Mai Poina Oe’la’u (dreamily translating to "forget me not" in native Hawaiian) is generally not as crowded as its nearby counterparts, and easy access makes it perfect for an afternoon picnic, an early morning jog, or whale watching in the winter months. The narrow, soft sandy beach is quintessentially south Maui and does not disappoint. Plus, the warm waters of Kihei are, year after year, chosen by humpback whales as ideal sites for calving, nursing, and mating. If you visit between November and March, there’s a good chance you’ll get a glimpse of these majestic behemoths.
While there are a few parking spots available by the pavilion, they generally fill up fast. Parking on the road is easy enough if you’re unable to snag a spot in the lot. Typically the Kona wind picks up in the afternoon, so arriving here in the early morning is ideal both for parking and lounging.
Though there is no lifeguard on duty, amenities include a shaded pavilion with clean bathrooms and showers, picnic tables, and barbecues, and a nice, flat grassy area is lovely for spreading a blanket and enjoying the day—there’s plenty of shade.
If you’re a kiteboarder or windsurfer, this beach is tops. Access is incredibly easy, and when the southern wind switches on you’ll find many a colorful sail ripping around the medium swell.
Full disclosure: The beaches just south of Mai Poina Oe’la’u down to Kalama Park + Cove Beach Park you’ll find wholly unideal for swimming. The sunsets are fabulous, the views of Molokini and Lanai are lovely as a backdrop, and the luxuriously soft, sandy beaches are hard to beat. But a discharge ditch runs straight through Kalama Park and can sometimes dump bad water into the ocean. The persistent northern currents then slowly draw this nutrient-rich water north, where it dissipates, prompting algae blooms, a plethora of seaweed, and murky waters. Though Mai Poina Oe’la’u is usually unaffected, it’s definitely something to keep in mind—while the water is not at all dangerous to swimmers, it can sometimes smell funny, and murky conditions make swimming out past the first break unpleasant.