If your perfect vacation day includes soaking up the sun, playing in the sand, or swimming in the ocean, then our Maui guide is just what you need. Our 10Best list highlights the best places to soak up the sun, with Wailea Beach being a favorite of our editors and readers. Turn off the laptop, pack your beach attire, and get ready for a relaxing day of taking in rays.


Wailea Beach

There's a reason that some of Maui's most prestigious resorts located on this part of the island: the beach. Gently sloping, protected, calm – there's nothing that's not good about this stretch of coastline, except maybe the crowds. But there's a price to pay for every good thing, and that's the cost for beauty and terrific beach-going. The water here is perfect for swimming, and the views across the ocean are mesmerizing, particularly at sunset. The beach is also a great vantage point for watching whales during their annual migration. Don't miss it.

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Calm waters and golden sands make this beach one of the best in the area for swimming and sunbathing. For those who are interested but haven't been initiated into the intricacies of water sports, this is also a good place to test the waters, so to speak. You'll find showers on the beach if you need a quick rinse off, but facilities aren't readily available since there are so many resorts and condos in the area. Still, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the Napili coastline.

Read more about Napili Beach →

Undeveloped and serene, this beach looks out across the water to Molokini Island. Its pale sands and impossibly blue water render it a popular destination, even though there are no public facilities. Depending on the weather, the water can be calm and still, or waves can tumble in with abandon. Actually, the coastline is comprised of two distinct beaches: The first, "Big Beach," is the primary venue; the second, known as "Little Beach," is more secluded and attracts nude sunbathers (whose activity is not sanctioned and has, at times, been prosecuted).

Read more about Makena Beach State Park →


Surrounded by resorts and shops, this beach – known as one of Maui's best – can be quite crowded. With its golden sands and calm waters, it's no surprise that its appeal is wide-ranging. Whether you want to swim, snorkel, sunbathe, or people-watch, you won't be disappointed. The one drawback is that there are no public facilities; however, you can step into one of the area resorts if necessary. Adventure-seekers can test their mettle at nearby Black Rock. From this geological formation, ancient Hawaiians believed spirits left the earthly world; it's now a sign of bravery to make the ambitious leap into the ocean below.

Read more about Ka'anapali Beach →

Although the beach is spectacular, getting to it is somewhat perilous. Still, if you must go, you must, especially since photos alone don't do justice to the vibrant juxtaposition of sand, water, and vegetation. The beach itself is set in a small, isolated cove, and the sands, otherworldly in hue, aren't actually sand but cinders from long-past volcanic activity. Swimming in the sheltered bay, once achieved, is favorable, as is snorkeling. Nude sunbathing, although technically illegal, is popular along the shore as well. Known in Hawaiian as Kaihalulu Beach.

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Sheltered from powerful currents, this inviting beach lets swimmers relax in gentle waters. The curved shoreline attracts visitors but not enough that sunbathers are on top of each other. Warm, soft sands ensure that leisure time is comfortable. Lifeguards are generally on duty, and you'll also find showers and rest rooms on the grounds. Snacks and drinks are available at the nearby Kapalua Bay Hotel.

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Situated at the base of tall cliffs, this beach feels somewhat secluded even though it stretches out in a long, gentle curve. Its grey sands, formulated from lava and coral, give it a unique character. The surf is most gentle during the summer, but swimming is enjoyable year-round. Nevertheless, beach-goers should always be aware of surf conditions and act accordingly. Rip currents can be a concern.

Read more about Hamoa Beach →

As you might expect, there are two other beaches with this name in the vicinity, and they all share long stretches of white sand. They also offer terrific swimming opportunities and the presence of lifeguards. Public facilities are available, as are picnic areas and a children's playground. All three beaches are nice, but Kam III, as it's called in the vernacular, is generally the favorite. It's even been voted as one of the best places to watch the sun set on Maui.

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Glistening with white sand, this expansive beach offers a great place for sunbathing. If you need a respite from the heat, the beach also benefits from a stand of trees that shades its inland side. Throughout the year, swimming is ideal, although the surf can be a bit aggressive during winter months. Showers, grills, restrooms, and parking are all available, and the best part of the beach is the northern end, which steps back a bit from the large island resorts.

Read more about D.T. Fleming Beach Park →

A mecca for wind-surfing enthusiasts, this beach is one of the best anywhere according to those in the know. It's not great for swimming, but it's a terrific place to hang out and watch local and international talents negotiate waves up to 15-feet high. On any given day, you're likely to see stunts that will leave you awe-struck if not open-mouthed in amazement. Restrooms, showers, and several grills are available on the park grounds.

Read more about Ho‘okipa Beach →