Welcome to the best beaches in Maui for swimming awards show!
I’ve spent the last month exploring Maui’s beaches by talking to locals, checking conditions, investigating reviews, and swimming in the crystal clear waters to see which ones were the best for swimming. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was enjoying some relaxation on the beach.
We were looking for the best swimming experience during our summer break, and I know all too well that you can easily spend weeks searching for the perfect beach. So, we decided to visit as many beaches as possible to find out which ones were the best for swimming.
My goal with this article is to save you time and help you make the best choice possible.
After all the miles of sandy coastline, beach hopping, and ocean adventures, I’ve ranked these six beaches according to water conditions, fun activities, facilities, and, of course, the breathtaking views of the sun setting behind the Haleakala volcano.
These are the best of the best, so you have a safe, enjoyable swimming experience no matter which beach you choose.
Let’s see those beaches already!
Your Maui trip is incomplete without stopping by Wailea beach. Why?
It’s got a shoreline spreading as far as the eye can see, the gentlest waves lapping on the beachfront, and a stunning view.
Of course, swimming should be your number one priority in Wailea. We found out that the water stays protected by a small cove, which makes it the safest for swimming. That’s why you can expect to see a lot of families with children.
We love snorkeling, so we rented some gear from the nearby hotel and set off. Soon we were in the company of green sea turtles and a variety of stunning fish who swam alongside us. It was so much fun!
One thing worth appreciating here was that despite being a public beach, Wailea was never too crowded. Because the shore spreads out for nearly a mile, we could always find a quiet spot to relax after a swim and enjoy the views.
I consider Wailea Beach as the best beach in Maui for swimming, but read on to get some added benefits:
- There’s a range of water activities like boogie boarding, kayaking, and paddle boarding, to try out when the surf is high. Plus, nearby resorts provide lessons for them.
- You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas from surrounding hotels.
- It’s a pristine and well-maintained beach. You’ll find restrooms, faucets, and picnic tables here.
- The sand here is soft and super fine, so feel free to go barefoot.
Big Beach – at Makena State Beach Park
Fans of gorgeous shorelines that spread far and wide can’t bear to miss Big Beach (I mean, who isn’t?). You can expect to see miles of golden sand and blue-green, clear water that calls you in for a swim.
Even though we’re experienced swimmers, the lifeguards advised strict caution before entering the water, as the waves can be pretty rough.
We were careful in the water after that, but it was still the most thrilling swim of our life!
Another thing we loved about this beach was the lack of commercial development that you see on other beaches on Maui. Despite big crowds visiting it, the facilities only included portable toilets and picnic tables. And this gave the whole beach a rustic feel.
Finally, the view was the best thing about Big Beach (if I didn’t rave enough about it already). We had the chance to see the sunset, which turned the whole beach shades of orange and pink.
I consider Big Beach the best beach in Maui for experienced swimmers and fantastic views. Here are some things to consider if you plan to visit;
- There’s a parking fee for the nearby parking lot. Around $10 per car.
- If you go early on weekdays, the beach is nearly empty.
- There’s Little Beach, located a short hike away, which is a clothing-optional beach.
- There are food trucks in the parking lot serving some delicious grub.
Those searching for a secluded beach to beat the crowds will love Napili Beach.
Napili is a small sanctuary a few miles south of the neighboring Kapalua beach.
After taking one look at its crescent-shaped shore and calm, turquoise waters, we fell head over heels for them! Since the water remains still during the day, you can enjoy a refreshing swim here.
A coral reef surrounding the water left a shallow sandy bottom, making it ideal for a safe and carefree swim. We were looking forward to snorkeling and seeing some green sea turtles, but the locals informed us that they don’t appear as often anymore.
It was almost evening when we finished swimming, so we went for a stroll on rails in the bay’s north end. Taking in the gorgeous views at sunset is a wonderful activity for those searching for a scenic walk.
I consider Napili Beach as the best beach in Maui for swimming carefree and watching the glorious sunset. Some things you should consider before going:
- The beach has no facilities like restrooms or picnic tables.
- There is no lifeguard present.
- You’ll have to park cars far away since the beach is in a residential area.
(Pro Tip: the golf course nearby lets you park for $10 for the whole day.)
- Two restaurants, the Gazebo and Sea House, are ten minutes away and have fantastic food.
Baldwin Beach Park & Baby Beach
Baldwin Beach Park is located very close to the Maui airport. You should come here as soon as you land and dive into the gentle waters. A great way to start your vacation!
Around noon the beach starts to fill up. Even with the growing crowd, there’s plenty of space for everyone.
And the water is calm and refreshing – perfect for swimming on a hot summer day. There’s a sandy cove called Baby Beach west of Baldwin Beach. We also got to swim in its serene water and hung out with a family of tourists and their young children.
Although it’s sunny during the day, by late afternoon, a breeze starts blowing (very common on this beach). After swimming here, we would often go to the neighboring town of Paia, an excellent spot for lunch and window shopping.
On the weekends, you can expect to see handicrafts stalls and locals performing a fire show and dance routine on the beach’s northern tip. Every visit to Baldwin beach was so exciting!
My take on Baldwin Beach Park is that it’s the best beach in Maui for swimming with family and kids. Here’s what made it extra special:
- It’s very well-equipped with restrooms, changing sheds, picnic sheds, and a bbq area.
- There’s plenty of free parking space very close to the beach
- A lifeguard is on duty on the busier side of the shore.
Ka’anapali Beach – at Black Rock
Let me start off by saying that when it comes to an adventurous swimming experience, no place compares to Ka’anapali Beach.
I made a routine of swimming each morning, starting at Duke’s Beach House, towards the shoreline at Black Rock. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see stingrays, barracudas, and tons of turtles while swimming here!
Since we were staying at the Marriott, which is close by, my boyfriend and I would walk here every morning. Then, after our early swim, we’d call dibs on cliff diving from the 16-ft drop at Black Rock.
That jump was the most exhilarating experience of my life! And a must-try for fellow adventure-seekers.
The beach is usually empty in the morning, but after 8 am, it gets somewhat crowded. So if you want to try snorkeling in the reef at Black Rock (a favorite activity here), try to come early and avoid the crowd.
Nothing beats Ka’anapali beach for the range of water activities available here. Try your hand at bodyboarding, kayaking, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Hotels nearby provide lessons, and kiosks rent the equipment.
One thing’s for sure; it’s definitely the best beach in Maui for experienced swimmers.
Here are some other notable things about it:
- It’s a walking distance from Whalers Village, a beautiful place to roam around.
- The sunset on this side of the island is simply magical!
- The facilities here are well-maintained and top-notch.
- Lifeguards are present daily.
- Parking can get tricky during the day. However, nearby lots let you park all day for a small fee.
Honolua Bay – the Rock Beach
You’ll want to visit Honolua Bay to get a totally different beach experience from other, more conventional beaches in Maui. How’s that?
For starters, rugged, black rocks line the shore instead of sand. They lead into crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Secondly, from the parking area, there’s a short walk through dense woods that leads straight to the beach, which is composed primarily of lava rock.
Come during winter, and you can experience strong tides here that make surfing great.
Although Honolua isn’t that famous for swimming, I loved it because the water was expansive. You can swim far off without getting caught in the waves.
We began our swim at Honolua Bay and swam all the way to Slaughterhouse Beach, which is right next to it. I joked to my boyfriend that swimming this way was a unique way of beach bumping.
There are tourist boats farther in the water. However, if you want to see some wondrous marine life, swim towards them as most of the coral is there.
Some things to consider before you visit Honolua Bay:
- There are no lifeguards present here.
- The rocks are pretty hard, so bring sturdy shoes for the walk.
- A parking lot at the top of the hill leads here if you want to avoid parking along the road.
- The bay’s South side is less crowded; snorkeling here is a guarantee of spotting sea turtles.
Getting to explore the beaches at Maui was an incredible experience. So if you’re still deciding where to vacation, this is your sign to visit Maui!
Even though we got to visit all the top beaches, the culture, and the food and take in the views, I still couldn’t get enough of Maui. So I’m definitely coming back here next winter – this time to surf!
Swimming was unquestionably the best activity here. The best beaches in Maui for swimming are:
Wailea Beach for an overall great place to swim,
Makena Beach for experienced swimmers,
Baldwin Beach for the safest swimming, and
Ka’anapali Beach for the most thrilling swim.
Since every beach offered different sceneries, water conditions, and sports, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
As the locals say, ‘Maui no ka oi’, which means ‘Maui is the best!’
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What beach in Maui has the clearest water?
The best beaches in Maui are in Molokini, a small crescent-shaped island about three miles from Maui’s southwest coast. It is said to have some of the clearest water in all of Hawaii, with visibility depths of 200+ feet.
What’s the prettiest beach in Maui?
Hamoa is one of Maui’s most beautiful beaches. It’s set in a thick forest of Hala trees, with vast golden shores and waters a brilliant shade of aquamarine.
What part of Maui has the calmest beaches?
There’s one thing you need to consider if you’re looking for beaches with calm water; go during the summer months. Aside from this, South shore beaches have the calmest beaches, especially beaches of Makena State Park – Big and Little Beach.
Which side of Maui is the warmest?
Similar to the South side of Maui, most of West Maui is located on lower ground near the coast. As a result, this area is warmer, sunnier, and drier than the rest of the island.
What are the best beaches in Maui for families?
The best beaches in Maui for families with young children are Kapalua Bay, Baby Beach at Baldwin Beach Park, and Napili Beach.
Last Updated on July 15, 2023 by Brigitte