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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Small but rarely crowded, this beach will remain in your memory long after your visit. Fingers of white foam rush onto a black volcanic-pebble beach fringed with green beach vines and palms. Swimming here is both relaxing and invigorating: Strong currents bump smooth stones up against your ankles while seabirds flit above a black, jagged sea arch. There are picnic tables and grills. At the edge of the parking lot a sign tells you the sad story of a doomed Hawaiian princess. Stairs lead through a tunnel of interlocking Polynesian hau (a native tree) branches to an icy cave pool—the secret hiding place of the ancient princess. You can swim in this pool, but beware of mosquitoes. In the other direction a dramatic 3-mile coastal path continues past sea arches, blowholes, and cultural sites all the way to Hana town. Amenities: parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: walking.
A road near the Grand Wailea Resort takes you to Wailea Beach, a wide, sandy stretch with snorkeling and swimming. If you're not a guest at the Grand Wailea or Four Seasons the cluster of private umbrellas and chaise lounges can be a little annoying, but any complaint is more than made up for by the calm, unclouded waters and soft, white sand. From the parking lot, walk to the right to get to the main beach; to the left is another, smaller section that fronts the Four Seasons. There are picnic tables and grills away from the beach. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.
This popular park is also known as Thousand Peaks, because there's barely a break between each wave. Beginning to intermediate surfers say it's a good spot to longboard or body board. It's easy entry into the water, and you don't have to paddle out far. The beach itself leaves something to be desired, because it's more dead grass than sand, but there is some shade, mostly from thorny kiawe trees; footwear is a good idea. Portable toilets are available, along with picnic tables and grills. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing.
The island's northernmost beach is part of the Honolua-Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District. "Slaughterhouse" is the surfers' nickname for what is officially Mokuleia. Weather permitting, this is a great place for body surfing and sunbathing. Concrete steps and a green railing help you get down the cliff to the sand. The next bay over, Honolua, has no beach but offers one of the best surf breaks in Hawaii. Competitions are often held there; telltale signs are cars pulled off the road and parked in the pineapple field. Amenities: none. Best for: sunset; surfing.
Kaihalulu Beach, better known as Red Sand Beach, is unmatched in its raw and remote beauty. It's not simple to find, but when you round the last corner of the trail and are confronted with the sight of it, your jaw is bound to drop. Earthy red cliffs tower above the deep maroon beach, and swimmers bob about in a turquoise lagoon formed by volcanic boulders. The experience is like floating in a giant natural bathtub. It's worth spending a night in Hana so you can get here early to enjoy it before anyone else shows up.
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