Maui's Best Beaches

Big Beach

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 DETAILS: One of …

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Hamoa Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A beautiful crescent beach with a reliable surf break. Minuses: Currents can be strong. Sound-bite: “Am I sticking out too far in the road?” Summary This beach is often ranked up there with the famous beaches in the resort areas of Maui, and deservingly so. A postcard-perfect 100′ wide by 1000′ long crescent. Hamoa Beach is …

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Wai’anapanapa State Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Spectacular views of rugged shoreline, sea arches, black sand beach, and more. Minuses: Swimming is often marginal. Sound-bite: “Sir, you should probably stand back from that blowhole.” (…wait for it…) DETAILS: Simply stated, Wai’anapanapa State Park is among the very best of the Road to Hana sites. It offers outstanding nearly 360-degree sweeping panoramic views. On …

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Black Rock

Rating: In a nutshell: Black Rock is at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach, and is a great place to cliff-jump into the ocean, and snorkel. Minuses: The uncoordinated may experience an up-close once-in-a-lifetime lava experience. Sound-bite: “Wooohoooo!” [SPLASH!] Also known as Pu’u Keka’a. DETAILS: Black Rock was formed from one of the last-gasp lava flows on this side of …

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Ka’anapali Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Ka’anapali Beach is a mile-long, spectacularly perfect beach that is home to seven resorts, high-end shopping, various restaurants and activities. Minuses: The true Hawai’i here has been replaced by a highly profitable replica. Sound-bite: “What-ever. Louis Vuitton snorkel gear is so last-year.” DETAILS: Ka’anapali Beach runs from Black Rock to Canoe Beach, fronted by seven resorts, …

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Wailea Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Consistently rated one of the world’s best beaches. Minuses: Crowded with resort guests and their accouterments. Sound-bite: “Hey, is that Paris Hilton?” DETAILS: Wailea Beach is unquestionably a study in beach perfection, and if you don’t mind a resort vibe (and a crowd to go with it) this is a truly outstanding beach. The beach is …

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Snorkeling Basics & Map

Tip: Snorkel over reef! The first thing you learn snorkeling is that fish like the reef. Good news: Maui is surrounded with reef! Some areas have more reef than others, but all an experienced snorkeler needs is spotting from the shore with polarized sunglasses and maybe a closeup peek through the ocean surface using Google satellite maps. View MauiGuidebook.com West/South …

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Kama’ole Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Kama’ole is a very popular set of beaches for locals and visitors. Beautiful, long, 1.5 mile sandy beaches with incredible views of Molokini, Kaho’olawe and Lana’i islands. Kam III has one of the most regular South Maui shorebreaks for boogie-boarding. Snorkeling opportunities are plentiful. Full facilities and family friendly. Minuses: Kam III is crowded on weekends …

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Kahekili Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Drive-up snorkeling convenience on a wonderful, less-than-crowded resort beach. Minuses: The plus is the minus: ocean entry directly onto reef. Sound-bite: “Welcome to McSnorkels, may I take your order?” DETAILS: This beach is the Northern most beach in the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, but is less crowded and commercialized than its sister to the South, Ka’anapali Beach. …

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Baldwin Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Baldwin Beach Park is a beautiful, long white-sand beach on Maui’s North Shore. A favorite with local families. Minuses: Surf in the middle area can be rough. Sound-bite: “Gnarly wipeout, brah…I know a good chiropractor in Paia!” DETAILS: Baldwin Beach is a wonderful, long, wide, sandy beach park just outside of Paia. Fully equipped with lifeguards, …

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D.T. Fleming Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Long, sandy sometimes crowded beach backed by ironwood trees. Minuses: Crowded on weekends. Afternoons can be very windy. Sound-bite: “…fantastic place to just set up some chairs and watch…” QUICK SUMMARY: Long, sandy sometimes crowded beach backed by ironwoods (read: shade) and full facilities. Next to Kapalua resort and the Ritz Carlton. This world-class beach is …

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Keawakapu Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A much loved long sandy beach at the end of South Kihei Road. Minuses: On very windy days can get sandblasting in the afternoons. Sound-bite: “Beware the forbidden cove!” Summary: .7 mile long sandy beach, runs to the end of Kihei, where the road departs from the shoreline. Good for swimming, laying out, boogie boarding, snorkeling …

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Koki Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Scenic beach park with much cultural significance. Sand and ocean conditions vary greatly depending on season. Minuses: Currents become dangerously strong and the beach deteriorates for many months of the year. Sound-bite: “Is that Oprah?” Summary Koki Beach changes radically throughout the year. In the summer months, a wide sandy beach is deposited, and surf and …

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Honolua Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: Honolua Bay is a spectacular place to snorkel or dive, if you know where to go. Minuses: Beach uses are mediocre. Sound-bite: “Honey, your back is really red…” DETAILS: Honolua Bay is part of a Marine Life Conservation District, so there is no fishing (or taking of any natural resources, including marine life and even rocks.) …

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Napili Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: A less crowded, low-key resort beach with a much more family feel than many in West Maui. Minuses: Parking can be difficult. Sound-bite: “What is the definition of resort, anyway?” DETAILS: Napili Bay has a sandy cove nestled in mid-range resort which is itself nestled in a residential neighborhood. This “resort” is reminiscent of an older …

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Polo Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A pair of beautiful sandy crescents fronting the Polo Beach Club and the Fairmont Kea Lani. Minuses: Can get crowded with resort guests & cabanas. Sound-bite: “Where are the horses?” Details: A pair of beautiful sandy crescents join to form this beach. The south end fronts the Polo Beach Club and the north side the Fairmont …

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Baby Beach (N Shore)

Rating: In a nutshell: A dramatically beautiful beach, not just for kids. Protected lagoon for swimming. Minuses: Can get very windy in the afternoons. Sound-bite: “E hau`oli e nâ `ôpio o Hawai`i nei.” Note: There is also a beach called “Baby Beach” in Lahaina. DETAILS: Baby Beach is a beautiful beach and protected lagoon just before Paia on the North …

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White Rock

Rating: In a nutshell: A long, beautiful sandy crescent set back from the wind. Minuses: Development. Sound-bite: “Is that Paul Blart?” Details: White Rock is also known as Palauea Beach. This is a nice, wide, uncrowded and lesser-known beach. You won’t see very many tourists here – mostly populated by a few local folks and fishermen, on weekends family and …

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Slaughterhouse Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A dramatic cliff-framed beach and bay. Minuses: Beach can vanish and surf can become dangerous in winter. Sound-bite: “Will we get Slaughtered surfing here?” DETAILS: The name “Slaughterhouse Beach” comes from the Honolua Ranch slaughterhouse and tanning/storage shed that were (oh, so conveniently) located on the cliff’s edge above the ocean. The buildings were torn down …

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Mokapu Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Quarter-mile long pocket of sandy beach fronting the Andaz Wailea Hotel. Minuses: Parking can fill up early. Sound-bite: “Sir, you must be a guest of the hotel to use the beach chairs.” QUICK SUMMARY: Good swimming, boogie boarding and excellent snorkeling around the rocky outcrop to the south. Fronting the recently opened Andaz Wailea Hotel, the …

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Ulua Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Quarter-mile long pocket of sandy beach; great snorkeling. Minuses: Parking sometimes fills up early. Sound-bite: [Children playing] QUICK SUMMARY: Good swimming, boogie boarding and excellent beginner to intermediate snorkeling around the rocky outcrop on the north end of the beach. Ulua Beach is more crowded that its neighbor to the north, Mokapu Beach – here you …

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Po’olenalena Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A long, often uncrowded sandy beach. Minuses: Has become more popular in recent years. Sound-bite: “You may now kiss the bride!” Details: Also known as Paipu Beach, Po’olenalena is a nice, long sandy beach, that until recent years was mostly known only by locals. Because it has spectacular sunset views, and often becomes uncrowded late in …

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Baldwin Cove

Rating: In a nutshell: Beautiful sand beach in season. Out of season it is also dramatic to behold. Frequented by many free-spirits; ladies can go topless here. Minuses: Parking can be tough on weekends. Parts of the year the beach vanishes. Sound-bite: “every little thing, gonna be alright.” DETAILS: A large jetty of boulders at the cove’s edge, combined with …

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Little Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Little Beach is where you go on Maui if you want to get nude with a bunch of other people on a beautiful beach. Minuses: It gets crowded and it is on a lot of visitor’s bucket lists. Sound-bite: “oowwwww…I forgot to apply sunscreen…” DETAILS: The draw for most visitors here is nudity. While public nudity …

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Kanaha Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Kanaha is a very popular beach for locals and watersports enthusiasts. Beautiful, long, two-mile sandy beach with incredible views of the West Maui Mountains. Among the best kiteboarding and windsurfing on Planet Earth. Full facilities, camping, fishing, canoeing, surfing and family gatherings/picnicking. Minuses: Some loud airport sounds. Some less-than-desirable types may frequent here. Sound-bite: “”If all …

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Oneloa Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: 1/4 Mile long, sandy and uncrowded beach next to Kapalua resort. Minuses: Can become very windy in afternoons. Sound-bite: “Where is everyone?” QUICK SUMMARY: This is a beautiful 1/4 Mile long, sandy and uncrowded beach next to the Ritz Carlton and Kapalua Resort. It lies roughly midway along a 1.76 mile boardwalk/trail called the Kapalua Coastal …

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Red Sand Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A dramatic and beautiful hidden cove unlike any other. Minuses: The short hike to the beach is hazardous. Sound-bite: “Has the Mothership departed without me?” WARNING: Part of the trail was lost to a landslide and has become more dangerous than it once was. This is not a safe hike for anyone unaccustomed to navigating cliff-edges …

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Ho’okipa Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Ho’okipa Beach is a world-renowned windsurfing destination with often dramatic and impressive surf for sightseers as well. Minuses: Marginal for swimming. Sound-bite: “Epic day brah!” Surf Sports Ho’okipa is Mecca to the windsurfing world (and no slouch for board surfing, either.) There are professional windsurfing competitions held here, and on just about any day with wind …

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Lahaina Baby Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Shallow and safe for little kids because of the offshore reef. Minuses: Poor swimming. Sound-bite: Kids playing There is also a (higher rated) Baby Beach on the North Shore. DETAILS: Lahaina’s Baby Beach is mostly visited by local families with young children. The beach is protected by an exposed stretch of reef, creating a calm shallow …

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Olowalu Shoreline

Rating: In a nutshell: Long, narrow beach with shallow offshore reef. This is a good destination for snorkeling. Minuses: Kiawe thorns & beach is marginal. Sound-bite: “Don’t step on the reef!” This article is scheduled for further development. There are multiple beaches in this area, and this is a more general summary. Summary: This is a go-to for snorkeling, possibly …

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Kuau Cove (Mama’s)

Rating: In a nutshell: Kuau cove is perfect for little ones and anyone that loves to explore tidepool sealife. Minuses: Fully-clothed Mama’s patrons might make shy folks uncomfortable in their itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-polkadot-bikini. Sound-bite: “Honey, how much should we tip the valet?” DETAILS: A wonderfully scenic small white sand cove beach just past Paia, bordered by a coconut grove and chock full …

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One’uli Black Sand Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Oneuli Black Sand Beach is an excellent beach for snorkeling & diving. It is also packed full of educational value for naturalists & geology buffs. Minuses: Not the best “basking-and-bathing” beach. Sound-bite: “hey, what’s that rumbling sound?” DETAILS: Part of Makena State Park, One’uli (also called Naupaka Beach) is found on the Wailea side of the …

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Cove Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Cove Park is the best place to learn to surf in South Maui. It is also a wonderful beach of convenience for the local condos and residents. Minuses: Small and close to the road. Sound-bite: “Surfs up!” Just at the south point of Kalama Park. Most commonly used for beginner surf lessons, many instructors are set …

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Hanaka’o’o Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Less touristy extension of beach past Ka’anapali beach. Minuses: Crowded on weekends. Sound-bite: [roar of a jet ski] QUICK SUMMARY: Connected to the south of Ka’anapali Beach. This beach park is where outrigger canoes launch (hence the nickname.) There is good swimming, but poor visibility for snorkeling. This beach park has plenty of parking, covered tables, …

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Paia Secret Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: If you like to get naked on the beach without a ton of company, this is a good place to go. Relatively private and out of the main-flow of people, rarely anyone but folks who live here end up at this beach. Minuses: Parking; better beaches adjacent. Sound-bite: “Hey Moonbow, can I borrow your organic hemp …

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Waipu’ilani Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Waipu’ilani Beach is a the perfect beach of convenience for the local condos and residents. Minuses: Out of the way for the bulk of visitors staying further South. Sound-bite: “It’s nice to have what feels like your own private beach.” DETAILS: Waipu’ilani Beach is a long white sand and coral beach protected by reef and suitable …

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Paia Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: Paia Bay is a destination if you are an accomplished bodyboarder. A long, nice beach with an excellent near-shore surf break. Minuses: The park and bathroom areas can be dirty, and sometimes attract vagrant types. Sound-bite: “Shreddin’ `em!” DETAILS: Paia Bay is a favorite for bodyboarders and bodysurfers. The break is generally just a bit off …

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Kalepolepo Beach Park

Rating: Alternate Rating: For those interested in Hawaiian culture or who are staying nearby, this particular beach and cultural site will be of high interest. Rating Note In a nutshell: Kalepolepo Beach Park is a historically significant Hawaiian fishpond and a quiet beach for those staying in the area. Minuses: Out of the way for the bulk of visitors staying …

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Tavares Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Tavares Beach is a medium sized crescent shaped sandy white beach with easy access and ample parking. Minuses: Crowded on weekends and holidays. Some rocks in water. Occasionally swells bring massive influx of seaweed. Sound-bite: “Blink and you’ll miss it.” SUMMARY: Tavares Beach is a medium sized crescent shaped sandy white beach in the area adjacent …

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Makena Landing

Rating: In a nutshell: Makena Landing is scenic, perfect for launching a kayak and is also often a calm, safe spot to bring younger children. Minuses: Not much sand; very close to the road. Sound-bite: “Kayaks for rent!” Summary: This is a well-used cove and landing for kayaking, fishing, snorkeling and shore dives. The gentle sandy entry if also good …

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Ma’alaea to Central Kihei Beaches

Rating: In a nutshell: South Kihei Road passes along scenic shoreline with long beaches. Minuses: It’s all relative! Sound-bite: [wind] Summary: North & South Kihei Road hugs the coastline from Ma’alaea through Kihei. The northern end of these beaches seem to have been heaven-made for launching canoes, walking, running and beachcombing. Wind here is often stronger in the afternoon, so …

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Chang’s Beach & Five Graves

Rating: In a nutshell: A small uncrowded beach with great snorkeling and diving. Minuses: Small beach, smaller parking. Sound-bite: “The snorkel boats pull right up over there “ Also known as Ulupikanui Beach & Pamolepo Details: Chang’s Beach is a pleasant small beach in Makena fronting luxury vacation homes and the Makena Surf condos. The star rating strikes a balance …

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Spreckelsville Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Two mile stretch of rough/raw beaches and tidepools. Frequently used by fishermen and windsurfers. Minuses: Directly in flight path of Kahului Airport. Attracts some “iffy-characters.” Sound-bite: [Roar of jet engines] DETAILS: Actually more than one beach, “Spreckelsville Beach” is the historic name for a two mile stretch of beaches from Baby Beach in Spreckelsville to Kanaha …

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Honokowai Beach Park

In a nutshell: A great place to have a picnic from the many nearby yummy take-out joints. Minuses: Reef is right at the shoreline. Sound-bite: “What’s an Okazuya?” QUICK SUMMARY: Very pretty beach park to sit out and just enjoy being there – swimming is restricted to a shallow pool situated between rocky ledges of reef. This long shallow pool …

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Kamehameha Iki Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Historic beach, park and surfing Minuses: A lot of dead coral in the water. Sound-bite: [Feast at Lele Luau] This beach is also known as Armory Park. QUICK SUMMARY: This beach of historic significance was once home to royalty. In recent history it was abused and much of the history lost or hidden; coral and sea …

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‘Ahihi Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: ‘Ahihi Bay’s Waiala Cove is an excellent place for beginner to intermediate snorkelers, diving and kayaking. Minuses: Rocky & no sand. Sound-bite: “Please don’t stand up!” DETAILS: Typically called ‘Ahihi Bay (or even Ahi Bay by mistaken visitors), Waiala Cove is a small semi-protected cove of the overall much larger ‘Ahihi Bay. It is popular since …

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Beaches: Ma’alaea to Lahaina

Rating: In a nutshell: A cliff-side and shoreline drive to Lahaina passes along a spectacularly scenic shoreline with many beaches. Minuses: The road. Sound-bite: [cars] QUICK SUMMARY: The Honoapiilani Highway hugs the coastline, passing cliffs, ocean lookouts and beaches. Parts of this drive are so close, that the beach is quite literally the shoulder. Most of the beaches are not …

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Honomanu Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: A picturesque bay, and your first option for ocean goodness on the Road to Hana since Ho’okipa! Minuses: Poor swimming and rocky beach. Sound-bite: “See, honey, I told you getting a Jeep was going to be a practical necessity!” Description This bay is nestled inside a dramatic, verdant valley that first reveals itself from the road …

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Wahikuli Wayside

Rating: In a nutshell: Best known for beginner’s 20′ dive. Minuses: Thin, rocky, semi-sand, right on highway. Sound-bite: [passing traffic] Surfers call this location “Cop Shop”, for its location across from the police department. QUICK SUMMARY: Between Lahaina and Ka’anapali, this is a thin, rocky, semi-sand, right along the highway. It is a County park, so it has facilities. Best …

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Nude Beaches

In Hawaii full public nudity is technically illegal, however there are several beaches where that technicality is overlooked by patrons of the beaches and enforcement. There have been enforcement efforts in the past, and it has been ruled that exposing breasts is not considered nudity. However, there is a significant portion of the local population who are offended by nudity, …

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Ka’opala Beach

Rating: Article In Progress In a nutshell: Tiny beach of mixed rock and sand. Unlikely to be worth your time. Minuses: The muck? Sound-bite: “What’s that smell?” QUICK SUMMARY: The name probably translates most closely into “the muck” which is said to refer to the stagnant stream that empties into the ocean in line with the current. I’ll let you …

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Kahana Beach

Rating: Article In Progress In a nutshell: Beach of convenience for folks staying in the condos here. Minuses: Development. Sound-bite: “Owwww” QUICK SUMMARY: The beach is average, not crowded and waves are mellowed from the offshore reef. Rocks sticking out of the sand can be annoying to painful. Add that it has some pretty big condo buildings smack on it …

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Kapalua Beach

Rating: Article In Progress In a nutshell: This cove is virtually a large swimming pool with a sandy beach. Minuses: Parking Sound-bite: “Ouch, my toe!” QUICK SUMMARY: Situated in a very protected cove, this cove is virtually a large swimming pool. Fair snorkeling, as visibility is frequently not the best. Beach is backed by development and there is a fair …

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Keonenui Beach

Rating: Article In Progress In a nutshell: Small beach set inside a cove; fairly good snorkeling. Minuses: The Kahana Sunset has virtually claimed the beach as their own. Sound-bite: “Excuse me sir, but I believe this is our private beach.” QUICK SUMMARY: No beaches on Maui are private – public access is guaranteed for all. That said, this beach appears …

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Pohaku Park (aka S-Turns)

Rating: Article In Progress In a nutshell: Park and surfing. Swimming marginal. Minuses: Runoff from drainage ditch frequently clouds water. Sound-bite: “Us die-hard surfers want to get in there when the swells are here.” QUICK SUMMARY: This park practically next to the Kapalua Airport is a local hangout and popular with surfers. Swimming is marginal. There was a fatal shark …

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