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Tip: This blissfully undeveloped Maui town is home to "Big Beach" and "Little Beach."
Top 5 Beaches on Maui
By Sarah Pacheco
As an island chain, Hawaii is home to hundreds of beaches, each possessing its own set of unique qualities. What makes one beach great for surfers and water-sport enthusiasts does not necessarily make for a great destination for families or vacationers looking to relax on the shore.
To help narrow down the search for the your own personal perfect beach destination, the following list is a compilation of what are widely agreed to be the top five beaches on Maui.
Similar to Waikiki Beach, Kaʻanapali Beach is a hotbed of activity due to its location among Kaʻanapali Resort and the many other hotels that sit along the shore. The 1.5-mile-long Kaʻanapali Beach, however, is far less crowded than its Oahu counterpart, only feeling the strain of the masses during busy seasons such as Christmas. Located in West Maui, Kaʻanapali Beach was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and today is often called one of the best beaches on Maui, thanks to its wide array of beach activities, including seasonal parasailing, surfing, volleyball and sailing. On the north end of the beach is Black Rock, a renowned snorkeling destination and home to a cliff diving ceremony that happens every day at sunset.
Hidden between Wailea and Kihei sits the lovely Keawakapu Beach. This secret south Maui paradise is an ideal getaway from the crowds of the islands’ larger, more populated beaches. Don’t let its small size fool you; Keawakapu has consistently good swimming conditions year-round, and its abundance of soft, white sand lends equally well to sunbathers and children wishing to build a sandcastle empire. An underwater reef just off the right side of the beach also offers a great snorkeling opportunity.
With its beautiful sand and protected bay lined by palm trees and lava rock, Kapalua Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state. In fact, this northwestern beach, located mere minutes from the historic whaling port of Lahaina, has consistently ranked among the top beaches in the nation by numerous travel publications. And it’s little wonder why Kapalua remains a favorite beach for many families with young children. The calm waters offer great swimming, and natural tide pools give children the opportunity to see sea creatures up close. During the winter months, it is common to see whales migrating in the deeper waters. The nearby Shopping Village and hotels also offer ample shopping, dining and entertainment options.
An extension of Kaanapali Beach, Kahekili Beach is actually separated from the busier and bigger Kaanapali by 250 yards of lava rock and a hotel. Named after the last king of Maui, Kahekili Beach is an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Hidden rocks and strong currents, however, make this a dangerous spot for swimmers. The expansive, well-groomed sand beach also makes this a nice picnicking area.
A charming beach with great swimming conditions, Napili Bay is well known for its golden sand, great snorkeling and picture-perfect sunsets. Located in Lahaina next to the Napili Kai Resort, the beach’s large expanse of sand and gentle surf provide a great excuse for families looking to spend an entire day at the beach.
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