The 10 Best South Maui Beaches Near Kihei and Wailea

Updated Apr 14, 2024 ,

Kihei Maui Beach

The towns of Kihei and Wailea are home to the best beaches in South Maui. From remote coves to vast stretches of fine golden sands with waves great for water sports, there are beaches perfect for everyone. Whether you’re looking to swim, surf, snorkel, or sunbathe as you take in the breathtaking ocean views, you’ll find a beach to suit you.

In this post, we’ve rounded up a list of the best beaches near Kihei and Wailea to give you an idea of the best beaches to visit during your stay. So pack your sunscreen, grab your towel, and get ready to discover some of the most beautiful beaches in South Maui.

Kamaole Beaches I, II, and III

Located in the heart of Kihei, Kamaole Beaches I, II, and III are a trio of interconnected beaches that are some of the most popular on the island. They are a favorite hangout spot for families, with activities suitable for adults and kids. While you won’t find massive resorts along these beaches, they are only a stone’s throw from Kihei’s most luxurious condo complexes.

Kamaole Beach I lies along the northernmost tip of the trio and is the longest. It has calm and clear waters, making it suitable for kids to swim and snorkel. Next, in the middle, is Kamaole Beach II, which boasts soft golden sands and gentle waves, perfect for boogie boarding. Meanwhile, on the southernmost tip is Kamaole Beach III, a quieter and smaller beach. It’s more suitable for those looking for a serene spot to sunbathe and relax.

All three beaches have amenities, including showers, restrooms, picnic areas, and lifeguards on duty. In addition, you will find food trucks and ice cream vendors nearby, perfect for grabbing a treat after spending time at the beach.

While all three Kamaole beaches are beautiful, each has a unique charm, so you can choose one that best suits you, whether you prefer something quieter or one with a lively atmosphere.

Location and Parking: It’s easy to reach Kamaole Beaches I, II, and III since they are right along South Kihei Road. You will find ample parking spaces on each of the beaches. However, they could fill up quickly, especially during the peak season. You will find additional parking on nearby streets, but be mindful of the parking restrictions and time limits.

Best For: Families, small children, sunbathing, water sports, and snorkeling

Makena (Big Beach & Little Beach)

Makena has two beaches, Big Beach and Little Beach, and is one of our favorites for how beautiful it is in this area. Big Beach is named for its vast stretch of golden sand, making it a long (and big!) beach. It also overlooks views of Molokini Crater and Kaho’olawe Island.

Little Beach is only a short walk from Big Beach (the trail is pictured above). It’s more secluded, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a private clothing-optional beach experience.

You will find Big Beach and Little Beach within Makena State Park. Both have amenities for a more comfortable and enjoyable beach experience. Amenities include restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and lifeguards during peak season.

It’s worth noting that the water of Big Beach can be rough on some days, so exercise caution when swimming. Nevertheless, Makena is ideal for those looking for a stunning beach in South Maui or those who prefer a secluded beach experience.

Location and Parking: Makena is located off Makena Road in South Maui, just below Wailea, and is relatively easy to get to by car. You will find ample parking spaces at Big Beach, with multiple parking lots available at different sections of the beach if one is full.

Best For: Families, bodyboarding, snorkeling, and sunbathing

Keawakapu Beach

Nestled between Kihei and Wailea, Keawakapu Beach is a popular and picturesque beach in South Maui located by the Days Inn and Mana Kai Resort. It has a long stretch of golden sand with clear waters, making it ideal for swimming and water sports like paddleboarding.

Keawakapu Beach is renowned for its breathtaking sunset scenery. It’s one of the best places to marvel at gorgeous sunsets over the ocean. Also, despite being one of the most popular beaches in South Maui, Keawakapu Beach isn’t usually as crowded as other South Maui beaches.

You can expect basic amenities at Keawakapu Beach, such as restrooms and beach showers. As it’s a popular spot for water sports, you can also find rental shops nearby in town.

Location and Parking: Keawakapu Beach is located at the very end of South Kihei Road between Kihei and Wailea. It has one parking lot at the north end of the beach and one parking lot at the south end, giving you two options should one be full.

Best For: Families, water sports, sunbathing, and sunsets

Ulua and Mokapu Beaches

Sitting on the northern end of Wailea, Ulua and Mokapu Beaches are located in front of the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Known for their excellent reef system and variety of marine life, they offer some of the best snorkeling experiences in this part of Maui.

While Ulua and Mokapu Beaches are renowned for their excellent reef system, they also attract beachgoers looking for a scenic place to relax, play, walk, or jog. You will find a walking and jogging path behind the beaches, overlooking the stunning coastal views.

If you’re here for surfing, head to the north side of Mokapu Beach. It’s a popular surfing spot, best suited for intermediate short boarders. The area has the usual beach amenities, such as outdoor showers, restrooms, and benches.

Location and Parking: Drive south along Wailea Alanui Drive until you reach the Andaz Resort. There, you will find signs for Ulua and Mokapu Beaches. Turn right and head down the hill until you arrive at the parking lot, then follow the sidewalk until you reach the beaches. Note that both beaches share a parking lot and can fill up quickly during the peak season.

Best For: Families, snorkeling, water sports, sunbathing, and jogging

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach is a crescent-shaped beach surrounded by lush greenery and towering palm trees best suited for a relaxing stroll or lounging under the sun. It’s in front of some of the most luxurious accommodations in the area, including the Grand Wailea and Four Seasons.

While many would come here to relax, Wailea Beach is also a popular spot for water sports. It offers opportunities for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. On some days, you can be lucky enough to spot some sea turtles, although you’ll have better chances of seeing these fascinating creatures up close when joining a Turtle Town snorkel tour.

Wailea Beach is home to several upscale resorts and restaurants, making it a popular destination for visitors. Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape or a day spent in the company of others, Wailea Beach is a must-visit destination in South Maui.

Location and Parking: Wailea Beach sits right off the main road, Wailea Alanui Drive. Park your car at the nearby parking lot and then take the walking path to the beach. Although it has ample space, it can fill up during the busy season, so arrive early for a guaranteed spot.

Best For: Families, snorkeling, water sports, sunbathing, and dining

Polo Beach

Polo Beach is a stunning and quiet beach in the heart of Wailea, located in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani resort. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and watching the sunset. Polo Beach also offers opportunities for snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfing.

Compared to other beaches in Wailea, Polo Beach can be less crowded, which makes it great for those looking for an intimate beach experience. It comes with amenities like showers, restrooms, and picnic tables. There are also restaurants and shops nearby.

Polo Beach is a good choice for couples looking for a romantic spot to spend quality time, relax, and unwind while admiring the beautiful views.

Location and Parking: Polo Beach is located off Wailea Alanui Drive and has a small parking lot nearby. However, due to the limited space, it can get full quickly in peak season. Additional parking spaces are available along the street. But check any parking restrictions.

Best For: Families, couples, snorkeling, water sports, sunbathing, and dining

Makena Cove (Secret Beach)

Also called “Secret Beach,” Makena Cove is a quiet and secluded spot south of Makena’s Big Beach. It is a tiny beach, but for what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its charm.

Makena Cove is easy to miss for those who are not aware of the presence of this beach. But once you discover this hidden gem, it can become your favorite beach in Maui. The tranquil oasis has soft golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views. Given its serene atmosphere, it appeals most to couples seeking a romantic escape away from the busy crowd. It’s also a haven for families seeking a quiet spot to spend quality time.

Makena Cove is also a popular wedding spot. The breathtaking views and intimate atmosphere offer the perfect setting for romantic ceremonies like weddings. But even if you’re not tying the knot, Makena Cove is worth a visit. You’ll love its serene ambiance and unique charm.

Location and Parking: Makena Cove is 10 minutes south of the Wailea resort district. Getting here requires driving south on Makena Road. Look for the beach access sign by the Makena Cove entrance. While the beach doesn’t have a parking lot, street parking is available on the beach side of the street. This spot can fill up on busy days, so plan your visit accordingly.

Best For: Families, couples, and sunbathing

Po‘olenalena Beach

You will find many beautiful beaches in South Maui, but it’s rare to find uncrowded beaches like Po’olenalena Beach. The gorgeous beach has golden sandy shores sloping gently into the water, making it an excellent spot for swimming and bodyboarding. There are lava rocks at each end of the beach, which can also be great for snorkeling.

As expected in a more remote beach, there are no amenities in Po’olenalena Beach. There is no lifeguard on duty, so exercise caution when swimming. There are also no showers and restrooms, except for a portapotty in the parking area.

It’s worth noting that locals gather at the beach for a clothing-optional chill-out party on some days, so there’s possible nudity here. However, it remains quiet most days, making it a perfect choice for couples and solo travelers seeking a peaceful retreat.

Location and Parking: Po’olenalena Beach is located off Makena Alanui Drive in the Wailea-Makena area. There are two entrances to the beach, and both have parking lots. The first is past Wailea Golf Club Drive on the north end, while the second is on the south end. Both parking spots are limited, but the first is much more spacious than the second.

Best For: Couples, solo travelers, swimming, bodyboarding, and snorkeling

Maluaka Beach

Located along a picturesque stretch of the Wailea-Makena coast, Maluaka Beach is just down the road from the Makena Golf & Beach Club. It belongs to one of several spots known as “Turtle Town,” a popular place to snorkel and spot Hawaiian green sea turtles. It’s where many tour companies take visitors for Turtle Town Snorkel Tours.

Despite being a popular spot for snorkeling, it’s not as well known as the other beaches in the area. Therefore, you can expect a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. The south end of the beach is where tourists come for snorkeling and diving. There is also a decent snorkeling spot at the north end of the beach, but shallow enough for diving.

Maluaka Beach is great for families with kids. However, as with most beaches in Maui, the waves can sometimes be rough. It is best to stay out of the water if the surf is high since no full-time lifeguard is available. There are showers and restroom facilities in the parking lot.

Location and Parking: To get to Maluaka Beach, drive south from Wailea along Wailea Alanui Drive. Turn right to Honoiki Street and then turn left onto Makena Road. After a short drive, you’ll reach a parking lot with showers and restroom facilities for Maluaka Beach. Park your car and walk left towards Makena Road to find the beach.

Best For: Families, snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing

Ma'alaea Beach

One of the hidden gems of South Maui is Ma’alaea Beach, located in the charming harbor town of Ma’alaea. Boasting a unique combination of calm waters, stunning views, and a secluded atmosphere, it’s one of the most uncrowded beaches in South Maui.

Ma’alaea Beach stretches for almost two miles, with soft golden sands, best suited for sunbathing and a stroll. The beach features panoramic views of the West Maui Mountains and the neighboring Islands, creating a spectacular backdrop for a beach day. Since the water is calm and clear, it’s also a popular spot for swimming and paddleboarding.

While Ma’alaea Beach may not be as famous as other beaches in South Maui, it offers plenty of amenities. You will have access to restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. There is also a small playground for children, making this beach family-friendly. In addition, Ma’alaea is home to several restaurants and shops where you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.

Location and Parking: Ma'alaea Beach starts in Ma'alaea and ends in Kihei. It’s a long beach. A parking lot is available, but it can fill up quickly during peak season. Additional parking is available along nearby streets, but be sure to check for any parking restrictions or time limits.

Best For: Families, swimming, water sports, and sunbathing

South Maui Beaches FAQ

Regions and towns of Maui

If you’re planning to visit South Maui on your vacation, you should know where the best beaches in the area are. The map above offers a simplified view of Maui’s top areas, where many of the beaches in this post are located.

What Sunscreens Are Allowed in Maui?

Starting on October 1, 2022, local authorities in Maui will only allow mineral sunscreens to help protect the reefs. These sunscreens have natural minerals as the main ingredients, with no other toxic chemicals that can damage the reef. Some sunscreens labeled “reef safe” contain ingredients harmful to corals and marine life. Therefore, when shopping for mineral sunscreen, carefully read the label and choose those that only use minerals as active ingredients.

What Is the Best Time to Visit the Beach?

The best time to visit South Maui beaches is during the shoulder period, such as April, May, September, and October. Aside from the ideal weather, you will enjoy fewer crowds. Although South Maui is generally dry, other elements, such as clouds and wind, can affect the beach condition. Also, the closer you are to Ma’alaea, it gets windy, especially in summer.

Are the Beaches in South Maui Safe?

The beaches of South Maui are generally considered safe. However, the waves can be rough the further south you go, depending on the day’s conditions. As with most beaches on the island, danger can occur, so exercise caution when swimming or playing in the water.

Can You Camp on the Beaches in South Maui?

Camping in Maui is only allowed at designated campgrounds. Therefore, you cannot camp on the beaches of South Maui. Those interested in camping will find campgrounds in West Maui at Camp Olowalu, in Upcountry at Hosmer Grove, and East Maui at Waianapanapa State Park.

Justin and Katie Busa

Meet the Authors

Aloha! We’re Justin and Katie, the owners of Maui Hideaway. We’ve been visiting Hawaii together with our family for 20 years and would love to share the experience of the islands with you. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or just some vacation advice, we’re here to help!

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