Big Beach – Oneloa, Makena
Located in South Maui, only minutes from Wailea and Kihei, Big Beach Makena is our #1 pick for the best beach in Maui, Hawaii.
See Makena Beach Map
Though there are no showers, port-a-potties are at both the 1st and 2nd entrance as well as picnic tables, trash bins, and nearby food trucks.
This is one of those beaches you dream of. The sand runs into the ocean making swimming easier and the ocean more turquoise.
With very little development nearby, the lack of runoff keeps the water clear and clean.
Good Crowd Absorption
Being a massive beach far from resorts, Big Beach handles a crowd well.
Lifeguards on Duty
There are multiple towers across this long beach.
Aside from Sunday evenings, the parking lots are usually able to accommodate. The 1st and 2nd entrances have plenty of spots.
Skim & Bodyboard
The shore break conditions are some of the best in the world for advanced skimboarding and bodyboarding.
The ocean is deceptively powerful here. People break their necks every year!
Like many beaches, Keawe Trees line the entrance. Wear shoes/slippahs when near the trees.
There’s often a line of clouds running over a portion of the beach. This cloud comes and goes, so be patient.
The diving isn’t great here due to very little fish life and reef. It’s mostly sand-bottom.
NEW! Also see: Maui Bike Tours Comparison
Big Beach Information
Makena is the furthest South portion of Maui, past Wailea and Kihei. This area is largely covered in volcanic rock fields formed from the last eruption on Maui in 1790 (debated as having happened more likely between 1450 and the 1600s.) The lava fields stretch over Cape Kinau at Keoneoio to a cinder cone high above on the Southwest slopes of Haleakala. You’ll find that Makena is vast and undeveloped relative to its neighbor of Wailea. Some of the few developments in Makena are the Maui Prince Hotel and the Makena Golf Courses.
The most famous beaches on Maui can be found in Makena. Makena Beach, Oneloa (Big Beach), is one of the longest beaches on Maui. It has over 3,000 feet of perfect white sand. Big Beach’s north end is bordered by Puʻu Olaʻi, a large dome-like cinder cone. On the other side of this Puʻu Olaʻi is Little Beach. Little Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches. It requires a scramble over a rock path that takes you over a wall of volcanic rock. Once you’re on the other side, you’ll find many nude sunbathers. Though it is against the law, Little Beach manages to be overlooked due to its remote location being difficult to access by the majority.
Small villages of the Ancient Hawaiian people can still be seen along the coast of Makena. These villages were populated by fishermen and by those living Upcountry, which would relocate to Makena when it was cooler in the winter months.
In 1786 Francois de Galaup, captain of La Perouse, was the first person that was not of Polynesian descent to set foot on Maui. This area is now known as La Perouse Bay. La Perouse Bay is used primarily as a snorkeling destination where spinner dolphins often congregate. When a rare large South swell wraps in, La Perouse Bay has some of the heaviest left-hander waves on the island. Extremely dangerous to surf due to exposed dry reef, La Perouse still manages to have a bit of a crowd during good swells.
Makena is right next door to Wailea, the up-scale resort town in south Maui. Next time you’re staying in Maui and thinking about buying something, check out Wailea real estate for sale. Now is a great time to buy, considering the economy.
Directions to Big Beach, Makena
From Lahaina – 1 – 1.2 hours
Drive south on the Honoapiilani Hwy (ocean on the right). Pass Maalaea Harbor, and take a right at North Kihei Rd. Turn right on the Piilani Hwy. Then follow the directions below.
From Kihei – 15-20 minutes
Drive south on the Piilani Hwy (ocean on the right). Road turns right into Wailea Ike Drive to continue down the hill. Turn Left on Wailea Alanui Dr. Drive past the Makena Beach Golf Resort. Turn right into one of the entrances with a sign saying “Makena Beach (Big Beach.)” Park and take your valuables with you.
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