Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other island in Hawaii. You could go to the beach every day for a month—and never revisit the same one—and still only manage to scratch the surface of exploring the island’s shoreline. Maui’s beaches are also public, which means there is no such thing as a private beach and the shoreline is open to all. The ingredients for the perfect beach, however, vary according to different beachgoers. Some like a hidden cove with nobody else around. Others prefer a stretch with shaded cabanas just steps from a fancy resort. Parents might pine for a protected lagoon where they can casually wade with the keiki; adventures might hunt for frothy, surf-worthy barrels and cliffs that are perfect for jumping. Maui has coastal spots that cater to all these types, and more. While everyone’s beach needs are different, the following offer excellent combinations of activity, adventure, and comfort.
Sea turtles and a shore break are the two biggest crowd pleasers at this northwest island favorite. Rows of condos line the sand, but the two different public access points make it easy for anyone to visit. The beach is mostly tucked out of the wind, and snorkeling is best on summer mornings when the bay is flat as glass.
Grab a kayak, a snorkel, or a SUP board and splash into the refreshing blue waters at this stretch of Makena shoreline. It’s always buzzing with activity, but it also has a shaded park for lounging. The summer tradewinds take longer to reach here than at beaches in Kihei or Wailea.
There’s a reason this two-mile beach is world-famous. Lined with resorts and activity stands, Ka‘anapali Beach is Maui’s favorite tropical beachfront playground. Surf, boogie board, scuba dive or snorkel along this always-happening shore, where parasailing, whale watching, and sunset tours depart directly from the beach. Soak up some rays or play volleyball by day, and then stay for the sunset cliff jumping ceremony at Pu‘u Keka‘a each night.
Sure, celebrities frequent the glitzy stretch of sand, but all are equals on Wailea Beach when it comes to working on a tan. Snorkelers hover above lazy green sea turtles around the southern point of the bay, and children splash on the water trampoline or play in the gentle surf.
Kaihalulu Beach (Red Sand Beach)
Unique for its color and renowned for its beauty, hidden Kaihalulu is a rugged enclave right in the center of Hana. Reaching the beach can be treacherous, however, and the cliff trail isn’t for everyone. Mediterranean rules apply to clothing, although the majority of snorkelers, swimmers, and cliff jumpers tend to be fully clothed.