South Maui

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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Molokini Crater

Rating: In a nutshell: Molokini is a world-class snorkel and diving destination with exceptional water clarity and marine diversity. Minuses: It is usually very crowded. Sound-bite: “Hey, I wonder what is on the other side?” DETAILS: Molokini Crater is a highly popular snorkel and diving destination. Home to hundreds of species of fish and coral (some found nowhere else but …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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‘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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‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve

Rating: In a nutshell: Virtually all of ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve is closed until at least 2016 Minuses: It’s closed! Sound-bite: “But the blue guidebook said to come!” DETAILS: A small portion of the ‘Ahihi Bay area is the only portion of this reserve that remains open to the public. In times past this area was loaded with prime snorkeling …

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