Beaches around Kahului: waves, surfin and turtles

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  3. Beaches around Kahului: waves, surfin and turtles
Written by SandrineUpdated on 05/03/22

Passing through Maui, it is impossible to miss Kahului, the capital of the island since the airport is located there. Although the city is not very interesting to visit, its coastline offers long sandy beaches reputed to be excellent surfing spots. Some of these beaches are also excellent places to come and see the turtles that usually come to rest on the sand at the end of the day.

In this article, we will therefore review the beaches and points of interest in East Kahului, according to the types of activities to be done there.

1Beaches for surfing or kitesurfing

Let's start with the best surf and kitesurf spots on the north coast of Maui, near Kahului. These beaches will be ideal if you want to learn to surf and kitesurf. A little further east of Kahului is Jaws, a famous spot known for its impressive waves during the winter.

Kanaha Beach Park

This large Beach Park runs along the beach near Kahului airport. It is the ideal place to go kitesurfing or watch the kitesurfers. Apart from this, there is not really much interesting here, the beach is not very charming.

Overview of the beach.
Kitesurfers at Kanaha Beach.

How to get to Kanaha Beach Park

Several parking lots offer parking points at different locations on the beach. There are a few showers, picnic tables in a large grassy area and sanitary blocks. Swimming is unsupervised.

Baldwin Beach Park

The Baldwin Beach Park is a long sandy beach with a large swell, which does not hesitate to flood the park's facilities! This beach should be reserved preferably for surfers who will find good conditions to practice surfing.

Sun rays near Baldwin Beach.

The Beach Park provides all the necessary facilities: picnic tables, water hose for rinsing and sanitary facilities. Swimming is supervised.

How to get to Baldwin Beach Park

There is a large adjoining parking lot at the end of Alawai Road for easy parking.

Lower Pā'ia Beach

This large and popular beach is a paradise for surfers and bodyboarders. Here the waves form beautiful rolls quite close to the shore which makes it an ideal beach to learn how to ride or just watch the surfers do their prowess and catch the waves.

The beach of Lower Pā'ia.
A surfer catches the wave at Lower Pā'ia Beach.

Walking 200m to the left of the beach (towards the west), you will reach another section of the beach, hidden at first sight, which offers a peaceful place to walk or swim when the ocean is calm.

Expect to have a full parking lot, as many surfers find themselves here when conditions are good. Swimming is not supervised. There are showers and sanitary facilities on site.

How to get to Lower Pā'ia Park

A large rough parking lot allows you to park along the Hana Highway. It will then be enough to walk a few meters on the lawn bordering the beach to reach it.

2The beaches to see turtles

The following beaches are excellent places to see turtles and why not go swimming or surfing.

Kaulahao Beach

This pretty and quiet sandy beach offers great opportunities for bathing in the waves, but it is also an excellent place to hope to see some turtles which are numerous in the area.

To maximize your chances of observing them, we advise you to come at the end of the afternoon, when the turtles come to rest on the sand.

The quiet Kaulahao Beach.

The beach is partially bordered by a reef but that does not allow to protect it well from the waves. Swimming is unsupervised, there are no facilities on site.

How to get to Kaulahao Beach

Access is very easy thanks to a small adjoining parking lot which is rarely full and which is directly accessible from the Hana Highway.

Hookipa Beach Park

This beach could very well have been in the category of the best surf spots of Maui as Hookipa Beach is famous for its big waves, but this beach is also one of the best places on the island to see the turtles which are usually several dozen to come and nibble on the algae at the edge of the reef. It is the ideal place to easily see them on the sand in large numbers.

Overview of Hookipa Beach.

When you arrive at Hookipa Beach, you will first see a lookout served by a parking lot that allows you to take a little height to admire the coast and the waves. The sandy beach is located a little further down, along the road. Once near the water you can have fun looking for turtles.

Depending on the time you come, they will be either in the water or on the sand. If you come during the day, take a good look at the surface of the water, you may see several small heads or shells emerging from the water! In the evening, the turtles come up on the sand to rest, usually towards the east end of the beach. It is not uncommon to see dozens of them! Respect the 10m regulatory distance to protect them.

A turtle in the waves.
About thirty turtles on the beach!

It is also possible to come and swim at Hookipa Beach and why not swim with the turtles! But beware, because the ocean is rather rough and swimming will not be possible every day. Finally, depending on the tides, the beach will be almost non-existent at high tide and the entry into the water will be more or less easy, the reef being only a few meters on edge.

Surfers and swimmers at low tide.
The turtle area is at the end.

Swimming is supervised. Sanitary facilities and picnic tables are located near the lifeguard station.

How to get to the Hookipa Beach Park

Access is directly from the Hana Highway. The one-way road leads first to the first parking lot at the overlook. It then descends to the beach and runs along it for 400m. Parking is possible along the road, but parking spaces are scarce as the area is very popular with surfers.

It will often be more convenient to park at the lookout and then walk down, as the turtle area is on the right side of the lifeguard station, at the very end of the beach.

3Beaches for a bit of idleness

The north of Maui is also some beaches where it is good to put your towel down!

Baby Beach

This sandy beach of about 300 meters is located in Sprecklesville. It has the advantage of being protected from the waves by a reef just a short distance from the sand, allowing youngsters to swim safely. The setting is rather pleasant here, quiet, with a rather dense vegetation along the beach.

Overview of the beach from the reddish point.

Swimming is unsupervised, there are no facilities on site.

How to get to Baby Beach

A pseudo parking lot is located at the end of Kealakai Place, in Sprecklesville, on a kind of red dirt platform. The beach is right next to it.

Mama's fish House Beach

Behind the famous restaurant Mama's fish house is a cute little beach lined with palm trees. Although swimming is quite dangerous here because of the many rocks and currents, it is the enchanting setting that we enjoy here.

It should be noted that the crowds will be stronger at the time of the restaurant's services, as the customers will come to stroll around. Finally, the beach will be very small at high tide.

The small beach behind the restaurant.

There are no facilities on site, swimming is not supervised. Finally, please note that "Mama's fish House Beach" is not its real name, but since we couldn't find it on the maps, we named it after its geographical location at the foot of the restaurant.

How to get to Mama's Fish House Beach

The access is not necessarily obvious because only 10 parking spaces are allowed for people who want to go to the beach. The other spaces are reserved for restaurant customers. Access to the parking lot is located on Polo Place, next to the restaurant. You will have to park in the area marked with blue parking bollards.

4A pond for bird watching

The last point of interest of this article is not a beach, but a pond where it is possible to easily observe birds, close to the ocean.

Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary

If you are fond of ornithology do not hesitate to go for a tour of Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary, a swampy area with a pond that is located near the center of Kahului, not far from the ocean. This protected area is home to several endemic bird species that are easy to observe with the naked eye and even better with binoculars. Small signs are placed near the trails to give you information on the endemic species and to help you spot them.

The small observation hut to the south of the pond.

The sanctuary has several accesses. The southern zone allows to quickly reach a small observation hut placed at the end of a path that goes into the swamp. As for the northern zone, it gives access to a larger area thanks to several trails that allow you to take a short walk through the local ecosystem.

It is unfortunate that large factories adjoin this protected area, which undeniably spoils the attractiveness of the place.

Please note that the park is only open from August 31 to March 31, outside the nesting period. Admission is free.

How to get to the Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary

The main access is to the south of the sanctuary but only allows to reach the observation hut. A small parking lot is available along the Haleakala Highway. To use the trails you can either use the secondary access still to the south, located at the corner of Kahale Street, or one of the northern accesses from Amala Place (a bit creepy place with a lot of abandoned vehicles). You will be able to park on the shoulder of the road near the secondary accesses.

All accesses to the sanctuary are protected by a door closed by a latch that must be lifted to enter. Don't forget to close the door behind you.

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About us

We are Sandrine and Flo, French thirty-somethings. In 2019 we quit everything to live our dream, become nomads and travel around the world. We left with our baby, Lena, who was only 5 months old at the time. After a first trip around the Pacific Ocean by plane and a long 3 months stay in Hawaii, we left to discover Iceland for 3 months on board our 4WD pickup truck and truck camper. Then we continued our adventure in North America.

Today, if we can continue this adventure, it is above all thanks to our blog, Smartrippers! We created it one day in 2016, with the desire to share our good travel tips, without thinking that it would lead us there! We have developed it a lot over the years and have become experts on our 3 favorite destinations: Hawaii, Iceland and the American West. We now guide you to these destinations to help you plan the trip of your dreams!

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