Maui beaches: the southwest from Kihei to Ahihi

Written by Flo Published on 17/04/2018

Maui Island, in addition to the impressive geological aspect of Haleakala and Puu Kukui, is an invitation to rest and relaxation. And what better way to relax on an island than to enjoy its beaches. Maui offers, by its shape in 8, several areas of beaches where it is good to sunbathe. The largest of all is the one that interests us in this article: the western zone, from Kihei to Ahihi, via Wailea and Makena.

The coast of this part of the island is a long strip of sand, more or less large, interspersed with rocky parts and small capes, which has become a favourite place for idleness at the seashore. There are also many resorts that welcome travellers who come to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Maui.

In this article, we propose you a list of the most notable beaches you will find, from north to south, as well as their interest (from our point of view). The points on the map at the bottom of the article indicate the location of parking lots in the immediate vicinity of each beach.

As we have not yet been able to test all of them, we have specified the ones we have been able to see. For the others, we gave them a rating based on their location, attendance and the opportunities they offer.

The beaches around Kihei

Kenolio Park

Located on the roadside at the entrance to Kihei, this strip of sand, which can be described as "not very sexy", provides shelter under the two trees that border it in case of high heat. The place is still charming, suitable for a small barefoot walk in the sand, but its proximity to the road removes its charm, especially as the beach is quite small at high tide.

Here is a canoe club, the Kihei Canoe Club, but unfortunately only accessible to members. On the other side of the road you will find 2-3 shops and a shave ice stand.

For parking, you will easily find a parking space in the small commercial area. There are no beach-level amenities.

Mai Poina Beach Park

A few hectometers from Kenolio Park, Mai Poina Beach Park is clearly prettier and more photogenic, especially at sunset. We really enjoyed walking along this beach lined with palm trees at the ends, clearly giving it an exotic look. Despite its proximity to the road, traffic is not perceived too much, a light dune acting as a sound barrier.

Feel free to venture to the southern end of the beach where there is a beautiful hidden area, covered with palm trees and protected from the road. By sunset is remarkable! It is our favorite spot to see the sun under the horizon, all quiet!

On the amenities side, toilets are installed on the car park near the beach.

Kalepolepo Park

Kalepolepo Park is located in the immediate vicinity of Maui Paradise Resort. If the vis-à-vis with the complex does not bother you, then you can consider a swim in Kalepolepo Park. The interest of this area remains in our opinion limited to the fact that a dike protects this small stretch of beach from the vagaries of the Pacific Ocean, on the left side from the car park. The advantage is that you can enjoy a quiet swimming area all year round.

Toilets are accessible at the car park.

Waipu'ilani Park

This very pleasant little park is relatively far from the resorts by a wide strip of grass and is equipped with tennis courts which are, according to information gleaned from the internet, accessible to all on a first come, first served basis. After a short walk in the shallow water, you can relax on your towel on the beach, or on the grass, in the sun or in the shade of the trees along the beach. Remember to take a snack, this park is an invitation to relaxation!

You will find sanitary facilities on site.

West Lipoa Street beach

A narrow sandy strip, this very sparsely frequented beach is close to shops and resorts, which simplifies access for those who want to walk to it, parked at their hotel or on nearby parking lots. The atmosphere is photogenic at sunset with the northern part of the island in the background.

There are no amenities on site.

Waiohuli Street beach

Similar to West Lipoa Street beach, you won't be disturbed by the crowd here. Some palm trees are present to remind you that the tropical cancer passes a few kilometers north.

There are no amenities on site.

Kalama Beach Park

This is more like a park than a beach where you go swimming. Kalama Beach Park is ideal for soaking your feet, watching surfers in the distance when the waves are present, picnicking at the edge of the ocean or even walking along the course laid out along the dike.

You will find sanitary facilities on site.

The beaches around Wailea

Cove Beach Park

Cove Beach is a small beach bordered by the South Kihei road to the north and a rocky outcrop to the south, protecting it from the waves in winter. It is not necessary to look here for tranquility and isolation because of the road which borders it. However, you can make a short stop there to take some pictures and soak your feet.

Sanitary facilities are available on site.

Kama'ole Beach Park I (Charley Young Beach Park)

This 500m long beach will delight young and old during the summer season. It has two accesses. One to the north, from Charley Young Beach Park, which leads to an area of small rocks at the end of the beach, and another further south, which leads directly to the middle of the beach from Kama'ole Beach Park I, which seems to be the main access. Both accesses have a small car park.

During our visit in April, the beach was beautiful but unfortunately very busy, which demotivated us to put our towel and what costs him one star less. It should probably be more pleasant in low season.

Despite the absence of the barrier reef, we did not notice any significant swell, which can be reassuring when swimming with children. The view is pleasant with in the distance the islands of Molokini, Kaho'olawe, Lanai and the West Maui peninsula. Plan what to shelter, places in the shade are rare here.

You will find sanitary facilities on site. The beach is guarded during the day.

Kama'ole Beach Park II

Located in the near continuity of its big sister to the north, Kama'ole II extends over 350m and has the same physiognomy as Kama'ole I. You will however find a little more shaded places at the north and south ends of the beach until around 3pm. On the other hand, the northern zone faces several not very elegant resorts, but this part still has the advantage of being bordered by beautiful coconut trees.

Swimming is guarded and toilets are present.

Kama'ole Beach Park III

Still in the continuation of Kama'ole I and II, here is the third of the name: Kama'ole III. The beach is about 350m long and is distinguished from the other two by the presence of some rocks to the north, south and center, giving it a little more cachet. It will be difficult here to find shade on the beach, the trees being above a small dune.

Like its sisters, the beach is guarded and equipped with amenities.

Keawakapu Beach

The long beach of Keawakapu Beach (1.1km) joins the beach of Mokapu to the south. There are two ways to get there: one to the north (the one indicated on our map at the bottom of the article) and one to the south of the beach (which is common to the Mokapu Beach way). The beach is lined with some resorts and houses. The seabed is varied, sometimes sandy, sometimes slightly rocky, enough to satisfy those who want to vary the pleasures between swimming and snorkeling. Note that there is little shade here in the afternoon.

You will find sanitary facilities on site.

Mokapu Beach Park

Mokapu Beach is located in the immediate extension of Keawakapu Beach, towards the south. Its characteristics are similar. You can also access the beach from the Ulua Beach Park car park located to the south. If you choose this option, all you have to do is take the Wailea Beach Path which runs north along the coast from the car park.

Ulua Beach Park

Ulua Beach is a pleasant medium sized beach bordered by a park with an impeccable lawn and dotted with palm trees. Some resorts and villas are located back along the beach, but without being a nuisance.

Ulua Beach is arc-shaped and has a sandy bottom. The beach is relatively little frequented and you will only find shade by going north. People who want to learn snorkeling can do it here without any problem. Sanitary facilities are available on site.

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach is one of the busiest beaches in Maui because it is bordered by many resorts, which costs it 2 stars in our opinion. This postcard landscape is unfortunately spoilt by the too present deckchairs and other parasols from the nearby hotels. If you like the places a little wild and calm as us, then you will easily understand that it is preferable to continue south or north towards a more authentic beach.

You will find sanitary facilities on site.

Polo Beach Park

In the same spirit as Wailea Beach, plastic deckchairs and parasols are abundant here. Fortunately, the southern part is free of this visual pollution, but a large two-storey residence is just above. Too bad!

You will find sanitary facilities on site.

Palauea Beach

This charming little beach also called White Rock is very little frequented. It is bordered only by a few houses and palm trees, while being framed by two rocky points. The Pacific is rather calm there, the southern point acting as a natural barrier. With a little luck, you will be able to protect yourself from the sun under one of the trees bordering the beach, acting as cocoons. If you are looking for peace and quiet, Palauea Beach is for you!

Note that there is no convenience on site.

The beaches around Makena

Po'olenalena Beach Park and Makena Beach Park

The two beaches, separated by a central rocky tongue, are rather pleasant and moderately frequented. In the north is Po'olenalena Beach which is often deserted because the bathers are satisfied with Makena Beach in the south, without daring to cross the central rocky part. Here the location is nicer than the northern beaches because there is less traffic and the surroundings are rather pretty.

In April 2017, we arrived on Makena Beach, a little by accident thinking we were in Chang Beach. We put our towels all south of Makena Beach and tried a small snorkeling excursion, without result, the sand disturbing the water. We were actually wrong, the most promising area for snorkeling is actually at the next point... Nevertheless we really enjoyed our lazy break at Mekana Beach.

South of Makena Beach you will find chemical showers and toilets.

Chang Beach / Makena Snorkeling Bay

So this is where one of the best snorkeling spots in this part of Maui would hide. A spot praised by many websites referencing the best places where you can observe underwater life. We would have put 4 stars, but it was without counting on our error of orientation which led us to the wrong beach, which was in fact Makena Beach, located nearby... When in doubt, not having been able to test the seabed of Chang Beach, we prefer to remain on an average rating of 3 stars. If you were able to try the experience, don't hesitate to let us know in the comments!

Note that there is no convenience on site.

Makena Landing Park

Designed for kayak launching, this small piece of beach will please those looking for a little isolation, while offering the possibility of doing a little snorkeling. The setting is rather pleasant and the rock-torn coast gives a certain charm to the place.

Sanitary facilities are available on site.

Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach parking lot is 5 minutes by flip-flops from the beach. This beautiful beach faces Lanai and its waters are particularly calm. You can see pleasure boats looking for calm waters, anchoring not far from the shore. Bordered by greenery and rocky parts to the north and south, you can relax at the water's edge, on your towel, or even equip yourself with your masks, snorkels and fins to explore the rocky bottoms at each end of the sand tongue.

Sanitary facilities are available on site.

One'uli Beach

This is the only black sandy beach on this list! To reach it, One'uli Beach will force you to take an unpaved road in the undergrowth. The difficulty of access will perhaps allow you to be able to observe turtles or monk seals, people unaware that at the end of this road hides a dark beach. According to the feedback we have found (not having had the opportunity to come yet), the place seems pleasant because isolated, but it would seem complicated to bathe there because the swell would be stronger than elsewhere.

Note that there is no convenience on site.

Little & Big Beach

Little Beach is known in Hawaii as one of the few nudist beaches. Because yes, if you plan to come back to work with a beautifully tanned skin, it is here that you should come ;-) The small beach is located north of Big Beach, away from parking lots. To reach it, you will have to park in the common car park with Big Beach (see the north access on the map at the bottom of the article), walk to Big Beach then follow the small path which leaves by going up towards the northwest. You will reach Little Beach after having crossed the small cape which protects her from her big sister, Big Beach.

As for Big Beach, also called Makena Beach (yes this name often comes up!) or Oneloa Beach, it is a long (1 km) and wide strip of sand quite busy, without however being crowded. Swimming conditions are pleasant and bodyboard enthusiasts meet there, especially when the swell increases with the south wind.

The beach being frequented by the families, it is now guarded, but the zone of bathing being extended, it is strongly advised to always keep an eye on its offspring. However, on busy days, expect parking lots to be full and you will have to park along the road.

On the spot you will find toilets and lifeguards.

Makena Cove

Here is a small fairy beach, also called "Secret Cove Beach", "Paako Cove", or "Wedding Beach". All these dreamy names foreshadow what awaits you! Makena Cove is a small jewel isolated from the road, where a small sandy beach is nestled in a green setting lined with palm trees. Unfortunately for us, we discovered this place too late, passing by without even knowing it existed.

So I invite you to discover this little place in Google Maps through Street View and viewing the 360° photos available. You will become aware of its photographic potential!

There are no amenities on site.

7132 Makena Road

As you may have guessed, 7132 Makena Road is not the name of this beach. We named it that because it doesn't seem to have an official name, unless we missed something.

This unnamed beach is very small, only about fifty metres wide and bordered by the Makena Road which passes a few metres from the water. At high tide the beach is almost non-existent, but at low tide it is a nice little strip of sand. Access to the beach is via a very small car park where only three cars maximum can park.

This small beach seems to be an interesting place to snorkel because it is surrounded by rocks that can shelter an interesting underwater life. We didn't take the time to stop there, but we still noticed its potential from the road that leads to Ahihi Bay.

Be careful not to do it only on calm seas to avoid being knocked over the rocks by the waves. There are no amenities on site.

Ahihi Bay - Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Here is the only real snorkeling spot we could test on Maui. Attention, this is not a beach suitable for idleness, you will be disappointed when you see it, even if the small coves before arriving at the car park are magnificent!

Rather, it is access to the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve Preservation Area. There is a large concrete parking lot. Rangers will probably be on hand to warn you to follow a few rules before you venture into the water.

For example, it is forbidden to walk on corals (as everywhere) and especially to enter the water after spreading sunscreen, unless you have applied it to your skin at least 15 minutes before swimming or use a cream that does not contain products harmful to marine life (but this is very rare...).

From the car park, a short path will lead you to a small pebble beach. The rest takes place underwater, where you will discover a very abundant and fearless underwater fauna, thanks to its protection zone.

That concludes this article on the beaches of western Maui, from Kihei to Ahihi. For the curious who want to know what is hidden at the end of the unpaved road after the parking of Ahihi, it is La Perouse Bay, a pretty bay with turquoise waters from where leaves a nice hiking trail that runs along the coast, then crossing the thick and recent lava flows. But we'll tell you about that in a future article!

The translation may not be accurate. If you detect any errors, please let us know , and we will correct them immediately. Thank you and sorry for this inconvenience. Sandrine & Flo

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