West Maui

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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Lahaina Town

Rating: In a nutshell: An oddly eclectic mix of history, restaurants, T-shirt shops, fine art galleries and gold-by-the-foot, Lahaina is the quintessential “old-time-sea-town-turned-tourism” with a uniquely Maui twist. Minuses: It’s crowded! Sound-bite: “Come talk to me about “fractional ownership!” DETAILS: The second most visited spot in Maui, Lahaina is compact and crowded. It is also the only full-featured, walkable “down-town” …

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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 Minuses: The true Hawai’i here has been replaced by a highly profitable replica.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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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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West Maui’s North Shore

Rating: In a nutshell: Rugged shoreline, scenic vistas, and cliff-edge driving you’ll never forget. Minuses: If you’re not a confident driver parts of this drive could be your worst nightmare. Sound-bite: “what do you mean back up!?!“ Most visitors will travel in and out of West Maui along its West and South shores through Maalaea. This is definitely the commuter …

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Olivine Pools

Rating: In a nutshell: Dramatic, swimmable tidepools located on barren lava along the ocean’s edge on the back-side of West Maui. Minuses: Can be dangerous. Terrain on the short hike is unforgiving to those who are not sure-footed. Sound-bite: “My car got broken into!” Be Very Careful Here People have died here. Many more have been injured. Understand why, and …

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Nakalele Point, Blowhole & “Acid War Zone”

Rating: In a nutshell: Blowhole and scenic rugged coastline hike. Minuses: If you’re not sure-footed parts of the trail can be challenging. Sound-bite: [hssssst….BLAST!] Blowhole safety In Maui it has been customary to allow the careless free control over their destiny. But if you come from a place where they would put a barrier around dangers, then they would most …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Lahaina Pali Trail

Rating: In a nutshell: A rugged and challenging 5-10 mile hike with stunning panoramas of the central valley, ocean and neighbor islands. Minuses: If you want to do the whole trail you’ll need 2 cars or legs of steel. Sound-bite: [whipping winds] SUMMARY: This is a rugged and strenuous 5-mile trail from Maalaea to Ukumehame. This is an out-and-back hike …

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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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