The 10 Best Beaches in Maui—and Where to Stay

With sugary sands, turquoise waters, coral reefs, surf breaks, and more, Maui’s best beaches offer something for everyone.

An empty beach with green trees and gently ocean waters — The 10 Best Beaches in Maui

Don’t miss the enchanting Hamoa Beach when driving the Road to Hana.

Photo by agefotostock

After catastrophic wildfires in August 2023, Maui is inviting thoughtful travelers to return to the island and visit with compassion and care for the local community. With tourism as the driving force behind the island’s economy, travelers can show support by stepping out of resorts and shopping from local stores, making an effort to get to know the community and leaving the island’s stunning natural spaces even better than they found them—including the beaches.

Many of the softest and sandiest beaches lie in the sheltered leeward areas on the western and southern shores, but the hidden eastern coves near Hana also beckon, especially the emerald-green waters of Hamoa and northern Ho‘okipa, a spot prized by expert surfers and windsurfers.

When hitting the beach, make sure to leave only a gentle footprint: Bring reusable bags and water bottles, pick up litter, and choose your sunscreen wisely. Hawaii has a ban on oxybenzone and octinoxate—two common sunscreen ingredients that have been shown to bleach and stunt coral. “To have less impact, choose eco-conscious products like Maui-made Raw Love Sunscreen or sun-protective UPF clothing like rash guards and leggings,” advises marine biologist Lila Jones of Mermaid Dream Retreats.

Once you’re set with supplies, get ready to soak up some sun or surf at one of these 10 beautiful beaches in Maui.

1. Hamoa Beach

  • Best for: surfers
  • Facilities: restrooms, showers, foot-washing station, picnic tables, paved walkway to beach, nearby street parking
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Hamoa Bay House & Bungalow

An isolated strand, this gem on Maui’s eastern tip lies just off the 52-mile Road to Hana. Drivers on the legendary highway tend to zoom right past Hamoa’s golden sands and clear, emerald-green waters, but the savvy ones stop and stay a while—and bring a boogie board. Both Mark Twain and author James Michener fell for this sheltered, palm-fringed shoreline, which is arguably Maui’s most beautiful beach. You will too.

2. Ho‘okipa Beach Park

Three Hawaiian green sea turtles lounge on the sand at Hookipa Beach Park.

Head to Hookipa Beach Park to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Photo by Dave Fleetham/agefotostock

  • Best for: swimmers who love water sports of all kinds
  • Facilities: ADA accessible, parking, restrooms, picnic areas, grills, pavilions, water fountains, showers
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Mangolani Inn

At Ho‘okipa Beach Park on Maui’s north-central coast, reef breaks pock the Pacific, attracting expert surfers and windsurfers. You can watch the thrill seekers’ acrobatics from the aptly named Lookout Cliff, or seek something more laid-back via Ho‘okipa’s white sands and tide pools teeming with marine life. Another highlight remains the honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), most reliably spotted right before sunset as they haul ashore to sleep.

3. Honokalani Beach

A few people walk on the black-sand beach of Honokalani Beach, heavy vegetation to the left.

Honokalani Beach features black sand and volcanic tubes to explore.

Photo by Scott Mead/agefotostock

  • Best for: landscape photographers
  • Facilities: camping, restrooms, outdoor shower, hiking trails, picnic tables; all facilities located in the park, not necessarily near the beach
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Waiʻanapanapa State Park cabins

The 122-acre Waiʻanapanapa State Park on Maui’s eastern coast encompasses lava caves, blowholes, sea stacks, a natural stone arch, native hala (pandanus tree) groves, and Polynesia’s largest known heiau (an ancient Hawaiian temple). While the area is sacred to Hawaiians, most travelers come here for Honokalani Beach, which boasts black sands formed by the ocean battering a fractured lava flow. An essential stop amid Hana Highway’s 620 curves, the wild, unspoiled beach is beautiful to explore—but, notably, is not safe for swimming. Fierce currents often rip through the bay, and the water gets deep close to shore.

4. Honolua Bay

A surfer rides a tall wave at Honolua Bay.

Surfers flock to Honolua Bay during the winter months.

Photo by Douglas Peebles/agefotostock

A marine reserve, the rocky Honolua Bay on Maui’s northwestern coast delivers some of the island’s best snorkeling and scuba diving during the calm summer months. In the winter, as large storms move south of Alaska, the turquoise cove develops a hollow, powerful wave that draws expert surfers and those eager to watch their tricks.

5. Ka’anapali Beach

Green vegetation, blue waters with boats, and white sand with a few people at Kaanapali Beach

You can bodysurf, catch the sunset, or watch a cliff-diving ceremony at Kaanapali Beach.

Photo by David Olsen/agefotostock

Resorts flank this scenic three-mile stretch of white sand in northwestern Maui, but it’s wide enough to never feel crowded. A promenade runs the full length of the beach, from the Sheraton to the Hyatt hotels, allowing visitors with strollers and wheelchairs to easily soak up the views and sunrays. Head to the central area for the best bodysurfing, then continue to the northern Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock) to watch the sunset. Stay put until it’s dark to catch the nightly torch-lighting ceremony and cliff dive, which honors King Kahekili, the first human to brave this leina a kaʻuhane (a place where ancient Hawaiians believed their spirits leapt into the afterlife).

6. Kanaha Beach

A windsurfer in the air, a few feet above ocean water, at Kanaha Beach

A renowned windsurfing spot, Kanaha Beach is also perfect for swimming and picnicking.

Photo by Erik Aeder/agefotostock

  • Best for: windsurfers of all levels
  • Facilities: picnic tables, grills, volleyball courts, parking, restrooms, showers, water fountains
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Only a six-minute drive from the airport in north Maui, Kanaha Beach is a world-famous windsurfing spot. There’s even a beginner reef break here, though you’ll need to paddle out about 450 feet to catch the smaller waves. For the less adventurous, the beach is also good for swimming and has a large, grassy picnic area. Order a lunch box to go from nearby Hawaiian spot Tin Roof—the garlic shrimp and mochiko chicken are both exceptional—and savor it here, in view of the sparkling water.

7. Kapalua Bay

Calm waters to swim in at Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay is one of Maui’s best swimming beaches.

Photo by agefotostock

At Kapalua, two reefs form a half-moon cove, hence the beach’s name, which roughly translates to “arms embracing the sea.” The northeastern hot spot is one of Maui’s best swimming beaches, but the center of the bay is sandy, making for slightly cloudy water and only so-so snorkeling. (If you really want to see marine life, head next door to the clearer Namalu Bay.)

8. Maalaea Bay

Turquoise waters seen from the beach at Maalaea Bay

The 2.5-mile-long Maalaea Bay is completely uninterrupted by buildings.

Photo by Ron Dahlquist/agefotostock

Shielded by the Haleakalā volcano from morning breezes, this southern Maui beach features hard-packed sand rinsed by gentle surf. While many whale-watching and snorkeling tours depart from the adjacent harbor, near the aquarium Maui Ocean Center, Maalaea boasts two and a half miles of beauty completely uninterrupted by buildings. Combine a beach walk here with a stop at the nearby Maui Tropical Plantation, which offers a park, farm tours, zip-lining, a café, and a boutique.

9. Mākena State Park

A view of the wide sandy beach, with low trees and mountains in the distance, at Mākena State Park

The calm waters at Mākena State Park attract swimmers, snorkelers, and fishers.

Photo by Ron Dahlquist/age fotostock

  • Best for: beach-goers who love untouched landscapes
  • Facilities: restrooms, trash cans, concessions, picnic tables, paid parking
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Mākena Surf Resort

One of Maui’s largest wild beaches, Mākena stretches for three-quarters of a mile along the island’s southwestern sweep. Here, the distinctive Pu’u Olai cinder cone shades the sugary sand, and black lava outcrops offer protection from the trade winds. The often calm waters attract swimmers, snorkelers, and fishers, while the clothing-optional Little Beach, on the other side of the promontory, draws those willing to show some skin.

10. Wailea Beach

A narrow path cuts through mowed green lawns with palm trees overlooking Wailea Beach.

Wailea Beach links glamorous resorts like the Andaz and Fairmont.

Courtesy of Hawaiian Tourism Authority

  • Best for: whale spotters
  • Facilities: accessible parking, restrooms, picnic tables, shower, grill
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Where to stay: Andaz Maui

A third of a mile long, this southwestern beauty draws sun seekers with its tawny, fine-grained sands and whale sightings in the winter months. A paved path along the beach links several tiny resorts, including the design-forward Andaz Maui and the elegant but family-friendly Fairmont Kea Lani.

This article originally appeared online in 2019; it was most recently updated on March 19, 2024, to include current information. Erika Owens contributed to the reporting of this story.

Amanda is a travel writer and photographer who lived in Europe and the Middle East for eight years before returning to her home port in Seattle. A former wilderness guide, she’s happiest covering nature, animals, and outdoor adventures. Her Honduras scuba article won a Lowell Thomas award.
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