Maui is home to some of the best beaches in the world. So it comes as no surprise when Maui’s beaches are featured in Tripadvisor’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Beaches in the United States. From the crystal clear waters of Kaanapali to the glitzy, cabana-lined shores of Wailea and the black sandy beach of Waianapanapa, Maui’s 120-mile coastline has something to offer for every beach lover out there.
However, choosing between Maui’s beaches can be a bit of a challenge. With so many varied options, deciding which beach to visit can be daunting. Of course, proximity is an important factor, as well as the current weather conditions. If you are staying in one of the rental properties in Wailea, then Wailea Beach is more convenient. And if you’re visiting during the summer months, the northern shores of Maui are calmer, while in winter, the southern shores are the calmest.
To help you decide which of the Maui beaches to visit, we’ve rounded up a list of the best beaches on the island and the activities that you can enjoy at each of them.
Kaanapali Beach is located on the West Shores of Maui, about 50 minutes away from Kahului Airport. Featuring three miles of powdery white sands and crystal clear water, this beach is hailed as one of Maui’s best beaches. There are several hotels and condominiums right across from this popular beach. The Whalers Village, a popular shopping destination in Maui, is also nearby. It is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as a world-class whaling museum, one of Maui’s most popular attractions. Kaanapali is also home to two of the best golf courses on the island, the Kaanapali Kai and Royal Kaanapali.
One of the most popular attractions in Kaanapali Beach is the daily cliff diving ceremony that takes place at the northernmost cliff of the beach, known as the Black Rock. Taking place every evening during sunset, a cliff diver would light the torches along the cliff and dive off Black Rock to reenact the feat of Maui’s revered ruler, King Kahekili. Another popular activity in Kaanapali is the zipline tour, where you will be treated to a sweeping view of Maui’s beaches as you zip high in the air.
No trip to Maui is complete without visiting Wailea Beach. It ranks fourth in the list of the Top Beaches in the United States, and it’s easy to see why. Featuring vast stretches of soft sands and crystal clear waters nestled in between two lush rocky points, Wailea Beach is one of Maui’s most scenic beaches. Right across from the beach are the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea, two of the most popular luxury resorts on the island. There are also several luxury condos nearby, such as the Wailea Grand Champions, Palms at Wailea, and the Wailea Ekahi Village. If you want to make the most of your holiday in Maui without spending a lot of money, you should stay at one of these Maui luxury condos.
The Wailea beach is open to the public and there is a parking lot nearby, located in between the resorts. There are also other facilities for public use, such as showers and restrooms. You can hang out by the pools of the luxury resorts if you buy a drink at one of their bars. The lovely flagstone path in between the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea is perfect for evening strolls. Tiki torches line the path in the evenings and you can hear the beat of the drums playing in the background from the nearby luau parties.
During the day, you can go sunbathing on Wailea’s sandy shores. As one of the most family-friendly beaches in Maui, kids can safely play in the sand or swim in the clear and calm waters of Wailea Beach. Snorkeling is best done in the early mornings around the area’s rocky points where the wind is a light breeze and the waters are calmer.
Even though Napili Beach is not as expansive as Kaanapali Beach or Wailea Beach, this crescent-shaped beach is ideal for families with little kids. The waters of Napili are calmer compared to the other beaches in the islands, so kids can swim and paddleboard safely. Above all, the beach features a quiet and laid-back atmosphere, so you can work on your tan without worrying about the crowd.
Snorkeling is a popular activity in Napili Beach, so don’t forget to bring your snorkel gears when visiting this beach. Both kids and adults will surely have a blast here since it’s home to a wide array of fishes, not to mention a large population of sea turtles. But take note that touching the sea turtles is against the law and those who will be caught violating could be fined $100,000!
Napili Beach is located a few miles south of Kapalua Bay Beach, on the northwest coast of Maui. It can be reached from the Honoapiilani Highway, but it’s recommended to get there early since the parking space is very limited. If you want to spend your entire day at Napili Beach, don’t forget to bring snacks and other supplies since there are not too many restaurants in the area.
Waianapanapa State Park
The Wai’anapanapa State Park features spectacular views of the rugged shoreline, sea arches, and black sand beach. Waianapanapa means “glistening waters” in the Hawaiian language. However, it is not the waters that draw travelers here, but its black sand shores. This is because the shoreline is composed of volcanic sediment that is a stark contrast to the verdant green jungle and bright blue ocean waves.
Visitors traveling along the Road to Hana would often make a quick stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park before continuing with their journey. But aside from the beach, there are many other interesting sights to explore in this state park. If you love to hike, then you will surely love hiking along the park’s primary trail. This trail traces the coast, passing through the black sand beach and into the freshwater caves. According to legend, these caves are the site of the grisly murder of princess Popo’alaea who was killed by her cruel husband, Chief Ka’akea.
It’s highly recommended to arrive at sunrise to witness the stunning views of the park. Wear comfortable hiking shoes because the beach is composed of pebbles and rocks, and not the usual soft sands. The park is open every day and there’s no admission fee.
When going to Maui for a holiday, visiting the beach should be on top of your itinerary. There are plenty of beautiful beaches to visit on the island, but the beaches above are highly recommended. If you want to spend most of your time at the beach, consider staying in an accommodation that will give you easy access to the beach. For instance, if you want to spend most of your time in the famous Wailea Beach, then look for vacation rental properties in Wailea. That way, you don’t have to travel far when going to the beach coming from your vacation rental.