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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
This tiny beach is the site of the ancient Kalepolepo Village, the prized property of King Kamehameha III in the 1850s. Here the makaainana (commoners) farmed, fished, and raised taro. Today, community stewards work to restore the ancient pond. The park has lots of shady trees and stays pretty quiet. However, the beach is only a sprinkling of sand and swimming in the often-murky waters isn't recommended. Kaleopolepo is just south of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. A portable toilet is available, and there are picnic tables and grills. Amenities: parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: solitude.
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.
This 36-acre beach park with plenty of shade is great for families and sports lovers. With its extensive lawns and sports fields, the park welcomes volleyball, baseball, and tennis players, and even has a playground, skateboard park, and a roller hockey rink. Stocked with grills and picnic pavilions, it's a recreational mecca. The beach itself is all but nonexistent, but swimming is fair—though you must brave the rocky steps down to the water. If you aren't completely comfortable with this entrance, stick to the burgers and bocce ball. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: partiers.
Stretching from the northernmost end of the Sheraton Maui to the Hyatt Regency Maui at its southern tip, Kaanapali Beach is lined with resorts, condominiums, restaurants, and shops. If you're looking for quiet and seclusion, this is not the beach for you. But if you want lots of action, spread out your towel here. The center section in front of Whalers Village, also called "Dig Me Beach," is one of Maui's best people-watching spots: folks in catamarans, windsurfers, and stand-up paddleboarders head out from here while the beautiful people take in the scenery. A cement pathway weaves along the length of this 3-mile-long beach, leading from one astounding resort to the next.
To see some of the world's finest windsurfers, hit this beach along the Hana Highway. This beach is also one of Maui's hottest surfing spots, with waves that can be as high as 20 feet. Hookipa is not a good swimming beach, nor the place to learn windsurfing, but it's great for hanging out and watching the pros. There are picnic tables and grills. Bust out your telephoto lens at the cliff-side lookout to capture the aerial acrobatics of board sailors and kiteboarders. Amenities: lifeguard; showers; toilets; parking (free). Best for: surfing; windsurfing.
Why did James Michener describe this stretch of salt-and-pepper sand as the most "South Pacific" beach he'd come across, even though it's in the North Pacific? Maybe it was the perfect half-moon shape, speckled with the shade of palm trees. Perhaps he was intrigued by the jutting black coastline, often outlined by rain showers out at sea, or the pervasive lack of hurry he felt here. Whatever it was, many still feel the lure. The beach can be crowded, but is still relaxing. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for swimming. At times the churning surf might intimidate swimmers, but the body surfing can be great. Hamoa is half a mile past Koki Beach on Haneoo Loop Road, 2 miles south of Hana town. Amenities: toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming.
Because the current can be quite strong, this charming, mile-long sandy cove is better for sunbathing than for swimming or water sports. Still, it's one of the island's most popular beaches. It's a perfect spot to watch the spectacular Maui sunsets, and there are picnic tables and grills. Part of the beach runs along the front of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua—a good place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the view. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; walking.
Go to the Cove if you want to learn to surf or stand-up paddle. All the surf schools are here in the morning, pushing longboard beginners onto the bunny-slope waves. For spectators there's a grassy area with some shade—and a tiny blink of a beach. If you aren't here to learn to surf, don't bother. The water is sketchy at best and plenty of other beaches are better. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing.
This secluded 3-acre park sits off the main drag in a residential area. The sand is soft and smooth, with a gentle slope into the ocean. A cloister of lava rocks shelters the beach from heavy afternoon winds, creating a mellow spot to laze around. The usually gentle waves make for good swimming and you can find interesting snorkeling along the rocks on the north end. From South Kihei Road, turn onto Kaiau Street, just north of Kamaole I. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.
Outrigger Aina Nalu
Outrigger Maui Eldorado
Outrigger Royal Kahana
Outrigger Napili Shores
The Kapalua Villas