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Maui's Top Beaches
Ah, Maui's beaches: it's hard to single out just a few because the island's strands are so varied. The leeward shores of West and South Maui have calm beaches and some great snorkeling, but experienced surfers and windsurfers gravitate to the windward (North Shore and East Maui) beaches that face the open ocean. Here are some favorites for different interests from around the island.
Best for Families
Baldwin Beach, the North Shore. The long, shallow, calm end closest to Kahului is safe even for toddlers—with adult supervision, of course.
Kamaole III, the South Shore. Sand, gentle surf, a playground, volleyball net, and barbecues all add up to great family fun.
Napili Beach, West Maui. Kids will love the turtles that nosh on the limu (seaweed) growing on the lava rocks. This intimate, crescent-shape beach offers sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming, bodysurfing, and startling sunsets.
Best Offshore Snorkeling
Olowalu, West Maui. The water remains shallow far offshore, and there's plenty to see.
Ulua, the South Shore. It's beautiful and the kids can enjoy the tide pools while the adults experience the excellent snorkeling.
Hookipa, the North Shore. This is the place to see great surfers and windsurfers: it's not for beginners or for swimmers, but Hookipa is great for experienced wave riders and also for anyone who wants to take in the North Shore scene.
Honolua Bay, West Maui. One bay over from Slaughterhouse (Mokuleia) Beach north of Kapalua you can find one of the best surf breaks in Hawaii.
Kapalua Bay, West Maui. The ambience here is as stunning as the sunset.
Keawakapu, the South Shore. Most active beachgoers enjoy this gorgeous spot before midafternoon when the wind picks up, so it's never crowded at sunset.
Best for Seeing and Being Seen
Kaanapali Beach, West Maui. Backed by resorts, condos, and restaurants, this is not the beach for solitude. But the sand is soft, the waters are gentle, and the action varies from good snorkeling at Black Rock (Kekaa) to people-watching in front of Whalers Village—not for nothing is this section called "Dig Me Beach."
Wailea Beach, the South Shore. At this beach fronting the ultraluxurious Four Seasons and Grand Wailea resorts, you never know who might be "hiding" in that private cabana.
Makena (Oneloa), South Shore. Don't forget the camera for this beauty, a state park away from the Wailea resort area. Finding it is worth the effort—a long, wide stretch of golden sand and translucent offshore water. The icing on the cake is that this long beach is never crowded. Use caution for swimming because the steep, onshore break can get big.
Waianapanapa State Park, East Maui. This rustic black-sand beach will capture your heart—it's framed by lava cliffs and backed by bright green beach naupaka bushes. Ocean currents can be strong, so enjoy the views and cool off in one of two freshwater pools. Get an early start, because your day's destination is just shy of Hana.