Maui's Best Drive-Up Beaches

October 20th, 2014

Maui has over 30 miles of beautiful beaches begging to be explored, but no one wants to spend half the day hauling their mandatory gear to and fro.  Here are the best beaches to get from turf to surf in seconds flat.  Drive up and dive in! 

D.T. Fleming Beach Park – Long and wide beach with good swimming when water is calm but beware of rip tides when the surf is up.  Can be crowded with families on the weekends. Parking lot is separated from the sand by a narrow shaded area with picnic tables and BBQs. Great facilities and lifeguard station.

Papalaua to Ukumehame Park (Hwy 30 between mile markers 11-12) – You can literally spill out of your car and onto the sand along this stretch of beach, but be careful not to get stuck!  A very popular camping spot for locals on the weekends, but you will likely have your pick of the place during the week.  The water is often churned up here, but on calm days the snorkeling and kayaking can be wonderful.  Great place to whale watch during the winter months. Limited facilities.

H.A. Baldwin Beach Park – Just west of Paia, Baldwin Beach is great for strolling with beautiful views of the West Maui mountains, particularly in the morning.  The beach is long and wide, so it can accommodate a large number of people and still not feel crowded.  Capped on each end by more protected pools (Baby Beach and Baldwin Cove) where even the most timid swimmers can splash safely.  Good facilities and lifeguard station.

Kamaole 1 – The small parking lot at the end of Alanui Ke Ali’i is just steps away from Kam 1, the first in a string of the three beautiful county-run Kamaole beach parks in Kihei.  All are great for swimming but have mediocre snorkeling. Great facilities and lifeguard stations.

Keawakapu Beach – Lined by multi-multi-multi million dollar (second) homes, this long, quiet beach with fine golden sand offers great morning walks or sunset strolls with excellent swimming all year round.  Access the north end from the gravel lot next to the Mana Kai Resort (also the site of great snorkeling) or the south side where South Kihei Road dead-ends into a small parking area.  Limited facilities.

Palauea Beach – Known as White Rock to locals, this South Maui beach is a quick walk through kiawe trees to a quiet beach with excellent swimming and good snorkeling. Development of gargantuan homes along the beach threatens to limit access in the near future.  No facilities.

Po’olenalena Beach (aka Paipu Beach, Love Beach) - Almost ½ mile long, this beautiful golden beach offers excellent swimming and good snorkeling off the rocky points.  This is also a popular spot for weddings due to the easy access and sunset views.  The adventurous may want to explore the somewhat secluded northern third of the beach by taking a short trail over the lava rock.  The even more adventurous may choose to join the “clothing optional” set that often frolic there.  No facilities.

Makena Landing – Now a popular launching point for kayaks and SUPs, this picturesque cove was once a trading port for upcountry cattle ranches.  The landing has very small beach with easy water access for a variety of activities.  There’s some decent snorkeling to the north and frequent whale activity nearby during the winter.  Good facilities.