Beautiful Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

Napili Beach, Maui, HI: Complete 2024 Visitor Guide

Napili Beach, in sheltered Napili Bay, is one of the best family-friendly beaches on the sunny, west side of Maui.

Napili Bay Beach is a beautiful, centrally located beach, perfect for those living in the condos and resort villas fronting the beach, or those staying nearby at the tourist meccas of Lahaina and Kapalua.

The crystal clear, blue waters of Napili Bay are protected by an underwater reef from large waves, resulting in usually calm waters, great for families with kids.

Napili Beach and Napili Bay, family-friendly beach and waters in Maui, HI
Napili Beach and Napili Bay, family-friendly beach and waters in Maui, HI

Visiting Maui with younger kids? Our kids loved the warm waters, learning to boogie board and surf the gentle waves, while we tried our hand at standup paddle boarding and kayaking.

Let us guide you on what to do at Napili Beach, and help you plan your trip here! Spending a family beach day at Napili Beach is one of the best things to do in Maui!

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!

Sunset colors at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI
Sunset colors at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

Some links on this page may be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. For more details, refer to our disclosure.

Napili Beach Directions

Napili Bay Beach is located on the northwest side of Maui, the sunny leeward coastline. It is one of the many beaches in Kapalua, a few miles north of Kaanapali and Lahaina.

Take the Honoapiilani Highway, Highway 30, north from Lahaina and exit left on Napilihau Street towards the ocean.

Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI, and Napili Kai Beach Resort in the background
Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI, and Napili Kai Beach Resort in the background

At the end of the road, turn right on Lower Honoapiilani Road, and you have the option to turn left on one of multiple small roads heading to the ocean, like Napili Place, Hui Drive, etc. (expand the Napili Beach map below).

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Napili Beach Parking

Napili Beach parking is a challenge, unless you come early (ideally before 10:00 am).

We usually park on Napili Place, and there is a small pullout as you turn in on the right side. Street parking was free last time we parked.

No luck finding a spot on Napili Place? Then head further up to Hui Drive (a dead-end street parallel to the beach) and see if you can find street parking here.

Street parking on Lower Honoapiilani Road is also available, but getting stuff from here to the beach is a bit tricky. See if you can unload closer, and then look for parking.

Napili Bay Beach can get busy later in the morning and afternoon, so come early!
Napili Bay Beach can get busy later in the morning and afternoon, so come early!

As a last resort, you also have some paid parking lots, as well as the Kapalua Tennis Garden, where you can pay and park.

Napili Beach Map

The Napili Beach map below shows the location of Napili Beach, and the main attractions nearby. Please expand the map for directions and parking.

Napili Beach Access

Depending on where you parked, you can head to the beach via walkways and stairs. At the end of Napili Place is a small pathway marked “Napili Bay Beach Access.”

On Hui Drive, just after the road curves to the right, there is a short beach access pathway.

Napili Beach Reservations

Napili Beach is a public beach, and currently no reservations are required.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Napili Beach Amenities / Facilities

Location: Kapalua, northwest shore of Maui
Lifeguard: No
Beach Amenities: Showers, restrooms in resorts for guests
Food Nearby: The Gazebo and the Sea House. Merriman’s Kapalua is a short walk.
Parking: Street parking on Napili Place, Hui Drive or Lower Honoapiilani Road
Directions: Highway 30 north from Lahaina, left on Napilihau St, right on Lower Honoapiilani Road to one of multiple beach access roads (see above).

Beach showers are available on Hui Drive and Napili Kai Beach Resort. 

You’ll find restrooms in the different resorts and restaurants lining the beach, but note that these are usually limited to their guests.

Best Things to Do at Napili Beach

Napili Bay Beach is a great place for a beach day outing with the family, and the whole family can partake in many beach and water activities.

The beach is beautiful, with golden white, finely powdered, soft sands!

Note though that the beach slopes more sharply into the waters than typical, and that the waves do come deep into the sandy shores.

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

Waters are usually calm, clear and a stunning blue, especially in summer!

Vacationing with young kids? They will love the shallow waters near the shore and the tidepools, but we insisted our kids wear flotation jackets since no lifeguards are on duty.

You get amazing views of the nearby islands, Molokai and Lana’i, and if you stay back for sunset, you can snap stunning photos of the golden sun dipping behind the island of Lana’i!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

1. Napili Beach Snorkeling

Napili Beach is one of the best snorkeling beaches on West Maui, with sheltered waters, extensive underwater coral reefs, and shallow tidepools.

Those with a bit of experience with swimming and snorkeling can venture out to the larger coral reefs to the left of the beach, while beginners are best of nearer the shore in the shallow tidepools.

Shallow tidepools at Napili Beach, Maui, HI, great for beginning snorkelers
Shallow tidepools at Napili Beach, Maui, HI, great for beginning snorkelers

We’ve found snorkeling here in the morning is the best, because the underwater visibility is a lot better.

We saw many of the beautiful Hawaiian tropical fish here, including yellow tangs, convict tangs, butterflyfish, triggerfish, wrasses and some larger fish.

To recognize these and other Hawaiian tropical fish, consult our detailed Hawaiian Fish Snorkeling Guide.

If you don’t spot any Hawaiian green sea turtles, try the neighboring Honokeana Bay, where they are more abundant.

2. Napili Beach Swimming

Protected by the reefs, the waters in this crescent-shaped bay are usually fairly calm.

Calm summer waters at Napili Beach, perfect for families
Calm summer waters at Napili Beach, perfect for families

No lifeguards are on duty at Napili Bay Beach, so you enter water at your own risk. Our kids used flotation jackets.

Keep your eyes open, we swam with a family of turtles on our first day at the beach!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

3. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book on the Napili Beach

Sunbathers will love the soft, finely powdered, white sands on Napili Beach.

While the beach does tend to get crowded towards the afternoon, we had no trouble finding a reasonably private spot.

But make sure you park yourself way back, the waves tend to come in quite deep into the sandy beach.

If you didn’t bring beach umbrellas, you can find some shade at the back of the beach, from trees and hedges.

4. Stay Back for Spectacular Sunsets

Napili Bay Beach is one of the best spots on Maui to view spectacular sunsets, and we usually stay back for it.

The sky lights up with orange-red colors, while the glowing orb sinks into the ocean waters behind the neighboring island of Lana’i.

Watch a spectacular sunset from Napili Bay Beach, with the sun setting behind Lana'i island
Watch a spectacular sunset from Napili Bay Beach, with the sun setting behind Lana’i island

Watching this beautiful sunset with your partner is one of the most romantic things to do in Maui!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

5. Admire Turtles on Napili Beach

Like many of Maui’s beaches, Napili Beach is also frequented by Hawaiian green sea turtles that come to the sandy shores to bask in the sun and rest.

Hawaiian green sea turtle or honu on the beach
Hawaiian green sea turtle or honu on the beach

We saw at least a dozen when we were there, and more were coming in at dusk when we were getting ready to leave after viewing the sunset.

Make sure you give these beautiful creatures a wide berth, and don’t disturb their rest! Hawaiian green sea turtles are endangered and protected by law.

6. Surf and Boogie Board at Napili Beach, Maui, HI

The summer waves are gentle at Napili Beach, and a great place for kids to learn surfing and boogie boarding!

Children learning to boogie board and surf the gentle waves at Napili Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Children learning to boogie board and surf the gentle waves at Napili Beach, Maui, Hawaii

However, during winter and summer swells, waves can get quite large, and tend to cross the underwater reefs and break near shore.

That’s when you’ll see a bunch of local daredevil kids trying their hand at extreme boogie boarding!

We watched them ride the waves during a storm, and they would sometimes ride the waves from one end of the bay to the other end, diagonally!

Towering waves at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii, during swells
Towering waves at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii, during swells

Unless you know what you’re doing, surfing and boogie boarding under these extreme conditions is best left to the experienced locals!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

7. Hiking the Coastal Trails near Napili Bay Beach

Want to stretch your legs while the rest of the family is in the water? The Kapalua Coastal Trail starts from near the northern end of the Napili Bay Beach (see Napili Beach map above).

One of the best Maui hikes, the Kapalua Coastal trail offers spectacular views and takes you along varying coastline terrain through multiple beaches, tidepools, ritzy resorts, lava formations and labyrinths.

Napili Bay Beach coastline trail along Napili Bay, Maui, HI
Napili Bay Beach coastline trail along Napili Bay, Maui, HI

You may even see whales breaching in winter as you hike along the coast, and nesting wedge-tailed shearwater birds (a burrowing seabird)!

On the southern end, you can hike the Napili Bay Beach trail, a short, paved trail overlooking Napili Bay, with stunning views and great for spotting Hawaiian seabirds or whales in winter.

8. Kayaking, Standup Paddle Boarding, and Canoeing

We spent one afternoon in Napili Bay standup paddle boarding, exploring the sheltered bay and admiring the coastline views from the ocean side.

The gentle summer ocean waters and protected nature of the waters makes Napili Bay a great place to try your hand with a spot of kayaking, canoeing and standup paddle boarding on open ocean waters.

Outrigger canoe in Napili Bay, where canoeing, hiking and SUP are popular
Outrigger canoe in Napili Bay, where canoeing, hiking and SUP are popular

Just make sure you don’t head out too far, we saw some people get into trouble when the winds picked up in the afternoon, and had to be helped back into the safety of the bay waters.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

9. Sample the Delicious Food from Local Restaurants

Foodie visiting Napili Bay Beach? You’ll love the food options available nearby, especially if you don’t mind walking a bit.

Fine dining with panoramic ocean views at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI
Fine dining with panoramic ocean views at Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

If you came in early to make sure you got good parking, and are looking for a breakfast spot, you can’t go wrong with either the Sea House restaurant on the northern end or The Gazebo at the southern end of Napili Bay Beach.

Honeymooning couple looking for a romantic dinner? Check out Merriman’s Kapalua at the northern end, with panoramic views of the ocean, and a farm-to-table concept featuring Hawaiian regional cuisine.

A bit further up along Kapalua Coastal Trail, you’ll hit many high-end options including Ritz Carlton’s Burger Shack for a lunch break.

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?).

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Tips for Your Visit to Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

For the most part, the underwater reef and protective arms of the bay provide shelter against large waves hitting the shore.

However, under high surf conditions and swells, the waves do cross these barriers, and large, powerful waves make it to the shore.

Check weather and surf conditions at Napili Beach here.

Towering waves breaking near the shore at Napili Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Towering waves breaking near the shore at Napili Bay, Maui, Hawaii

Heed the warning signs posted, and use your common sense and judgment on whether to enter the waters.

If the waves cross the underwater reef barriers, then they tend to break close to shore, making the waters dangerous.

Sign warning that large waves can break near the shore, Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI
Sign warning that large waves can break near the shore, Napili Bay Beach, Maui, HI

We found locals quite helpful and a rich source of information on where to head for snorkeling, viewing green sea turtles, and avoiding currents.

Shade is somewhat limited on the beach, and mainly at the back of the beach near the hedges and trees. Use reefsafe sunscreen liberally!

The nice thing about visiting Napili Bay Beach is easily accessible rentals like Snorkel Bob’s Napili, where you can reserve and rent snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, flotation devices, and wetsuits.

A big drawback of Napili Beach is limited facilities and no lifeguards.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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.

Also be sure to check out the safety guide put out by Maui County.

The 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!

Napili Bay Beach, early morning, Maui, HI
Napili Bay Beach, early morning, Maui, HI

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!

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 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.

Did you find this article informative? Pin it on Pinterest for later!

Discover the complete guide to visiting beautiful Napili Beach in Maui, Hawaii! Things to do, how to get there, more! #mauibeaches #mauitravel

Like this article? Share it with your friends!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *