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Makena Beach, Maui, Hawaii

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If you make it to Maui to visit the beaches, you cannot miss visiting Makena Beach. This wonderful, playful beach is such a joy to experience. The sand is tan and the shoreline is slightly steep as it makes its way into the Pacific ocean, which here, isn’t pacific at all. The waves, that have been crashing into this southwest side of the island for millenia, are almost constant and spectacular in themselves. Driftwood can be found along the treeline, the result of wave action that seems to collect even nature itself.

The break is close to shore on Mekena. This is perfect for body boarding or skim boarding, but not so good for surfing. Swimming can be a little challenge as well, but if you find a spot that is downright tolerable, take a look out onto Molokini; the half crater directly offshore that is the very best snorkeling haven in these parts. Further out you’ll see the island of Kahoolawe. Say what? Yes – Kahoolawe – seven miles out – but because this former volcano rises up about the surface, it simply adds to the picture frame of a classic day at Makena.

Tanning at Makena Beach, MauiKahoolawe has no permanent residents and is only used for Hawaiian spiritual and cultural events. It was used by the US Military as live bombing training up until 1990. Controversy, similar to that we reported on Vieques, Puerto Rico, ensued here and finally ended with a withdrawal. No one lives here mainly because there is no fresh water.

Makena is also the southwest side of Maui, the area including the beach and inland. So if you say the Makena side of Maui, people know you’re talking about the side facing Molokini. The main road takes you right to the beach. Be looking for it. Plenty of parking and limited facilities, but a wide beach with much to sit and see. Take in the young people cutting it up in the surf, or try it yourself. Remember that continuing surf can wear you out quickly. Locals know this beach for broken arms, necks and shoulder bones – whoa! Watch out.

As with any of the popular beaches anywhere on the planet please be cautious when parking distant from the place you’re going to hang out. If you can’t keep an eye on your car, know that it is a potential prey for those up to no good. In other words, if you can’t see your car, beware of potential thieves as they can be pretty sly.

And a word about tanning here in Hawaii: the clouds run parallel to the beach and you can be blessed with a whole day of sun peeking out from the clouds or a day of cloudy skies – or even a day with total sunshine. Maui is cool in that if you get rain or shade on one beach all day, simply pack up the rental car and run to another beach. There is always a good beach to go to in Maui. However, use sunscreen no matter what the cloud cover. UV rays don’t respect clouds.

Skim boarding at Makena Beach in Maui HawaiiMakena Beach on Maui is also known as Big Beach. There is a Little Makena as well – same shape; a crescent with steep drop into the ocean. There isn’t near the wave action as on the Big beach. You can walk from one to the other but know that to walk this whole beach will take you the better part of an hour. It is long and wide and beautiful.

Finally, Makena can get crowded on weekends. Locals simply enjoy this beach and it’s the favorite of many returning tourists.

Makena Beach, Maui – Beach Index:

    • Beautiful, family beach, but surf can get big!
    • Three Best Beaches Recommended Beach
    • Facilities – limited
    • Sports – bring your own: skim boards and body boards. No snorkeling.
    • Great beach to people-watch!
    • More gentle beach adjacent – Little Makena
    • Best hotel in the area: Makena Beach & Golf Resort
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Steve Harbor February 24, 2009, 1:46 pm

    yeah.. i agree Hawaii is the best place to be on planet.. it has the beaches.. the people and the culture.. i live in Hawaii and i know its great to be here.


  • Mauiwowie March 1, 2009, 3:42 pm

    Maui is beautiful, no doubt. But the best beaches in the world? No way. Check out Byron Bay, Australia for miles and miles of soft, white sand beaches, awesome weather, waves and views… Blows Maui out of the water, mate.

  • Dave Jackson March 1, 2009, 8:12 pm

    You’re in luck, John. We cover Byron Bay sometime tomorrow. Thanks for the nice comment.

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