If you’re looking for a beach in Makena then Big Beach Maui might be the place for you. Makena Beach is the official name of this nearly one-mile stretch of lovely sand that is called Big Beach Maui by most locals. It is located on the southwest coast a few miles south of Makena State Park and the popular Wailea hotels and resorts. It is separated from nearby Little Beach by the lava that flowed from the volcano Puu Olai during a 1790 earthquake. You can reach Little Beach via a short path, but be aware it is popular with nude sunbathers.
Big Beach Maui
Makena Beach is considered one of the best beaches on the island, and it is quite popular. Fortunately, most people stay in Wailea and stick close to the nearest beach, or it would be more crowded. For the smallest crowds, go on a weekday. Try to avoid major events, such as Maui weddings and holidays.
This beach in Makena is known for its gently sloping shoreline and large shore break. Thus, body boarding and body surfing are popular. That means there is not a lot of regular Maui surfing here. That sport occurs primarily on the east coast, especially around Paia. As with all beaches in the islands, pay attention to the Makena Beach signs advising of currents, tides, and swells.
Big Beach Maui has plenty of convenient parking, portable toilets, and picnic tables. There are also hiking trails that follow the dramatic cliffs along the coastline. You’ll find shade trees, but put on footwear and be aware of where you are walking, as the trees have sharp thorns. Some of the hiking trails lead to Ahihi Kinau Natural Preserve to the south. This rigorously protected area is the only one of its kind in Hawaii. There is no fishing allowed, and it is one of the best Maui snorkeling spots with numerous tide pools. It is also a great whale watching location, since the humpbacks come quite close to shore here. When to go for this natural spectacle is from November through April.
Just to the south of this beach in Makena is sheltered La Perouse Bay, named for the French explorer who was the first European to set foot on the island. While the history of the Hawaiian islands often cites Captain James Cook as the European discoverer of the Sandwich Isles, as they were called, other Europeans arrived first.
Also near Makena Beach is the famous Makena Golf Club. Designed by the son of legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, the 36-hole course provides some of the best Maui golf available and perhaps some of the best golf in the country. Other attractions nearby include Keawalai Church, built from lava rock in 1855 and overlooking the ocean. This lovely little Congregational Church is a popular venue for Maui weddings. You’ll find numerous roadside stands that offer good local beach food. For more elegant dining, stop in at the Prince Hotel, which offers a wonderful traditional Maui luau on several evenings during the week, or eat at one of the Wailea hotels. Up on the slopes of Haleakala above Big Beach Maui is the Ulupalakua Ranch, a vast cattle ranch that is also home to the famed Tedeschi Winery.