There are few destinations on the planet that can boast such a kaleidoscope of beaches and coastal spots than the Hawaiian archipelago. There are also probably few destinations in America which are home to as many of the best beaches in the world as the island state. At the very heart of the region, nestled neatly in the Pacific Ocean swells between Honolulu and the Big Island, curiously-shaped Maui is one of the undisputed, quintessential destinations for beach tourists visiting Hawaii. Boasting a range of chart-topping sand stretches, a host of hidden gems and a number of specialized inlets for snorkeling and shore swimming, it’s something of a great microcosm of the state as a whole, where visitors can get a taste of the authentic Hawaiian beach experience without having to branch out further afield. Here are five of its best.
Napili Beach is a real local favorite and long-time hidden gem of the Maui beach line up. Nestled in the depths of the bay of the same name on the far north-western tip of the island, it is home to just a smattering of laid-back accommodations, and comes without any of the built-up big business vibe of many other beaches in the region. What’s more, with its sandy shoreline, gentle swell and great visibility right across the bay from any spot on the sand, Napili Beach has also proved popular with family visitors with children.
Long regarded as one of the best snorkeling and shore swimming spots in the whole world, the calm little inlet of Kapalua Bay offers up a kaleidoscope of marine life like no other. The rainbow of natural wonders waiting to be discovered under the water is made possible by the protecting corals and coves that stick out into the Pacific on both the north and south of the sand, which also makes for some seriously calm waters compared to most other open beachfronts this side of Maui.
Kaanapali Beach is a bubbling treasure trove of points of interest that’s perfect for those after a glimpse of the classier side of Maui. Today it’s still lined with the stylish condos and luxury resorts that first brought it to the attention of the world, while it boasts no less than three miles of pearly white beachfront for the budding comber or sunbather. But, tourism aside, Kaanapali is also known as the onetime retreat of the Hawaiian Kings and today guests can still spot the silhouette of locals making the ritualistic jump from Pu'u Keka'a Rock in the north, where ancient Hawaiians believed was the jumping off points for spirits into the afterworld.
Gentle surf swells, a wide beachfront and a prime location on the inner west coast of Maui means just one thing: Turtles. Snorkelers and swimmers come from far and wide to explore the calm waters of Maluaka Beach, where reputedly one of the largest populations of Hawaii’s iconic green sea turtle can be spotted just short distances from the shore. But, whether you come here for the majestic shelled creatures or not, there’s a wealth of other wildlife to discover in the bay, along with one of Maui’s most beautiful stretches of wide yellow sand.
Another one time winner of the much-coveted "Best Beach in America" title, the DT Fleming Beach Park juts out into the Pacific Ocean on the far north tip of western Maui. Here, sharp volcanic mountains crown the horizon, while some heavier swells make for a number of legendary surf breaks and boogie boarding opportunities. On site, visitors enjoy parking, picnic facilities, public restrooms, outdoor showers and a number of barbecue grills, making DT Fleming one of the more popular spots this side of the island.