Calm waters at Wailea Beach, perfect for swimming or wading in the waters

13 Must Visit Beaches In Maui, HI: Complete 2024 Visitor Guide

What we loved about Maui were its stunning beaches, and our kids just couldn’t get enough.

Having visited Maui many times, we’ll guide you to the best beaches in Maui, ones that will be perfect for your needs, because each Maui beach offers something different!

Need to keep your teenage kids busy during the vacation? Ka’anapali Beach is chock full of water activities, and our kids had a ball here!

Stunning Ka'anapali Beach, one of the best beaches in Maui for water activities
Stunning Ka’anapali Beach, one of the best beaches in Maui for water activities

Want to focus on snorkeling? Being part of the Honolua-Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, Honolua Bay offers some of the best snorkeling we’ve found on Hawaii, with abundant, larger tropical fish and an amazing underwater coral reefs seascape!

Tired of the tourist throngs? We found Makena Beach and Little Beach, two stunningly beautiful Maui beaches, relatively deserted on weekdays, due to their distance from the tourist hubs.

Our curated list of the best beaches on Maui is just what you need to plan the perfect family beach day!

Hey, by the way! Snorkeling is probably at the top of your Maui itinerary — check out our guides to the best tours to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, two of the top snorkel spots on Maui!

Windsurfers enjoying consistent winds at Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui, HI
Windsurfers enjoying consistent winds at Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, HI

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Kinds of Best Beaches in Maui

I cannot emphasize this more: the best beaches on Maui for you may be totally different from those for me!

Each of the Maui beaches below have been culled from dozens of beaches on the island for what they specifically offer, and here’s how to select them.

Best Beaches in Maui for Water Activities

Hands down the best beach on Maui for water activities, Ka’anapali Beach is both convenient and supports a multitude of activities to keep adventure tourists and thrill-seeking teenagers happy.

Scuba divers exploring the coral reefs near Ka'anapali Beach, Maui
Scuba divers exploring the coral reefs near Ka’anapali Beach, Maui

Other options include Wailea Beach, Keawakapu Beach (less crowded) and Napili Bay Beach.

Best Maui Beaches for Snorkeling

Experienced snorkelers must visit Honolua Bay, one of the best snorkeling spots on Maui, with teeming tropical fish to admire and an extensive, underwater coral reef to explore!

In fact, many of the snorkeling tours on Maui stop here as well, though well offshore, with more exciting fish to spot.

For beginners, beaches on the sunny and calmer West Maui shore like Kapalua Bay Beach or Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach are good options, and for small kids, Baby Beach in Lahaina is an excellent choice!

Haven’t snorkeled before and don’t know what to expect to see? We saw tons of yellow tangs, convict tangs, Moorish idols, parrotfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, and even a moray eel hiding in the coral rocks!

To recognize and identify these common and beautiful fish, consult our detailed Hawaiian Fish Snorkeling guide!

Best Swimming Beaches on Maui

Want a refreshing dip or a bit of exercise in calm, ocean waters?

With warm, tropical waters, Hawaii’s beaches are the perfect place for an open ocean swim, and Maui is no different. What’s more, many of the best Maui beaches are lifeguarded!

Tourists swimming and cliff jumping at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, HI
Tourists swimming and cliff jumping at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, HI

Our favorite swimming beaches on Maui are Ka’anapali Beach, Makena Beach (Big Beach, lifeguarded), and Wailea Beach.

But as with any beach, know that you may encounter rogue waves and strong currents, and be wary of going too far from the shore.

Top Turtle Beaches in Maui

Yearning to watch Hawaiian green sea turtles? Tons of these giant, iconic marine animals may be found basking on the sandy shores of Maluaka Beach, commonly referred to as Turtle Town, or swimming in the coral reefs nearby.

Turtles in Maluaka Beach, one of the best Maui beaches to spot turtles
Turtles in Maluaka Beach, one of the best Maui beaches to spot turtles

Or if you’re taking the road to Hana, make sure you stop at Ho’okipa Beach Park, another hotspot for Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Best Kid Friendly Beaches on Maui

With younger kids, I highly recommend Baby Beach in Lahaina, with a well-protected shallow water area, perfect for younger kids to splash around or try a bit of snorkeling.

Baby Beach, near Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, a perfect snorkeling destination for families with small kids
Baby Beach, near Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, a perfect snorkeling destination for families with small kids

Other family-oriented, kid friendly Maui beaches include DT Fleming Park (less crowded, lifeguarded), Wailea Beach, Maluaka Beach and Makena Beach (has lifeguards).

Black Sand Beaches in Maui & Red Sand Beaches in Maui

Quick, how many black sand beaches or red sand beaches have you seen? Like us, probably none, till we vacationed in Hawaii.

Some of the best black sand beaches are on Big Island, but Maui too boasts a few!

The easiest ones to visit are the Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park, a must stop on the scenic road to Hana, and the One’uli Black Sand Beach in Makena State Park.

Beautiful Honokalani Beach, one of the easiest black sand beaches in Maui to visit
Beautiful Honokalani Beach, one of the easiest black sand beaches in Maui to visit

Unfortunately, the popular Red Sand Beach on Maui, the Kaihalulu Beach, is closed due to landslides making the hike dangerous.

Kaihalulu Beach, one of the red sand beaches on Maui, currently closed
Kaihalulu Beach, one of the red sand beaches on Maui, currently closed

If you’re visiting the Big Island, check out the green sand beach, only one of four green sand beaches in the world!

Best Clothing Optional Beaches of Maui

If you’re a free-spirited soul looking to bare it all, you can find “informal” nude beaches on Maui.

I put that in quotes, because Hawaii has officially outlawed nudity on beaches. Despite that, you’ll see beachgoers flouting the law on beaches commonly known to be clothing optional, including the Little Beach and the Red Sand Beach.

If that offends you, stay away or be warned you may see some people in their birthday suits.

The Best Maui Beaches

1. Ka’anapali Beach

I rate Ka’anapali Beach one of the best all-round beaches on Maui, offering a wide range of water activities, with vibes similar to Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

On the sunny west coast of Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is a long stretch of white coral sands contrasting with intense blue, warm ocean waters, one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii!

Spectacular Ka'anapali Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui, Hawaii
Spectacular Ka’anapali Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui, Hawaii

Ringed by ritzy resorts and open-air, beachfront shopping malls, Ka’anapali Beach offers rentals, shopping, restaurants and bars, and Hawaiian cultural activities like luaus and even a sunset cliff-jumping ceremony.

Our kids had great fun here, both on the beach and in the ocean waters, enjoying swimming, surfing, snorkeling and a bit of cliff jumping (smaller rocks on the Black Rock area).

Swimming, cliff jumping and other water activities at Ka'anapali Beach, one of the best Maui beaches
Swimming, cliff jumping and other water activities at Ka’anapali Beach, one of the best Maui beaches

A visit to Ka’anapali Beach requires a lot of planning, refer to our detailed visitor guide to Ka’anapali Beach for more information and tips.

2. Black Sand Beach Maui (Honokalani Beach or Pailoa Beach)

One of the most beautiful places in Hawaii, Honokalani Black Sand Beach on Maui, is one of the must stops on the road to Hana, located in the Wai’anapanapa State Park.

One of the first black sand beaches we’ve ever visited, we were completely blown away by the soft, finely powdered black sand glistening in the light.

Black sand beaches in Big Island are more common, but Maui has only a couple, and Oahu and Kauai have none, with their ancient black sand beaches having been washed away long ago.

Honokalani Beach, one of the best black sand beaches of Maui
Honokalani Beach, one of the best black sand beaches of Maui

Due to its rarity, visiting a black sand beach was a top 10 Maui bucket list item for us, and we’re glad we stopped here.

Refer to our Black Sand Beach Maui visitor guide to learn more about other things to do here like visiting the sea arches and the Wai’anapanapa State Park Blowhole.

3. Honolua Bay (Snorkeling & Surfing)

I rate Honolua Bay, a beautiful, crescent-shaped bay surrounded by cliffs, one of the two best snorkeling spots on Maui (the other being Molokini Crater accessible by boat tours).

Honolua Bay, one of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling and for experienced surfers
Honolua Bay, one of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling and for experienced surfers

Being part of the Honolua-Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, and with extensive underwater coral reefs, the beautiful tropical fish we saw while snorkeling at Honolua Bay were just much more plentiful and larger than what we saw elsewhere.

What’s more, you can even scuba dive at night here, an incredible and unique experience!

Learn more about surfing, whale watching, and viewing sunsets from our visitor guide to Honolua Bay.

Surfers in Honolua Bay, Maui, HI, waiting for the right waves to ride
Surfers in Honolua Bay, Maui, HI, waiting for the right waves to ride

4. Maluaka Beach (Turtle Town)

Nicknamed Turtle Town, Maluaka Beach is where you can see Hawaiian green sea turtles with clockwork-like regularity.

Even on the rare occasion when none are basking on the sandy shores, snorkeling near the coral reefs will get you a few sightings of them in their natural environment.

Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town, one of the best Maui beaches for spotting Hawaiian green sea turtles
Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town, one of the best Maui beaches for spotting Hawaiian green sea turtles

With restrooms, showers, free parking and lots of food options nearby, Maluaka Beach is an excellent choice for families that want to snorkel, swim, sunbathe, and boogie board!

Refer to our detailed guide on Maluaka Beach to plan a trip here.

5. Ho’okipa Beach

Buffeted by trade winds with regularity, Ho’okipa Beach is a world-famous destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers, who relish the prospect of riding the waves and winds, often to be airborne to ridiculous heights.

Experienced windsurfers heading to meet the waves at Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui, HI
Experienced windsurfers heading to meet the waves at Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, HI

While these waves are strictly for experienced professionals, that doesn’t stop ordinary folks like us from admiring their antics, and Ho’okipa Lookout on the far eastern end is an excellent vantage point.

I highly recommend stopping at Ho’okipa Beach for a few minutes if you’re taking the scenic road to Hana.

Beautiful Ho'okipa Beach, one of the best beaches in Maui on the scenic road to Hana
Beautiful Ho’okipa Beach, one of the best beaches in Maui on the scenic road to Hana

Want to spend more time here? Check out our visitor guide to Ho’okipa Beach to learn what are the things to do here.

6. Wailea Beach

Yet another stunning Maui beach on the sunny, southwest side of Maui, the 1999 winner of Dr. Beach’s Best Beach in America, Wailea Beach offers soft golden sands and turquoise blue waters, a true Hawaiian tropical paradise!

Stunning Wailea Beach, yet another of the beaches in Maui to win Dr. Beach's Best Beach in America award
Stunning Wailea Beach, yet another of the beaches in Maui to win Dr. Beach’s Best Beach in America award

Like Ka’anapali Beach further up north, Wailea Beach is surrounded by upscale resorts, and with it comes fine dining restaurants and open-air beachfront malls.

Apart from the swimming, surfing, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and other activities here, what we remember the most are the spectacular sunsets we watched while strolling along the beautiful coastal walkway.

Wailea Beach sunset from Wailea Beach path, late evening
Wailea Beach sunset from Wailea Beach path, late evening

Makena State Park

Located on the southwest corner of Maui, Makena State Park is home to three beautiful beaches, each of which would independently merit a spot on any list of the top 10 beaches of Maui!

Puu Olai cinder cone, Little and Big Beach of Makena State Park, Maui
Puu Olai cinder cone, Little and Big Beach of Makena State Park, Maui

7. Makena Beach (Big Beach or Oneloa Beach)

Makena Beach, simply referred to as Big Beach because it is huge, is a gorgeous beach that was virtually deserted when we visited on a weekday morning, mainly because its a bit far away from all the tourist hotspots.

Huge Makena Beach, one of the best secluded beaches of Maui
Huge Makena Beach, one of the best secluded beaches of Maui

And all the better for us! We and our kids had a great time snorkeling, swimming and boogie boarding, with waves that were just the right size, thrilling to ride but not scary!

Want to escape the crowds at Ka’anapali Beach? Big Beach is the answer! To plan your trip here, refer to our detailed guide on Makena Beach.

8. Little Beach, Maui

Adjacent to the Big Beach, the Little Beach can be reached using a small trail at the northern end of Big Beach to cross over a lava rock outcropping that juts into the ocean.

Little Beach, Maui, one of the few "clothing-optional" beaches in Maui
Little Beach, Maui, one of the few “clothing-optional” beaches in Maui

A secluded cove, ensconced under the foothils of Puu Olai cinder cone, Little Beach is somewhat infamously known to be one of the nude beaches on Maui, and while we did see a few folks that were in the buff, many were not.

The coral reefs just offshore Little Beach have some of the best snorkeling in this area.

Planning a visit? Learn more by referring to our guide to Little Beach, Maui.

9. One’uli Beach (Black Sand Beach)

On the way to the Big Beach, you’ll come to a small side road that takes you to one of the few black sand beaches on Maui, One’uli Beach.

One'uli Beach, one of the few black and red sand beaches of Maui
One’uli Beach, one of the few black and red sand beaches of Maui

I’ve been to One’uli Beach multiple times, and each time I felt the sand color was a bit different, maybe due to the lighting and time of day.

The color varied from black to gray to red, the last one possibly due to the reddish tinges from the Pu’u Olai cinder cone looming above!

Snorkeling, diving, and viewing sunsets were our water and beach activities here.

10. Kapalua Bay Beach, Oneloa Beach, D.T. Fleming Beach Park

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of our favorite hikes on Maui, and the trail winds along multiple beautiful Maui beaches and bays, including Kapalua Bay Beach, Namalu Bay, Hawea Point, Oneloa Beach, Dragon’s Teeth, and D.T. Fleming Beach Park.

Spectacular Kapalua Bay Beach, one of the many Maui beaches on the scenic Kapalua Coastal Trail hike
Spectacular Kapalua Bay Beach, one of the many Maui beaches on the scenic Kapalua Coastal Trail hike

Of these our favorite has always been Kapalua Bay Beach, with soft, finely powdered white sands and overlooking a pretty bay with calm, turquoise waters.

Especially when staying at a nearby Kapalua resort, we spent a lot of time at Kapalua Bay Beach, enjoying swimming and snorkeling in the sheltered waters of the bay!

We saw one of the most spectacular Maui sunsets from here, while strolling along the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

The D.T. Fleming Beach Park, on the other end of the Kapalua Coastal Trail, is excellent for families with smaller kids, lifeguarded, and a lot less crowded.

D.T. Fleming Beach Park, one of the Maui beaches great for families with kids
D.T. Fleming Beach Park, one of the Maui beaches great for families with kids

11. Keawakapu Beach

Rated by some of the locals we chatted with as the best beach on Maui, Keawakapu Beach, is one of our favorite South Maui beaches.

Flying under the tourist radar, this beautiful beach was our first choice for learning water activities like surfing and standup paddleboarding.

Keawakapu Beach, popular with locals who rate it as one of the best beaches on Maui, deserted on weekdays
Keawakapu Beach, popular with locals who rate it as one of the best beaches on Maui, deserted on weekdays

Compared to Ka’anapali Beach, Keawakapu Beach was virtually deserted on weekdays, and still offered the convenience of rentals from nearby resorts.

12. Napili Beach & Napili Bay

Sheltered by an extensive, underwater coral reef, Napili Beach is a beautiful, centrally located beach close to Lahaina and Kapalua, just on the other side of Kapalua Bay.

Beautiful Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI
Beautiful Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

When we stayed in nearby condos, Napili Beach was a regular beach haunt for us, with the kids learning to surf and boogie board here, in the calm, shallow waters of the bay.

One of the best snorkeling beaches on West Maui, our kids had fun spotting fish and swimming around.

Napili Beach, one of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling and swimming
Napili Beach, one of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling and swimming

13. Baby Beach

When we vacationed on Maui with younger kids, our biggest struggle was finding a relatively safe beach with shallow waters or tidepools for our kids to splash around in.

Until we discovered Baby Beach in Lahaina! Not as stunning as the other beaches just up north, Baby Beach though fitted our needs perfectly, with an offshore reef protecting the shallow waters from larger waves.

Baby Beach, near Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, a perfect snorkeling destination for families with small kids
Baby Beach, near Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, a perfect snorkeling destination for families with small kids

Our kids had a great time in the water, and even explored some of the coral reefs here to spot tropical fish, their first snorkeling adventure!

They were delighted to see the nimble fish, darting around, almost playing hide and seek with them.

Baby Beach, Lahaina, one of the better beaches in Maui for families with smaller kids
Baby Beach, Lahaina, one of the better beaches in Maui for families with smaller kids

Map of the Best Maui Beaches

The below map of the best Maui beaches shows their locations, and please expand the map to see driving directions and parking lots.

Snorkeling and Water Activities Gear Checklist

Though you can rent snorkeling gear or use the ones that come with tours, we invested in our own gear, mainly due to Covid-19 (why take the risk?).

Water shoes recommended on the lava rocks and gravel stones at Honolua Bay, Maui, HI
Water shoes recommended on the lava rocks and gravel stones at Honolua Bay, Maui, HI

Ocean Safety Tips

Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful, but ocean activities can be dangerous. Ocean conditions are dynamic and can change without warning.

Here are some tips to enjoy the ocean and beaches safely:

  • ALWAYS heed posted warning signs.
  • Check conditions just before you arrive at your chosen beach, and watch conditions at the beach for a bit before you decide to enter the water.
  • Swim at a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguard for advice before you enter the water.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean, whether you are standing at the shore or on a cliff above. If you see wet rocks or sand, it means the water has been here recently.
  • Know your limitations, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. If in doubt, do not go out.
  • If you choose to enter the water, go with a partner or in a group.
  • Know that alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills in the water.
  • Keep children close and always keep your eyes on what they are doing in the water.
  • Watch for sharp coral or rocks or sea urchins.

Best Maui Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?

Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!

A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!

A Maui whale watching raft tour, which will let you see the massive humpback whales at eye level! (You can also opt for a more sedate boat whale watching tour.) A MUST winter Maui activity!

A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!

A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!

An oceanfront luau in Wailea where you can enjoy a sunset buffet and traditional Polynesian entertainment. You can also opt for a Kaanapali oceanfront luau.

Renting a Car in Maui

The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.

Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Maui car rentals now!

Where to Stay in Maui

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.

We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Maui vacation rental on VRBO now!

Hawaiian cliff jumper, part of a traditional ceremony at sunset at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui
Hawaiian cliff jumper, part of a traditional ceremony at sunset at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!

If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.

If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!

And if you are planning a brief first visit to Maui, here’s our 3-day Maui itinerary to help you flesh out your own trip!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.

One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!

Maui boasts one of only two national parks in Hawaii. Read our round-up of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park. We also have the ultimate guide to sunrise at Haleakala.

We also have a guide to the best hikes in Haleakala National Park, and in-depth hiking guides to the two most epic hikes in the park: the Sliding Sands Trail and the Pipiwai Trail.

Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!

We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.

Water activities are plentiful in Maui! Check out our epic guide to whale watching in Maui, and our guide to the best Molokini snorkeling tours and the best Turtle Town snorkeling.

If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.

Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.

We also have articles on the much-visited Kaanapali Beach, the popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.

If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.

Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.

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Discover the top beaches in Maui, Hawaii, from magical Honokalani Black Sand Beach to Ka'anapali Beach and Big Beach. Where to spend your beach days in Maui!

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