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Makena Beach, Maui

Location Makena, Maui
Sea Temperature (C) Spring / Summer / Fall / Winter 23 / 26 / 23 / 22
Makena Beach, Maui

Makena Beach, Maui

Makena Beach, Maui


Two beaches make up Makena State Park, Big Beach and Little Beach. The beaches are separated by a lava headland – a short path crosses this, making it fairly easy to walk from one to the other. Immediately behind the beaches lies Pu'u Ola'i (translated Earthquake Hill), made by the last known volcanic activity in Maui (back in 1790). Eyewitnesses reported that fountains of glowing red and orange lava gushed into the sky, falling back to earth to form the 360 foot cone. The cinder hill, the lush kiawe trees and soft white sand dunes combine to give the beaches a dramatic backdrop, so, not surprisingly, Makena’s the favorite Maui beach for many.

Big Beach lives up to its name, being about ¾ of a mile long, and in places over a 100 yards wide. There’s plenty of room for everyone, and it rarely gets crowded. Little Beach is a third of the size of Big Beach, but further from the parking lot, so likewise it never feels busy. (Little Beach also has a reputation for being popular with nudists - this may also help keep numbers down!) On Big Beach the surf can be heavy, breaking close to the shore, and it’s wise to be very careful when venturing in for a swim. If you’re a keen bodyboarder, it’s normally worth heading over the headland to Little Beach, which shelves more gently into the sea, giving more even and consistent surf.

On calm days, enthusiastic snorkellers can swim from one beach to the other, around the rocky lava point. Also recommended is a snorkeling trip by boat to nearby Molokini island (you can see the rim-shaped island from both Little and Big Beach) – snorkeling tours to Molokini are advertised in lots of places – make sure you book early on in your vacation to ensure you get a place.

Why in 100 Best?

Big Beach is the largest undeveloped stretch of beach on Maui, and retains a wild beauty.

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Makena Beach, Maui


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