Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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Kapalua Bay Beach, situated on the northwestern edge of Maui, is widely regarded as one of the best places for timid and beginner surfers, and naturally it is one of the most popular choices for tourists. Protected, calm water laps against a spongy sandy beach as palm trees lazily sway overhead and do their best to mask the surprisingly ugly condos in the background. There’s a well-manicured lawn that abuts the beach and that is great for picnicking and entertaining little ones.

Further adding to the allure of this spot are the amenities: There’s a lifeguard on duty during the daytime, as well as restrooms, showers, changing rooms, and a relatively good amount of parking. Still, arrive early if you’d like to ensure yourself a spot, especially during the heightened tourist months, and stay within the bay—once you travel out past the calm, protected water, hazardous currents and bigger swells can seemingly come out of nowhere.

While snorkeling isn’t the best here—the sandy bottom doesn’t do much to attract fish, and it can tend to be a bit murky—Namalu Bay is excellent. Situated just 100 yards north of Kapalua, Namalu, also known as Cliffhouse, is built of rocky shores and full of boulders. There’s no defined path, so some easy scrambling to get down into the bay is necessary. Once you find yourself in the water, you’ll get a chance to glimpse orangespine unicorn fish, convict tang, aʽama crab, Hawaiian green sea turtles, octopus, eels, and even the occasional manta ray.

Cliff jumping at Namalu Bay is quite popular as well. Though not very high, the rocks are quite safe, dropping into a calm, deep pool that is flanked by a ladder for climbing back out.

Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass

Not Required


Snorkeling. Sandy beach. Adjacent lodging and dining.


Very crowded and very limited public parking.


Tide pools
Tide pools



A very popular place and it's easy to see why. This particular sunset was quite dynamic with periodic rainfall.
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