Aloha fellow beach-lovers!
As a self-proclaimed Hawaii aficionado, I’ve dedicated countless hours to exploring the stunning shores of this island paradise. My boyfriend and I have had the pleasure of embarking on many sun-soaked adventures throughout the islands – from leisurely sunbathing escapes to adrenaline-filled snorkeling excursions.
Here’s the thing:
After all our wanderings and discoveries, we’ve reached a verdict: Maui has the best beaches in Hawaii, hands down. And trust me; we’ve got our sandy footprints all over these pristine shores to prove it. Through thick and thin, (and an unfortunate incident involving my boyfriend and a wayward sea urchin), we’re here to share our top picks for swoon-worthy spots on Maui.
You might be wondering what makes these awe-inspiring locales stand out among the rest. Well, not only do they offer endless opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and sun worshipping—I’ve also uncovered those hidden gems perfect for couples seeking romance or anyone looking to escape reality in their own secluded slice of Hawaiian heaven.
Warning: You may suddenly find yourself daydreaming about white sands and turquoise waters at work or during mundane chores—proceed with caution!
So grab your sunscreen and swimsuit because we’re about to embark on an unforgettable journey through Maui’s most magnificent beaches!
Maui Beaches are the Best for swimming
1. Makena Beach – The Best getaway location
If you can imagine the perfect fine sand beach stretching almost a mile long then you are probably imagining Makena Beach. This undeveloped beach is spread between two black lava barriers and provides a fantastic view of the Molokini and Kahoolawe islands. The water here is crystal clear with shades of green and blue like in true paradise.
This beach also offers some waves and excitement and is a bit off the beaten path. So it’s perfect for bodyboarding, surfing, kayaking, and other water activities. There’s even a large volcanic cinder cone at the north end called Pu’u Ola’i perfect for exploring and finding small critters scattering in the waves.
Hiking fans can even do the Trek Pu’u Ola’ Cinder Cone Trail which is an eventful walk that will take you up and around the crater, and past a series of tide pools. Overall, the natural beauty of this area is unparallel. It’s the perfect and spacious spot for some romance, sunbathing, and even some nudity at the little beach.
2. Keawakapu Beach – Great for swimming and snorkeling
Those looking for a great swim will love this white sand beach. The crystal-clear water is perfect for taking a dip, sunbathing, and even snorkeling. The sand stretches out for about 0.7 miles and the views are stunning in every direction. Best of all this beach is not overcrowded (we had plenty of space to spread out and have some privacy.)
Keawakapu Beach has a large parking lot, and to get there you should be going Going south on South Kihei Road, past the Mana Kai Maui Resort. On the way you will see several great restaurants, so make sure to stop in, before or after your time at the beach. The beach itself only has limited facilities including outdoor showers, portable toilets, and trash bins.
3. Waianapanapa State park (Black Sand Beach) – The best black sand beach on Maui
This stunning beach is unparalleled by any other black sand beach on the island. It’s a truly gorgeous and unique opportunity to witness the power of nature and experience something truly authentic in Hawaii. Though it is small, it’s pristine, welcoming, and peaceful.
This spot is calm, secluded, and tucked into a private cove. It was created by the powerful grinding between lava and water, thanks to the Haleakela volcano. The sand is slightly rough, but still easy to walk on barefoot. The area is surrounded by lush tall trees and lawns, giving it lots of shade and hidden spots to lounge as a couple. It’s a spot where you can do some snorkeling, sunbathing, or explore all the wildlife, including wild bird colonies that gather here.
Hiking the nearby trails is also a great idea as you can see some stunning panoramic views, blow holes, and locals enjoying some fishing. The remote location will give you a true feeling that you are lost in paradise.
4. Kahekili Beach Park – The sightseeing location, perfect for swimmers and snorkelers
This beach is the Northern beach in the Ka’anapali resort (in front of the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas). It’s wonderfully underdeveloped, underrated, and less commercialized. The sandy shore is long and perfect for walking barefoot on the powdery sand. As a plus the beach has all the amenities you need, so you can extend your day and make it a whole day outing.
This is a perfect beach if you are not a strong swimmer because the water is calm, clear, and almost waveless. It’s a perfect spot to soak in the shallow end or walk the shoreline. It’s also an ideal spot for those looking to snorkel for the first time, or are still learning. Since there is a large shallow area, it’s easy to snorkel and explore small fish, rocks, coral, and more. There is a great reef parallel to the beach.
The beach itself is easy on bare feet and wonderful for lounging, sunbathing, or taking a walk. But inside the water, I recommend water shoes, as there are rocks and some critters you don’t want to step on barefoot (or at all actually!)
Best secluded Beaches on Maui
If you are looking for some romance, quiet time as a couple, a place to read a book, or even just to get away from the crowds, Maui has plenty of secluded beaches. These beaches will make you feel like you are on a deserted island, so make sure to check them out!
1. Kaihalulu Beach (the red sand beach)
This is a dramatic and unique beach tucked away in a calm and peaceful cove. Its unique and authentic red color is like something from another planet. The red sand only brings out the deep blue ocean color, leaving anyone breathless.
The beach is surrounded by high cliffs and wild tall trees above you. It’s impossible to see until you have arrived (it’s known as the secret red sand beach). That’s why this beach is truly beautiful and secluded. In fact when my boyfriend and I visited there were only two more people there. To get there we headed to Hana from Kahului. We parked at the school and hiked for about 15 minutes until we reached the shore.
The best part is that the beach is swimmable and good for snorkeling. The water is calm and the sand is fine enough not to hurt your feet. It gets its color from rust and is one of the few red-sand beaches in the world. The large cliffs nestle the beach so even on a windy day, the air is calm. We brought plenty of food and drink when we visited because it is so far out of the way and we wanted to enjoy it. No amenities, so prepare.
2. Little Beach – The unofficial nudist beach
Unlike the Big Beach, Little Beach is stunningly beautiful but secluded. In fact so much so, that there are often nudists on the beach (even though there are no nudist beaches officially in Maui!). This beach unlike its name is quite spacious and made of fine white sand. It’s a great place to swim, snorkel, and layout in the sun. Its undeveloped nature just adds to its beauty.
When we visited it felt really laid back. There were not too many people, and mostly kept to themselves and were just enjoying the water and the sun. This beach also has a beautiful view of the sunset.
Here you can relax, enjoy some food on the beach and watch the stunning colors in the sky turn from blue to orange, purple, and then black. Those equipped to make the hike back can also enjoy the star-filled skies. The night we visited was so beautiful and peaceful.
3. VOR Beach (Kahului Airport Beach)
This beach is located in lower Paia near the airport. Asides from being secluded and visited only by locals, it’s nestled among the trees and mountains, making it feel secluded and private. The rees also provide a lot of natural shade, so you can enjoy the beach even on a really hot day.
When we visited we were looking for a relaxing and secluded place for some romance and soaking up the sun. We had plenty of room and privacy, it was relaxing and quiet (so we could hear the waves and the birds).
This beach is underrated and has great facilities. There is also a well-manicured green area, palm trees, and a fine sand beach perfect for swimming. This is also a great spot for snorkeling or boogie boarding, especially for those still learning.
Another highlight of this less visited, the overlooked beach is the large green turtles. Chances are if you visit in the afternoon or before sunset, you will encounter some great turtles playing in the sand and soaking up the sun. For those arriving late, take a swim and watch the sunset. This is also a great sunset-watching spot.
4. Oneuli Beach (Secret Black Sand Beach)
This beach is south on the Piilani Highway down Wailea Ike Drive. If you are staying in or near Kihei, this is a shouldn’t miss the beach. In fact, it was one of my favorite spots to get away from tourists and crowds. It’s so perfectly hidden away, no wonder it’s known as the secret black sand beach.
This beach is great for a picnic, enjoying the views, or even some snorkeling and diving. It’s not a great place to swim, because the black sand turns into lava rock as you enter the water. A little way out there is a coral reef, full of tropical creatures and fish to explore. You can do this in peace and away from people.
When we visited there were only a couple of people on the whole beach. Best of all there were green turtles out, just lounging in the sand. It was a great and truly Hawaiian view as we enjoyed our food and drinks, in almost exclusive sounds of the waves. This beach is somewhat off the beaten path, and nature lovers and geology buffs will love it.
Maui Beaches for water sports and snorkeling
Whether you are looking for some easy beginner surfing, snorkeling, and other water sports, or are a licensed pro, There are great spots in Maui to enjoy these activities. With abundant marine life, great waves, and stunning views to enjoy from the shore or out on the water. Here are my favorites where you will enjoy fun on the water along with hundreds of tropical fish, coral, and even large green turtles sunbathing next to you.
1. Olowalu Beach – The best spot for snorkeling
This is truly a unique spot that can be enjoyed by snorkelers of all levels. Olowalu waters have over 450 acres of coral which hide a city of underwater activity. Each snorkeling experience is guaranteed to show you hundreds of colorful tropical fish, starfish, sea enemies, eel, crabs,s and even turtles.
The sand here is soft, and it’s an easy spot to find at Mile Marker 14 (just off the highway). When we visited for snorkeling, we didn’t have to go out very far into the water to see all the amazing marine life. Moving around and exploring was quite easy because the water was calm. When resting on the small shore, I quite enjoyed the driftwood and small crabs scattered around.
2. La Perouse Bay – Best South Maui spot to snorkel
This is an awesome place to snorkel in the summer and catch some waves in the winter. It’s located at mile marker 7 at the very end of Makena Alanui Road and is generally easy to find (navigation took us straight there the first time we visited).
It’s part of a natural preserve and the water is extremely rich with sea life (it’s also protected, so please respect the rules and take care of the animals). This is also a popular dolphin-watching spot because in season you can see large groups of Spinner Dolphins (especially if you are a morning person like me).
This is also a good spot for kayaking and canoeing. The beach itself is rocky but well worth the effort. You are guaranteed to see abundant fish, crabs, and other exotic marine life. There is even a great trail leading from this beach for those who love to hike.
3. Maluaka Beach (Turtle Town)
The left side of this amazing beach is perfect for snorkeling. On our trip, we saw some great tropical fish, sea urchins, eel, crab, and more. The sand is pleasingly soft, and getting into the water was easy. Best of all you start to see the marine life quite close to the shallow end.
This beach is also very special thanks to the huge populations of green turtles that love to hang out here. It’s probably a spot where you will get closest to the turtles, but please respect their space for their safety.
Those looking to swim, kayak, and do other water sports here won’t be disappointed. The water is clean, clear, and just calm enough to test out your skills. When we visited it wasn’t crowded and we enjoyed snorkeling for a long time. We brought a picnic and made it a half-day trip. The marine life and the turtles really set this spot apart from many of the other beaches.
The Second Best Beaches in Hawaii
The second best island for great beaches in Oahu. The beaches of Oahu are easily accessible, have excellent facilities, and provide great spots for swimming and watersports.
Oahu is known for its golden and white powdery sand beaches, and calm waters. Just like Maui, it has a great set of secluded beaches, so it’s a close second pick for sure.
If you are visiting the east side, make sure to check out Sandy Beach, Waimanalo Beach, or the well-known Makapuu Beach. West-side visitors will love Ko Olina Lagoons (there are about seven of them, natural and man-made). And of course Electric Beach.
If you are visiting in the summer, make sure to visit North Shores Ke Iki Beach, otherwise, enjoy watching surfing and huge breaking waves in the winter.
The legendary and dreamy island of Maui is the experienced traveler’s number one pick for the best beaches.
It offers paradise white sand beaches stretching for miles, perfect for swimming, soaking up the sun, and enjoying panoramic views of lush jungles, postcard sunsets, and seclusion.
Whether you are looking for beaches to test out watersports, or are a pro at snorkeling, surfing, and diving, Maui has the perfect spot for you – and I have found it.
Couples looking for romance, privacy, and tourist-free destinations will enjoy all my picks for secluded beaches.
Regardless of what you are looking for, there are red, black, white, and gold beaches waiting to be explored!
Make sure to check out as many of my picks as you can. To show support, share my article with your friends.
Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Brigitte