Visitors to South Maui will often head to Wailea and Makena when looking for a patch of sand to stretch out on. And while these beaches are undeniably attractive, they do tend to come with the crowds.
For a quieter experience, locals prefer to head to Kihei.
The best beaches in Kihei combine wonderful scenery with an aloha atmosphere and some relative quiet. North Kihei beaches are best for some alone time, while South Kihei beaches welcome families and facilities.
Read this guide to learn about the best beaches in Kihei.
Does Kihei Have Good Beaches?
Kihei might not have the world renowned reputation of nearby Wailea, but there are still some decent beaches.
Families and those looking for a different Maui experience should definitely consider a visit. Especially as you have a chance to avoid the crowds of the bigger beach parks.
Kihei in South Maui is known for getting some of the best weather on the island, with fewer rain showers and calmer winds. North Kihei beaches get the worst of the wind, and the breeze can pick up quite early on.
What Are The Beaches Like In Kihei?
North and South Kihei have an impressively diverse range of beaches for a relatively small stretch of coast.
There are waves ideal for surfers, calm shallow swimming waters, and even the chance to spot humpback whales.
What Are The Best Beaches For Snorkeling In Kihei?
Kamaole Beach Park and Keawakapu Beach are both good snorkeling destinations in South Kihei. Charley Young Beach can also offer good snorkeling. In North Kihei, head to Sugar Beach if you want to snorkel, but stay aware of the currents.
The beaches of Kihei tend to be marked by boundaries of rocky outcrops, particularly Kamaole. Head into the waters around here for your best chance to spot corals and fishes.
Kamaole is a good beginners spot, and a fun place to introduce any keiki to snorkeling.
What Are The Best Beaches In Kihei?
The variety of beaches in Kihei makes it difficult to pick the best, but most would agree that Keawakapu is hard to beat. There’s a reason it’s known for sunset selfies—the scenery is spectacular.
For families looking for fun, Kamaole Beach Park offers everything from snorkeling to picnic tables. And with so many facilities nearby, it’s incredibly convenient. In North Kihei, try Sugar Beach for romantic strolls.
Kihei is one long stretch of coast, so there’s plenty to discover. If you’re staying in the area, look out for roads and paths that can lead you to some hidden gems.
North Kihei Beaches
North Kihei is home to some impressive beaches that tend to get overlooked by vacationers.
Here, you can find beloved local beaches without the Wailea hotels or the South Kihei crowds.
Head out early in the day, as the winds can hit North Kihei early on.
Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Beach Park
Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u is something of a hidden gem, found at the heart of North Kihei. The long and sandy beach tends to be relatively quiet, despite its obvious beauty. If you stumble across it, it’s easy to wonder why the crowds aren’t descending here the way they do on Kam I.
When the wind picks up, you’ll probably understand a little better, but don’t let that put you off. Swimming isn’t allowed, but because Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Beach attracts some wild offshore breaks, there are plenty of surfers and windsurfers.
Honeymooners should enjoy strolling hand in hand, as the wind dances . Keep a close eye on the sea for the opportunity to spot a whale breaching the water.
As a quieter beach, facilities aren’t fantastic, and there isn’t much food around. Pack yourself a picnic and head over for a mid-morning brunch.
Although a popular spot, the spacious Mai Poina never feels crowded. Not a beach for swimming or snorkeling, non-surfers can enjoy romantic walks and watching others wipe out.
Sugar Beach (Kealia Beach)
The longest beach on Maui, Sugar Beach, otherwise known as Kealia Beach, is one of the main North Kihei draws.
Known for its spectacular canoeing and kayaking opportunities, Sugar Beach is a good place for a stroll along the shore. Long and narrow, Sugar Beach rarely feels busy.
Waipuilani Beach Park
Visit at the right moment, and Waipuilani Beach can feel like your own private stretch of sand.
The narrow beach is good for families looking to let their children explore, with calm waves that allow for decent swimming. Come in the evening to watch a spectacular sunset with minimal crowds.
Kalepolepo Beach Park
Bordering North and South Kihei, Kalepolepo is a favorite local beach. Part of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, lucky beach goers have the chance to spot humpback whales passing through.
Kalepolepo isn’t quite a local secret, but its quiet sands are popular among those looking to escape the crowds. It lacks some of the sand and sea quality of the more popular beaches, but the peace and calm found in Kalepolepo makes up for any shortcomings.
Despite being relatively small, Kalepolepo has a rich history. Once home to a thriving Hawaiian village, it’s now a site of historical importance.
Take a look at the nearby fishpond, which is a remnant of pre-contact Hawaiian culture. Barbecues and shallow waters make Kalepolepo a hit with families.
It’s one of the most accessible historical sites to visit on Maui, and a great opportunity to learn about this fascinating island.
South Kihei Beaches
South Kihei attracts fewer winds and more visitors, so expect some impressive beaches with big crowds. South Kihei is just to the north of Wailea, home to some of Hawaii’s best beaches, and the Makena State Park. Fairly residential, locals like to make the most of South Kihei’s coastline.
Kamaole Beach Park
Better known as Kam I, Kam II, and Kam III, Kamaole Beach Park is perhaps Kihei’s biggest draw. Head to Kam I and II for swimming and snorkeling, and to Kam III for boogie boarding and barbecues.
Each separate beach has a totally different personality, so the best way to experience Kama’ole is to spend time at all three.
The beaches are right in the middle of Kihei, and are super easy to find. Not only are there plenty of sign posts, but large crowds will often show you where to go.
Facilities are fantastic at Kamaole, and you can expect to find lifeguards keeping watch. Each beach has a distinctly different atmosphere, and easy parking allows you to explore all three.
It is possible to walk all the way from Kam I to Kam III, although at times you may have to negotiate some rocks. Other than that, it’s a pleasant way to pass a lazy day, and an opportunity to discover the unique features of each area.
Kam I is the biggest of the three beaches, and the beach that attracts the most crowds. As soon as your toes touch the soft sands, you’ll understand why.
The golden crescent beach unfurls over a long length, with a white sand center indicating the best place to swim.
Head to the rocks for snorkeling, where the clear waters reveal turtles. With lifeguards, ample parking, and plenty of amenities, families can feel comfortable relaxing on Kam I.
The little sibling of Kam I, Kam II has many of the same features as Kam I on a smaller scale. Snorkeling is good at the rockier ends of the beach, and you can swim most of the way along.
The facilities are slightly more limited, but it’s a nice place for a stroll.
Kam III is the rebel of the family, a small beach that manages to attract an incredible crowd. Expect to see plenty of locals making the most of the grassy area.
The actual beach is fairly short, but swells make the sea good for bodyboarders.
The real attraction is the large grass park, which is a popular hang out spot. Facilities are ample, so it’s a good place for picnics and people watching.
Charley Young Beach
Located at the very north of Kamaole Beach Park, Charley Young is an often quieter cousin to Kam I. Shallow and gentle waters are good for swimming, and you might spot a sea turtle if you try your hand at snorkeling.
With many of the same facilities as Kamaole, Charley Young offers the tourist beach experience from a calmer location.
Want to learn to surf on Maui? Cove Park in South Kihei is the best place for it.
The little beach is considered to be an amazing place to learn how to surf, which is what it’s used for most. There are plenty of instructors around ready to get you on a longboard, and not many non-surfers hanging about to watch.
Slightly further down is another cove, where the swimming is better.
At Cove Park, you start to see how the water changes quality at Kihei. North of here, water tends to be murkier, and not ideal for snorkeling most days. South of Cove Park, the seas become much clearer.
Tucked away at the end of South Kihei, Keawakapu is a delight. Cushion soft sand greets your feet every step along the stretched coastline, with few rocks disturbing a gentle stroll. Shallow waters are great for children, but there are places for snorkeling to be found at the southern end.
Photography fans have to make a stop at Keawakapu. The dramatic rocks and white sands are wonderful backdrops for family photos.
If you haven’t taken that perfect holiday snap just yet, Keawakapu at sunset should have you sorted. Stick around into the evening if there’s a bright moon, and explore the tide pools as they come alive.
There are facilities at Keawakapu, but not a lifeguard. Enjoy a picnic, or simply soak up the sun. Developments nearby don’t intrude on the beach, which feels wonderfully isolated. Keawakapu means “forbidden harbor”, but there’s really no reason to stay away from this lovely spot.
Big Beach (Makena or Oneloa Beach)
Visitors to Kihei should take the trip down to Big Beach. This beach is so gorgeous it’s often used when advertising Maui, because it really is one of the most stunning beaches the island has to offer.
Big Beach, as you’d expect, is a big beach. Stretching a mile long and 100 feet wide, silky soft sand tumbles down towards emerald water. Lava formations shelter the beach, and snorkelers and swimmers will find much to keep them busy.
Big Beach isn’t just the best beach near Kihei, it’s one of the best beaches on Maui. With golden sands and water tinged green and blue, Big Beach is ideal for those looking to experience something distinctly Maui.