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  1. Hawaii
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  3. The beautiful beaches of West Maui
Sandrine
Written by Sandrine Published on 23/04/20

Thanks to its elongated shape of 8, Maui offers visitors an incredible number of beaches to discover. The vast majority of them are located on the west coast of the island and are spread out either on the southwest between Kihei and Āhihi, or on the northwest along the Honoapiilani Highway. It is the latter that will interest us in this article.

Let's take the time to drive slowly up Highway 30 (Honoapiilani Highway), from Pāpalaua in the south to the junction with the small road 340 in the very north, the Kahekili Highway. We will stop at every small or large beach we pass to show you around. Because you will soon see that it is in this part of the island that you will find the most beautiful beaches of Maui, which are sublimated by the turquoise color of the water, beautiful when the sun reflects on it.

To help you make a choice between all these beautiful beaches, we will try to guide you by estimating the interest (from our point of view) of each of them. As some beaches have very particular characteristics that may or may not please you, we have evaluated them according to their location, environment, crowds and the opportunities they seem to offer.

1The southern beaches between Pāpalaua and Launiupoko

The southern section of the western part of Maui is bordered by long shady sandy beaches, which run along a reef that is not very protected but where the water takes on a beautiful turquoise hue. These beaches are very popular with locals who come here in large numbers to relax on weekends.

Pāpalaua Beach

With its 1 km long, the beach of Pāpalaua is the first one that you discover when you drive around the western part of Maui on Highway 30. Here some trees allow you to camouflage yourself from the road while providing shade, which is not to displease.

Once at the water's edge, we forget about the highway that passes just behind, so beautiful is the color of the ocean under the sun's rays, contrasting with the clear, almost white sand. Snorkeling can be interesting when the sea is calm.

Pāpalaua Beach - Maui
A quiet corner in the shade of the tree!

We really appreciated the calm of this beach despite the nearby road. It is really necessary to come there by good weather, the colors being not at all the same under the clouds.

It is best to avoid the weekend to come and relax here, as the seaside is taken over by the locals who come to settle here for the day with their families. The beach being long, it is quite easy to find a secluded spot to enjoy it during the week. Only chemical toilets are available on site at several places on the beach. Swimming is not supervised.

How to access Pāpalaua Beach

No need to specify how to access this beach as it is visible from the Highway. You can easily park on the side of the road at different spots along the beach. The parking is only possible on the sea side (be careful, it is not easy to make a U-turn as there is a lot of traffic on the Highway).

Ukumehame Beach

In a similar way as Pāpalaua Beach, Ukumehame Beach offers in addition a reef that generates nice little waves in the distance, popular with surfers. In spite of these waves that remain far away, the sea is often calm at the edge of the sand thanks to a shallow reef.

There are also many trees on the beach that will offer some shade, although a little less numerous and more scattered than on the previous beach, which is also narrower.

Here too, it will be better to come during the week as the beach is very popular with locals who come with their families and surfers on the weekends. Chemical toilets as well as a few picnic tables are located at the level of the small parking lot of the Beach Park at the beginning of the beach. Swimming is not supervised.

Ukumehame beach - Maui
Beachfront with the waves of the reef in the distance.

How to get to Ukumehame Beach

As for its neighbor, the beach is located along the Highway. A parking lot is available at the beginning of the beach, but it is also possible to park all along the beach on the sand along the road. Here again, parking is only possible on the sea side (be careful, it is not easy to make a U-turn as there is a lot of traffic on the Highway).

Olowalu Beach

In the continuity of the previous beaches, Olowalu beach offers some places in the shade of trees, always close to the road. Here the sand differs by taking a darker shade of gray. Although the beach is not protected by a coral reef, the water remains generally quite calm thanks to a gently sloping beach and a shallow reef that can be interesting to discover while snorkeling.

Olowalu beach
At the water's edge at Olowalu Beach

But be careful here because we have seen signs warning against sharks. These signs are placed all along the beach. More generally, always check for sharks before going into the water (even if they are not numerous in the archipelago). These signs can be temporary or sometimes indicate other dangers such as jellyfish invasion for example or strong currents...

Warning sign for the possible presence of sharks
Warning sign for the possible presence of sharks

There are no amenities here. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Olowalu Beach

The beach is along the Highway. It is possible to park at several places on the beach along the road on the sand. As for the previous ones, the parking is only possible on the sea side (be careful, it is not easy to make a U-turn because the traffic is important on the Highway).

Launiupoko Beach Park

This beach park offers a swimming area protected by a stone dike that will allow the youngest children to enjoy a calm sea even if the beach is not very welcoming. The place is also pleasant for a meal under the trees thanks to its numerous picnic tables.

Waves are regular outside the protected area, which also makes it a spot frequented by surfers.

Launiupoko Beach Park - Maui
The protected swimming area of the beach park

Sanitary facilities with shower are located at the parking lot level. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Launiupoko Beach Park

A large parking lot with direct access from the Honoapiilani Highway allows you to park in front of the park.

2Beaches around Lāhainā

The city of Lāhainā is famous for its ideal geographical location for spotting whales in winter, which often come between the islands of Maui and Lanai. Once a prosperous old town, it was from the port of Lāhainā that whalers set sail every day when whaling was in full swing in the early 1800s. Lāhainā was the former capital of the unified kingdom of Hawaii before it was transferred to Honolulu following the annexation by the United States.

If you're passing through Lāhainā, don't miss a stop in its historic center with its colorful little houses along the seaside promenade. Continue to the market square where one of the most beautiful Banyan of the archipelago is located. Planted in 1873, the tree has become the symbol of the small town. Today, it covers the whole square!

On the beach side, the coastline near Lāhainā is not the most charming. One will rather come here to walk along the ocean than to swim there, the prettiest beaches being located a little more in the north of the island.

Baby Beach

We were not really excited about this beach near the center of Lāhainā, although it is lined with palm trees and protected by a reef that can be interesting to explore for snorkeling.

Baby beach - Maui
The west end of Baby Beach

A lot of locals come here. There is no installation on site. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Baby Beach

Parking is not really possible in the residential area bordering the beach. It will be necessary to park a little further, for example on Kenui Street. Then, a pedestrian access allows to reach the beach from Kamaka Circle.

Waikuli Wayside Park

More than just a beach, the Waikuli Wayside Park offers a 1.5 km long seaside promenade north of Lāhainā, dotted with shady picnic tables, ideal for snacking. Towards the middle of the boardwalk that joins the Hanakaoʻo Park located south of Ka'anapali, a small sandy beach is perfect for swimming and why not observe the turtles resting on the sand near Turtle Rock.

Waikuli Wayside Park
Some picnic tables along the parkway.
Tortue au Waikuli Wayside Park
A turtle on the sand of the small beach

Sanitary facilities with showers are available at each parking area along the promenade. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Waikuli Wayside Park

3 large parking lots allow for easy parking along the Honoapiilani Highway.

Hanakaoo Beach Park

This small park located south of Ka'anapali has easy access to the beach thanks to a large adjoining parking lot. Swimming is supervised and some sheltered picnic tables are convenient for a lunch break in the shade.

The beach itself, which joins that of Kā'anapali beach further north, has no real charm but has a few trees for shade with a more intimate area to the left of the lifeguard station. Continuing south, a footpath leads to the Waikuli Wayside Park.

Hanakaoo Park - Maui
The beach on the north side with the lifeguard station in the foreground

There are sanitary facilities with shower near the parking lot.

How to get to Hanakaoo Park

A large dirt parking lot allows you to park at the beach level. A second smaller but concrete parking lot allows access to the sanitary facilities and picnic tables. Both parking lots have a common entrance from the Honoapiilani Highway.

3Beaches around Kā 'anapali

Here we are now near Kā'anapali, the first of the 3 cities that follow each other along the northwest coast of Maui. Kā'anapali is famous for its many golf greens as well as for its huge resorts with their giant swimming pools lining the waterfront. If you're looking for a quiet, wilderness spot, stop by!

But if you like the chic and casual atmosphere, you'll love to take a stroll on the Kāʻanapali Beachwalk that runs along the ocean and its many resorts from Hanakaoo Beach.

Kā'anapali Beach

Kā'anapali beach extends in the continuity of Hanakaoo Beach on almost 1.7 km! Although the beach is pretty, we did not find any real interest to come here, unless we stay nearby or come for a walk along the Kāʻanapali Beachwalk.

It is mainly the many guests from the large nearby resorts who come to bask in the sand, as parking facilities are limited for others. You should also expect to have a little more waves here, as this part of the island is more exposed to waves.

Kā'anapali beach - Maui
The beach borders the Kāʻanapali Beachwalk
Kā'anapali beach - Maui
Vacation atmosphere on the promenade and the sand

There are showers at various points along the promenade near the major resorts. There are no public washrooms. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to access Kā 'anapali Beach

If you come with your car, only 2 small parking lots serve this beach, in the middle and in the south. The south access is from a small public parking of about 20 spaces located at the end of Nohea Kai Drive. You will then have to take the adjacent pedestrian path to reach the beach. Another small public parking lot is located just before the bend of Nohea Kai Drive at the Kaanapali Alii Resort. From here, another footpath leads to the beach along the large parking lots of the resorts.

Black Rock Beach

In the continuation of Kā 'anapali beach is Black Rock Beach, a wide popular beach known for its black rocks at the end of the beach. Here the crowds are at their peak! Probably due to the fact that the area around the rocks is suitable for snorkeling.

Black Rock Beach  - Maui
The black rocks at the end of the beach offer an interesting snorkeling experience

So expect to find a lot of people here. Luckily the beach is very wide, so don't worry about crowding on the sand. On the setting side, you'll have to like the concrete and the big buildings that follow each other on the south side of the beach. Not really charming.

Black Rock Beach - Maui
The big resorts in a row on the south side

There are showers at various points along the promenade near the major resorts. There are no public washrooms. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Black Rock Beach

As for Kā'anapali beach, you will have to be lucky to find one of the 20 parking spaces available to the public. The parking lot is located in a covered parking lot belonging to the Sheraton (the advantage is that it will be cool in the car on the way back!) which is accessible from the Kaanapali Parkway. From the parking, a 200m pedestrian path passes between the resorts to lead to the beach.

Kahekili Beach

The long beach of Kahekili is quite simple. Here the resorts are a little less numerous but the frequentation is still noticeable around them. Fortunately, the length of the beach (about 1 km) allows you to isolate yourself a little. A beautiful grassy strip separates the sand from the promenade, which is pleasant to walk or rest on the grass.

Note that snorkeling can be interesting because the area is protected all along the beach. Signs will inform you about the species of fish that can be observed here.

Kahekili Beach - Maui
The southern area of Kahekili Beach (May's Beach)
Kahekili Beach - Maui
The Beach Park

A toilet block with shower and several picnic tables are located at the level of Kahekili Beach Park. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Kahekili Beach

The main access to the center of the beach is easily accessible from the large parking lot at Kahekili Beach Park whose entrance is located near Kai Ala Drive.

It is also possible to access the southern part of the beach (sometimes called May's Beach) from the Sheraton by parking at its small public covered parking lot, which is accessed from the Kaanapali Parkway. You will then have to go to the beach along the road.

Keka'a Beach

In the continuity of Kahekili Beach is Keka'a Beach. The beach differs from its sister by a slightly wilder aspect thanks to some trees that sometimes reach the water, and bring a little charm and shade. Sometimes narrow and wild, sometimes wide and smooth, the beach offers quite different looking areas depending on the location.

Keka'a Beach - Maui
Further north, near the parking lot

We personally preferred the part facing The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas south of the beach, near Kahekili Beach.

Keka'a Beach - Maui
South of the beach, at the level of the grass strip

As for the latter, the marine area is protected and offers the same snorkeling possibilities. Be careful however with the reef which is sometimes very close to the beach, especially in the north.

You can also enjoy walking along the seaside promenade which once again runs along some chic resorts with an impeccable and pleasant walkway.

Keka'a Beach - Maui
The walkway near the south of the beach
Keka'a Beach - Maui
In the area of the big and chic resorts

Sanitary facilities with shower are located halfway between the beach and the south parking lot or directly next to the large north parking lot. Uncovered picnic tables are also available in the north parking lot. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Keka'a Beach

Two accesses with parking lots make it easy to reach the beach. The southern access is at the level of the Keka'a Open Space Park which entrance is at the end of a side road of the Honoapiilani Highway. From here, it will be necessary to cross a long grassy area on nearly 200m to reach the seaside.

The northern access is located at the level of Honoapiilani Park where a large parking lot is available at the end of the Honoapiilani Park Access Road.

4Beaches around Napili-Honokowai

In the continuity of Kā'anapali, Napili-Honokowai is a city that stretches over a wide strip on the seafront. Here one will find residences and villas rather than huge resorts. The destination is also a little more family oriented. There are few long and wide beaches here, as the coastline is often limited to a thin strip of sand reduced by a reef located very close to the shore. This explains why the residences were built close to the water, their gardens often stopping at the foot of the ocean, which is not to displease the residents. Since the shoreline is always public, there are many small passageways between the residences to reach the water's edge.

Honokōwai Beach Park

Here is a small and easily accessible Beach Park where it can be very pleasant to swim at high tide (the reef being close to the edge at low tide). The water was very clear and really encouraged swimming. We will just regret that the road is not far.

Honokōwai Beach Park - Maiu
The beach at the edge of the Beach Park... an invitation to swim!

The beach is simple and little frequented with a large lawn and some children's games between the beach and the road.

Honokōwai Beach Park - Maui
The grassed playground near the parking lot

Sanitary facilities with showers and picnic tables are located near the parking lot. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Honokōwai Beach Park

Access is very easy thanks to a long parking lot along Lower Honoapiilani Road.

Pohaku Park

This park offers access to two sandy beaches. The first one is very small and located directly on the roadside. Too bad because without the road, the place would have been really charming. The water there is very beautiful and few people come here.

Pohaku Beach - Maui
The small beach on the side of the road

The second beach is located a little further north, below a parking lot and borders a slightly ugly hotel. Here the road also passes nearby which is not very charming even if trees protect the sand a little bit and bring some shade.

Nevertheless, there is a beautiful view of Molokai that it can be pleasant to contemplate from the rocky area located in the middle of the park.

Pohaku Park - Maui
The second beach on the right
Pohaku Park - Maui
Nice view of Molokai from the rocks

On site there are chemical toilets, a shower and 2 picnic tables near the parking lot. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Pohaku Park

Access is very easy thanks to a small parking lot accessible from Lower Honoapiilani Road. The first beach is on the left side of the parking lot. For the second one, it will be necessary to join it by going down the big rocks towards the right.

Kahana Beach

This small narrow beach could have been very pleasant if the residence composed of adjoining villas had not installed an ugly fence all along ... Too bad because it spoils the postcard side that the beach could have had, especially since this beach is located away from the road in a peaceful environment.

But just for the pleasure of the eyes, it is enjoyable to come all the way here, just to dream a little! We will notice that the beach is very narrow at high tide.

Kahana beach - Maui
Dream colors at Kahana Beach, it's a shame that the fence ruins everything

There are no amenities on site. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Kahana Beach

A small passage "Shoreline access" allows you to reach the sand from the Lower Honoapiilani Road, south of the residence "Kahana Village". There is no parking, you will have to park on the lower side of the road at an authorized place.

Kahana Boat Ramp

Located a short distance from the previous one, this small community beach is along the road and is mainly frequented by locals who come to picnic or launch their boats. Nevertheless, both ends of the beach on either side of the boat ramp are calm and suitable for swimming.

Although the road passes just behind it, the vegetation is abundant and isolates a little from the road while providing shade. There are no amenities on site. Swimming is unsupervised.

Kahana Beach - Maui
Quiet spot on the roadside

How to access the Kahana Boat Ramp

Just park along the Lower Honoapiilani Road, on the shoulder just in front of the beach.

Ka'opala Beach

Here is a beach as we like it: isolated, quiet, easy access and beautiful! This is our favorite beach in northern Maui! The beach is very simple and located down the road in a residential area, but the color of the water, the setting with palm trees and the view of Molokai, trees and rocks make it a small haven of peace.

Only a little more sand was needed for everything to be perfect, the beach being quite small at high tide but still enough to put your towel on. It will also be necessary to avoid going there on a busy day because the space on the sand is limited.

Ka'opala Beach - Maui
We immediately felt good at Ka'opala Beach!

There is no on-site installation. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Ka'opala Beach

Access is from a small staircase that goes down to the beach from Lower Honoapiilani Road. You just need to park just above the beach on the shoulder of the road where there are a few parking spaces.

Keonenui Beach

Here is a small strip of sand hidden behind the wall of a large residence. The place is very quiet and will seduce those in search of a beach hidden from the road. Too bad that the big concrete wall and the sea front constructions spoil a bit the attractiveness of this place.

There is no on-site installation. Swimming is not supervised.

Keonenui Beach - Maui
The beach from the pedestrian access near the wall

How to get to Keonenui Beach

Access is not easy to find. It will be necessary to locate the small green gate in the middle of the vegetation along the Lower Honoapiilani Road. From here, an access with a few steps leads us to the beach. At high tide, the sea can reach the steps. Then we will have to walk along the wall for a few meters (sometimes with our feet in the water) to reach the dry sand. It is possible to park near the gate by positioning your car against the wall or the vegetation.

5Beaches around Kapalua

We now arrive at the gates of the city of Kapalua which begins in the continuity of Napili-Honokowai. Kapalua is much smaller and has the particularity of having almost as much golf course areas as residential areas! Here you will find mainly luxurious villas as well as some beautiful hotels. The setting is greener and the coast is much less concrete and wilder.

Napili Bay Beach

This very pretty sandy beach in the shape of an arc, lined with palm trees and turquoise water that can only encourage swimming! This is for the postcard side that leaves you dreaming. In reality, you should also expect quite a lot of visitors, which takes away a bit of charm, as does its location in the heart of hotel complexes, which makes it difficult for non-residents to access.

Nevertheless, Napili Bay Beach remains one of the most beautiful beaches in northwest Maui. There are no facilities on the beach but a shower is located at the beginning of the southern access to the beach, on Hui Drive.

Napili Bay Beach - Maui
General view of the beach
Napili Bay Beach - Maui
On the waterfront at Napili Bay Beach

How to get to Napili Bay Beach

You will first have to find a place to park here if you are not staying in the area. You will have the choice of parking at the only public parking in the area located at the end of Bay Club Place, which also serves the nearby beach. You'll understand that parking spaces are scarce there! From the parking lot you will have to walk to the beach to the access on Hui Drive. Otherwise you can try to find a place on the shoulder of the road somewhere in the residential area around the beach.

Kapalua Beach

Located near Napili Bay Beach, here is another pretty family beach in a rounded shape, lined with residential and hotel complexes. Like its neighbor, Kapalua Beach is also very popular and frequented, both by families and residents of nearby hotels.

Kapalua Beach
The beautiful beach of Kapalua

Showers and sanitary facilities are available at the parking level. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Kapalua Beach

Hopefully, you will be able to find a parking space at the public parking lot at the end of Bay Club Place. It is not uncommon to have to wait a relatively long time for a space to become available. It is better to come here during the week.

Kapalua Coastal trail

This is one of the few walking trails in this urbanized section of West Maui (apart from the various seaside walkways). This very pleasant trail connects the beaches of Kapalua and Oneloa. It is a 1.9 km one-way trail but can easily be made a 3.8 km round trip, as the topology of the terrain is relatively flat (see the route on the map at the bottom of the article).

The trail starts at the parking lot of Kapalua beach. A concrete path runs first along the beach and the residential complexes of the seaside by crossing a spotless lawn. Once you reach Bay Drive, the path turns into a dirt path and heads towards a small rocky cape, straight towards the ocean. It is from here that the walk becomes really enjoyable!

Kapalua Coastal trail - Maui
Beginning of the dirt path
Kapalua Coastal trail - Maui
The trail crosses the rocks on the cape

One thus leaves the bustle of the beaches and residences to find oneself alone at the edge of the ocean which comes to strike the jagged rocks, revealing the stigmata of the ancient lava flows that they once were. The path takes us almost to the end of this cape where some pretty natural pools are visible offering a magnificent view of Lanai on a clear day.

Kapalua Coastal trail - Maui
Small natural pools at the end of the cape with a beautiful view of Molokai

This small cape is also a protected nesting place for a species of bird whose name I unfortunately don't remember. The trail then returns, offering beautiful views of Oneloa beach, which it joins fairly quickly via a dirt road before going along it on wooden footbridges and up to its parking lot.

We really enjoyed this simple little walk but which offers a breath of fresh air far from the resorts of Napili. It must also be very pleasant at sunset.

Kapalua Coastal trail - Maui
Panorama of Oneloa beach from the rocky cape

Officially the trail then continues on to the next DT Fleming beach, but this last section does not offer any real interest.

If you wish to turn back, you can shorten the return trip by avoiding going around the small cape, an alternative way to cross it.

How to get to the Kapalua Coastal trail

You can choose to park at either end of the trail, either at the Kapalua Beach parking lot at the end of Bay Club Place (but often full), or at the Oneloa Beach parking lot, whose entrance is on Kapalua Place and much less crowded.

Oneloa beach

This large beach with a wild look is located away from the buildings. Here we finally find calm and serenity. The beach is long and there is nobody there! The waves come to lick the sand without being dangerous (in winter it must be more agitated).

We will come to Oneloa beach to swim in complete tranquility or to walk along the wooden walkway that has been built on the heights of the beach, taken by the Kapalua Coastal trail that leads to the beach of Kapalua.

Oneloa Beach - Maui
Overview of the beach from the Kapalua Coastal Trail

There are no facilities on the beach, only a shower is near the parking lot. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Oneloa Beach

The beach is easily accessible thanks to a small parking lot whose entrance is on Kapalua Place. Then follow the footpath down to the Kapalua Coastal Trail. From here, several small paths descend to the sand from the footbridges.

Dragon's Teeth / Makaluapuna Point

We hesitated to tell you about this place because it is above all sacred to the Hawaiians. Signs warn visitors just at the beginning of the trail leading to this small rocky point.

We must not have seen them in 2017 when we went to see the beautiful dragon teeth. When we came back in 2019 we saw the signs this time which dissuaded us from going back.

What is not very clear is the forbidden zone, the sacred site being Makaluapuna which is a kind of circular labyrinth traced on the ground and which is in the middle of the small cape, near the sharp rocks of Dragon's Teeth.

At the time of writing, I am not sure that the access to see the rocks is also sacred, but since the two places are very close I prefer to mention it here. You are therefore warned and I leave it to you to judge the attitude to adopt on the spot, as many visitors like us have given up on this visit after reading the signs in 2019.

If you wish to go down to Dragon's Teeth, you will be able to admire these fascinating, very sharp rocks that were formed when lava once flowed into the sea, cooling abruptly.

Dragon's Teeth - Maui
The sharp rocks of Dragon's Teeth

How to access Dragon's Teeth

A small parking lot is located at the junction of Lower Honoapiilani Road and Office Road. At the very end of the parking lot, you will see a path going down along the golf course for 350m before reaching the rocky area. If you come all the way here, be careful not to enter the sacred area of the maze.

DT Fleming Park

This long and wide beach is located near the exit of Kapalua. We liked this beach because like Oneloa Beach, it is set back from the resorts and has the added advantage of being in a small green area which is very pleasant. Thus it is easy to find a place in the shade of trees while remaining on the sand.

The regulars know it because many people come here, whether for swimming, sunbathing or surfing, because here the waves are numerous as the beach is not protected by a reef. Nevertheless the beach is large, so the frequentation is not too much felt on the sand. You just have to walk a little to find yourself in the calm.

DT Fleming Park - Maui
The large DT Fleming Beach on a weekend

The large park next to the beach offers sanitary facilities with showers. Several picnic tables, some of them in the shade, are scattered on the lawn of the park by the beach making it a pleasant place for a picnic. Swimming is supervised.

How to get to DT Fleming Park

A large two-part parking lot makes it easy to park (although weekend rushes can make parking more difficult). Access is at the end of Lower Honoapiilani Road.

6Beaches and bays of the North Coast

We are now leaving the city and its infrastructures. The Honoapiilani Highway is continuing towards the North of the island of Maui, along the coast which is still quite green in places. But quickly the first curves begin and make us discover a much wilder area of the island.

Slaughterhouse Beach

Here is finally the first 5-star beach of our ranking! We loved this small isolated sandy beach, moderately frequented, with beautiful water color and which offers in addition to beautiful snorkeling conditions and trees for a little shade!

Everything is there to have a good time at the beach, whether it is to laze on the sand or to meet the numerous fish and turtles here near the rocky areas, because this beach is located together with Honolua Bay in the Honolua-Mokuleia Bay Marine Life Conservation District.

Slaughterhouse Beach - Maui
The beach on the West side

The flip side of the coin is that this beautiful beach is very popular and few will be the lucky ones who will be able to access it because parking is very limited near the beach, hence its reasonable visitor numbers (which is not bad either).

Slaughterhouse Beach - Maui
Wide view of part of the beach
Slaughterhouse Beach - Maui
The beach on the East side

Therefore, it is better to come early in the morning or in the evening and avoid weekends if possible (unless you are motivated to wait for a rare place to become available along the road). Finally, to take full advantage of the beach, it will be important to go there by calm sea (and rather in summer), as waves and currents can be strong here, making swimming and snorkeling dangerous.

There are no amenities on site. Swimming is unsupervised.

How to get to Slaughterhouse Beach

Access is via two small roadside parking lots along the Honoapiilani Road, allowing approximately 20 vehicles to park. Parking on the shoulder of the road outside the parking lot is prohibited at this location, so it will be necessary to find an official place to park here. A long stairway then descends to the beach.

Honolua Bay

We now arrive at the most famous snorkeling spot in Maui. The beautiful Honolua Bay is famous for its abundant underwater fauna thanks to its protected area by the Honolua-Mokuleia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. Seen from the small belvedere on the roadside "Honolua Bay Lookout", the bay is beautiful!

Honolua Bay - Maui
UAV view of Honolua Bay taken in 2017

We were expecting a lot from this snorkeling spot that we didn't have the opportunity to test during our first stay in 2017. Alas, our disillusionment was total.

Let's be honest. Yes, the spot is great for swimming with turtles. We easily saw some. On the other hand what a disappointment for the crowd here. This place has really become too touristy, either by the snorkelers who come from the road, on foot as we did, or those dropped in the water by the excursion boats.

The bay is now teeming with bathers, disturbing the calm of the place. The corals are completely ravaged on the edge of the bay, you have to go far enough to find beautiful coral heads in good condition. Finally, we were shocked to see the snorkelers getting a few centimeters closer to the turtles to photograph them... which is totally forbidden.

Honolua Bay - Maui
Large number of visitors on the pebble beach.
Honolua Bay - Maui
Offshore, the catamarans drop their passengers

Honolua Bay had everything to be a snorkeling paradise and has unfortunately become a tourist attraction, as evidenced by the number of people on the small pebble beach by the bay.

If you like snorkeling, you may be disappointed by the overcrowding and its damaged corals, like Hanauma Bay in Oahu. Nevertheless, the bottom is beautiful as soon as you go far enough into the bay and the marine fauna is relatively abundant. In short, a site to be discovered early in the morning, or at the end of the day, when the crowd and the boats have left the place.

Turtle in Honolua Bay
Turtle near a coral head in the distance on the right side of the bay

There are no beach facilities, chemical toilets are located near the road at the large bend. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Honolua Bay

Two accesses to the bay are possible depending on parking possibilities.

Honolua Bay - Tree - Maui
The beautiful tree on the way to the bay

The first access is the shortest. Just before reaching the bay on the Honoapiilani Highway from Kapalua, you will see a large parking space on the left side of the road allowing about 7-8 cars to park. It is located just before a bend. It is also possible to park on the shoulder at the next bend, taking care not to overtake on the road. Two paths go down before and after the bend and then meet. Count 200m of walking in the undergrowth to reach the beach.

The second access will require more walking but offers more space for parking. A little further along the Honoapiilani Highway, you will see depressions in the ground that allow you to park at a wide bend that crosses a small bridge. A 500m path in the undergrowth then allows you to go down to the beach.

The two paths meet shortly before reaching the pebble beach, not far from a magnificent liana tree.

Punalau Beach Overlook

We are now at the extreme north of the western part of Maui, 3 kilometers before the end of the Honoapiilani Road which then passes the relay to the small road 340. From here the coast becomes very wild and rocky, the gulchs following one another in a nature that seems almost untamed.

It is the opportunity to stop for a few minutes to discover the pretty belvedere overlooking the beach of Punalau. The view on the wild coast on one side and the beach on the other is very beautiful.

View on Punalau Beach - Maui
View of Punalau Beach from the small rocky belvedere
View of the steep coast of Maui
View of the steep coast on the other side, to the West

How to get to Punalau Beach Overlook

This small point of view is not indicated, but you should be able to spot it easily because a small recess along the road allows you to leave a few vehicles on the right in the bend of Honoapiilani Road. From here you will only have to walk a few meters to overlook the rocky coast. As for the view of the beach, you will have to climb the small rocky promontory on the right, taking care not to fall down. Then go down a few meters and the view will be yours!

Punalau Beach

The sandy beach of Punalau is the last one you will find in West Maui.

Surprisingly, the sand at Punalau is clear, almost white! Nature lovers will love to come here to tread the ground of this very wild beach where almost nobody comes. It will be possible to come and swim in the middle of the beach, paying attention to the rocks, the depth is not very important at the water's edge.

Punalau Beach - Maui
The white sand of Punaulau Beach
Punalau Beach - Maui
The eastern end of the beach, more rocky

The beach is bordered by many trees that provide some shade. There are no facilities on site. Swimming is not supervised.

How to get to Punalau Beach

Although a 4x4 track goes down to the beach from the Honoapiilani Highway, we strongly advise you not to take it with a rental vehicle, even a 4x4, as the track can be in very bad condition.

We also saw a big SUV in distress, stuck on the track!

Instead, we recommend that you leave your vehicle on the shoulder of the Highway at the junction with the track. Then, you can either continue on foot along the 4x4 track that will take you to the West of the beach, or try to go down more directly via a small slippery path that takes you to the East of the beach by going down the slope covered with pine thorns (be careful, it is very slippery).


This is where the Honoapiilani Highway ends, just 2.5 km after Punalau Beach. After that, the Kahekili Highway (still called Highway 30) will take over until reaching the small road 340 which leads to the town of Wai'ehu on the other side of the peninsula west of Kahului.

To continue
Driving the Kahekili Highway: the wild coast of northern Maui
Follow us along the Kahekili Highway, reputed to be one of the most winding and narrow roads in the Hawaiian archipelago and discover the sights, hikes and points of interest along the way, in the far north of Maui.

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