Big Beach, otherwise known as Makena Beach or Oneloa Beach, is a long and wide strip of sand in Makena State Park.
The South Maui coast is considered a must-see by many residents, and Big Beach is one of Maui’s better known beaches.
For a safe and enjoyable visit to Big Beach, take a look at our guide. We’ll cover what you can do at Big Beach, and what you should never do (like turn your back on a shorebreak).
Getting To Makena Big Beach
Getting to Big Beach from Wailea or Kihei is simple, as you essentially just want to follow one road.
Drive south through Wailea on the Wailea Alanui Drive, and keep going as it merges to become Makena Alanui.
Carry on along, and Makena Alanui becomes Makena Road, and you’ll eventually come to a major turning on the right side, toward the sea.
The turning is signposted as Makena State Park. Follow the road down, and you’ll come to the parking lot. This is the first lot. Park here if you want to visit Little Beach as well.
There’s a second parking lot for Big Beach further down the road.
Things To Do On Big Beach
Big Beach has earned its name for a reason: it’s long, but it’s also wide. Which is quite unusual on Maui.
People flock to Big Beach for a chance to stretch out on the coast, and take in the untouched scenery of Makena State Park.
Because of the size of Big Beach, it can handle a lot of people without feeling crowded.
A visit to Big Beach is about relaxing, taking in the scenery, and grabbing yourself a taco from Jawz, a food truck in the area.
There are also walking trails that encompass Big Beach, if you fancy discovering more of Makena. Alternatively, head to the north end of Big Beach, and look for a path through the red rocks.
This leads you to the famous Little Beach, the wild neighbor of Big Beach.
Can You Snorkel At Big Beach?
Big Beach is one of the few Makena beaches without good snorkeling.
The sandy bottom and heavy waves ruin the snorkeling most days, and even on calm mornings there isn’t much to see.
Don’t bother with the snorkel gear at Big Beach, when you can find an exceptional reef minutes away at Makena Landing Park
Can You Swim At Big Beach?
The powerful shorebreak at Makena Beach makes it a difficult place to swim. Some days, the waves are so big even experienced swimmers should stay out of the water.
At other times, the waves are a little gentler, and casual swimmers and older children can enjoy the surf as long as they’re careful.
Young kids and non-swimmers should stay out, even when the water seems calm. If you aren’t sure about the waves, then stay out. It’s better to be safe than sorry on Makena.
Can You Boogie Board At Big Beach?
Experienced bodyboarders like to try their hand with the powerful swells of Big Beach, but they have to be aware of the shorebreak.
And those without experience shouldn’t risk a board, particularly on choppy days.
It is worth watching the waves, however, because experienced boogie boarders do make the most of the wild conditions.
Watching a boogie boarder nail a wave can be a thrill on its own.
Sometimes surfers do have a go at Big Beach, because the swells can get large. But a shorebreak is hard to deal with on a surfboard, so it’s not as popular as bodyboarding.
Facilities At Big Beach
Big Beach is one of Maui’s most popular beaches, and one reason for this is the facilities.
As attractive as some of Maui’s hidden gems may be, the advantages of having a restroom nearby can’t be overlooked.
There are restrooms and trash cans near the entrance, although there are no showers. Big Beach does have lifeguards on hand, with several stations along the beach.
Big Beach also has a couple of Maui’s best food trucks in the parking lot. This is where you can find Jawz food truck, known for producing perhaps the best fish tacos on Maui, sold at a good price.
Grab yourself some fish tacos, and enjoy on the sands of Big Beach, or one of the nearby picnic benches.
Do You Have To Pay To Visit Big Beach?
Big Beach is in Makena State Park, and there is a fee to visit. Entrance fees are typically $5 per person, with a $10 vehicle fee, but these prices are subject to change.
The fees cover all of Makena State Park, so you can visit the rest of the beaches and try the walking trails while you’re in the area.
Big Beach is technically open from 5am to 7pm, although the gates are only open from 7am.
Anything Else To Know?
Part of the reason Big Beach has a large lifeguard presence is the deceptively dangerous shorebreak. A shorebreak is when powerful waves break on to the shore.
Without a depth of water to cushion the blow, a shorebreak can cause serious physical injury if it crashes a swimmer to the ground.
They can also take you by surprise, knocking beach goers over before they realize what’s happening.
If you do enter the water at Big Beach, never turn your back on the wave. Stay alert to your surroundings, and leave if you don’t feel comfortable.
Many locals have horror stories about those who don’t pay attention on Big Beach.
Beautiful But Dangerous
Big Beach is scattered with warnings about the dangerous shorebreak, but don’t let this put you off a visit.
The scenery is incredible thanks to the wild landscape of Makena State Park, and there’s plenty of sand to stretch out on. If you do risk the sea, stay alert, and never turn your back on the waves.
Makena Beach is well worth the trip, and the entrance fee, and careful visitors can have an amazing time enjoying the view.