I live on Maui and there is always plenty to do. Not to mention, it’s my favorite Hawaiian island.
Beaches, beaches, beaches!
In my opinion, Maui has some of the best and most swimmable Hawaiian beaches.
Especially the South (Wailea & Kihei) and West (Lahaina, Kaanaplali) sides of Maui. This is because when you look at the geography of the Hawaiian islands, part of Maui is protected by the islands of Moloka’i, Lanai, and Kaho’olawe.
This makes the beaches on this side of the island more swimmable. I typically don’t recommend swimming on the beaches on the Road to Hana unless you have an experienced guide with you. In my experience, the Rip Currents are much stronger over there.
It is still the ocean, so no matter which side of the island be aware of your surroundings and weather. For that I typically will check thesnorkelstore Instagram page, they let you know what visibility and general ocean conditions around the island will be.
My best beach tip: GO EARLY (by 9am at the latest). The water is the calmest then and you’re most likely to have the whole beach to yourself. Water is still warm, more sealife (turtles!), and it’s not super hot yet. Win, win, and win! 😉
My favorite Maui beaches are:
Kamaole Beach Park 1 or 2: Beautiful beaches and the lifeguards keep you safe. I tend to have turtles swim past me at Kam 2, but either of these beaches are solid and have restrooms & showers.
Wailea Beach: is just stunning. It’s perfect for the budget traveler who did *not* spend $1k a night on a hotel room, but wants to enjoy the same beaches as those who did. Also, if you set up near the Four Seasons, they have a Beachwalk Cafe facing the beach where you can grab some adult beverages.
Lahaina Baby Beach: If you have small children I recommend starting out here, the water is more protected by a reef, so you’ll find calmer waters perfect for kids.
Kaanapali Beach: it’s steps away from the resorts on the westside, but it’s often packed. I rarely go here, but long walk down the beach is beautiful.
Napili Bay: my absolute favorite beach. It’s just gorgeous. The waves are a bit bigger on this end and this beach gets packed. No showers or restrooms, but probably one of the prettiest beaches.
A good rule of thumb to have when visiting: Never miss a sunset! I usually run down to the beach to catch the sunset. Stay till the end. Bring some adult beverages or snacks. Or even your takeout food if you planned ahead and want to picnic. Some sunsets are 🔥 and the whole sky lights up. There is nothing else like it. So don’t miss a sunset!
The absolute best view for sunset is the Haleakala Summit. It is a $30 state park entrance fee, but it’s an experience for the whole family. So I highly recommend it. You may have heard that sunrise at Haleakala is the way to go and they’re not wrong, it is stunning, but reservations are required not to mention you’ll have to be up around 3/4am to drive up the summit in the pitch black. Here is my insider’s tip: sunsets are equally as awesome and require no reservations. I mean when else will you see a Hawaiian sunset ABOVE the clouds? It’s an experience!
Seeing turtles on Maui
Most people want to see the famous Honu (Hawaiian Sea Turtles) while visiting. Your best bet will be Ho’okipa Beach Park (it’s on the north shore).
Here is the deal: Sea Turtles are realllllly freakin’ magical. They’re massive. They are also endangered and protected by federal laws. So you will need to stay 10ft away, if you’re seen close to them or harassing them you’re looking at up to a $50k fine + 5yrs in prison (we take this very seriously). So please, respect all of our wild sealife and keep a respectful distance.
When you turn into Ho’okipa there will be a bigger parking lot on the right which overlooks the beach and is a great spot to watch the surfers. This is a good place to park. To see the turtles you can walk down the one lane road which goes past more parking (but it’s usually packed down there, which is why I recommended the parking lot above) and you’ll want to walk to the lifeguard stand. Take the pathway behind the lifeguard stand to the edge of the wall and look down. Look closely at the “big rocks” laying on the beach, you’ll see the massive turtles sleeping.
I hope you enjoy your trip to Maui! Hit me up in the comments to let me know your favorite free thing to do on Maui!