East Maui Beaches

Hana area: Waianapanapa (Black Sand) Beach

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Inside one of the most popular State Parks which allows beachside camping, Waianapanapa Beach is spectacularly scenic, but can be dangerous if not respected. The beach itself is a small pocket of black sand. The ocean here is rough with a large rebreak and an ocean bottom that drops off quickly to overhead depths. This is a wonderful place to camp or rent a cabin (although the waiting list for these can be a year long), and the beach itself offers breathtaking scenery and stark beauty. Bring your camera, but leave your beach gear in the car for a trip south.

Hana Beach

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While this spot definitely offers some of the safest swimming on Maui’s eastside, it is also one of the less spectacular beaches in the Hana area. This cove is protected from the heavy eastern surf and it offers some decent snorkeling as long as you stay close to shore and avoid the strong outer currents. The beach itself is long and wide, but the hardpacked and dark brown sand is not as inviting as the multi- colored sands of nearby beaches. Hana Beach is popular with residents, but it lacks the romantic beauty easily found elsewhere throughout Hana.

Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach

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Kaihalulu beach is among the most visually stunning beach in the islands, and therefore the world. Formed when a volcanic cinder cone blew out its seawall, this rare red sand beach retains the appearance of violent creation, yet green trees amidst the rocks attest to the passage of time. Now, Kaihalulu is one of the most relaxing places in Maui. The difficulties in finding and reaching this beach keeps the population down and allows for a more private experience. The red sand is coarse, but just fine for laying out on a beach towel or mat. A jagged offshore rock wall about twenty feet out provides the cove with some protection from the turbulent sea that surrounds the beach. The small swimming area that is created is perfect for casual swimming and snorkeling.

Hamoa Beach

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It would be a loss for anyone who loves the beach to go to Hana without making a trip to Hamoa. This beach caters to those who prize idyllic beauty over tourist beaches with their long stretches of populated white sand. James Michener, a connoisseur of beaches, called it "a beach so perfectly formed that I wonder at its comparative obscurity." Although still relatively "obscure", high profile figures such as Hillary Clinton have come to Hamoa in recent years to enjoy this beautiful beach. Although affiliated with the Hana Hotel, the beach and most of its amenities are open to the public. The beach itself is a crescent of black and gold sand backed by a grass area, palm trees, and cliffs. The sand continues into the crystalline blue-green waters until overhead depths make the offshore rocks a moot point. The surf here is often quite high and can be perfect for a day of riding the undulating current but, as always, be very cautious and aware of dangerous conditions. Surrounded by black volcanic rock and in the midst of tropical splendor, Hamoa is a must for visitors and residents alike.