Although Makena is only a 10-minute drive from the mega-resorts of nearby Wailea, it retains a rural charm. Big Beach, located within Makena Beach State Park, is one of the few undeveloped stretches of Maui coastline, while nearby Little Beach serves as the island’s clothing-optional hangout.
Head to the waters of Keone’o’io off the coast of Makena for excellent snorkeling and the chance to spot spinner dolphins, or join a kayaking tour on Makena Bay where you’ll see green sea turtles swimming through a protected volcanic cove beneath the shadow of the West Maui Mountains. Most kayaking excursions include time for snorkeling as well.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Makena makes an excellent base for adventure travelers and those who prefer a more rural setting.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a change of clothes on snorkeling and kayaking tours.
Consider bringing a waterproof camera to document your Makena adventures.
Nudity is prohibited within the state park, even though Little Beach is frequently used for this purpose.
Be careful when swimming at Big Beach, as the current can be deceptively strong.
How to Get There
Makena is located off the Piilani Highway, south of Lahaina. The easiest way to get there is to drive; there’s almost always plenty of free parking.
When to Get There
There isn’t really a bad time to visit Makena, as the weather tends to be sunny throughout the year. Head out early if you plan to snorkel in popular spots like Turtle Town, and spend the hotter afternoon hours cooling off at an area beach.
Maui’s Only Black Sand Beach
Though Big Beach gets the lion’s share of attention in Makena, the area is also home to Maui’s only black sand beach, Oneuli Beach. An offshore reef and lava rocks create an ideal habitat for fish, sea turtles, eels, and even the occasional shark, so don’t forget to bring snorkeling gear.