If you google “best Maui beaches,” you may be surprised to find that no two lists look the same! There are endless options to explore and enjoy here – so I thought I might just highlight one excellent choice in each direction.
Po`olenalena Beach Park (South)
Located in the Wailea-Makena area, Po`olenalena offers a large, golden-sand beach to the left/south of the parking lot. If you take a short trail to the right/north, though, you’ll find a smaller cove often referred to as “Secrets.” Secrets tends to be less populated than the larger part of Po`olenalena, but with the same gorgeous views of everything from the West Maui Mountains, to the islands of Lāna`i and Kaho`olawe, to the Molokini Crater.
Both parts of the beach are usually good for bodyboarding and swimming, and if you snorkel around the lava rocks separating them, you’re likely to see lots of honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). Po`olenalena is also a fantastic place to watch whales in the winter months, or to catch a sunset year-round.
There are two facts you may want to know about this beach before you go. First, the far end of Secrets is often considered “clothing optional.” Second, the only time it does get crowded is on Sunday afternoons/evenings, when locals hold a weekly drum circle.
Oneloa/Ironwoods Beach (West)
One of Maui’s greatest mysteries is that this phenomenal beach in the Kapalua area is never crowded! Oneloa features a long, wide stretch of white sand and close-up views of the islands of Lāna`i and Moloka`i. Although rocks make swimming challenging from some sections of the beach, the left end provides sandy access to great swimming on calmer days.
While you’re at Oneloa, be sure to try a hike/walk on the Kapalua Coastal Trail! Less than 2 miles end-to-end, this path from Kapalua Bay Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach Park is sunny but mostly flat/non-strenuous, and is even paved in many parts. It offers a little something for everyone, whether you want to explore lava rock cliffs and tide pools, do some cliff jumping and take a dip in Namalu Bay, or stop off for a cocktail at the Montage Kapalua Bay or the Ritz-Carlton Maui.
Baldwin Beach Park (North)
Since most of our visitors stay on either the south or the west side of Maui, many miss the opportunity to visit Baldwin Beach, in Paia. It’s well worth the drive, though!
The whole stretch is about a mile long, making it perfect for beach walkers. Sea glass isn’t hard to find there, especially near the left/western end. On that same end is “Baby Beach,” which got its nickname because a long offshore reef has created a wave-free lagoon that’s ideal for kids and other not-so-confident swimmers.
Baldwin also has showers, bathrooms, barbecue grills, and a lifeguard near the right/eastern end. And when you’re finished with your beach day, you can check out the eclectic shops and restaurants of nearby Paia Town!
If you make the drive to Hāna, you may be focused on seeing Maui’s famous black sand beach (Wai`ānapanapa) and Red Sand Beach. Both live up to the hype! If you do visit Wai`ānapanapa, take some time to experience the remarkable views from the surrounding lava rock cliffs. And although Red Sand Beach is a little more difficult to get to (wear hiking shoes, or at least good walking shoes), it can provide nice swimming in a truly extraordinary setting.
About three miles past Hāna, though, Hamoa Beach features soft sand and lots of shade trees – it’s a napping beach for sure! It’s also incredibly scenic and has easy, sandy access for swimming. Unlike many Maui beaches, it’s not protected by offshore reefs – so watch conditions carefully, especially during winter swells. Known as the best bodysurfing beach on Maui, Hamoa also attracts experienced surfers and bodyboarders.
Our breathtaking beaches are definitely one of the many reasons Maui no ka oi (Maui is the best). If you want to learn more about this one-of-a-kind island, contact me: Leslie Mackenzie Smith, REALTOR(S), RS-42147.