D.T. Fleming is a man with enduring notoriety—enough to have one of Maui’s most popular beaches named after him. He’s known for introducing the pineapple to west Maui, and though his legacy definitively came to an end in 2010 when the last commercial operation on this end of the island ceased, the beach remains unaffected and should still top your list. There’s a reason why it was named Best Beach in America in 2006.
Flanked by Honokahua Bay on one side and Makalua-puna Point on the other, D.T. Fleming Beach Park used to be one with Oneloa Bay Beach until the west Maui volcano, at the end of its long life, spewed lava into the bay, effectively severing the two. The two beaches still share many of the same qualities, and when the surf is in, it’s great for the intermediate surfer or boogie boarder. Likewise, the snorkeling isn’t best unless you arrive on a clear water/calm sea sort of day, but it’s definitely worth bringing your gear along. Lifeguards will post surf and wave conditions daily and are always on hand to answer questions.
Because this beach is so popular with the locals, visiting on weekdays is best. Amenities are plentiful—lifeguards, picnic tables, barbecues, showers, and restrooms—though they aren’t quite as well taken care of as many of the other ritzier beaches on west Maui. That simply adds to the charm of this bustling beach. Plus, parking is plentiful, a rare treat on a beach-outing day.
There are two lovely trails with access points at the park: the 1.76-mile Kapalua Coastal Trail gently meanders 1.5 miles along the coast to Kapalua Beach. Both ends of the stroll are paved, with a dirt path and boardwalks in between and stunning sunset views overlooking the ocean and Moloka’i.
The Mahana Ridge Trail is a different beast, posing a daunting 20-mile round trip walk along a mountain ridge all the way up to the Maunalei Arboretum. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll find yourself with spectacular views of Mokupe‘a and Honokahua Gulches and the rugged landscape on which coffee and pineapple were grown and cultivated during the Honolua Ranch era.