Kahekili Beach Park is located on the west coast of Maui, just north of Lahaina. If you are coming from Lahaina, take the Kai Ala Drive turnoff at mile marker 25 just after you pass the Kaanapali Golf Courses. It is not the best swimming beach because of hidden rocks in the surf and strong currents, but snorkeling at Kahekili Beach is some of the best on the island. There is also scuba at Kahekili Beach that is suitable for different skill levels because a good windbreak protects it from the afternoon winds.
Named after the last king of Maui and Oahu who fought against King Kamehameha I before the Hawaiian islands were united in 1794, Kahekili Beach is also known as North Beach, since it is just north of Lahaina. It is also known as Airport Beach, as this is the location of the old Kaanapali Airport. While Kahekili Beach is less commercially developed and built up than Kaanapali Beach, there is some hotel construction here, and there are numerous condominiums and vacation rentals. Because it is less developed, you will find fewer people than to the south where the many Kaanapali hotels and popular resorts line the beach area.
Scuba and snorkeling at Kahekili Beach are best from the center of the beach to the northern end. Start at the Westin Hotel where a coral reef begins just a few feet into the water and work your way north. The southern end of Kahekili Beach Park is best for swimming. Start at about the Westin Hotel and work your way south to Black Rock, the huge lava rock that separates it from Kaanapali Beach. This section of Kahekili Beach has a gradual slope, making for better swimming than other areas. Kahekili Beach Park has excellent public facilities including a large parking lot, restrooms and showers, covered picnic tables and a covered pavilion, and lifeguards. The beach has a wide expanse of sugar-fine sand, and there are shaded areas as well.
It is snorkeling at Kahekili Beach that is so very appealing. It is one of the best and most accessible Maui snorkeling spots on the island. You might find better snorkeling at Ahihi Kinau down on the far southwest coast, but that area is quite isolated and less accessible. Kahekili Beach is where you want to snorkel if you are looking for a place convenient to the Kaanapali and Lahaina hotels, and that doesn't require a full day expedition with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Unique underwater sightings have been made here, including octopus, rare and endangered hawksbill sea turtles, trigger fish, parrot fish, moray eels, and manta rays. One of the things that make for great Maui snorkeling is a variety of water depth, and snorkeling at Kahekili Beach certainly provides this. Additionally, the lava rocks and coral mean less sand to be stirred up and obscure your underwater views. Single-person diving scooters are allowed, and this is also a good night snorkeling beach, though a permit is required, if you are experienced and with a buddy.
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