Best Maui Beaches (South Side)
South Maui is the sunny, dry side of the island making beach days idyllic. This locale has been blessed with miles of world class beaches and lovely views. Depending on which beach you sit and play you will have unobstructed views of Kahoolawe, Molokini and Lanai. We recommend that morning is best for beach time as this is when the waters are most calm; the surf picks up later in the morning and early afternoon. Below are our favorite beaches and these certainly are not a complete list of beaches in south Maui.
But first a few words on safety! In normal conditions, the ocean is relatively safe to play. But conditions can change, and the surf can get big, rip currents form, and swimming can become dangerous at even what appear to be the calmest of beaches. Always be aware of your swimming abilities and the abilities of those in your party. Pay attention to posted beach flags which warn of dangerous surf conditions and when unsure, keep out of the water.
Kamaole Beach III
Locals call this beach Kam III (there is also Kam I and II; notes below) and it is directly across this street from the Kamaole Sands resort. Technically, Kam III is a beach park that includes beach access, a large grassy area, benches, picnic areas, grills, showers, bathrooms, small playground, and parking. It's a favorite beach among locals, too. This is an excellent all around beach for relaxing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, building sand castles, sunset watching, kite flying, picnicking, etc. Another bonus is that it has lifeguards during peak use hours. We make it easy for you to enjoy Kam III by sharing beach chairs, umbrella, sand toys, ice chest and a beach wagon to easily travel across the street.
Kamaole Beach I and II
Kam I and II are just north (or to the right) of Kam III). Kam I is the largest of the Kam beaches. Both Kam I and II are also great all round beaches and you may even find a little more room to spread out on them. The primary difference between these two and Kam III is that Kam III has the beach park aspects with large grassy area and larger public facilities. You can enjoy the same water activities at all three lifeguarded beaches. There is parking on the street on S. Kihei Road.
This is a lovely, long (1200 yards) sandy beach just south (to the right) of the condo. We enjoy walking this beach in early morning. Our favorite path is to cross the street at the crosswalk at the south end of the resort and then proceed across the the grass at Kam III where you will see a nature trail that mostly follows south along the coast line. While walking along the coastline trail we watch for turtles feeding in the water below. The path will take you to the Kihei boat ramp and as you pass the ramp the trail will pick up again, continue to follow along the coastal trail through the Kihei Surfside and Mana Kai Maui resorts. Once you reach Mana Kai Maui resort Keawakapu Beach will begin. We love to see the beautiful homes and views of Kahoolawe, Molokini and Lanai while we take our morning walk. This beach is often has low traffic. Locals often run or walk their dogs on the beach so if you miss your four legged family member this is a could place to get a belly rub in. It can get quite windy in the afternoon. There are parking lots at S. Kihei Road and Kilohana Drive and at the very end of S. Kihei Road.
Fronts the Andaz Hotel off Wailea Alanui Drive. Good beach for swimming, snorkeling and boogie boarding. Nice sized parking lot but can fill up early. This is about 2 miles south of Kamaole Sands Resort.
Ulua Beach Park
Next to the Wailea Marriott and shares the same parking lot with Mokapu Beach off Wailea Alanui Drive. Good beach for swimming, boogie boarding and excellent for beginner to intermediate snorkeling. This is about 2 miles south of Kamaole Sands Resort.
Po'olenalena Beach Park
This is our favorite beach for snorkeling if you are a strong snorkeler. This is 3.9 miles south of Kamaole Sands Resort. We try to arrive early, via Wailea Alanui Drive to the south end of the beach to grab one of the 10 parking spots at the Makena Surf otherwise there is a large dirt parking lot at the north end of the beach. This is a great beach for hanging out, boogie boarding, sand castle building and seeing turtle cruise by in the water line before the waves breaking. We snorkel the south end, around the lava flow. There can be a strong current as you make the left turn to swim over the lava flow. The reward is a good amount of sea life and turtle cleaning station. We most always see turtles here.
Makena Big Beach
This is about 6.5 miles south of Kamaole Sands Resort. Head south on S. Kihei Road, which turns right onto Wailea Alanui Drive and then turns into Makena Alanui Drive, and once again into Makena Road, look for the Makena State Park signs. We usually drive to the second sign and park in the second parking lot as it put us in the middle of the beach. This beach is LARGE and beautiful! A warning that this beach has large shore breaks and it is important to play safely here and heed the guidance of warning flags and lifeguard staff. Honestly, we rarely get in the water here other than to cool off. We love to watch the large "window" waves and locals play on their boogie boards and wave boards. They are amazing! Once is a while in a "window" wave we see a turtle behind the wave ... so exciting! We love to come early with snacks and music and plant ourselves in the sand to enjoy the views. So peaceful.
After Makena Big Beach, continue to head south on Makena Road and look for a pretty stone wall with a door-way sized opening and a blue beach access sign on the south end ... we think there is also a speed bump. Typically you will see cars parked parallel along the stone wall. Lots of weddings occur here. Parking is limited. Beach space is limited. Surf is strong here. It's a place to enjoy, breathe, relax! Sometimes we get a morning coffee and cinnamon roll and come here to eat our breakfast and take in the gift's of this beautiful spot on earth.
End of the Road at Ahihi-Kina'u Nature Area Reserve
Just keep driving south from the resort entrance on S. Kihei, which turns on to Wailea Alanui, which then turns in the Makena Alanui and then again into Makena Road. Not truly a beach by Hawaii standards but definitely worth the drive and visit. When we ask most folks if they visited it they have no idea its there. We usually visit when we are looking to get out an about for a walk and drive. It fun to drive from Makena and through the reserve past beautiful homes and lava flows. The lava flows are a different terrain than most of Maui. At the end of the road you see beautiful skies, dark lava peppered with coral that has been washed ashore. There is a hike through the lava beds. If you plan to do the hike go early morning, on a cool day with a trade breeze and take plenty of water. And wear good shoes because walking in lava is not a job for flip flops and open toed sandals. It can be a hot hike if you are not prepared. You can also snorkel in the early hours at the preserve. If the surf is calm it can be like a fish bowl. The only issue is the access into the water is difficult over lava flow so be sure to have good shoes to get to the water. Again, there is no soft sandy beach.