Maui is one of the most popular islands in Hawaii. It is also known as the “Valley Isle” because it is a large valley amid two dormant volcanoes–Haleakala and Mauna Kahalawai. Maui has over 2 million visitors annually because of its beautiful beaches. There are six regions on the island of Maui: North Shore, East, West, South, Central, and Upcountry.
The north shore comprises three main towns or areas: Paia, Haiku, and Haliimaile. Paia is the first town heading east towards Hana on the famous Hana Highway. Haiku, the second town, is part of the Haiku-Pauwela census-designated place (a census-designated place, or CPD, is a statistical geographic entity or a concentration of population defined by the US Census Bureau for statistical purposes only) and is characterized by open dirt roads occupied by rusted pickup trucks loaded with surfboards, family run-farms, and several roadside products stand. The last town, Haliimaile, is a small town with only 1,074 residents during the 2020 census.
The east part of Maui comprises Hana’s isolated community, a town described as the most “Hawaiian” of all places in Hawaii.
The west region of Maui consists of the beautiful towns of Lahaina and Ka’anapali. West Maui was once a major Hawaiian population center and home to the Ali’i royalty of old Hawaii. The gigantic banyan tree is a must-see site in Lahaina town. Ka’anapali’s three-mile stretch of sandy beach is one of the main gems in town.
The southern part of Maui includes the towns of Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Maalaea is on a scenic harbor and has a three-mile beach extending to Kihei. The second town, Kihei, has fine dining, shopping, and vast beach activities. Wailea and Makena are two manicured resort communities that cater to upscale accommodations, shopping, and even golf courses. The last town, Makena, is found between Makena Beach, Gold Resort, and La Perouse Bay.
Kahului and Wailuku are two towns comprising the central Maui region. Kahului is considered the island’s commercial and residential center. While Wailuku is another commercial center and the county seat of Maui’s government, it is set against magnificent mountains.
Refers to the communities built inland on the western slopes of Haleakala (the massive mountain/dormant volcano), which takes up half of the eastern island. Upcountry offers cooler temperatures, lush pastures and farms, botanical gardens, small towns, and various mountain-centered activities.
Top beaches in Maui
1. Ka’anapali Beach
On the West region of Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is a three-mile stretch of beach flaunted as one of the best beaches in Maui. A daily cliff diving ceremony on the beach’s northernmost cliffs, named Pu’ukeka or Black Rock, is one of the most anticipated attractions every sunset on the beach. The activity is said to be a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King, King Kahekili.
2. Makena Beach
Makena Beach is also referred to as Maui’s big beach, with its 1.5 miles long and 100 yards wide. Makena is relatively quiet, making it a good place for snorkeling, swimming, and even a picnic. A beautiful cliff landscape makes the site more interesting for pictures and attracts tourists. This beach is also known as Big Beach, Maui’s best bodysurfing beach.
3. Kamaole Beach Park
Three famous stretches of beach in Kamaole Beach Park are named as a shortened version of the beach: Kam I, Kam II, and Kam III. Rocky points separate the three beaches at either end of the beach. Swimming is possible under good weather conditions, as the waves and currents can get pretty strong during lousy weather.
4. Wailea Beach
It is considered the largest beach in Wailea and was named as America’s Best Beach in 1999. In good weather, the waves are calm and suitable for smaller kids to go swimming. Its beach path, approximately 2 miles long, is also one of the best hiking trails on Maui.
5. Napili Beach
Compared to other beaches in Maui, Napili’s water is much calmer, and there is a lesser crowd, which makes it the perfect spot for a family’s vacation and bonding.
6. Wai’anapapa State Park
Wai’anapapa State Park is one of the best stops on the Hana Highway. It is a 122-acre state park with a black-sand beach named Pa’iloa Beach. The black sand beach results from a lava flow from hundreds of years ago. The strong currents might make swimming dangerous.
7. Kapalua Beach
Just north of Lahaina, Kapalua Beach is a beach visited mainly by locals and other visitors. A coral-rich shallow bay fronts the beach’s crescent shape and view.
8. Ho’okipa Beach Park
Ho’okipa Beach Park is known for its big waves and swimming beach. It is a world-class surfing and wind-surfing destination in Maui. This beach is also famous for being a turtle sanctuary, particularly for honus (Hawaiian green sea turtles).
9. Sugar Beach
Characterized by its fine white sand and six-mile-long beach, Sugar Beach is found in the town of Kihei
10. Baby Beach
Baby Beach is found in Lahaina and is visited mainly by local families with their young children. An exposed stretch of reef protects the calm, shallow area where children can swim without danger.
11. Keawakapu beach
It can be found in south Maui, between Kihei and Wailea. The beach has a grassy and lovely sandy beach that offers a good view of West Maui.
12. Ulua beach
This beach is one of the beaches in the Wailea resort’s complex development on Maui’s south shore. Ulua Beach is a popular dive spot; most introductory scuba lessons occur here. A small park is available in the area, which is ideal for picnics.
Maui is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii and has some of the most remarkable beaches in the whole world. A visit to Maui will provide many opportunities to enjoy a great day at the beach.
Link to the America’s Best beach throughout the years: