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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
You can tell from the trucks parked alongside the road that this is a favorite local surf spot. Watch conditions before swimming or body surfing, as riptides can be mean. Look for awesome views of the rugged coastline and a sea arch on the left end. Iwa, or white-throated frigate birds, dart like pterodactyls over the offshore Alau Islet. Amenities: None. Best for: surfing.
Everyone loves Keawakapu, with its long stretch of golden sand, near-perfect swimming, and views of Puu Olai cinder cone. It's great fun to walk or jog this beach south into Wailea, as it's lined with over-the-top residences. It's best here in the morning—the winds pick up in the afternoon (beware of sandstorms). Keawakapu has three entrances: one is at the Mana Kai Maui resort (look for the blue "Shoreline Access" sign); the second is directly across from the parking lot on Kilohana Street (the entrance is unmarked); and the third is at the dead end of Kihei Road. Toilets are portable. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.
Over the years Kapalua has been recognized as one of the world's best beaches, and for good reason: it fronts a pristine bay good for snorkeling, swimming, and general lazing. Just north of Napili Bay, this lovely, sheltered shore often remains calm late into the afternoon, although currents may be strong offshore. Snorkeling is easy here, and there are lots of colorful reef fish. This popular area is bordered by the Kapalua Resort, so don't expect to have the beach to yourself. Walk through the tunnel from the parking lot at the end of Kapalua Place to get here. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming.
Windsurfers, kiteboarders, joggers, and picnicking families like this long, golden strip of sand bordered by a wide grassy area with lots of shade. The winds pick up in the early afternoon, making for the best kiteboarding and windsurfing conditions—if you know what you're doing, that is. The best spot for watching kiteboarders is at the far left end of the beach. From Kaahumanu Avenue, turn makai (towards the ocean) onto Hobron Street, then right onto Amala Place. Drive just over a mile through an industrial area and take any of the three entrances into Kanaha. Amenities: lifeguard; parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: walking; windsurfing.
Three steps from South Kihei Road are three golden stretches of sand separated by outcroppings of dark, jagged lava rocks. You can walk the length of all three beaches if you're willing to get your feet wet. The northernmost of the trio, Kamaole I (across from the ABC Store, in case you forget your sunscreen), offers perfect swimming and an active volleyball court. There's also a great lawn where you can spread out at the south end of the beach. Kamaole II is nearly identical except for the lawn, but there is no parking lot. The last beach, the one with all the people on it, is Kamaole III, perfect for throwing a disk or throwing down a blanket. This is a great family beach, complete with a playground, barbecue grills, kite flying, and, frequently, rented inflatable castles—a must at birthday parties for cool kids.
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