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12 Top-Rated Beaches in Maui

When it comes to beaches, Maui has some of the best in the country, if not the world. The Hawaiian island is surrounded by 130 miles of coastline, 30 miles of which is beach. In Hawaii, most beaches are wide, with a section of scrub brush and palm trees at their edge. When selecting a beach, your choices usually involve location and accessibility, lack or abundance of services, and whether it's suitable for swimming. Some beaches have strong currents and surf and are best for surfing or water sports. Most beaches are within an hour or two of one of the island's main resort areas: Wailea, Lahaina, and Kihei. Figure out where you want to go with our list of the best beaches in Maui.

1 Napili Bay

Napili Bay
Napili Bay
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The postcard-like setting near Lahaina on the west side of the island is the quintessential tropical beach. There's a wide, curving beach around a bay with deep blue water. The beach here is slanted towards the water but gets flatter as you get farther from the ocean. There's a line of palm trees and the lush mountains beyond. On the soft sand beach are a few luxury resorts and condo buildings. The Napili Kai Beach Resort takes up a large portion of the beach and does well at providing a fully self-contained vacation without a need to leave the property.

2 Hana Beach Park

Hana Beach Park
Hana Beach Park
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This natural, unguarded beach offers plenty of scenic beauty and usually a good taste of Hawaiian culture. The beach is wide at spots with some good shade from the trees. The sand is white and fine-grained, and this is where many groups practice their outrigger canoe skills. Picnic facilities, restrooms, and a tiny snack bar are also here. There is only one big luxury resort in Hana, the Travaasa Hana, Maui, which offers bungalow-type accommodations. If possible, choose a bungalow facing the ocean as the others face the Hana Highway and can be noisy.

3 Makena Beach

Makena Beach
Makena Beach
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Also called Big Beach, this is one of Maui's biggest, best, and most popular places to enjoy the sun and sea. The surf and currents are strong and only recommended for good swimmers, but anyone can enjoy the beach and wade in the surf. The beach is soft sand and is fairly wide in parts. It's almost two miles long, with a gentle curve. Makena Beach is south of Wailea (about an hour from Lahaina), and there are good facilities available, including restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Food trucks are also on hand to satisfy your appetite. If you stay in Wailea, the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui is a luxurious beachfront resort with excellent facilities for families.

4 Charley Young Beach

Charley Young Beach
Charley Young Beach
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Located at the north end of Kamaole I Beach in Kihei, Charley Young Beach is a raw section of beach dotted with some striking rock and lava structures at its edges. It's a nice, unspoiled section of beach in busy Kihei. The beach is wide, gently sloping into the sea with dark golden sand. The Andaz Maui at Wailea is about two miles from the beach. It's a beautiful resort with several swimming pools and the full range of resort amenities and activities.

5 Mokapu Beach

Mokapu Beach
Mokapu Beach
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Usually mentioned along with its next door neighbor, Ulua Beach, this area in Wailea is considered the best place in Maui for diving (and snorkeling). Ulua Beach especially sees many instructors and dive groups, so it can be crowded. Mokapu Beach is less crowded and perfect for enjoying the warm sun. It's a beautiful, wide, curving beach with warm, light-blue water. It's a beach park, so there are lifeguards and basic facilities. Both beaches have parking lots; park at Keawakapu Beach (the next beach) if they're full. The Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea is about five minutes' drive from Mokapu Beach.

6 Kapalua Beach

Kapalua Beach
Kapalua Beach
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There's a reason Kapalua is constantly ranked as the best beach in Hawaii. It's especially great for families because the water is extremely calm and warm and there are many tide pools to explore. Beyond the beach, attractions include whale watching off the coast (mainly in winter). Aside from the beach, there's a good amount of development, with condos and hotels like The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on the beach. The shoreline has a row of palm trees and shrubs before becoming a white sandy beach, sloping towards the aqua-colored ocean. The Kapalua Villas, Maui is a modern condo-style resort, right on the beach; most units have kitchens and laundry facilities.

7 Kaanapali Beach

Kaanapali Beach
Kaanapali Beach
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Part of Lahaina, this mega-resort area is in west Maui and was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. The almost two miles of beachfront can be crowded during busy holiday seasons, but it's usually possible to find your own spot. It is to Maui what Waikiki is to Oahu, but it provides an authentic Maui beach experience, even if you never leave your resort. The wide beach area, sometimes a few hundred yards from trees to water at low tide, is bordered by bushes and palm trees. At the north end of the beach there's the huge Black Rock, a great spot for snorkeling. It's also where cliff divers impress the tourists each day at sunset. The Royal Lahaina Resort is a very large resort property in the center of Kaanapali Beach. There are a range of accommodations, from basic rooms to luxurious villas.

8 Kahekili Beach

Kahekili Beach
Kahekili Beach
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Smart tourists avoid busy Kaanapali Beach for the quieter Kahekili Beach right next to it. Cross the lava rock and pass the hotel that separates the two and you have a much more natural experience. The smooth beach is good for diving, but the current is strong so it's bad for swimming. It's a popular picnic area, with many shady trees to set up under, and the beach here is flat. The Kaanapali Ocean Inn is on Kaanapali Beach, a short stroll from Kahekili. It's a luxury resort with prices a bit lower than its name-brand neighbors.

9 Keawakapu Beach

Keawakapu Beach
Keawakapu Beach
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After visiting some of the more popular beaches in Maui, you may want to seek out a more hidden, unspoiled location, and Keawakapu Beach fits the bill. It's halfway between Wailea and Kihei off Kihei Road, and since there aren't too many resorts nearby, it's a bit off the radar. The sand here is soft and white, and there's a reef just off the beach that is good for snorkeling. There's a public parking lot across from the beach. The Days Inn Maui Oceanfront is a budget property, but it's right on the path to Keawakapu, a few steps from the beach.

10 Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach

Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
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With beautiful black sand, formed from waves crashing on flowing lava, Waianapanapa Beach at Waianapanapa State Park is on the famous Hana Highway. It's a gently curving beach with rocks at one side and trees at the other. The black sand is course, but it's still easy on the feet (except it gets very hot as the day goes on). The water here is shallow and gentle, great for swimming. It's also a good area for sightseeing; the Hana Highway is one of the world's most beautiful roads.

11 Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
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After enjoying the black-sand beach, why not head to Kaihalulu to check out the Red Sand Beach. It's in a hidden cove, surrounded by cliffs of lava rock, with a red beach. The red comes from the high iron content in the sand, which rusts in the salt air, turning the beach red. The sand here is coarse, so shoes or sandals are recommended. The Red Sand Beach is off the Hana Highway and accessed via a steep and sometimes crumbling trail. The Hana Kai Maui is a beachfront condo property in Hana, about 15 minutes from the Red Sand Beach.

12 Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach
Hamoa Beach
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The Hana area and the Hana Highway are must-see attractions for all Maui tourists. Hamoa Beach is another one of Maui's beaches constantly ranked as the best in Hawaii, and it lives up to the hype. Although there is some development in the area, it retains a raw quality that can be hard to find in Maui. There are no lifeguards but there are bathrooms and showers, something lacking at many Maui beaches. The beach is wide and flat, sloping gently into the sea. The sand is soft and fine here, perfect for barefoot strolls. There are also many shady areas along the tree line. Street parking is available; read the posted signs carefully.

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