Big Beach

Big Beach is also known by the names Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach

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Makena Big Beach

Big Beach is long, wide, beautiful, and extreme.

Rating: ★★★★★

In a nutshell: Big Beach is a beautiful, long, wide, undeveloped sandy beach. Impressive, with huge views and a large shore-break. Big Beach is a must-see.
Minuses: A wicked shore-break exists here when the surf is up that can be dangerous for the inexperienced.
Sound-bite: [monster crashing wave]

Video credit: filmed by my buddy Everett Peacock

One of the most outstanding beaches in Maui. Big Beach is well over a half a mile long, and is also uncharacteristically wide by Maui standards. That means loads of real estate to stake out your claim, and this beach, while always drawing lots of people – is never so crowded as to be packed.

Big Beach is not the official name of this beach – but it is the name which it is most well known by. Other names for this beach are: Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach

Let me start by saying this: don’t let the warnings below scare you off – even if you don’t swim well, this is not a beach to miss from sightseeing standards alone.

ign on the lifeguard stand warns people not to go in unless they are experienced using this beach.

Sign on the lifeguard stand warns people not to go in unless they are experienced using this beach.

Big Beach has a significant on-shore break that can be downright brutal when there is a large south swell. This is never a beach that is safe for small children or inexperienced swimmers. Adults might want to think twice during high surf, as well.

Lifeguard stand


In recent years three lifeguard stands were added. If any beach on Maui should have had lifeguard stands, this is it. This is one point glossed over in most guidebooks, and is very important that visitors know: the waves here are often big, and powerful. The shore break crashes right at the water’s edge, and you should always enter the ocean here cautiously. If in doubt, consult a lifeguard.

Yeah, this guy stuck the landing. 10.0!

Yeah, this guy stuck the landing. 10.0!

When the surf is up, you’ll also be front-row to the most extreme boogie boarding you’re likely to see during your visit. The photos below were taken during the tail-end of a receding south swell.

Break time

“Break time”

There are also a handful of food vendors that operate out of trucks inside and just outside the park. Jawz Tacos is usually in the parking lot and you really can’t do wrong with them, they’re particularly ono.

Access to Little Beach, perhaps the most famous nude beach on Maui, is from Big Beach. (see the Little Beach page, which also has a nice helicopter-shot video of both beaches.)


Video: Ocean Kayak POV

Key Info:
Location: Makena Alanui Rd., (4 Mi S of Grand Wailea Resort)
GPS Coordinates: 20.631901,-156.447265
Facilities: Bathrooms, lifeguards, picnic tables.
Get directions

View Makena Big Beach in a larger map

  1. NEVER turn your back to the surf here………I did for a moment and a large “sneaker ” wave knocked me down and broke my ankle……I did not let that spoil a great vacation! An ace wrap and a cane and I was good til I got home!
    Tough lesson learned…,,,.At least it was relatively minor injury compared to some stories I’ve heard about Big Beach!

    • Yes Mary, the way to get to Little Beach is a path over the rocks from the north end of Big Beach. It is such a popular place that you are sure to see people coming or going on the trail when you visit, so just walk to that end of the beach (right end of beach if facing ocean) – by the time you get to the end of the beach you will likely have seen someone come or go!

  2. Tom Wachal says:

    Why isn’t that sign placed at entry points near parking, etc. ? Ask staff at Maui Memorial hospital what they think of Big Beach.

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