There is really no shortage of fantastic, breathtaking beaches in Maui—it is, after all, one of the prettiest, beachiest places on earth. But once you get settled into your rental or hotel room, it might feel a little overwhelming to narrow down all the options for where to begin your relaxing beach vacation.
Whether you’re a newlywed couple embarking on a romantic honeymoon vacation, in search of secluded beaches where you’ll feel like the only ones in the world; or you’re taking the whole family beach hopping in Maui for a couple of weeks; or you’re traveling solo and hoping to meet locals, we’ve highlighted some of this storied island’s most sought-after stretches of sand that will leave you wondering why you aren’t in the process of selling your house and moving to Hawaii, asap.
Our picks, below.
Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach and Little Beach)
Divided into two parts, these two beaches are known by locals as Big Beach and Little Beach. Maui’s Makena Beach State Park is perhaps one of the best stretches of sand (extending for about ⅔ of a mile, to be exact) on the island—Big Beach offers a lifeguard on duty and amenities like restrooms and concessions (in addition to stunning, undeveloped beach), and Little Beach is a secluded cove (no lifeguard or amenities here), perfect for a private dip.
Located on Maui’s beautiful North Shore, this sparkling stretch of white sand is perfect for boogie boarding or a long day at the beach with the family. Complete with restrooms, barbecues, picnic tables, and lifeguards, you’ll find varying kinds of surf here, with some areas blocked off for swimmers, and shallower pools for little ones.
Just south of Big Beach in Makena State Park, you’ll find Secret Beach, which sits within a quiet, residential neighborhood, and is hidden behind a lava rock wall (only in Hawaii). True to its name, it’s likely that you’ll find this stunning cove much quieter than some of the more popular beaches in Maui. Take note that public nudity is technically illegal, but visitors often toss their suits and dive into these waters in the buff.
This wide, sandy beach is known far and wide as one of the finest beaches in the world. It does have a resort vibe (The Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea bookend the beach)—and because of this, quite a crowd to go along with it. But between the soft sand, the usually gentle surf, and the ample opportunities for snorkeling and whale watching, you really can’t go wrong spending a day catching some rays at Wailea.
Pa’iloa Beach, Wai'anapanapa State Park
Pa’iloa Beach (which means black sand beach) at Wai'anapanapa State Park is perhaps one of the island’s biggest draws. The state park itself is jaw-dropping, with swaths of dense, green vegetation growing right along the coastline and dramatic cliffs, giving way to otherworldly black sand beaches, coves, and outcroppings. Pa’iloa Beach itself isn’t super sandy (it’s more pebbly), so it may not be ideal for sunbathing, but it’s certainly an explorer’s dream come true. Search for beautiful rocks, splash in the surf (but beware of jellyfish!), and try to find the famous cave.
With a history of being named as one of America’s best beaches, Kapalua Bay Beach is the epitome of a dreamy Hawaiian beach. Here, you’ll find a long stretch of golden sand, dotted with palm trees and happy beachgoers. The gentle surf lends itself to aquatic activities like snorkeling to spot eels and sea turtles, and the soft sand is idyllic and perfect for soaking up some rays before a dip into the turquoise waters.
The crescent shape and white sand of Hamoa Beach, located in east Maui near the town of Hana, make it one of those postcard-perfect beaches that you picture when you think of Hawaii. With cliffs and rich vegetation surrounding it, you won’t be able to stop taking photos of Hamoa. Beware that the current can be quite strong, so swim with caution—this is a pretty popular spot for surfing and boogie boarding.