The Insiders Guide to Big Beach at Makena State Park in Maui

Hawaii is made up of eight main inhabited islands. The pride and joy of these islands is definitely Maui Island, famed for incredible beaches, blue ocean waters, and fun beach activities. And to be specific, Big Beach at Makena State Park in South Maui is worth your time.

In between Kihei and La Perouse Bay, there are more than 20 established beaches and beach parks to explore. Makena State Park is one of these parks, and this is where you will find Makena Beach. 

Makena Beach is one of the most popular shores extending nearly a mile long, and constitutes two beaches: Big Beach and Little Beach. Big Beach is towards the south of Wailea, near the Makena Beach and Golf Resort.

Key Features:

  • Location: Near Kihei, South Maui.
  • Lifeguard on Duty: Yes. From 8 am – 10 pm
  • Beach Length: (Approx) 3300 feet.
  • Beach Width: (Approx) 100 feet.
  • Facilities: Portable toilets, picnic tables, trash bins, food trucks.
  • Activities: Skimboarding, swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, body surfing, sunbathing.
  • Parking: Ample parking available.
  • Danger: Unsafe to leave valuables in the car; Dangerous high surfs.

In this article, we help you maneuver your way around Big Beach Maui to ensure you get an unforgettable experience. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Where Is Makena Beach?

Located on the southwestern coast of Maui, Makena State Park measures approximately 165 acres. It is home to two breathtaking beaches separated by a 360-foot-tall volcanic cinder cone known as Pu’u Olai with black lava outcroppings into the sea.


The southernmost end of the black lava outcroppings reaches out to make up the La Perouse Bay area. Makena Beach, also referred to as the Big Beach, is located within the Makena State Park on Maui’s South shoreline—south of Wailea, along the South Kihei road, on the way to White Rock Beach. 

Situated between the two black-lava outcroppings, Makena offers protection from the trade winds and provides excellent views of Kahoolawe and Molokini Islands. 

Makena is the furthest southernmost portion of Maui, past Wailea and Kihei, and is highly underdeveloped. For this reason, visitors can enjoy the raw beauty of the coastline and its environment. 

Some of the only developments in the area are Makena Golf Course and Maui Prince Hotel.

What Can You Do at Makena Beach?

Big Beach offers numerous options that cater to most visitors’ needs. 

For starters, Makena Beach offers a secluded alternative to the more crowded beaches in Kaanapali and Lahaina. Big Beach is well over half a mile long and is surprisingly wider (100 feet) than the neighboring overcrowded beaches. 

This means that while always drawing lots of visitors to its sandy beach, it is never so crowded as to be packed to capacity.

This beautiful white sand beach has three different entrances and, at the same time, is composed of two sections: Big Beach and Little Beach. The two shores are unique to suit the diverse preferences of tourists and vacationers. 

Big Beach is loved for its inclined shoreline and large shore break, ideal for bodyboarding, skimboarding, and body surfing. However, as a warning to inexperienced swimmers, the waves on Makena beach are deceptively powerful, especially during a south swell – they get big and powerful.

Novice swimmers and bodysurfers should stay on shore during periods of high surf, or they can also walk over to Little Beach. Although the latter is subject to high surf, it is possible to wade and swim near shore during most surf conditions. 

Big Beach is better suited for experienced wave riders, whereas Little Beach, with small, gentle waves breaking on a wide, shallow sandbar, is a good site for beginners.


On calm days, snorkeling is ideal around the point separating Big Beach from Little Beach, as it provides excellent viewing opportunities. Shore casting, a form of pole fishing from sandy beaches, is also possible. 

In addition to the family picnic tables available, independent vendors from the nearby towns offer indigenous dining options from their food trucks at the beach entrance.

How Do You Get to Makena Beach?

Once you arrive, your best bet to get around Maui is undoubtedly by car. On the road, you will take in the breathtaking sights of the beautiful beach shorelines and possibly even a glimpse of Maui’s black sand beach.

Maui’s main flight terminal, Kahului Airport, is located on the island’s northern coast, approximately 19 miles away. Although they are farther away, Kapalua Airport of West Maui and Hana Airport of East Maui are the other two terminals available.

Whether you are driving or riding a bus to Makena Beach, you can choose between the scenic and less scenic routes. South Maui has two main highways: South Kihei Road and the Pi’ilani Highway. South Kihei Road is the picturesque route; it runs right along the scenic shoreline and leads through Wailea and Makena.

If you are driving from the neighboring Lahaina, head south on the Honoapi’ilani Highway with the ocean on the right, pass by Maalaea Harbor, and take a right at North Kihei road, then turn right on the Pi’ilani Highway. This route takes a while.

Suppose you are coming from Kihei, head south on the Pi’ilani Highway with the ocean on your right. Follow the road that turns right into Wailea Ike Drive, go down the hill and turn left on Wailea Alanui Dr. 

Drive beyond Makena Beach Golf Resort and turn right into one of the entrances with a sign displaying Makena Beach (Big Beach) Park, Maui. 

Parking at Makena Beach

There’s a parking lot at Big Beach along Makena Alanui Road. It is on a first-come-first-served basis and has no security, so take all your valuables with you when leaving your car. It’s essential to note that although Maui residents do not pay parking fees, non-residents have to pay.


Tips for Visiting Big Beach at Makena State Park

Before visiting Big Beach in Maui, here are some tips that may come in handy:

  • Avoid giving your back to the ocean waves while in the water. Makena Beach has a significant on-shore break that can be downright brutal, even on seemingly calm days.
  • It’s best not to leave your valuables unguarded on the beach or visible in your car. Otherwise, you may attract unnecessary attention.
  • When in doubt, don’t go out. Inexperienced swimmers should check with lifeguards about swimming conditions before entering the water.
  • It’s best not to swim alone. Otherwise, ensure there’s a lifeguard on duty.
  • The Keawe trees on Big Beach discard large thorns on the ground along the beach. Walking barefoot can be dangerous near these trees, so hold off removing your shoes until you’re past them.

Frequently Asked Questions


Aloha Big Beach!

You are bound to have a good time no matter which beach you find yourself on in Maui, and Makena Beach is not an exception. The rich culture of the Maui locals and their warm nature will have you wanting to extend your holiday. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Big Beach at Makena State Park next time you visit Maui for a guaranteed good time.