Swim in Paradise: 7 Best Beaches in Maui for a Perfect Swim

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As the second-largest Hawaiian island, Maui is a wonder to behold. With sandy shores and stunning blue water, it’s a real beach-lovers dream.

If you’re looking for the best swimming spots, you won’t be disappointed. All of Maui’s beaches offer something different.

All of the beaches mentioned in this article offer a wonderful swimming experience but we’ve also categorized them too so you can see which one is best suited to you.

1. Best Family Beach – Kapalua Beach

If you’re traveling as a family, you’ll need a beach with a gentle slope and Kapalua Beach is perfect.

Kapalua Beach in Maui
Kapalua Beach

This golden, sandy crescent is the ideal spot for family swims.

With the sand gently sloping towards the shore, young children can experience the water safely. With long outcrops at both sides of the bay, the waters are calm too.

Besides swimming, families can enjoy:

  • playing in the sand
  • snorkeling
  • looking for turtles
  • and other beach activities

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can hire paddleboards or take a hike up the Kapalua Coastal Trail to D.T. Fleming beach.


The whole trail is around 1.75 miles between the two beaches, and it also calls at the secluded white-sand Oneloa Beach (also known as Ironwoods Beach) and Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point).

Walking to the Dragon’s Mouth, a rocky outcrop that is aptly named due to its resemblance to a dragon, will add on an extra half a mile.

2. Best large beach – Big Beach, Makena State Park

For a quiet, undeveloped large beach, head to Big Beach in Makena State Park.

The longest, widest, and largest undeveloped beach on the island.

Makena State Park in Maui is perfect for swimming
Makena State Park

It is around 0.75 miles long and contains no buildings on or nearby. It’s at the south of Maui, past Kihei and Wailea.

Despite being undeveloped, you’ll still have access to a lifeguard station, pit toilets and a food truck that pulls up in the parking lot.

Swimming here, as you can imagine, is a tranquil experience. It won’t feel overcrowded or busy. The water is turquoise and often calm.

If you’re interested in exploring a little further, you can climb up the lava promontory that extends into the water.


If you cross over the hill at the north end of Big Beach, you’ll come across Little Beach, which is actually a nude beach, unofficially.

3. Best for Snorkeling – Maluaka Beach

If you want to combine swimming with snorkeling, there is no better place than Maluaka Beach.

Maluaka Beach in Maui is perfect for swimming
Maluaka Beach

This beach is in South Maui near to the Maui Prince Hotel on Makena Road.

You can snorkel the whole length of the beach, but for those who enjoy deeper divers, the south end is better.

Do be sure to avoid swimming and snorkeling when the sea isn’t calm.

Like many of Maui’s beaches, there are strong currents and rip tides, and Maluaka Beach doesn’t have a lifeguard full-time.


If you’re with children, the shallows provide an ideal introduction to swimming and snorkeling.

If you’re more experienced, you might fancy heading to what’s known as “Turtle Town.” This coral reef is located 100 yds from the shore, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot honu, or green sea turtles as they’re otherwise called.

4. Best for all-round beach fun – Ka’anapali Beach

Let’s face it, you can enjoy a good swim pretty much anywhere, but if you want to enjoy other beach activities, head to Ka’anapali Beach.

Ka’anapali Beach in Maui
Ka’anapali Beach

This is often hailed as America’s best beach, and it boasts white, soft sand and clear water.

It’s so beautiful that it used to be a retreat for the Monarchy of Hawaii, and it’s still considered a luxurious destination to this day.

Located in West Maui, Ka’anapali Beach offers loads of beach activities, including:

  • swimming
  • snorkeling
  • parasailing
  • paddleboarding
  • sunbathing
  • body boarding
  • and taking a stroll along the beach walk

It’s also backed by condos and resorts for around a mile, making it a recreational hotspot.


Ka’anapali Beach is also home to wonderful seafront restaurants and beach bars, as well as shops, a mall, and a playground.

Be wary, though, there is no lifeguard here.

5. Best for a party vibe – Wailea Beach

Fancy mixing swimming with partying?

Wailea beach in Maui is perfect for swimming
Wailea beach

Wailea Beach offers just that. Though Maui’s beach vibe isn’t as exaggerated as mainland Hawaii, you will be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer here.

The whole beach area is active all day and evening. You’ll find kayaks, walkers, sun worshipers, swimmers, snorkelers, paddleboarders, and more.


You’ll also find clean restrooms, outdoor showers, and free parking. What more could you want?

6. Best for beautiful black sand – Pa’iloa Beach

Pa’iloa is a small but stunning black-sand beach.

Pa’iloa Beach in Maui is perfect for swimming
Pa’iloa Beach

Its name means ‘always splashing,’ and this is because its waters are challenging, even if you’re a strong swimmer.

The shoreline drops off quickly and there is a strong undertow.

This beach isn’t well-known but it’s worth exploring. If it looks a little familiar, that’s because some of the scenes of the TV show Lost were filmed here.


Though it isn’t the best for swimming due to the waters and shallow reef lines, it will certainly be a swimming experience like no other.

7. Best for shelter – Honolua Bay

If you want a sheltered swim, Honolua Bay is idea. It’s a great place for swimming and snorkeling alike.

Honolua Bay in Maui
Honolua Bay

Getting to the beach also feels fun – you can take one of two flat trails through lush forests to get there, it feels like a real adventure.

You’ll also find it uncrowded and unspoiled.

If you don’t mind not having restaurants, bars, or even restrooms, you’ll feel at home here along with the fish, turtles, and coral.

Final thoughts

Swimming in Maui is an unforgettable experience no matter which beach you head to. Whether you prefer white sand, black sand, hustle and bustle, or tranquil parts, Maui can offer it.


For more tranquil swims, Honolua Bay or Big Beach will be good. If it’s activities and adventure you seek, Wailea Beach, Ka’anapali Beach, and Maluaka Beach will be right up your street. If you’re going to Maui as a family, you must go to Kapalua!

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