Your guide to the best Maui beaches starts here. Find that perfect cove with calm water for the kids. Learn the best places to snorkel, swim and paddle board. Discover that perfect sunset beach.
I have also ranked the top 4 beaches based on the nicest weather, least amount of current, family friendliness, accessibility, sand quality and varied activities available. This doesn't mean that the remaining beaches aren't great, but they just don't meet all of the above criteria. However, one should not overlook these niche beaches as they are truly special.
The beaches in Maui are among the best in the world offering everything from calm coves for snorkeling and swimming to big waves for wind surfing and wind sailing. Water temperatures are always warm varying from the mid to low 70s in the winter to the low 80s in the summer. Maui has some of the best clear water beaches in the world, providing great visibility for snorkeling, with the exception of during storms or high surf when visibility is reduced.
The best Maui beaches are those with the smallest waves, least winds and abundant sunshine, and are located on the southwestern side of the island between the cities of Lahaina and Kapalua.
The windiest area with the largest waves is located on the north side of the island between Kahalui and Hana. This area is generally more susceptible to more wind, rain and clouds. If you are a big wave surfer, this is the side of the island for you. If you like smaller, long board waves then the best beaches in Maui for this type of surfing is near Lahaina.
Located only a few miles north of Kaanapali and south of Kapalua is Napili bay, probably one of the best beaches in Maui for family fun. Napili bay also has public restrooms and showers located on the southern end of the cove.
The entrance to the bay has rocky points on both sides and a coral reef that runs down the middle. This protects the bay from waves and currents but also provides calm water for snorkeling, paddle boarding and shallow water swimming. Maui trade winds often blow offshore so Napili bay usually remains calm all day long.
The best snorkeling is towards both points and in the middle along the
reef. The beach has a shallow, gentle slope and is great for kids.
Turtles often come close in towards the beach, especially along the
rocky sides. This is a great cove to learn how to snorkel and paddle
If you need to rent snorkeling, paddle boards or any other beach equipment, Snorkel Bob's has a Napili location within easy walking distance from the beach's entrance. Hint ! - Don't rent your equipment from a resort. Snorkel Bob's offers week long equipment rental at a fraction of what the resorts charge.
Voted #2 of the Best Maui Beaches
Located just north of Napili, Kapalua Bay is always voted as one of the best beaches in Maui. This tiny sliver of sand offers the calm waters perfect for children, paddle boarding and snorkeling or just lounging in the sun. The reefs to the left and right of the cove have abundant and colorful fish and coral. The wind usually blows from shore to ocean providing a cooling breeze but little or no wind chop near the shore.
Hint - This is also one of the best Maui beaches to view and take photos of stunning Maui sunsets.
Spend an entire day at one of the most relaxing and peaceful Maui beaches and soak up the sun.
Voted #3 of the Best Maui Beaches
One of my favorite Maui beaches, and Editor's choice for one of the best beaches in Maui to snorkel, is Kahekili beach. Located north of Black Rock and south of Kapalua, this beautiful 2-3 mile stretch is great for paddle boarding and snorkeling. The current is gentle and the waves are small making it a great activity beach for all ages. Kahekili beach has one of the best coral reefs in Maui, starting adjacent to the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas South and running north for about a mile. While the beach is generally calm, the entrance to the water drops off from inches to 2 or 4 feet very fast. The coral reef starts immediately making this beach better for snorkeling than swimming. It is a great place for kids to play in the sand and run around in the first foot or two of water with the understanding that it drops off fast. The southern portion of Kahekili beach between the Westin and Black Rock has very little coral reef and more of a sandy bottom making it better for swimming and paddle boarding.
This is one of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling with easy and immediate access to the reef. The reef has some nice 15-20 foot holes in the coral very close to shore and an abundant population of colorful sea life plus an occasional turtle and manta ray. It is also a very popular scuba diving spot, especially for beginners.
Ample parking is available, at a little used public park, just south of the Westin Ocean Resort Villas.
Voted #4 of the Best Maui Beaches
For both swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and paddle boarding, it does not get any better than Kaanapali Beach. This is another one of my favorites that is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Maui. Kaanapali beach starts from the famous Black Rock adjacent to the Sheraton Resort and runs south.
The beach is protected from wind and waves most of the time and has a gentle sandy bottom slope making it great for families. There are no strong currents with the exception of out past Black Rock point and north towards the cliffs where strong currents require that you stay aware of your location at all times.
Black Rock is one of the most famous snorkeling sites in Maui and has great deep water access and shallow rocky points. For more information on snorkeling Black Rock, click on our Maui outdoor activities link.
Honolua bay is famous for great snorkeling and, during certain times of the year, fantastic surfing off of the northernmost point adjacent to the entrance of the bay. If you plan on snorkeling then you should arrive early as there is limited parking alongside the road and a short hike necessary through the trees to get to the back end of the bay. The beach at Honolua bay is rocky and does not have sand. Snorkelers usually start along the rocky beach and swim along the cliffs towards the two points. This area has some of the best snorkeling on Maui.
Maui's Big Beach (local name is Oneloa)
is a must visit place during your beach vacation. Located at the very
end of the road in Makena, the golden sand of Big Beach stretches for
about 2/3 of a mile and is one of the widest beaches on the island. By
Maui standards, this beach can be more crowded than others on the
weekend but you will not have any problems in staking out your favorite
spot with lots of space around you.
Big Beach will usually have larger waves than Kaanapali beach, Kaheliki beach and Napili Bay because it is more open to the unprotected southern side of the island and does not have other islands directly around it. However, there are plenty of nice calm days for swimming and snorkeling. When there are big waves, they usually come of the form of a really big and fast shore break, so be careful. Hint ! - This is generally not a beach for small children. Adults should be experienced swimmers and always use caution, especially during periods of large waves.
This is one of the most beautiful of the Maui beaches. There are restrooms, lifeguards and an off street parking lot along with food vendors that setup in the lot. This is one of the best Maui beaches for relaxing in the sand, watching the boogie boarders or walking in the golden sand along the water's edge.
Ho'okipa Beach is a world renowned windsurfing and surfing beach that always has nice waves, with the largest being during the winter months, especially if there is a Pacific storm to the north.
There are some rules regarding the co-mingling of windsurfers and surfers. Windsurfing cannot start until 11am and if there are too many surfers in the area, windsurfing is prohibited and most move to adjacent beaches to the west.
The beach is long and narrow with plenty room to find a place in the sand. There is a lookout point to the east with a separate parking lot. This is a great place to watch the surfers.
Ho'okipa beach is not primarily a swimming beach. Large waves create strong rip currents. Even to surf and wind surf you need to be very experienced and should consult a lifeguard before heading out to understand how to avoid the strong currents.
There is also a large reef that attracts large numbers of sea turtles. The lookout point provides the best view and you will usually see several cruising next to the rocky point between the beach and the wave break.
Ho'opkipa beach is one the best beaches in Maui for site-seeing. Bring a chair, sit back and watch as surfers tackle the big waves.