Top Beaches in Wailea, Kihei & Makena

Published on June 13, 2024


Maui’s southern coastline arguably has the best collection of white sand beaches on the island. Whether you are looking to layout and sunbath on a sprawling beach, boogie board along the shore, take a surf lesson in beginner waves, or snorkel colorful reefs teaming with fish, you are sure to find your perfect beach in the neighboring towns of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Review our below list of top beaches in and around Wailea!

Wailea Beach:

Located first on our list for a reason, Wailea Beach checks a lot of boxes when considering a South Maui beach to spend the day at. Positioned directly in front of four- and five-star Wailea resorts, this wide white sand beach draws a decent crowd each day of the year. Play paddle ball, splash in the gentle waves, and enjoy the views of neighboring Kaho’olawe and Molokini. The paved Wailea Beach Path also runs along this beach incase you wanted to go on a scenic oceanfront walk.

Ulua Beach:

If you are the casual or beginner snorkeler, be sure to dedicate a few hours to exploring the underwater world at Ulua Beach. Best snorkeling conditions can be found in the mornings before 10am when the winds and waves are at their gentlest allowing for clear visibility. Also, you can hit the water before the masses. Ulua Beach has been a popular SCUBA diving certification location for decades, so you know there are great sea creatures to be seen.

White Rock:

Looking for a more “locals spot” beach vibe? White Rock, also known as Palauea Beach, is a peaceful strip of sand that is less frequented by the tourists. Bring the cooler, beach chairs, your favorite book, and other beach toys to enjoy a beautiful day at this Wailea beach that is off the radar for most visitors.

Kamaole Beach Park III:

Located in the beach town of Kihei, Kamaole Beach Park III is one of the most popular local beaches for families. A huge grass lawn and dozens of picnic areas and barbecue stations create the ideal setting for hosting birthday parties and family events. Head to the beach on a Saturday or Sunday and you will most likely see party bounce castles set up, slip and slide courses, water balloon fights, games of volleyball, and other fun activities. The beach park is full of activities. Swing by for sunset, where visitors and locals sprawl out on beach blankets to watch sunset almost every night.

Makena Landing/Turtle Town:

A popular ocean excursion to book on Maui is a snorkeling cruise to the crescent shaped island of Molokini followed by a stop at “Turtle Town/Turtle Arches”. If you don’t have time for a full-day boat excursion, you could drive out to Makena Landing and snorkel the reef formations just off-shore that are also part of “Turtle Town”. Often there are kayak rental companies that operate out of Makena Landing. Rent a kayak for an hour or two and explore the reefs and search for turtles while staying dry.

Big Beach:

For the big wave junkies, your best bet at finding a swell is at Makena State Park, more commonly referred to as Big Beach. The large white sand beach stretches close to a mile and has numerous entrances and parking lots. Be forewarned that this beach can be dangerous due to its aggressive shore break and strong ocean currents. Of all the beaches in the state of Hawaii it often records the most injuries. If the waves are a bit intimidating for you, you can always stick the shore and get lost in the beautiful coastal views, turquoise waters, and watch as the local kids attempt to ride the waves.

Cove Park:

If the mission of your Maui vacation is to learn to surf, then you will most likely find yourself at Cove Park in Kihei. This shallow cove with water depths ranging from 3ft to 6ft is the ideal spot for riding waves. Numerous surf schools offer lessons throughout the day, but it is advised to try and schedule a lesson as early in the day as possible when wind conditions are at their most welcoming. Waves are usually pretty small and perfect for the novice surfer. Once you develop your skills you can ask the instructors about intermediate surf breaks across the island.

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve:

The only protected natural reserve on our list, this black rock cove located past Makena has some unbelievable snorkeling. Because fishing is prohibited in this area, the variety and amount of marine wildlife has flourished making this a prime snorkeling destination. Getting into the water can be a bit tricky, but once you are in you will almost immediately see colorful fish. After finishing up at this beach, it is advised to continue your drive for another five minutes through the lava fields out to La Perouse Bay to explore this remote side of Maui.