As you drive toward Lahaina from Māʻalaea Harbor you will find lots of really great beaches for surfing, fishing, weekend camping or just hanging out. These beaches are all family friendly spots and worth spending time at.
Ukumehame Beach Park
Home of the Thousand Peaks surf spot, toward Ukumehame’s western end, this uncrowded break is a good option for long-boarders and beginning surfers wanting to get away from the crowds of nearby beaches like Launiupoko. This stretch of sand is great for a little “Huli Huli” (grilling) and fishing.
Launiupoko Beach Park
The place is a great spot for families; na keiki (children) have a great time wading in the large rock-enclosed shoreline pool and good Huli Huli facilities. New and intermediate surfers head to this beach park, a popular wave 3 miles south of Lahaina.
The southern side of the beach has small waves ideal for beginner surfers, while the northern side steps it up a notch for those who have honed their skills, or old surfers like me who started surfing in the ’60s. You’re also likely to see stand up paddle (SUP) folks weaving through Launiupoko’s surf.
This long beautiful beach fronts the Kaʻanapali’s resort hotels, linking the Hyatt Regency Maui with the Sheraton Maui one mile north. I will say that after living across the street from this beach for years, it is my favorite on the island and is a good spot for spearfishing. Snorkelers check out the sea life, and sailboats pull up on shore. Important. There are no lifeguards, so check with the hotel beach huts before jumping in: water conditions vary with the season and currents are often strong.
For the best snorkeling, try the underwater sights off Puʻu Kekaʻa (Black Rock.) This lava promontory protects the beach in front of the Sheraton Maui. Beginners should stick to the sheltered southern side of Black Rock — where there’s still a lot to see. If you’re a good open water swimmer, the less-frequented horseshoe cove cut into the tip of the rock is perfect, with choke (full of) tropical fish, colorful coral, and sea turtles. There’s often a current to contend with off the point, which can make getting to the cove a bit tricky, but when it’s calm you can swim right in and out.
For a long day on the beach, it’s hard to beat this crescent-shaped strip at the southwestern tip of Kapalua. Snorkel in the morning, grab lunch at the Sea House, try stand up paddle surfing, or simply sit on the sand and gaze across the channel at Molokaʻi.
You’ll find good snorkeling on the right side of the beach, with abundant tropical fish and orange slate-pencil sea urchins. There’s a rental hut here for beach gear.
Take the drive immediately north of Napili Kai Beach Resort to get to the beach parking area, where there are restrooms and showers. A tunnel leads from the parking lot north to the beach. This is also a starting point for the Coastal Trail.
Fringed by low sand dunes covered in beach morning glory, this white-sand jewel is a picturesque place to soak up the rays. On calm days swimming is good close to shore, as is snorkeling in the protected area along the rocky point at the northern side of the beach. When there’s any good surf, strong rip currents wil be present.
The half-mile strand — Oneloa means ‘long sand’ — sits beside the Coastal Trail and is backed by gated resort condos and restricted golf greens. Beach access requires a sharp eye. Turn onto Ironwood Lane and then left into the small parking lot opposite the Ironwoods gate. Arrive early or at lunchtime to get a parking space, emptied by the people leaving.
DT Fleming Beach Park
Surrounded by ironwood trees and backed by an old one-room schoolhouse, this sandy crescent looks like an outpost from another era. In keeping with its Hawaiian nature, the beach is the domain of wave riders. Experienced surfers and bodysurfers find good action here, especially in winter. The shorebreaks can be brutal, however, and the beach is a hot spot for injuries. The reef on the right is good for snorkeling in summer when the water is very calm.
Fleming has restrooms, showers, grills, picnic tables and a lifeguard.
New homes are always popping up along the west side, and for good reason. This part of Maui has it all, restaurants to recreation, the “west side” is as good as it gets!
Mahalo for now,