perfect name to describe this beach just south of Kea Lani Beach Hotel. 

Gently sloping sands and calm waves make this quiet oasis one of Maui’s best beaches to go swimming. But, of course, you can get up to some fun here too. Small waves make it a great place for kids and beginners looking to get their boogie-boarding feet beneath them.

Dramatic sunsets are another highlight of this beach, with a stunning volcano backdrop. There’s nothing to it but pack up your beach supplies and head on over to Palauea for the kind of lazy beach day that sticks in your head long after you’ve returned home.

16. Honolua Bay

Embark on a short hike on the west coast of Maui through magical forest scenery to unveil stunning Honolua Bay. The huge bay is prime real estate for underwater adventures, with snorkelers and scuba divers flocking in droves to explore the bay’s abundant marine life. And during the winter months, when the surf picks up, experienced surfers take to the waters of Honolua Bay to enjoy the choice waves.

Honolua Bay has made a name for its excellent snorkeling and surfing, but don’t be surprised when that’s all you find here. With a rocky beach and no amenities, Honolua Bay isn’t a convenient or quick place to snorkel. But if you’re willing to swim further out from the shore, it’s one of the best and most beautiful beaches in Maui.

What Beach in Maui Has the Clearest Water?

Few Maui beaches boast crystal-clear water quite like Honolua Bay. In the summer, the water here offers unparalleled visibility. You may find yourself swimming a few hundred feet offshore to get to the clearest water, but it’s worth the effort to reveal the mesmerizing display of marine life.

Even if you don’t fancy yourself a strong swimmer, you can still admire Honolua Bay’s beautiful waters and diverse marine life with a boat or snorkeling tour.

What Is the Prettiest Beach on Maui?

Gorgeous Maui has its fair share of pretty beaches, but few come close to the perfection of Hamoa Beach. Tucked among steep cliffs and lush greenery, Hamoa’s backdrop is just as stunning as the view of gleaming white shores and a dazzling blue lagoon. 

More dream than reality, Hamoa’s beauty only feels real once you step foot on the picture-perfect shore. Next Vacay can help you do it.

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