South Maui's Best 5 Beaches

Maui's Best Beaches

If you’re heading to Kihei, Wailea, or Makena, then chances are that hitting the beaches is at the top of your priority list. There are many incredible things to do on the island and sights to see but these Maui beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. From serene spots with beautiful sunsets to great waves for water sports, the beaches of South Maui have it all! Read on to learn about the top 5 South Maui Beaches that you will want to visit during your time here.

Big Beach

Big Beach Makena

Big Beach is possibly the most beautiful beach in South Maui if not the entire island. It is located in Makena Beach State Park and is known officially by the names Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach. Its white sands extend to almost two-thirds of a mile long, making it one of the largest, widest, and most underdeveloped beaches in Maui. The area is divided into two beaches, with Big Beach being the most well-known and Little Beach being known for its clothing-optional approach and Sunday evening festivities.

Big Beach is just south of Wailea and near the Makena Beach and Golf Resort. Along the shoreline, this stunning natural landscape provides a secluded space for relaxation and enjoyment; with breathtaking views of the islands of Molokini and Kahoolawe.

Snorkelers, swimmers, and sunbathers alike, all flock to Big Beach, however, it’s important to note that the water has a rather significant on-shore break that can be dangerous. At high surf time, rip tides are brutal and it might be best to steer clear of the water.

Overall though, this is an iconic Hawaiian beach with everything you can ask for. Never too crowded, simply beautiful, Big Beach is not to be missed!

Kamaole I

Kamaole One Beach Maui

The Kamaole Beach parks consist of three different beaches; however, the Kamaole 1 is the longest and largest of the three and one of the top five South Maui beaches. With its picturesque white sands and crescent-shaped beach, this area is often considered to be the best spot in Maui for ocean swimming. At a third of a mile long, its calm waters make for the perfect place to take a dip your toes into the Pacific.

Snorkeling is decent in this area but more so towards the rocky end of the beach. The sand dunes that separate the beach from the road, keep the area enclosed. For families who need a grassy spot to play and picnic, this can be found towards the south end of Kamaole 1. A wonderful long term residential condo complex sits just across the road from Kamaole 1, the Ke Alii Ocean Villas are one of Kihei's best communities. 

Kamaole 1 truly has something for the whole family!

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Keawakapu Beach

Right between Wailea and Kihei is the stunning Keawakapu Beach. At about 1200 yards long, its good swimming conditions, fine sand, and large size along with a lack of crowds, make it one of the top 5 best beaches in South Maui. If you're staying at the Mana Kai, you'll have a perfect view of this beach from your lanai.

One of the best things about this beach is that it is harder to find due to the luxurious residential area that hides it. This makes for an exclusive feel and a perfect place to relax in privacy. Swimming here is good but it does depend on the tide. During high surf and big swells, it becomes rather dangerous due to the lack of an offshore coral reef. So be sure to be careful and be aware of the tide.

There is however a rather unique feature about Keawakapu Beach there is an underwater man-made reef that consists of old cars, tires, and concrete. This was made in 1962 to protect the shoreline and provide shelter for fish. Divers have been known to enjoy this unique dive spot.

For a unique beach with an intimate feel, Keawakapu Beach is a true find and certainly one of the best things to do in Wailea

Ulua Beach

Ulua Beach Maui

Ulua Beach is a sandy beach located between two rocky points right in front of the Wailea Elua condo complex. The water here attracts many different types of people. At high surf, the waves are higher and stronger than at the other local beaches and this attracts the bodyboarders. However, when the water is calm the snorkeling and diving are excellent. The corals and fish are spectacular and make for stunning underwater living art. If you are a beginner to intermediate level snorkeler, Ulua Beach is a great place to learn and improve your skills. The lovely Wailea Fairway Estates are just across the street.

The rocky north end of the beach is the perfect place to see the fish and the corals. Also, “Ulua” is the name of Hawaii’s most popular game fish, which explains why this is such a great spot to find them.

For an activity-filled beach that will keep you busy and having fun, Ulua Beach is the place to be!

Po'olenalena Beach

Po'olenalena Beach in South Maui

Po'olenalena Beach is also known as Paipu Beach and for many years was only known to locals. With its long, sandy beach, lack of crowds, and spectacular views, it has often been the location of choice for sunset weddings. It's located right in front of the popular Makena Surf condos. 

Like many locations in Maui, the name Po'olenalena refers to something local. In this case, it is the Hawaiian word for “yellow head”. Which refers to the landmark yellow rock on the nearby golf course. 

Po'olenalena, with its gently sloping sandy shores, is a perfect beach for swimming or taking the kids to play. There are lava rocks at the end of the beach which provide a haven for fish and coral and make for a sweet snorkeling spot.

Welcome Back To Maui!

Maui is filled with beaches but narrowing down which ones to visit can be a challenge. Most people are looking for a good combination of stunning scenery and fun activities when they choose a beach.

That’s why this list of the Top 5 South Maui Beaches is based on natural beauty, size, crowds, or lack thereof, and of course the options to enjoy the sand and surf in as many ways as possible. Everything you need to make it a perfect beach day in South Maui!  

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Evan Harlow Maui

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Posted by Evan Harlow R(S) 82003 on


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