Beaches - Fodor's Maui (2016)

Fodor's Maui (2016)


Main Table of Contents

The Scene

West Maui

The South Shore

The North Shore

Road to Hana

The Scene

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Updated by Heidi Pool

Of all the beaches on the Hawaiian Islands, Maui’s are some of the most diverse. You can find the pristine, palm-lined shores you’ve always dreamed of, with clear and inviting waters the color of green sea glass, and you can also discover rich black-sand beaches, craggy cliffs with surging whitecaps, and year-round sunsets that quiet the soul. As on the other islands, all of Maui’s beaches are public—but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find a secluded cove where you can truly get away from the world.

The island’s leeward shores (West Maui and the South Shore) have the calmest, sunniest beaches. Hit the beach early, when the aquamarine waters are calm as bathwater. In summer, afternoon winds can be a sandblasting force and can chase away even the most dedicated sunbathers. From November through May, these beaches are also great spots to watch the humpback whales that spend winter and early spring in Maui’s waters.

Windward shores (the North Shore and East Maui) are for the more adventurous. Beaches face the open ocean rather than other islands, and tend to be rockier and more prone to powerful swells. This is particularly true in winter, when the North Shore becomes a playground for big-wave riders and windsurfers. Don’t let this keep you away, however; some of the island’s best beaches are those slivers of volcanic sand found on the windward shore.

In terms of beach gear, Maui is the land of plenty when it comes to stores stocked full of body boards and beach mats. Look for Longs Drugs (in Kihei, Kahului, Lahaina, Pukalani, and Wailuku) or the ABC Stores (in Kaanapali, Lahaina, Kihei, and elsewhere) for sunscreen, shades, towels, umbrellas, and more. If you want better deals and don’t mind the drive into town, look for Kmart, Target, or Walmart in Kahului. For more extensive gear, check out Sports Authority in Kahului. Equipment rentals are available at shops and resorts, too.

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West Maui

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Lahaina | Kaanapali and Nearby | Kapalua and Kahakuloa

The beaches in West Maui are legendary for their glittering aquamarine waters backed by long stretches of golden sand. Reef fronts much of the western shore, making the underwater panorama something to behold. A few tips: parking can be challenging in resort areas; look for the blue “Shoreline Access” signs to find limited parking and a public path to the beach; and watch out for kiawethorns when you park off-road, because they can puncture tires—and feet.

There are a dozen roadside beaches to choose from on Route 30, of which we like these best.

Maui Beaches: West, South and North Shores

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Launiupoko Beach Park.
This is the beach park of all beach parks: both a surf break and a beach, it offers a little something for everyone with its inviting stretch of lawn, soft white sand, and gentle waves. The shoreline reef creates a protected wading pool, perfect for small children. Outside the reef, beginner surfers will find good longboard rides. From the long sliver of beach (good for walking), you can enjoy superb views of neighbor islands, and, landside, of deep valleys cutting through the West Maui Mountains. Because of its endless sunshine and serenity—not to mention such amenities as picnic tables and grills—Launiupoko draws a crowd on the weekends, but there’s space for everyone (and overflow parking across the street). Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; walking. | Rte. 30, mile marker 18 | Lahaina .

More an offshore snorkel and stand-up paddling spot than a beach, Olowalu is also a great place to watch for turtles and whales in season. The beach is literally a pullover from the road, which can make for some unwelcome noise if you’re looking for quiet. The entrance can be rocky (reef shoes help), but if you’ve got your snorkel gear it’s a 200-yard swim to an extensive and diverse reef. Shoreline visibility can vary depending on the swell and time of day; late morning is best. Except for during a south swell, the waters are usually calm. A half mile north of mile marker 14 you can find the rocky surf break, also called Olowalu. Snorkeling here is along pathways that wind among coral heads. Note: this is a local hangout and can be unfriendly at times. Amenities: none. Best for: snorkeling; stand-up paddling. | Rte. 30, mile marker 14, south of Olowalu General Store | Olowalu .

Puamana Beach Park.
This is both a friendly beach park and a surf spot for mellow, longboard rides. With a narrow, sandy beach and a grassy area with plenty of shade, it offers mostly calm swimming conditions and a good view of neighboring Lanai. Smaller than Launiupoko, this beach park tends to attract locals looking to surf and barbecue; it has picnic tables and grills. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming. | Rte. 30, ¼ mile south of Lahaina | Lahaina .

Ukumehame Beach Park.
This popular park is also known as Thousand Peaks, because there’s barely a break between each wave. Beginner to intermediate surfers say it’s a good spot to longboard or body board. It’s easy entry into the water, and you don’t have to paddle out far. The beach itself leaves something to be desired, because it’s more dead grass than sand, but there is some shade, mostly from thorny kiawe trees; footwear is a good idea. Portable toilets are available, along with picnic tables and grills. Amenities: parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: surfing. | Rte. 30, near mile marker 12 | Olowalu .


Kaanapali Beach.
If you’re looking for quiet and seclusion, this is not the beach for you. But if you want lots of action, spread out your towel here. Stretching from the northernmost end of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa to the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa at its southern tip, Kaanapali Beach is lined with resorts, condominiums, restaurants, and shops. The center section in front of Whalers Village, also called “Dig Me Beach,” is one of Maui’s best people-watching spots: windsurfers, stand-up paddleboarders, and folks in catamarans head out from here, while others take in the scenery. A cement pathway weaves along the length of this 3-mile-long beach, leading from one astounding resort to the next.

The drop-off from Kaanapali’s soft, sugary sand is steep, but waves hit the shore with barely a rippling slap. The northern section, known as Kekaa, was, in ancient Hawaii, a lele, or jumping-off place for spirits. It’s easy to get into the water from the beach to enjoy the prime snorkeling among the lava-rock outcroppings. TIP Strong rip currents are often present near Kekaa; always snorkel with a companion.

Throughout the resort, blue “Shoreline Access” signs point the way to a few free-parking stalls and public rights-of-way to the beach. Kaanapali Resort public beach parking can be found between the Hyatt and the Marriott, between the Marriott and the Kaanapali Alii, next to Whalers Village, and at the Sheraton. You can park for a fee at most of the large hotels and at Whalers Village. The merchants in the shopping village will validate your parking ticket if you make a purchase. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming; walking. | Honoapiilani Hwy., follow any of 3 Kaanapali exits | Kaanapali .

Fodor’s Choice | Napili Beach.
Surrounded by sleepy condos, this round bay is a turtle-filled pool lined with a sparkling white crescent of sand. Sunbathers love this beach, which is also a terrific sunset spot. The shore break is steep but gentle, so it’s great for body boarding and body surfing. It’s easy to keep an eye on kids here as the entire bay is visible from everywhere. The beach is right outside the Napili Kai Beach Resort, a popular little resort for honeymooners, only a few miles south of Kapalua. Amenities: showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming. | 5900 Lower Honoapiilani Hwy., look for Napili Pl. or Hui Dr. | Napili .


D.T. Fleming Beach.
Because the current can be quite strong, this charming, mile-long sandy cove is better for sunbathing than for swimming or water sports. Still, it’s one of the island’s most popular beaches. It’s a perfect spot to watch the spectacular Maui sunsets, and there are picnic tables and grills. Part of the beach runs along the front of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua—a good place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the view. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; walking. | Rte. 30, 1 mile north of Kapalua | Kapalua .

Fodor’s Choice | Kapalua Bay Beach.
Over the years Kapalua has been recognized as one of the world’s best beaches, and for good reason: it fronts a pristine bay that is good for snorkeling, swimming, and general lazing. Just north of Napili Bay, this lovely, sheltered shore often remains calm late into the afternoon, although currents may be strong offshore. Snorkeling is easy here, and there are lots of colorful reef fish. This popular area is bordered by the Kapalua Resort, so don’t expect to have the beach to yourself. Walk through the tunnel from the parking lot at the end of Kapalua Place to get here. Amenities:parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming. | Rte. 30, turn onto Kapalua Pl. | Kapalua .

“Slaughterhouse” (Mokuleia) Beach.
The island’s northernmost beach is part of the Honolua-Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District. “Slaughterhouse” is the surfers’ nickname for what is officially Mokuleia. Weather permitting, this is a great place for body surfing and sunbathing. Concrete steps and a green railing help you get down the cliff to the sand. The next bay over, Honolua, has no beach but offers one of the best surf breaks in Hawaii. Competitions are often held there; telltale signs are cars pulled off the road and parked in the old pineapple field. Amenities: none. Best for: sunset; surfing. | Rte. 30, mile marker 32 | Kapalua .

Beach Safety on Maui

Hawaii’s beautiful beaches can be dangerous at times due to large waves and strong currents. The state rates wave hazards using three signs: a yellow square (caution), a red stop sign (high hazard), and a black diamond (extreme hazard). Signs are posted and updated three times daily or as conditions change.

Generally, North Shore beaches (including Slaughterhouse and D.T. Fleming on the west side of the island) can be rough in the winter and not good for swimming or beginner-level water sports. On the south side, Kona storms (which usually occur in winter) can cause strong rip currents and powerful shore breaks.

Swim only when there’s a normal caution rating, never swim alone, and don’t dive into unknown water or shallow breaking waves. If you’re unable to swim out of a rip current, tread water and wave your arms in the air to signal for help.

Even in calm conditions, there are other dangerous things in the water to be aware of, including razor-sharp coral, jellyfish, eels, and the occasional shark. Jellyfish cause the most ocean injuries, and signs are posted along beaches when they’re present. Box jellyfish swarm to Hawaii’s leeward shores 9-10 days after a full moon. Portuguese man-of-wars are usually found when winds blow from the ocean onto land. Reactions to a sting are usually mild (burning sensation, redness); however, in some cases they can be severe (breathing difficulties). If you are stung, pick off the tentacles, rinse the affected area with water, and apply ice. Seek first aid from a lifeguard if you experience severe reactions.

According to state sources, the chances of getting bitten by a shark in Hawaiian waters are low. To reduce your shark-attack risk:

✵ Swim, surf, or dive with others at beaches patrolled by lifeguards.

✵ Avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, and night.

✵ Don’t enter the water if you have open wounds or are bleeding.

✵ Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, areas near stream mouths, channels, or steep drop-offs.

✵ Don’t wear high-contrast swimwear or shiny jewelry.

✵ If you spot a shark, leave the water quickly and calmly.

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The South Shore

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Kihei | Wailea

Sandy beach fronts nearly the entire southern coastline of Maui. The farther south, the better the beaches get. Kihei has excellent beach parks in town, with white sand, plenty of amenities, and paved parking lots. Good snorkeling can be found along the beaches’ rocky borders. As good as Kihei is, Wailea is better. The beaches are cleaner, and the views more impressive. You can take a mile-long walk on a shore path from Ulua to near Polo Beach. Look for blue “Shoreline Access” signs for parking along the main thoroughfare, Wailea Alanui Drive. TIP Break-ins have been reported at many parking lots, so don’t leave valuables in the car. As you head to Makena, the terrain gets wilder; bring lunch, water, and sunscreen.

Sun Safety on Maui

Hawaii’s weather—seemingly never-ending warm, sunny days with gentle trade winds—can be enjoyed year-round with good sun sense. Because of Hawaii’s subtropical location, the length of daylight here changes little throughout the year. The sun is particularly strong, with a daily UV average of 14.

The Hawaii Dermatological Society recommends these sun safety tips:

✵ Plan your beach, golf, hiking, and other outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon, avoiding the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.

✵ Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Hawaii lifeguards use sunscreens with an SPF of 30. Cover areas that are most prone to burning like your nose, shoulders, tops of feet, and ears. And don’t forget your lips.

✵ Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan to be outdoors, and reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days.

✵ Wear light, protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve shirt and pants, broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.

✵ Stay in the shade whenever possible—especially on the beach—by using an umbrella.

✵ Children need extra protection from the sun. Apply sunscreen frequently and liberally on children and minimize their time in the sun. Sunscreen is not recommended for children under the age of six months.


Charley Young Beach.
This secluded 3-acre park sits off the main drag in a residential area. The sand is soft and smooth, with a gentle slope into the ocean. A cloister of lava rocks shelters the beach from heavy afternoon winds, creating a mellow spot in which to laze around. The usually gentle waves make for good swimming and you can find interesting snorkeling along the rocks on the north end. From South Kihei Road, turn onto Kaiau Street, just north of Kamaole I. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming. | Kaiau St. | Kihei .

Cove Beach Park.
Go to the Cove if you want to learn to surf or stand-up paddle. All the surf schools are here in the morning, pushing longboard beginners onto the bunny-slope waves. For spectators there’s a grassy area with some shade—and a tiny blink of a beach. If you aren’t here to learn to surf, don’t bother. The water is sketchy at best and plenty of other beaches are better. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: stand-up paddling; surfing. | S. Kihei Rd., turn onto Ili Ili Rd. | Kihei .

Kalama Park.
Stocked with grills and picnic pavilions, this 36-acre beach park with plenty of shade is great for families and sports lovers. With its extensive lawns and sports fields, the park welcomes volleyball, baseball, and tennis players, and even has a playground, skateboard park, and a roller hockey rink. The beach itself is all but nonexistent, but swimming is fair—though you must brave the rocky steps down to the water. If you aren’t completely comfortable with this entrance, stick to the burgers and bocce ball. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: partiers. | S. Kihei Rd., across from Kihei Kalama Village | Kihei .

Kalepolepo Beach Park.
This tiny beach is the site of the ancient Kalepolepo Village, the prized property of King Kamehameha III in the 1850s. Here the makaainana (commoners) farmed, fished, and raised taro. Today, community stewards work to restore the ancient pond. The park has lots of shady trees and stays pretty quiet; however, the beach is only a sprinkling of sand, and swimming in the often-murky waters isn’t recommended. Kaleopolepo is just south of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. A portable toilet is available, and there are picnic tables and grills. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: solitude. | 726 S. Kihei Rd. | Kihei .

Kamaole I, II, and III.
Three steps from South Kihei Road are three golden stretches of sand separated by outcroppings of dark, jagged lava rocks. You can walk the length of all three beaches if you’re willing to get your feet wet. The northernmost of the trio, Kamaole I (across from the ABC Store—important to know if you forget your sunscreen) offers perfect swimming and an active volleyball court. There’s also a great lawn, where you can spread out at the south end of the beach. Kamaole II is nearly identical except for the lawn, but there is no parking lot. The last beach, the one with all the people on it, is Kamaole III, perfect for throwing a disk or throwing down a blanket. This is a great family beach, complete with a playground, barbecue grills, kite flying, and, frequently, rented inflatable castles—a must at birthday parties for cool kids.

Locally—and quite disrespectfully, according to native Hawaiians—known as “Kam” I, II, and III, all three beaches have great swimming and lifeguards. In the morning the water can be as still as a lap pool. Kamaole III offers terrific breaks for beginning body surfers. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking. | S. Kihei Rd. between Alii Ke Alanui and Hale Kamaole Condominums | Kihei .

Keawakapu Beach.
Everyone loves Keawakapu, with its long stretch of golden sand, near-perfect swimming, and views of Puu Olai cinder cone. It’s great fun to walk or jog this beach south into Wailea, as it’s lined with over-the-top residences. It’s best here in the morning—the winds pick up in the afternoon (beware of sandstorms). Keawakapu has three entrances: one is at the Mana Kai Maui resort (look for the blue “Shoreline Access” sign); the second is directly across from the parking lot on Kilohana Street (the entrance is unmarked); and the third is at the dead end of Kihei Road. Toilets are portable. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking. | S. Kihei Rd. near Kilohana St. | Kihei .

Waipuilani Park.
Fronting the Maui Sunset Resort, Waipuilani Park is a spectacular place to sunbathe, relax, or picnic on golf course-grade grass. You can swim here, but water can be murky. A small beach hides behind the dunes, although it’s usually speckled with seaweed and shells. This park often hosts local activities, such as volleyball and croquet, and it attracts many dog lovers. There are tennis courts, too. Although the park can be crowded, it’s still a perfect place to watch the sunset. Amenities: parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: partiers; sunset. | W. Waipuilani Rd. off South Kihei Rd.| Kihei .


Fodor’s Choice | Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach).
Locals successfully fought to turn Makena—one of Hawaii’s most breathtaking beaches—into a state park. This stretch of deep golden sand abutting sparkling aquamarine water is 3,000 feet long and 100 feet wide. It’s often mistakenly referred to as Big Beach, but natives prefer its Hawaiian name, Oneloa. Makena is never crowded, no matter how many cars cram into the lots. The water is fine for swimming, but use caution. TIP The shore drop-off is steep, and swells can get deceptively big. Despite the infamous “Makena cloud,” a blanket that rolls in during the early afternoon and obscures the sun, it seldom rains here. For a dramatic view of the beach, climb Puu Olai, the steep cinder cone near the first entrance you pass if you’re driving south. Continue over the cinder cone’s side to discover “Little Beach”—clothing-optional by popular practice, although this is technically illegal. On Sunday, free spirits of all kinds crowd Little Beach’s tiny shoreline for a drumming circle and bonfire. Little Beach has the island’s best body surfing (no pun intended). Skim boarders catch air at Makena’s third entrance, which is a little tricky to find (it’s just a dirt path with street parking). Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking. | Off Wailea Alanui Dr. | Makena | .

Mokapu and Ulua.
Look for a little road and public parking lot near the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa if you are heading to Mokapu and Ulua beaches. Although there are no lifeguards, families love this place. Reef formations create tons of tide pools for kids to explore, and the beaches are protected from major swells. Snorkeling is excellent at Ulua, the beach to the left of the entrance. Mokapu, to the right, tends to be less crowded. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming. | Wailea Alanui Dr., north of Wailea Marriott | Wailea .

Polo Beach.
Small and secluded, this crescent fronts the Fairmont Kea Lani. Swimming and snorkeling are great here, and it’s a good place to whale watch. As at Wailea Beach, private umbrellas and chaise lounges occupy the choicest real estate, but there’s plenty of room for you and your towel. There’s a nice grass picnic area, although it’s a considerable distance from the beach. The pathway connecting the two beaches is a great spot to jog or to take in awesome views of nearby Molokini and Kahoolawe. Rare native plants grow along the ocean, or makai, side of the path—the honey-sweet-smelling one is naio, or false sandalwood. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming. | Kaukahi St., south of Fairmont Kea Lani entrance | Wailea .

Wailea Beach.
A road near the Grand Wailea Resort takes you to Wailea Beach, a wide, sandy stretch with snorkeling and swimming. If you’re not a guest at the Grand Wailea or Four Seasons, the cluster of private umbrellas and chaise longues can be a little annoying, but the calm, unclouded waters and soft, white sand more than make up for this. From the parking lot, walk to the right to get to the main beach; to the left is another, smaller section that fronts the Four Seasons. There are picnic tables and grills away from the beach. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for:snorkeling; swimming. | Wailea Alanui Dr., south of Grand Wailea Resort entrance | Wailea .

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The North Shore

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Paia and Kahului

Many of the people you see jaywalking in Paia sold everything they owned to come to Maui and live a beach bum’s life. Beach culture abounds on the North Shore. But these folks aren’t sunbathers; they’re big-wave riders, windsurfers, or kiteboarders, and the North Shore is their challenging sports arena. Beaches here face the open ocean and tend to be rougher and windier than beaches elsewhere on Maui—but don’t let that scare you off. On calm days the reef-speckled waters are truly beautiful and offer a quieter and less commercial beachgoing experience than the leeward shore. Be sure to leave your car in a paved parking area so that it doesn’t get stuck in soft sand.


Baldwin Beach.
A local favorite, this big stretch of comfortable golden sand is a good place to stretch out, jog, or swim, although the waves can sometimes be choppy and the undertow strong. Don’t be alarmed by those big brown blobs floating beneath the surface; they’re just pieces of seaweed awash in the surf. You can find shade along the beach beneath the ironwood trees, or in the large pavilion, regularly used for local parties and community events. There are picnic tables and grills as well.

The long, shallow pool at the Kahului end of the beach is known as Baby Beach. Separated from the surf by a flat reef wall, this is where ocean-loving families bring their kids (and sometimes puppies) to practice a few laps. Take a relaxing stroll along the water’s edge from one end of Baldwin Beach to Baby Beach and enjoy the scenery. The view of the West Maui Mountains is hauntingly beautiful. Amenities: lifeguard; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming; walking. | Hana Hwy., 1 mile west of Baldwin Ave. | Paia .

Fodor’s Choice | Hookipa Beach.
To see some of the world’s finest windsurfers, hit this beach along the Hana Highway. It’s also one of Maui’s hottest surfing spots, with waves that can reach 20 feet. Hookipa is not a good swimming beach, nor the place to learn windsurfing, but it’s great for hanging out and watching the pros. There are picnic tables and grills. Bust out your telephoto lens at the cliffside lookout to capture the aerial acrobatics of board sailors and kiteboarders. Amenities: lifeguard; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; windsurfing. | Rte. 36, 2 miles east of Paia | Paia .

Kanaha Beach.
Windsurfers, kiteboarders, joggers, and picnicking families like this long, golden strip of sand bordered by a wide grassy area with lots of shade. The winds pick up in the early afternoon, making for the best kiteboarding and windsurfing conditions—if you know what you’re doing, that is. The best spot for watching kiteboarders is at the far left end of the beach. Amenities: lifeguard; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: kiteboarding; walking; windsurfing. | Amala Pl. | Kahului | From Kaahumanu Ave., turn makai onto Hobron St., then right onto Amala Pl. Drive just over a mile through an industrial area and take any of 3 entrances into Kanaha .

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Road to Hana

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Hana and East Maui

East Maui’s and Hana’s beaches will literally stop you in your tracks—they’re that beautiful. Black sand stands out against pewter skies and lush tropical foliage, creating picture-perfect scenes that seem too breathtaking to be real. Rough conditions often preclude swimming, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the shoreline.

Maui Beaches: East Shore and Hana

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Hamoa Beach.
Why did James Michener describe this stretch of salt-and-pepper sand as the most “South Pacific” beach he’d come across, even though it’s in the North Pacific? Maybe it was the perfect half-moon shape, speckled with the shade of palm trees. Perhaps he was intrigued by the jutting black coastline, often outlined by rain showers out at sea, or the pervasive lack of hurry he felt here. Whatever it was, many still feel the lure. The beach can be crowded, yet it is nonetheless relaxing. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for swimming. At times the churning surf might intimidate swimmers, but the body surfing can be great. Hamoa is half a mile past Koki Beach on Haneoo Loop Road, 2 miles south of Hana town. Amenities: toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming. | Haneoo Loop Rd. | Hana .

Koki Beach.
You can tell from the trucks parked alongside the road that this is a favorite local surf spot. TIP Watch conditions before swimming or body surfing, as rip currents can be mean. Look for awesome views of the rugged coastline and a sea arch on the left end. Iwa, or white-throated frigate birds, dart like pterodactyls over the offshore Alau Islet. Amenities: none. Best for:surfing. | Haneoo Loop Rd., 2 miles south of Hana town | Hana .

Fodor’s Choice | Waianapanapa State Park.
This black volcanic-pebble beach fringed with green beach vines and palms will remain in your memory long after your visit. Swimming here is both relaxing and invigorating. Strong currents bump smooth stones up against your ankles, while seabirds flit above a black, jagged sea arch, and fingers of white foam rush onto the beach. There are picnic tables and grills. At the edge of the parking lot, a sign tells you the sad story of a doomed Hawaiian princess. Stairs lead through a tunnel of interlocking Polynesian hau (a native tree) branches to an icy cave pool—the secret hiding place of the ancient princess (you can swim in this pool, but beware of mosquitoes). In the other direction a dramatic 3-mile coastal path continues past sea arches, blowholes, cultural sites, and even a ramshackle fishermen’s shelter, all the way to Hana town. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming; walking. | Hana Hwy., near mile marker 32 | Hana | 808/984-8109 | .