Beaches on Maui
Concierge.com's insider take:
Makena State Park: Big Beach, a ten-minute drive from the resorts at Wailea, is an uncrowded, undeveloped half-mile-long sugar-sand expanse. It's popular with families, despite a monster shore break (getting in the water can be dangerous) and a dearth of public facilities (just portable toilets for the desperate). If you're not toting tykes, hike over the cliff on the west end to clothing-optional Little Beach. Upwards of 500 revelers take part in a free rave there every Sunday at sunset, complete with drum circles, jam sessions, and wild dancing.
Kamaole Parks I, II, + III: Million-dollar homes, condo complexes, parking lots, and public facilities cheapen the natural splendor of these golden beaches, but sandy bottoms, gentle waves, and lifeguards still draw in the swimmers. This trifecta is also conveniently located directly off the highway. Should you get stuck in the South Kihei Road rush-hour crawl (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) don't fight it—just turn off, park, and watch the sunset.
Kaanapali Beach: Maui's signature beach, this three-mile stretch of clean white sand provides ample room for sunbathers from the nearby megaresorts and locals who triumphed over the severely limited public parking situation. Dig Me Beach, in front of the Whalers Village mini mall, is the place to show off your Gucci bikini or ripped bod. Pu'u Keka'a (Black Rock), in front of the Sheraton Maui, is the safest swimming spot and is also good for snorkeling.
Kanaha Beach Park: You can be in the ocean within minutes of arriving on the island (Kanaha is located behind the rental car pickup lots at the Kahului airport). There's a narrow stretch for sunning, a sectioned-off area for swimming, and for entertainment watch the windsurfers and kite boarders in action. Kanaha has a decent surf break, but it's about 150 yards from shore, so don't attempt it unless you're a very confident swimmer.
Hamoa Beach: About three miles southwest of Hana, there's a respectable surf break, snorkeling, and plenty of room to lay out or get a game of beach volleyball going. There's swimming as well, but there are no lifeguards and you'll find wicked currents outside of the bay. The lounge chairs and waitstaff are exclusively for guests of the nearby Hotel Hana-Maui, so bring your own drinks and snacks. As with all Maui beaches, do your very best to leave no trace of your stay behind.