Maui written in the sand at Airport Beach
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Best Beaches in West Maui Top Guide 2024

Are you looking for an unforgettable beach getaway? West Maui is the perfect destination, with its beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.

From Ka’anapali Beach to Kapalua Bay, West Maui has some of the world’s best beaches on its doorstep.

This guide will take you through our top picks for the Best Beaches in West Maui to help make your dream vacation a reality!

With breathtaking scenery, marine life, sea turtles, and plenty of fun activities like snorkeling, surfing, and paddle boarding available along each shoreline, you’re sure to have a memorable time exploring this tropical paradise.

So grab your swimsuit and towel – it’s time to experience the best West Maui beaches!

DT Fleming Beach Park, aka Honokahua Bay

located at Mile Marker 31. Surfing, body surfing, boogie boarding and families

DT Fleming Beach Park is one of my go-to spots for a fun day in the sun. With its stunning views and incredible surf, it’s no wonder why locals love this beach.

This beach is known for surfing, but watch for rip currents and large waves, especially during winter. But if surfing isn’t your thing, boogie boarding and snorkeling on the right side of the bay are also popular activities.

If you’re up for some adventure, the Mahana Ridge Trail is a must-visit. You can find it on the far right of the parking lot. And if you need a break from the sun, the shade provided by the magnificent Ironwood trees is perfect for relaxing.

Make sure to pack your beach chairs because DT Fleming has all the amenities for a fantastic day at the beach. You can enjoy a picnic using the conveniently available picnic tables and grills. Plus, there’s plenty of parking space in the two spacious lots.

Honolua Bay is great for snorkeling but it has a rocky shoreline that doesn’t qualify it as a beach to hang out on. The walk to the beach is a tropical forest that ends at the bay.

Honolua Bay

Mile Marker 33. diving, snorkeling & surfing

Despite lacking the sandy expanses of typical beaches, Honolua Bay is a treasured locale known for its cultural significance and role as part of the Mokulēʻia Marine Life Conservation District.

Although its rocky landscape might not be the first choice for those looking to sunbathe, it presents an opportunity for diving, snorkeling, and surfing enthusiasts.

The bay, appropriately named Honolua, which translates to ‘two harbors,’ quickly became my favorite destination for snorkeling. Although the water may not seem clear initially, I found that venturing towards either side of the bay revealed beautifully clear water, teeming with brightly colored fish, turtles, and large coral reefs.

Parking, like at Kapalua Bay, can be tricky, given the limited space available. However, the quarter-mile access trail to the bay is enjoyable, leading through a well-groomed path that winds through a lush forest.

I’d advise anyone planning to visit to aim for an early arrival, as this helps beat the crowds and secure a parking space.

An influx of snorkel tours tends to arrive mid-morning, which may mean sharing the waters with less experienced snorkelers.

One crucial point to note is that the area is known for break-ins, so it is wise to secure your belongings. Based on local guidance, it’s best not to lock the car and to avoid leaving any valuables inside.

Despite this, the marine life and natural beauty of Honolua Bay make it well worth a visit.

Slaughterhouse Beach, aka Mokulei’a Bay

surfing. Body surfing & snorkeling, kid-friendly

Slaughterhouse, also known as Mokul’ia Beach, is a popular spot for surfing and snorkeling. Please note that parking is limited, with only ten parking spots. There is a steep staircase to access the beach.

During the winter, the waves can be rough, so it’s recommended for experienced surfers and snorkelers only when the surf is rough. Please note this: I am an experienced snorkel and swimmer. I could not get past the break, and Slaughterhouse almost slaughtered me! Each time a wave hit, I was moved closer towards rocks. Luckily, I didn’t panic. I realized I was putting myself in danger and returned to shore.

This beach is also great for body surfing and boogie boarding. Cliffs surround the beach, and the bay offers shade during the early and late hours of the day. Its large sandy beach makes it kid-friendly.

Slaughterhouse is part of the Honolua-Mokuleʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District, making it an excellent snorkel spot.

This beach doesn’t have any facilities.

Kapalua Bay

snorkeling, diving, swimming & families

Upon reaching Kapalua Bay, conveniently in front of the Montage Kapalua Bay Resort, I was instantly captivated by its tranquility. With its calm, clear waters and golden sands, this beach is ideal for families and water enthusiasts.

As a seasoned snorkeler, I was thrilled by the variety of marine life in the bay. The clear waters provided excellent visibility for snorkeling and diving.

I was lucky to spot various fish and coral formations. In the early mornings, along the left side, there are bunches of sea turtles. Enter from the left side to avoid damaging the reef. Both sides, at its far ends, offer the best reefs.

Swimming in the bay was equally pleasant, thanks to the warm water and gentle waves.

Next to the beach, the Kapalua Coastal Trail offers a different kind of adventure. Trekking along the path, I was treated to stunning coastal views and ample opportunities for wildlife spotting.

However, I must mention that parking at Kapalua Bay can be challenging due to limited spaces. I recommend getting there early to secure a spot. Facilities at the beach include public restrooms, which were clean and well-maintained.

Ultimately, my day at Kapalua Bay was spent basking in the sun, lounging on my beach chair, and enjoying the spectacular views after a fantastic snorkel.

Napili Beach on Maui Hawaii is one of the BEST beaches for families located in West Maui

Napili Bay

the best beach for families, snorkeling, swimming, and paddle boarding

Napili Bay is great for families. Its crescent shape creates a fantastic beachfront with a sandy entrance that deepens quickly, perfect for a refreshing swim.

It is also great for snorkeling when the surf is calm, although visibility may diminish when the surf is up. The reef lies further from the shore, where sea turtles are a common sight.

Parking can be a bit limited, so it’s wise to arrive early.

One of my favorite aspects of Napili Bay is the convenience. Nearby resorts offer bathrooms and restaurants, and stores are nearby.

If you plan to bring a picnic, a grocery store is on the main highway. Try the nearby Napili Market for the poke- it’s the best you can find in West Maui. Despite the occasional rough surf, the rich marine life and convenience make Napili Bay a must-visit for families.

Beach packing list. Sunscreen, beach blanket, beach chair and umbrella. Swimwear, change of clothes, sunglasses and sun hat. Water and snarks.

Oneloa Beach, aka Ironwoods Beach

snorkeling

Unlike other more crowded places, this stretch of sand, aptly named “Long Sand,” offers a peaceful escape. It’s nestled right next to the Ritz Carlton and Kapalua Resort, which adds an aura of luxury to the experience. Oneloa is a quarter-mile-long sandy beach, the perfect length for a stroll with the gentle waves lapping your feet.

The eastern edge of the shoreline boasts a reef teeming with marine life. Snorkeling opportunities abound at both ends of the beach, where the sandy bottom provides easy access to clear waters.

While the rocky point at the North end made for an excellent diving spot, swimmers should be cautious, especially at high tide, as strong rip currents can arise.

Although parking can be a bit scarce, a small area near Kapalua Place offers a convenient point of access. From here, I enjoyed a scenic walk to the beach, following the Kapalua Coastal Trail and immersing myself in the stunning Hawaiian landscape.

Despite the potential for rip currents, the serenity and natural beauty of Oneloa Bay make it well worth the visit.

Honokowai Beach Park

Honokowai Beach Park

families & snorkeling

The amenities at this beach are particularly favorable. As a visitor, I appreciated the convenience of having access to showers and bathrooms.

Nestled between the rocky edges of the reef, a shallow, long pool presents itself, proving to be an excellent spot for swimming. I found this feature incredibly appealing, especially for families with kids. However, exercise caution, as no lifeguards are on duty at this beach.

The park’s vast open spaces are perfect for a picnic lunch because of the availability of nearby takeout options. One of my preferred take-out spots is The Fish Market Maui.

Despite not being known for snorkeling, my personal experience revealed a satisfactory experience. Picnic tables, grills, and even a playground further enhance the beach’s family-friendly appeal.

Airport Beach aka Kahekili Beach West Maui Beaches

Kahekili Beach, aka Airport Beach

snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding and swimming

As a beach enthusiast, Kahekili Beach is a fantastic spot to float and unwind. It boasts impressive facilities and a large, grassy area, making it an ideal place for picnics, with several available tables.

When visiting Maui, we stay at the Westin Kaanapali Resort Villas, and this is the beach in front of it. We have been snorkeling and swimming at this beach since 2006 and have had some of our best snorkeling there.

The coral reef is part of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area, making it an excellent snorkeling spot. There is so much marine life to explore along this shore. Any diving enthusiast, particularly beginners, would also appreciate the host of popular diving spots in the vicinity.

The underwater world here is teeming with a diverse range of fish and turtles. During the winter months, the beach offers whale watching from the shoreline. You might frequently hear the whales’ magical calls while submerging in the water.

However, it’s essential to be cautious when entering the ocean at this beach, as the reef is close to the shore. The darker blue water indicates that it is the coral reef, while the turquoise waters are sand. Enter the waters in the sandy areas.

Given all these aspects, it’s no wonder this beach is a local favorite.

Are you planning a Trip to Maui? Read these Before You Go

mile marker 24. Families & snorkeling

As a frequent visitor to the island, I’ve come to enjoy Black Rock Beach. This family-friendly beach can get crowded with tourists occasionally, yet the lively atmosphere only adds to its charm.

The daring cliff jumpers add to the attraction of the beach, especially for those who enjoy people-watching.

The resort-sponsored torch lighting at sunset is truly a sight to behold. As a finale, the torch lighter leaps off the cliff, symbolizing the Hawaiians’ ancient belief that souls leap into the afterlife.

The area around Black Rock offers exceptional snorkeling and diving opportunities. I’ve spent many an hour there, mesmerized by the underwater life.

There are several access points along Kaanapali Beach. Black Rock is located closest to the Sheraton Resort.

Baby Beach, aka Pu’unoa Beach

families

The Baby Beach is a shoreline protected by a reef that calms the waters and creates a natural lagoon. It’s an excellent spot for families with kids due to the shallow and sandy entry.

Although the beach may not be the most visually stunning, as it has coral mixed in that is hard on the feet, it’s still popular among local families. If you’re not concerned about easy, calm access, more picturesque beaches are further up the coast.

Please Note: This beach is located within walking distance of downtown Lahaina. At the writing of this post, Lahaina is closed to visitors, and there isn’t access to the beaches and ramps.

Rainbow over the Ka'anapali Beach and the Marriott Maui Ocean Resort

Ka’anapali Beach

surfing & swimming

Ka’anapali Beach, a splendid mile-long stretch of sand, has become one of my favorites on the island. The beach, nestled between Canoe Beach and Black Rock, is a bustling hub, home to luxurious resorts, high-end shopping, and various dining options.

No matter where I roam, the wide, sandy beach always provides an easy entry point, perfect for a relaxing swim or snorkeling session.

The boardwalk that runs along the beach always comes alive with activity, making it a unique experience. However, finding parking can be a bit of a challenge due to the beach’s popularity. One can, however, find bathroom facilities at Whalers Village.

Rainbow over the ocean from Ka'anapali Beach in West Maui

During the non-whale season, Ka’anapali Beach transforms into a water sports haven. It’s not uncommon to see tourists and locals indulging in jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing across the blue waters.

It’s a great opportunity to see the whales from shore during whale season. Bring some binoculars to watch these magnificent creatures.

Hanaka’o’o Beach Park, aka Canoe Beach

Mile Maker 23. Swimming, Snorkeling and Diving

I’ve recently discovered a less crowded yet equally enjoyable spot at the edge of Ka’anapali Beach – the Hanaka’o’o Beach Park, also known as Canoe Beach.

This place is a swimmer’s paradise, and it’s the spot where outrigger canoes are launched, earning it its nickname.

Although it’s not a renowned snorkeling spot, sea turtles are often by the rocks on the left side.

The beach has become a hit among locals, primarily because of its extensive facilities. Complete with lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, a pavilion, picnic tables, and grills, it’s a fantastic place for a family outing. The ample parking at Canoe Beach is simply a bonus!

Wahikuli Wayside aka Cop Shop

This thin, rocky beach is between Lahaina and Ka’anapali, across the street from a police station. It has nice facilities. This beach is used mainly for diving and surfing.

Armory Park aka Kamehameha Iki Park Beach holds lots of history to Hawaii and Lahaina

Kamehameha Iki Park Beach, aka Armory Park

surfing

On the south side of Lahaina, near Feast of Lele, discover the historical Kamehameha Iki Park Beach. Apart from its ample parking—a welcome convenience for beachgoers—this location resonates with the rich history of Hawaii. This is where Kamehameha made his home after he succeeded in uniting the Hawaiian Islands. It’s an awe-inspiring feeling standing on the same sands where history was shaped.

Additionally, this beach offers two distinct surf breaks. To the south lies the Shark Pit, notorious for its dangerous currents. I’d strongly advise tourists to steer clear of this spot.


On the contrary, the northern break, known as Lahaina Breakwall, presents a starkly different picture. With its gentle waves, it’s an ideal spot for amateur surfers. So much so numerous surf schools choose this tranquil setting for their lessons.

As of writing this, the area around Lahaina is not open to visitors, and the fires affected this park.

Olowalu Shoreline

Olowalu Shoreline

Mile Marker 14. snorkeling

At first glance, it doesn’t seem ideal for typical beach activities. However, don’t let that fool you; it holds a secret beneath the surface.

This beach is a snorkeler’s paradise. As I ventured further from the shore, I was greeted by towering columns of reefs almost touching the water’s surface—a sight to behold! It’s here that you can swim with the turtles and manta rays; truly an unforgettable experience.

Olowalu Beach, despite its lack of facilities, strikes a chord with beginners learning to surf due to its calm waters. But a word of caution: the reef here is shallow and requires careful navigation. Seeing how the underwater world thrives is awe-inspiring, with several cleaning stations across the reef.

This area is also known for its shark encounters. Reef sharks often linger around the deeper ledges, presenting a thrilling spectacle for the adventurous souls. If the water isn’t clear, seeking other spots for snorkeling and surfing is recommended. But generally, the visibility here is excellent, marked by calm and clear water.

For those like me who yearn to venture further, Olowalu Beach has kayak and paddle boarding tours. These tours take you far enough to witness the cleaning stations and the reef. Despite its initial appearance, Olowalu Beach is a hidden gem for water enthusiasts.

Puamana Beach

mile marker 19

Puamana Beach, a local favorite, is primarily used for surfing. While it may not have much sandy shore, its grassy area is perfect for enjoying breathtaking sunsets and hosting family picnics.

This beach is currently closed.

Keka’a beach

The picturesque Keka’a Beach is between the Honua Kai Resort and Aston Kaanapali Shores. Known for its excellent snorkeling opportunities, this beach is a paradise for marine life enthusiasts like myself.

However, be cautious when approaching the water; there are patches near the shoreline with hidden reefs.

The beach is well-equipped with two parking lots, making it conveniently accessible. A day at Keka’a Beach promises a unique combination of relaxation and adventure.

Pohaku Park – aka S Turns

Surfing, standup paddling, picnics

Pohaku Park offers two beaches to explore. The first beach, located near the road, is small and doesn’t provide much shade. However, heading further north, you’ll find the second beach.

From there, you can enjoy a stunning view of Molokai on a clear day. It is excellent for views of sunsets and hanging out with locals. The park features amenities such as a parking lot, chemical toilet, shower, and picnic tables.

Kahana Beach

Mile Marker 27

Nestled away from the bustling roads, this narrow paradise strip is right before the picturesque Kahana Village. The absence of parking facilities hints at its seclusion, adding to its charm.

A local boat ramp serves as a unique landmark primarily for the locals. On both sides of this ramp, the water remains calm, providing ideal conditions for a serene swim.

However, it’s worth noting that there are no facilities or lifeguards on duty, so it’s essential to exercise caution when enjoying the tranquility this beach offers.

Punalau Beach, aka Windmills

Punalau Beach is an isolated paradise that demands a bit of an adventurous spirit to access. As an experienced 4×4 driver, I have navigated its challenging landscape. However, if you’re in a rental car, I’d recommend parking up on the road and taking the short trek down the 4×4 path to discover this hidden treasure.

The first sight of its pristine white sands and welcoming shade-providing trees is worth the effort. Though the waters may look inviting, I advise caution when swimming due to potential rough currents and submerged rocks. This beach is best suited for reflection or exploration while searching for seashells.

Remember, this beach is untouched by commercial influence, so no facilities are available. To find this secret haven, look for it where Honoapi’ilani Highway ends.

Launiupoko State Park

Mile Marker 18. surfing and swimming

Launiupoko State Park is a gem that boasts fantastic opportunities for surfing and swimming. One of its standout features is a large man-made wading pool, ingeniously designed for protection against waves.

This makes it an excellent family beach where everyone can enjoy the water safely, from kids to adults.

The park is also user-friendly in its amenities, with a paved parking lot, restrooms, grills, and a picnic area. It’s a perfect spot to spend a day with family, swimming, playing, and grilling.

Our Trusted Resources


Booking.com: for booking accommodations

Fare Drop: for finding the best airfare deals.

Viator or Get Your Guide: for all my activities

Discover Cars: for car rentals

Airalo: for eSIM card

Trainline: for booking train tickets

Karen Kane & prAna: great sources for travel clothes

Columbia: great clothes and accessories for outdoor adventures.

International Drivers Permit: for getting your IDP

Travelex: for Travel Insurance

Maui Beach Basics

Don’t leave valuables in your car

Unfortunately, rental cars are a target for break-ins at most tourist places. It is best to leave your car unlocked with nothing to steal to avoid dealing with the inconvenience of a broken car window on vacation.

Respect the Ocean

Respect the ocean; it is powerful and almost always wins. As I tell my kids, this is real life, not Disney. That waterfall you are standing under during a rain storm will not magically turn off as you are swept out to sea.

Almost every year while we are visiting, we will see news reports that a tourist died. Respect nature.

Practice snorkeling basic safety

Before entering the water, look at the surf and current. Never turn your back to the ocean. A big wave can easily knock you over.

Enter and exit in a sandy area. NEVER, EVER stand on the coral reef. It takes a year to grow just two centimeters of coral. 2CM!

The reefs you see take over 10,000 years to grow into large groups.

Don’t stand up; ensure you are not hitting the coral with your fins in the shallow area.

ALWAYS snorkel and swim with a buddy. Do not go into the ocean alone, ever.

All Hawaii beaches are public beaches

Oftentimes, there are beaches in front of private property. Respect the property owner and use the beach access trail. It is usually marked.

Respect Hawaii’s natural resources

Don’t remove sand, shells, coral, lava rocks, etc. Have you ever seen the Brady Bunch? Just leave it where you found it. It doesn’t belong in your house as a souvenir. Leave it for the next person to enjoy! Practice the philosophy when traveling to Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints.

Sunset in West Maui overlooking the ocean

Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in West Maui

Overall, West Maui is a great spot for snorkeling and generally relaxing or exploring Maui’s beautiful landscapes.

For those looking for a breathtaking experience, amenities, and restaurants close by, Ka’anapali Beach and Airport Beach (Kahekili Beach) are ideal choices. At the same time, Kapalua and Napili offer the picturesque experience for which many come to Hawaii.

Being on the west side of Maui allows you to enjoy some of the best views in town, so make sure not to miss out!

Whether you go out for a few hours during your vacation or spend an entire day here, these beaches will be some of the highlights of your stay.

Now that we’ve given you insight into the top beaches in West Maui don’t forget to check out our blog post on our 5-day Maui Itinerary. Go forth and explore what this side of paradise has to offer!

Are you looking for the best beach essentials? Check out our guide for beach lovers.

Go grab life. Happy Exploring!

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9 Comments

  1. Since I’ve grown up in Australia I’ve always been a beach lover and love visiting new beaches on my travels! Thanks for sharing this listicle of best beaches in West Maui I’ll be sure to save this list for a future trip!

  2. I’m so delighted that I come across with this guide to visiting Maui, especially about the beaches since I really love those. I definitely saved it for my future reference! =)

  3. I love all the Hawaiian islands as there are so many beautiful beaches to spend hours at. And Maui definitely has some of the most beautiful beaches of all the Hawaiian islands. I’m working my way through visiting them!

  4. I love that you tell us what each beach is good for – that is very helpful. This is a very good guide to the beaches of West Maui. I also like your general tips for beaches too. I look forward to visiting some of these beaches.

  5. I love this detailed summary of Maui’s best beaches. Thank you for including a wide variety of choices from a geographical and activity perspective.

  6. So many gorgeous photos…I’d love to explore Maui someday! I was looking into taking diving lessions there, but would love to get some snorkeling/surfing/paddleboarding in as well! That rainbow on Ka’anapali Beach looks unreal. <3

  7. Gosh all of these beaches look incredible and such a comprehensive guide to all the amazing things to do! I’d love to spend some time snorkelling on Kahekili Beach, the reef life sounds just lovely!

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