Napili Bay at sunset

The 5 Best Beaches in West Maui

The island of Maui is home to some of the most incredible beaches in the world, ranging from calm bays and coves to stretches of impressive waves ideal for surfing. The west side of the island is one of the more popular areas to visit, with its several beach options attracting tourists all year long. So what is the best beach in west Maui?

As someone who has grown up going to Maui since the age of two, I have to say it’s hard to name just one beach as the very best. And since the term ‘best’ really is subjective, I’ve broken down the five top-rated beaches in west Maui based on category and activities.

The below beaches are all within a 30-minute drive of each other. If you’re staying on the west side of the island, be sure to check all of them out and find out which you deem as the best beach in west Maui.

1. Best Beach Overall: Ka’anapali Beach

Best Beach in West Maui: Ka'anapali Beach

Ka’anapali Beach has ranked repeatedly as one of the best beaches in the world. It was just named by Trip Advisor as the number one beach in the U.S. for 2023. Its three-mile stretch of white sand and warm waters makes it an inviting beach for families, snorkelers, and those looking to bathe under the sun all day. Plus, this area is great for whale watching (from December to April) via boat tours or the comfort of your lounge chair.

Getting There

Ka’anapali Beach is located in the town of Ka’anapali, which is one of the most popular areas for hotels and shopping. Because of this, you should be able to find ample parking near Whaler’s Village or your hotel area.

What to Bring

This is the kind of beach you can plan to be at all day. Bring your towel, chair, and a great book to get lost in. Because this beach is right next to Whaler’s Village, bring a decent coverup in case you want to walk around the storefronts or restaurants after your day in the sun.

2. Best Beach for Snorkeling: Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay with snorkelers

From its clear and calm waters to its vibrant reefs below, Kapalua Bay is my favorite beach in west Maui for many reasons, including snorkeling and paddle boarding. You can guarantee to see varieties of colorful fish in this bay, and if you’re lucky you might even encounter some of the turtles that come and relax on the shore.

Getting There

Kapalua Bay sits right in front of the Montage hotel, so if you’re staying there you won’t need to worry about parking. If not, there are multiple parking lots near the bay you can utilize, including one behind Merriman’s restaurant.

What to Bring

Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear and paddle board for your time here. If you don’t have any, you can rent some at the lifeguard station right above the beach.

3. Best Beach for Snorkeling and Surfing: Honolua Bay

Best Beach in West Maui: Honolua Bay
Honolua Bay with snorkelers

Honolua Bay is one of the larger bays on the west side that attracts both surfers and snorkelers. One side of the bay is closer to rocky coves making it great for snorkeling, while the other side is better for surfing. The bay can be accessed through a path in the forest and offers more of an authentic tropical setting.

Getting There

Honolua Bay is about a 15-minute drive north of Kapalua. Parking can be found along the Honoapiilani Highway, and you’ll enter the beach through forest path access.

What to Bring

Bring your own snorkel gear and surfboard since you won’t find anywhere nearby to rent from. Also, be sure to bring sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking through the forest and rocks.

4. Best Beach for Surfing: Oneloa Beach

Best Beach in West Maui: Oneloa Beach

Whether you’re looking to catch a wave or watch local surfers in their element, Oneloa Beach is West Maui’s best beach for this. Although it’s a smaller beach compared to others on the island, the waves get big enough to make it one of the best beaches in west Maui for surfers.

Getting There

Oneloa Beach is located in Kapalua and right below the Coastal Trail. You can find parking in the lot right above the beach, or there is another one nearby the Ritz Carlton hotel.

What to bring

Make sure to bring your surfboard if you’re planning on catching some waves. You’ll want to bring your camera as well to capture surfers in action and the beautiful scenery all along the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

5. Best Beach for Swimming: Napili Bay

Best Beach in West Maui: Napili Bay

Another beautiful bay located right in between Kapalua and Ka’anapali is Napili Bay. With the water calm throughout the seasons, this bay stretches far enough to make it a great location for swimming and getting your vitamin sea fix.

Getting There

At both ends of the bay you’ll find two popular restaurants, The Sea House and the Gazebo. Both of these parking lots offer parking for beach access. There are also several lots in between.

What to Bring

Bring your swim goggles or snorkel mask for cruising around the water. Flotation devices, beach toys, and chairs are definitely appropriate here as well.

Wrap-up: Best Beaches in West Maui

Out of these five beaches I guarantee you’ll find one that will take the prize as the best beach in west Maui. As all of them have so much to offer, be sure to explore as much as you can. And remember that the Hawaiian sun is very strong, so don’t forget your sunscreen!

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