Best Beaches in South Maui – Hawaii

By |January 15th, 2017|13 Comments

I think it goes without saying that a visit to Maui would not be complete without a visit to one or more of the many beaches on the island. Although you can visit just about any area of the island and experience a great beach, I think South Maui has some of the best the island has to offer. Below is a list of the best beaches in south Maui.

Aloha! Be welcomed on Maui with traditional lei greetings at Kahului Airport.

South Maui Keawakapu beach

Keawakapu Beach

Our day started on Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui. This beach is absolutely stunning! There is a public access, dirt parking lot between the Mana Kai and Days Inn Oceanfront properties. The public beach access here also has a shower and foot wash near the parking lot. The beach is clean and beautiful with some decent snorkeling. You can see turtles here while snorkeling off the beach and during the correct season you can watch whales from the beach! If you are into water activities, there is a public rental space in the Mana Kai, accessible from the beach that will allow rentals for snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and many more activities. (Above: Keawakapu Beach during sunrise)

If you are someone who likes to scuba dive Keawakapu Beach has a unique feature. Around 400 years offshore there is an artificial reef made up of 150 car bodies that were dumped there from a barge in 1962. So if you are an antique car buff and a scuba diver this is the place for you. We would love to see photos of the classic cars.

Read our Road to Hana Itinerary- Maui, Hawaii.

Plan your car rental with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our Jeep rental through them.

The shoreline in Keawakapu Beach is fully developed. It includes impressive beach houses, hotels, condos and restaurants. Most of the developments have been kept a tasteful distance from the beach, keeping the majority distinctly separate, the beach refreshingly non-commercialized.

Beach Size: Keawakapu Beach runs .7 mile long and it is a great sandy beach.

Keawakapu Beach is great for sunsets.

Keawakapu Beach gets busy in the midafternoon. It is best to enjoy this beach in the early morning and late afternoon. This beach is great for sunsets looking out over the water as whales jump out. People typically spend 1-3 hours enjoying Keawakapu Beach.

Where is Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui located? At the end of South Kihei Rd, (From Hwy 31 aka Piilani Hwy, turn off between mi 9.6 & 10.4 )
GPS Coordinates: 20.699399,-156.445934

What facilities does Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui have? Showers, port-a-potty, no lifeguards, hotel, restaurant, convenience store.

Parking at Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui: To get to the southern end parking lot, drive south on S Kihei Rd until it dead-ends at a beach parking lot. Near the middle of the beach, there’s a parking lot at the corner of Kilohana Dr and S Kihei Rd. Cross S Kihei Rd to the beach access walkway. At the northern end, beach parking can be found in a large access lot north of the Days Inn.

Top hotels we recommend on Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui:

Got a killer deal at Days Inn Maui Ocean front Maui *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor (This hotel is right on the beach!)

Maui Coast Hotel *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Kohea Kai Resort Maui *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Pineapple Inn *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Read reviews and check prices for all hotels in Kihei, Maui at TripAdvisor or Booking.Com

Top Viator tours to do around Keawakapu Beach:

Surf Lessons Maui

3 Day Surf Camp on Maui

Whale Watching off the Coast of Maui

Check out all of Viator’s tours in Maui.

Recommended Guide Book For Maui: Lonely Planet Maui

South Maui Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach

Not too far from Keawakapu beach is Wailea Beach. This area is fronted with numerous upscale resorts and an amazing view of Molokini from the beach. The turtles are abundant in this area, so snorkeling from the beach alone is worth a stop here. If you’re lucky you may even get a glimpse of a celebrity or two on this beach.  (Above: Wailea beach)

Wailea Beach gets busy in the midafternoon. It is best to enjoy this beach in the early morning and late afternoon. This beach is great for sunsets. People typically spend 1-3 hours enjoying Wailea Beach.

Plan your car rental with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our Jeep rental through them.

Beach Size: Wailea Beach runs 1.69 miles long. The beach is wide, the sand perfect, and the ocean inviting. Many people use this beach to run on.

Where is Wailea Beach located? Mile Marker: #0.4 – Wailea Alanui Rd.
GPS Coordinates: 20.681288,-156.441944

What facilities does Wailea Beach have? Showers, bathrooms. no lifeguards, hotels, and resorts with restaurants. 

Parking at Wailea Beach: Public beach access parking is available just past the Grand Wailea. Consider packing a lunch if you plan to stay for the day, because resort prices are high and there are no off-property restaurants or grocery stores within walking distance. Everything is a little dive away.

Top hotels we recommend on Wailea Beach:

Hotel Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Andaz Maui At Wailea*****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Read reviews and check prices for all hotels in Wailea Beach at TripAdvisor or Booking.Com

Top Viator tours to do around Wailea Beach:

Afternoon Turtle Snorkel on Maui

Maui Parasailing Experience

Old Lahaina Luau Maui (Click to read about our experience at the Old Lahaina Luau. This was one of the best things we did on our trip to Maui. )

Maui Express Helicopter Adventure (Click to read about our experience “Extreme Doors Off Helicopter Ride in Maui, Hawaii.” This was one of the best things we did on our trip to Maui. )

Check out all of Viators tour’s in Maui.

Recommended Guide Book For Maui: Lonely Planet Maui

South Maui Beaches Onelui

One’uli Beach

One’uli Beach is South Maui’s black sand beach and you have to do a bit of off-roading to get to it! Don’t worry, it is a public access point, but the road is not paved and winds through the woods on a narrow trail.  The payoff is worth it. This beach was formed after thousands of years of lava colliding with the water over a white sand beach. The beach itself looks like salt and pepper with an accent of crushed sea shells that up against the blue water is absolutely stunning. There is some good snorkeling to be had here and you won’t find a busy beach. (Above: One’uli Beach)

One’uli Beach is on most visitors must see checklist when visiting Maui. Oneuli Black Sand Beach on Maui is one of the lesser known black sand beaches on the Island. One’uli Beach gets busy in the midafternoon. It is best to enjoy this beach in the early morning and late afternoon. One’uli Beach is not a beach is not the best “basking-and-bathing” beach. People typically spend 1-2 hours enjoying One’uli Beach.

Plan your car rental with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our Jeep rental through them.

Beach Size: Makena State Park comprises 165 acres (0.7 km2) in Makena, south of Wailea on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

Where is One’uli located? Makena Alanui Rd., (Dirt access rd is 3.8 Mi S. of Grand Wailea Resort, just before Pu’u & Big Beach lot)
GPS Coordinates: 20.639928,-156.446868

What facilities does One’uli Beach have? Showers, bathrooms. no lifeguards.

Parking at One’uli Beach: One’uli Beach is located in Makena State Park, Parking is easy in a nice large parking lot.

Top hotels we recommend near One’uli Beach:

Andaz Maui At Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Residence Inn Maui Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui ****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Read reviews and check prices for all hotels near One’uli Beach at TripAdvisor or Booking.Com

Top Viator tours to do around One’uli Beach:

Ka’anapali Zipline Adventure on Maui

Maui Atlantis Submarine Adventure

Road to Hana Tour from Maui

Teralani Sunset Maui Cocktail Sail

Check out all of Viators tour’s in Maui.

Recommended Guide Book For Maui: Lonely Planet Maui

south maui Big Beach onelea

Big Beach

Our next stop was Big Beach, also known as Oneloa Beach. Big Beach is probably one of the prettiest beaches on Maui.  The gorgeous sand and pristine waters attract snorkelers, swimmers and sunbathers. As with most beaches on Maui, pay attention to the rip tides. Enter the water where the locals are; they know what they are doing.  Take some time to soak in the sun here and just enjoy the sheer beauty of the area. (Above: Big Beach)

Big Beach (Oneloa Beach) is one of the less crowded beaches in Maui. The whole time we spent on this beach we keptd asking our selfs where is everyone? This beach is beautifully wild and undeveloped. The winds can be bad in the afternoon. I love big waves, and this beach is known for that, especially during the spring and summer!

Plan your car rental with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our Jeep rental through them.

Beach Size: Big Beach (Oneloa Beach) is 1/4 Mile long, sandy and uncrowded beach.

Where is Big Beach (Oneloa Beach) located? Mile Marker: #30.1 (Hwy 30 aka Honoapiilani Hwy to Kapalua Resort Office Rd.) Follow Office Rd. to end.
GPS Coordinates: 21.004144,-156.659793

What facilities does Big Beach (Oneloa Beach) have? Picnic facilities and restrooms are available. Lifeguards are around depending on the time of day.

Parking at Big Beach (Oneloa Beach): Parking is easy in a nice large parking lot.

Top hotels we recommend near Big Beach (Oneloa Beach):

Hotel Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea *****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Andaz Maui At Wailea*****Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Read reviews and check prices for all hotels near Big Beach at TripAdvisor or Booking.Com

Top Viator tours to do around Big Beach:

Maui: Haleakala Sunrise Tour

Molokai and Maui Helicopter Tour

Kaanapali Sunset Luau in Maui

Check out all of Viator’s tours in Maui.

Recommended Guide Book For Maui: Lonely Planet Maui

South Maui Ahihi-Kinau Natural Preserve

Ahi’hi-Kinau Natural Preserve

Lastly, although it is not a traditional beach, it is worth a drive to visit the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Preserve. It is a beautiful display of where lava has met the sea. We don’t suggest trying to swim or snorkel here as the rip tides and waves combined with sharp jagged rock make the area unpredictable. However, drive to the end and take a walk to the edge of the rocks to play in the sea spray. Just the contrast of the black lava rocks against the rich blue water makes it a perfect stop. It is just one example of Maui’s intense diversity. (Above: Ahi’hi-Kinau Natural Preserve shoreline)

Visiting Hours: Access to the northern and most often visited portions of the reserve will be allowed during posted visiting hours of 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.

This is an undeveloped area and there is no water, limited cell phone coverage, and nothing to buy.

Where is Ahi’hi-Kinau Natural Preserve located? The ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u reserve is located on the southwest corner of the island of Maui

Acres: Land: 1,238, Marine: 807
Established: 1973

Top Viator tours to do around Ahi’hi-Kinau Natural Preserve:

Maui Private Tour: Adventure With A Local

Private Tour: Maui Country Farms

Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise

Maui Whale Watch Cruise

Check out all of Viator’s tours in Maui.

Maui Beach Vacation Packing Checklist

We have put together some items you must take with you on your trip to Maui. These are items that you must have when exploring the best beaches in South Maui, Hawaii. Below are much have Maui Beach items you want to buy before heading to Maui. Maui is a small island so items are limited and you will pay almost 50% more than you would if you just got the items now. Who wants to spend their vacation time looking for things they could have gotten at home. I know I don’t.

Maui Beach Accessories

Beach Bag

Day Bag (We love our PackSafe Venturesafe X30 backpack because it locks up 100%)

Flip-Flops

Sunglasses

We like and use: Costa Polarized Sunglasses and Suncloud Polarized Sunglasses.

Sun-Hat

Water Bottle, Fill up right out of the tap or even out of rivers with Lifestraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1,000 Liter Lifestraw Filter

Waterproof Backpack

Waterproof Bags for Camera/Phone/Etc.

Clothing

Swimsuit

Swimsuit cover-up

Rash Guard – We love our rash guards, they are something every traveler should have.

 

 

Equipment

Beach Blanket or Beach Mats

Beach Towels

Adult FloatingHammocks

Snorkel and Fins

Waterproof Blue tooth speakers

Portable USB External Battery Charger Power Bank

Health and Beauty Items

Aleo Vera Gel

Antibacterial Wipes

Body Lotion

Comb and Brush

Contact Lens Solution (if needed)

Deodorant

Face Cleanser

First Aid Kit (Travel First-aid Kit )

Tooth Picks or Floss

Insect Repellent

Lip Balm

Personal-Hygiene Items

Prescriptions

Razors

Shampoo and Conditioner

Shaving Gel

Soap

Sunscreen

Toothbrush

Toothpaste

Miscellaneous

Address of friends and family for postcards

Books or Ebooks

Bring along a Frisbee, ball, or beach tennis rackets so antsy kids (and adults!)  can blow off a little steam at rest stops.

Snacks

Maps and Directions

Maui Hawaii Adventure Guide Franko Maps Waterproof Map

Fodor’s Maui: with Molokai & Lanai (Full-color Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet Discover Maui (Travel Guide)

Money (Cash, ATM Cards)

Waterproof Camera

Camera (We carry the Canon 6d DSLR camera with Canon 24-105L lens.)

Power cords for phones, GoPro’s and anything else you may need to change. I love our car power inverter that allows us to plug in using a USB or a basic three-prong plug. It works great for charging up my drone.

 


Resources for Planning Your Trip to Maui

Recommended Guide Book: Lonely Planet Maui

Book a Room: Read reviews and check prices for all hotels in Maui at TripAdvisor or Booking.Com

Search for Flights: Priceline or Skyscanner offers great deals to Hawaii.

Travel Insurance: World Nomads or Allianz Global Assistance, policies available for US and International travelers

Car Rental: Plan your car rental with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our Jeep rental through them.

Search for Tours and Trips in Maui: Viator’s Top 10 Maui Tours.

Looking for more things to do in Maui?

whalewatchingmauijeepmaui

Maui Helicopter TourOld Lahaina Luau Maui Hawaii

molokinisnorkelRoad to Hana Maui

13 Comments

  1. Fern July 5, 2017 at 8:37 AM - Reply

    We’re planing a trip for October. It sounds like the South Beach is at the place to be. What about the North Beach?

    • Lina Stock July 6, 2017 at 1:28 PM - Reply

      It really depends on your budget and where you want to base yourself. Some of the best beaches in Maui are in the South near Kihei and Wailea but Lahaina, in the Northwest, also has some nice beaches. We really liked being in Kihei as a base. We rented a car and were able to explore everywhere from a relatively central base. Enjoy Maui, we love it there!

  2. […] upgrade you should, without a doubt, upgrade to a Jeep rental in Maui. Being able to access some beautiful hidden beaches will make it all worth the […]

  3. Julie Cao December 14, 2016 at 11:08 AM - Reply

    The big beach in Maui is definitely amazing, but I also spent an afternoon at the small beach, a hidden-away beach from the outcrops of Big Beach. I need to visit Maui to check out the rest of the amazing beaches you’ve mentioned.Nice photos!

  4. Melissa January 22, 2015 at 8:29 PM - Reply

    I loved Wailea beach. I was fortunate to be able to stay in one of those fancy resorts.

    • Lina January 23, 2015 at 4:37 AM - Reply

      That’s awesome! We stayed at the Days Inn right on Keawapaku Beach and totally loved that too. Maui is awesome, don’t think there’s a bad place on the island.

  5. […] South Maui Beach Hopping (divergenttravelers.com) […]

  6. Deb McGauley July 16, 2013 at 3:42 PM - Reply

    One of my favorite beaches in south Maui is Charley Young/Kamaole One! Long long stretch of soft warm sand, which goes out into the ocean a long way before becoming too deep. Great for children, swimmers (flat as ice in the mornings), paddle boarders, boogie boarding and snorkeling at each end. Stunning displays of whales and dolphins in the winter and you just can’t beat the nightly sunsets!

    • Lina July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM - Reply

      There are SO many great beaches is South Maui! We spent some time on the northern side of Kihei too, at the Kamaole beaches. Many sunset photos from that vantage point!

  7. Kalen Thomsen July 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM - Reply

    Makena. Good snorkeling!

  8. Kalen Thomsen July 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM - Reply

    Makena. Good snorkeling!

  9. gina larson July 16, 2013 at 2:42 PM - Reply

    I love all the beaches on Maui and will be back to enjoy them in January of 2014. I can’t wait.

    • Lina July 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM - Reply

      The beaches in Maui are so amazing! We cannot wait till our next visit either!

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