Similar to nearby Ukumehame Beach Park, Papalaua is not renowned as one of Maui’s many serene swimmer’s beaches, but intermediate surfers, boogie boarders, and stand-up paddleboarders flock in droves. It’s also earned the nickname Thousand Peaks, similar to its neighbor, for the near constant break and plethora of opportunities for the not-yet-seasoned surfer to catch a wave.
If you arrive on a calm day in the early morning or mid-afternoon, there’s a chance you’ll be able to snorkel out over the shallow rock into the coral garden that those from Ukumehame are able to access as well. Even though environmental stressors and heavy traffic have much diminished the garden from its former prolific glory, the sights are still in the upper echelon of those on Maui, and the chances of seeing a sea turtle are quite high.
It’s a bit more popular than nearby beaches because camping is formally permitted every day of the week except for Wednesday and Thursday night. Those who wish to wake up with the waves will need to download and print out a form and mail it to the county before you arrive. Fees are quite reasonable, ranging from $3 to $8 per person. There are few amenities like picnic tables and barbecues, but the restroom is notoriously poorly taken care of, and there are no showers on-site. And though there’s hardly anything better than being lulled to sleep by the crashing of the waves, you will have to endure the near constant hum of cars as they make their way down the immediately adjacent Honoapiilani Highway.