Maui Travel Blog
West Maui Beaches
Aloha from Grace Vacation Rentals! With so many beaches to experience on Maui we thought we would highlight some nearby west Maui beaches for you. Depending on your situation there are some beaches that may be better suited for enjoyment with your travel companions.
Kaanapali North Beach + Kahekili Beach Park AKA Airport Beach
Kahekili Beach Park is known by just about everyone as Airport Beach. It’s called this because in the early 1960’s this area was the location of an airport with a short runway that began just 30 feet from this shoreline. Strong trade winds and the short runway eventually raised safety concerns and in 1983 the airport closed for planned resort expansion.
This long stretch of golden sandy beach is now lined with resorts and has several ways to enter. Here we’ll talk about the two closest entrances to Maui Sands, Maui Sands Seaside, and Paki Maui, with the easiest access. Our preferred entrance is within walking distance and we’ll talk about this one first.
Sometimes referred to as Kaanapali North Beach, it’s a convenient walk or drive. On Lower Honoapiilani Road you’ll head south. You’ll quickly come to the Honoapiilani Park entrance by the lunch trucks. Go right here and continue past the park and then beach parking will start on the right-hand side. Parking is good here and the roundabout at the end makes it easy to make a loop to look for a good spot. On foot, head straight to the boardwalk path where you will come across the first stairs leading up to a short boardwalk to the beach. If you keep walking a little longer on the path, you will find another entrance to the beach. The boardwalk spans almost the entire beach and if you enjoy walking, we highly recommend this path for beautiful early morning strolls.
The beach at this end can be narrow at times. In the winter, north swells tend to cause less sandy beach while in the summer there tends to be more beach area. It’s definitely a hot spot for surfing and body boarding when winter north swells hit. In the summer, it’s got some amazing snorkeling since the waters tend to be calmer.
In the middle of the long stretch of Kaanapali beach is the second entrance we’ll talk about. This is the location of the airstrip we mentioned earlier and is Ali’I Kahekili Nui Ahumanu Beach Park. You can get to this area on foot using the boardwalk but if you are one who prefers to drive or maybe you have ADA needs you’ll want to use this park entrance. Take Lower Honoapiilani Road to Honoapiilani Highway (30) and head south and make the second right onto Kai Ala. Be sure to stay straight here. It’s a short awkward navigation into the parking lot but easy to see and there is a sign.
The parking lot here tends to fill up quick so that’s something to be prepared for. Entering the park you’ll see the in middle of a small grass area bathrooms and patio covered benches. There are BBQ grills and picnic benches and open grass areas for games and activities. In the mornings, you’ll often find scuba divers gathering up or a yoga class in session. If you’re not one for sand, funny how sometimes it’s not for everyone, this is a great spot to enjoy the beach without getting too sandy. Regardless of the time of year, this tends to be a larger sandy beach area. Diving and snorkeling are great at Airport Beach as the reefs aren’t far out and it’s mostly a calmer swimming beach.
Kaanapali Beach/Black Rock
On the south end of Airport Beach, you’ll see what’s known as Black Rock, projecting into the Pacific Ocean. On the other side of Black Rock is the famous Kaanapali Beach. This is another long stretch of golden sandy beach.
In the summer, the south-west facing part of the beach can get hit with south swells and it becomes a popular surfer spot. It’s also a great area for body boarding, body surfing, and skim boarding. When there’s no swell the snorkeling conditions here are amazing. It can get windy at times so make sure you secure your umbrella down good.
Kaanapali Beach can be a very crowded because of the resorts that line the area and Black Rock is one of the most frequented tourists snorkeling spot. Parking here can be difficult. There are only a couple small beach parking areas. We recommend getting here early. There is a small section of Beach Parking between the Whaler’s Village and The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Be sure to park in a designated beach parking stall, they really do tow away.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park
Heading north on Route 30, just past Kapalua Golf Courses you’ll see an entrance to D.T. Fleming Beach Park. It’s approximately 15 minutes north from Maui Sands, Maui Sands Seaside, and Paki Maui. It was named after the man who introduced pineapple to West Maui.
A big sandy beach with easy access, bathrooms, showers, a playground, picnic benches, and BBQ grills makes this a local favorite for family parties and friend get togethers. It can get crowded at times with locals and visitors attracted to it as well.
In the summer, it’s a nice swimming beach with some decent snorkeling along the reef and rocks of the south and north coastline. In the winter, Flemings is a heavily frequented surf and body boarding spot. Big north swells can hammer the shoreline and rip currents can easily take people out. There’s a Lifeguard station here which should be an indication of how serious this beach’s conditions should be taken.
Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay AKA Slaughterhouse
Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay is it a short drive north of Maui Sands, Maui Sands Seaside, and Paki Maui. The locals refer to this bay as Slaughterhouse because of a slaughterhouse that had been adjacent to the area. The parking in the area is limited and can be a bit dodgy at times being right off Honoapiilani Highway but that tends to keep the crowd size at bay. It’s best is to get here early, we’re talking 8am early.
To get to the beach is an adventure in itself! Driving north on Route 30, you’ll pass Napili, Kapalua, and D.T. Fleming Beach Park. After a few windy curves you’ll spot a few parking stalls on the ocean side of the road, a couple signs, and turquoise railings of a staircase heading down through a cliff.
You won’t want to bring too much to this beach. The stairs we mentioned are several flights of steps and what goes down, must come up. When the steps end you’ll walk through a short jungle journey that opens into a beautiful north-west facing bay surrounded by cliffs with lush greenery. Beach conditions vary through the year. In the summer, south swells allow north facing beaches to rebuild sandy beach and provides calm waters for some great snorkeling. In the winter, north swells bring big waves and less beach. It’s this time of year you’ll see a lot of surf boards, body boards, and skim boards around.
Lahaina’s Baby Beach
Maui has two beaches referred to as Baby Beach. We are going to share some information about the Baby Beach located on Front Street, in the heart of Lahaina Town. We’re going to stick to this Baby Beach because it’s a short driving distance south from Maui Sands, Maui Sands Seaside, and Paki Maui.
Locals call it baby beach because it is a small narrow beach protected by an outer reef that creates a shallow and calm shoreline that’s prefect for children to play in. Because of it’s location and calm waters, this beach is mostly frequented by locals and families with small children.
The almost wave-less waters make Baby Beach a relaxing spot for the family where kids can play freely. While it’s not an area typically known for outstanding snorkeling on the West side of Maui, the reef here is no stranger to life. We’ve had some great snorkel sessions here just keep in mind the tide if you want to go a bit further out, these can become shallow waters quickly and it’s not proper to walk on or touch the reef.
In the mid-section of this small strip of beach there is a grass area with some trees that provide nice shade, especially during the summer. An umbrella works great at this beach since Lahaina is not typically as windy as the Kaanapali area.
There are three entrances to Baby Beach and several places to park however be aware most parking is found on the street. We usually park between the Lahaina Jodo and the cemetery, near Mala ramp side.
When in doubt don’t go out
Many Maui beaches can be rough at times and conditions can change at a moment’s notice.
It’s always best to buddy up and never go it alone.
Know the conditions before going out.
Never turn your back to the ocean!
Shoreline breaks can cause minor to serious injuries, to anyone, at any age.
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