Honolua Bay (Maui, Hawaii)


Located on the north-western tip of the island of Maui, Honolua Bay is a one of the most beautiful ocean locations to be found anywhere in Hawaii. The bay itself is a part of the 45 acre Honolua-Mokule'ia Marine Conservation District and as such all corals and marine creatures inside it are federally protected. Honolua Bay has two distinct seasons, winter and summer. Winter time brings in the huge swells making it a fantastic surfing spot while in the summer time there are fewer waves and the bay is an excellent location for snorkeling and scuba diving. Regardless of what season it is, Honolua Bay is a place that is worth seeing.

Honolua Bay, Quick Facts

Name: Honolua Bay
Size: 45 Acre marine preserve.
Schedule: N/A
Sand Type: Rocks.
Bottom Type: Reef.
Lifeguard: No.
Honolua Bay is best for: Bodyboarding, photography/admiring the natural beauty, snorkeling, surfing.
Facilities: None.
Hazards: Buried rocks, dangerous shorebreak, high winds, large waves, sharp reef, strong currents, unstable cliffs.
Parking: Dirt, street parking.
Access: Dirt path.
How difficult is it to get to Honolua Bay: Moderate.

Honolua Bay is so beautiful that it is worth the drive out there just to see it, regardless of whether you choose to get into the water or not.

Honolua Bay is so beautiful that it is worth the drive out there just to see it, regardless of whether you choose to get into the water or not.

If you do choose to get into the water you should use caution. The surf that comes in here can be very large and powerful and it is not uncommon for surfers to hit the reef so hard that they are knocked out and drown. Only the most advanced surfers should even consider paddling out here. However, when there are no waves at Honolua Bay the snorkeling is great!

Snorkeling and Diving at Honolua Bay

During the summer months Honolua Bay is truly one of the very best snorkel locations on Maui. The ocean conditions during the summer are usually calm and the visibility underwater is commonly 75 to 100 feet. Huge and colorful coral heads abound and the protected status of this underwater marine sanctuary provides a spectacular venue for viewing fish and other marine life. In fact, it is likely that you may find some fish and small sea creatures at Honolua that you've never seen before. The bay itself has wide expanse of shallow areas which makes it perfect for snorkeling. If you prefer diving pretty much the whole bay is accessable with the deepest portion being an excellent wall dive that is only a bit more then fifty feet. Entry to the bay for snorkeling is best from the craggy rock-lined beach at the mouth of the bay (the other option is to go out where the surfers do from the side of the bay).

When the waves are breaking at Honolua Bay it is one of the most amazing places on Maui to see some amazingly talented surfers on some truly world class waves. The fact that the bay is positioned so the large winter swells peel down the right side of the bay while being held up by the off shore tradewinds is a near perfect combination. However, it is not always like this. Good surfing at Honolua generally only occurs during the winter months.

Surfing at Honolua Bay (Jake Barefoot in photo)

Honolua Bay is commonly the location for surfing contests. The contests range from casual local events to professional ones where sponsors erect huge tents and top pros fly out from all over the world. Spectating at these events is always fun, the high cliffs surrounding the bay provide an almost perfect amphitheater from which to stare down at the participants. The sight of the world best surfers facing off with some of the most perfectly formed waves in the world is truly amazing and if your lucky enough to be here during a contest you might want to consider driving out to see it.

Aside from the amazing views and ocean activities Honolua Bay does not have a tremendous amount in terms of facilities for its visitors. Parking can be found along the side of the road near the mouth of the bay and up on the bluffs above the surf breaks on the north extremity of the bay. Bathroom facilities consist of a couple port-a-toilets and there are no picnic tables. From the parking spots on the road at the mouth of the bay you will have about a five-minute walk to the shoreline on a dirt access trail. The shoreline is mostly rock with patches of course sand so if you're looking for a place to lay out to sunbathe you should go somewhere else.

How do you get to Honolua Bay?

To get to Honolua Bay you can go two ways. You can hike there through the bottom of the valley and go snorkeling or you can scale down the cliffs and go surfing. Many people also choose to stay at the top of the cliffs by where the surfers walk down to spectate.

Sufer's Parking: As you drive up the northern edge of the valley you will see a dirt road making it's way down the cliff on the left side of the road. Turn here and find a place to park on the edge of the road.

Surfer's Parking

Surfer's Parking

Snorkeler's Parking: For snorkelers it is generally easier to park on the side of the road at the bottom of the valley just past the small bridge and then make your way down the access trail to the coastline. Here you can carefully get into the water from the cobblestone beach that lines the shore.

Honolua Bay Snorkelers Parking Lot


*Snorkeler's parking lot.

Ocean Caution

Please be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be potentially dangerous including Honolua Bay. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering the water and of course, never turn your back on the ocean when you are on the shoreline. It should also be noted that all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguards at this location.




Beaches located in Kapalua

For many people, perhaps the quintessential beach on Maui is Fleming Beach, also known as D.T. Fleming Beach Park. This beach has it all. It spans close to a half-mile along its crescent-shaped coastline and is carpeted with the an incredible white fluffy sand that extends fifty-plus feet from the ocean to the shaded forest line which provides the perfect back-drop to the beach.

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Over the years various organizations, magazines and self appointed experts have taken on the task of determining the best beaches in the world. The criteria used is presumably different in each case but for what it's worth, Kapalua Bay has appeared at the top of this list in many of these surveys, not just once, but for a number of times.

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Makule'ia Bay is the bay immediately to the south of Honolua Bay and is located on the forty-five acre Honolua-Mokule'ia Marine Conservation District.

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Maui Beaches

Baldwin Beach is the largest beach on the North Shore of Maui. It's sands stretch out for about a mile spanning the coastline between Paia and Sprekelsville.

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Charlie Young beach is actually the northern portion of Kamaole Beach Park #1. It was named after the man that owned the house just above the beach for many years.

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For many people, perhaps the quintessential beach on Maui is Fleming Beach, also known as D.T. Fleming Beach Park. This beach has it all. It spans close to a half-mile along its crescent-shaped coastline and is carpeted with the an incredible white fluffy sand that extends fifty-plus feet from the ocean to the shaded forest line which provides the perfect back-drop to the beach.

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Perhaps the most beautiful of all the Hana beaches is the beach at Hamoa. Years ago the high-end Hana Hotel realized this and purchased the land directly behind the beach to be used as a staging area of sorts for their guests to use and often the hotel will bus their guests the two or three miles from the hotel to Hamoa Beach.

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Hana Bay is a fairly protected cove area with a large crescent shaped beach that runs parallel to the frontage road which leads to the Hana Harbor Pier.

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Hanakao'o Beach park is located on the southern extremity of Kaanapali Beach just off the Honoapiilani Highway (Rt. 30) about two miles north of the town of Lahaina.

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Haycraft Beach Park is a very small Maui County park located at the very eastern extremity of the town of Maalaea. Being almost adjacent to Maalaea Harbor you will be able to see the boats coming in and out of the harbor on their daily routine.

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Honokowai Beach Park is undoubtedly the focal point of activity in the town of Honokowai. Anyone driving through the beach community of Honokowai will get their first glimpse of the ocean when they drive by the park on the Lower Honoapiilani Hawaii.

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During the winter months Hookipa is one of the best places to see people riding big waves. In the mornings and evenings it is a very popular place for surfers.

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Of all the beaches on Maui probably the most famous is Kaanapali Beach. This enormous white sand crescent shaped beach is the centerpiece of the Kaanapali Beach Resort which is the home of five of the most popular hotels on Maui as well as six of the largest condominium complexes.

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What could generally be considered the first of the truly beautiful South Maui Beaches as you work your way south from North Kihei is Kamaole Beach Park #1 which is the first of the triad of beaches known as Kamaole Beach Parks #1,#2 and #3.

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Kamaole Beach Park #2 is the middle beach in the triad of beautiful white-sand beaches in central Kihei known as the Kamaole beaches. The characteristics of Kamaole 2 are very similar to those of Kamaole 1.

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Of all three of the beaches that make up the triad of Kamaole Beach Parks in Kihei, Kamaole Beach Park #3 is the one that is the most different. The beach here is beautiful as well as the others but it is much smaller.

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Kanaha Beach is one of the major beaches located on Maui's north-central coastline. Kanaha is actually an enormous series of adjacent beaches that stretch through no less than five separate parking entrances.

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Over the years various organizations, magazines and self appointed experts have taken on the task of determining the best beaches in the world. The criteria used is presumably different in each case but for what it's worth, Kapalua Bay has appeared at the top of this list in many of these surveys, not just once, but for a number of times.

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Keawakapu Beach in Kihei is an enormous beach stretching approximately one mile from tip to tip. It is so large in fact that there are three separate points of entry where you can park and then walk to the beach.

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Launiupoko State Wayside Park has long been a favorite on the west side of the island. It offers visitors a beautiful green grass park setting complete with picnic tables and barbecue stations but it also has a small beach to enter for a short swim and water activities.

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Mai'Poin'a 'oe Ia'u Beach Park is located at the 5 mile marker in North Kihei. The beach stretches perhaps a mile from sands-end at its southern boundary to Sugar Beach whose boundary is the old sugar pier at the beginning of North Kihei.

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Makena Beach is considered by many to be the very best beach on Maui. Makena Beach is the beach furthest to the south of all the main beaches on the island.

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Makule'ia Bay is the bay immediately to the south of Honolua Bay and is located on the forty-five acre Honolua-Mokule'ia Marine Conservation District.

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There are simply so many beautiful beaches in South Maui that it is hard to pick a favorite. Many people choose Maluaka Beach as their favorite however for a number of reasons.

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The Tom Barefoot's Tours Maui Beach Guide has pictures, tips and maps of Maui's best beaches.The variety of the beaches that you can find on Maui is incredible.

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Napili Bay is a beautiful crescent shaped white sand beach that is located in the area of the island called Napili along the coast of West Maui. Napili Bay is very popular, particularly among people who are staying in Napili and are within walking distance of this seaside jewel of a beach.

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Olowalu Beach is located close to the 14 mile marker on the Honoapiilani Highway which is the ocean road that takes you from the central valley to Lahaina and the West Side.

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Pohaku Beach Park is located in Kahana just south and within easy view of the high-rise portion of town. This small beach park is often referred to as S-Turns because of the curve in the road that used to be there years ago before it was straightened.

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Probably due to the fact that Po'olenalena Beach is not located directly in front of, or not particularly close to a major resort hotel it is remarkably unpopulated by beachgoers with the exception of local residents.

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Puamana Beach Park is located immediately south of Lahaina next to the small resort community of the same name. The beach, and the park area behind it, are small and the beach itself consists of rocks rather than sand.

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Sugar Beach is located at the very north end of Kihei where the island takes a sharp ninety-degree turn toward Maalaea Harbor. Sugar Beach is very long, in fact it travels the entire distance between North Kihei and Maalaea and thus makes a fantastic morning walk area for people traveling in either location.

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Ukumehame Beach Park is located near the 12 mile marker along the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30) in West Maui just a couple of miles north of the tunnel which separates the west side from Maalaea Harbor and the central valley.

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Ulua Beach is a charming beach that is located in the heart of Wailea. Access to the beach from outside the resort can be found on the Ulua Beach turnoff from Wailea Alanui Drive just north of the Shops at Wailea.

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Wailea Beach is the jewel of the Wailea Beaches. This is the largest beach in Wailea and a case could easily made that it is the most beautiful. It certainly was beautiful enough for the Grand Wailea Resort and the Wailea Four Seasons Resort to make the decision to construct their properties here and each of these hotels have been listed as the best hotel in the world on numerous occasions.

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When black lava rock breaks down over time it creates black sand, and this has been the case at the beautiful Hana beach of Wainapanapa. Wainapanapa is also a park as well as a beach and there are miles of trails to wander.

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View Comments

Jake

Even though Honolua is often very crowded, the long point break and consistant off shore winds make this my favorite winter surf spot on the whole island.