If you only have one beach day to spend in Kihei, do it at Keawakapu Beach. While the Kama’ole trio of beaches are probably better bets for waves, the deep, white sand, the solid amenities and the typically mellow waves here are hard to beat. Couple that with the fact that the only resorts on the beach are confined to the north end, and we’re sold.
The best signage and easiest directions lead to the north end of the beach. Here, parking is relatively scant at the intersection of South Kihei and Kilohana. Once you walk down to the beach, turn south (left) and meander to its end — this side is surprisingly underused and abuts some of the nicest homes on the island (some are even purported to be worth over $10 million). Thankfully, all of the development has kept a tasteful distance from the shoreline, and the beach feels nice and undeveloped.
Alternatively, you can park at the Mana Kai Resort or at the end of Kihei Road to immediately access the quieter southern end.
You’ll find sandy bottom and minimal rocks all along the 0.7-mile stretch of beach that’s bookended by South Kihei and Mokapu, and you'll almost always see intrepid swimmers swimming laps along its length. Snorkeling is best on either end of the beach, and the northern end is sprinkled with tide pools that are teeming with wildlife. This beach is great for entertaining young children for a number of reasons, and the tide pools are definitively one — keep an eye out for miniature life-like fireworms (nonpoisonous despite their ominous name), periwinkle snails, an array of sea urchin, brittle stars and a number of species of shrimp.
Keawakapu translates from the native language as “forbidden cove” — a nod to the impressive storms that can ravage this beach. After a particularly violent series of storms, Mother Nature can strip this beach of just about all of its sand, leaving exposed lava rock beneath. Then, slowly but surely, she’ll politely return it over the following few months.