With miles of white sand and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder that Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach is a perennial favorite of visitors the world over. The Lahaina beach, named America’s best in 2003, ranked highly once again in TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers Choice Awards, finishing as the second most popular beach in the United States and 14th in the world. Best of all, it is conveniently located near The Gardens at West Maui!
One of Ka’anapali Beach’s most famous attractions is the daily cliff diving ceremony off the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili. Ka’anapali Beach also offers some of Maui’s best snorkeling opportunities.
Wrote one TripAdvsior reviewer: “It is one of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches I’ve visited. The sight of whales jumping in the distance becomes almost commonplace. Beautiful sunsets, and there is an awesome beach walk with restaurants and resorts along the way. It has a relaxing vibe and isn’t very crowded.”
Award winners were determined based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period.
Ka’anapali Beach deserves all the plaudits it receives, but it certainly isn’t Maui’s only great beach. The following West and South Maui beaches all have much to recommend them. Be sure to visit your favorite on your next visit to The Gardens at West Maui!
West Maui Beaches
D.T. Flemings Beach Park
Flemings is in upper west Maui, north of Kapalua. It is a public beach park where people swim, body surf and surf regularly. Flemings has a good-sized parking lot and a large beach to lounge on.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Maui, Kapalau Beach is the kind of tropical perfection you expect from Maui. It has great swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving
Launiupoko Beach Park
Launiupoko Beach is fun for longboard surfers and picnics. With two parking areas, this park is easily accessed on the way to Lahaina right off of the road. This is a great park for families with small children because of a natural pool formed and surrounded by a lava rock wall.
Napili Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Maui. It has a steep incline into the water with unblemished white sand. The water is beautiful and bright blue. Snorkeling is good on both sides of the bay.
South Maui Beaches
Also known as Big Beach, Makena has a mile of perfect orange and white sand, dramatic landscapes and water that’s brilliant blue and green. There is a little reef that makes the sand bottom shine up through the water to give it that tropical brightness. Skim boarding, body boarding, and body surfing are all very popular here for this reason.
This beach is beautiful and as perfect as can be. On Sundays at sunset everyone celebrates by swimming and cheering as a large drum circle beats away. Once it gets dark people gather and begin to dance around a circle of fire. You’ll sometimes find professional fire twirlers with more than one ball of fire and fancy flaming outfits.
Kama’ole Beach Parks 1, 2, 3
The three Kams are great beaches to enjoy with friends. The first and most Northern Kama’ole Beach is the largest. The second is small but can offer fun waves for body surfing if the swell cooperates. The third Kamaole Beach is the favorite for South Maui locals and has a large grass park.
Charley Young Beach
On the north end of Kamaole Beach, you’ll find a large beach known as Charley Young. With great views and perfect sand, Charley Young Beach is a great spot to spend with family and friends. This is a swimming beach that offers visitors the best beach Kihei has to offer. Please note: no lifeguards on duty.
Maluaka is one of Makena’s gems. This beach is beautiful and has great snorkeling and swimming. Areas around here are often referred to as Turtle Town Maui. This is the closest departure point if you want to visit the famous Molokini Crater.