South Maui, Hawaii, is home to the beautifully unique One’uli Beach. Though less crowded and less popular than its counterparts on the road to Hana, One’uli Black Sand Beach is one of the top beaches in Maui.
One’uli Beach, also called Naupaka Beach, is part of Makena State Park, found on the Wailea side of the most outstanding natural landmark feature in that area: the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone. Below are additional things to anticipate on your trip.
- Location: Makena State Park, South Maui.
- Lifeguard on Duty: None.
- Beach Length: (Approx) 950 feet.
- Beach Width: (Approx) 100 feet.
- Facilities: None.
- Activities: Hiking, swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, snorkeling.
- Parking: Undesignated gravel parking space available.
- Danger: Unsafe to leave valuables in the car; Dangerous high surfs.
In this article, we tell you all you need to know before you visit this unusual black sand beach to make your trip as memorable as it can be. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Where Is One’uli Beach Located?
- The Pu’u Ola’i Cinder Cone
- What Can You Do at One’uli Beach?
- How Do You Get to One’uli Beach?
- Parking at Oneuli Beach
- Tips for Visiting One’uli Beach
Where Is One’uli Beach?
One’uli Black Sand Beach, also known by locals as Naupaka Beach, is in the Makena State Park area of South Maui. It lies north of the Pu’u Ola’I volcanic cinder cone, the most prominent natural landmark near Wailea.
While most Maui visitors only associate black sand with the Wainapanapa State Park area, One’uli Beach is the nearest black sand beach to the resort areas of Wailea and Kaanapali.
One’uli Beach sand is not actually black; it’s more of a dark grey hue. In fact, One’uli’s beach sand has three conspicuous colors, black, white, and red.
This beach is off the beaten path, accessible mainly by dirt road, like a secret beach. One’uli Beach cannot be seen from the road.
For this reason, One’uli Beach does not receive as many guests as the other beaches in the Makena State Park area, such as the neighboring Big Beach and Little Beach.
The Pu’u Ola’i Cinder Cone
It is impossible to mention One’uli black sand beaches without referring to the 360 feet tall Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone, also called Red Hill or Earthquake Hill. This prominent geological landmark feature can be seen from multiple locations along the coast.
Besides its staggering heights, this volcanic cinder cone has mystifying red cliffs adorned with green vegetation. It provides about 20 minutes of trail hiking for those who want to discover more about One’uli Black Sand Beach.
The volcanic activity that created the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone is what’s responsible for the characteristic dark sands of One’uli Beach.
The black sand comes from a giant cross-section of the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone that has been ground away by the ocean.
What Can You Do at One’uli Beach?
One’uli Beach is covered with a thick blanket of black sand that abruptly vanishes and becomes hard lava at the ocean shoreline.
This black sand beach is not ideal for the regular sunbather, but One’uli Beach is a secluded snorkeling and diving paradise.
There’s plenty of coral reefs just past the water’s entry, resulting in the abundance of sea life in this area. Hawaii green sea turtles, for instance, throng this area and from time-to-time manta rays and small sharks, too.
Swimming conditions on this black sand beach are terrible, mainly because strong currents occur during high surf. The absence of lifeguards is also another deterrent.
However, the hard lava on One’uli Beach’s shore makes it an excellent launching spot for kayaking. The south end of the beach is walled off by the lofty red cliffs of the volcanic cinder cone, so, after 20 minutes of hiking up Red Hill, visitors can enjoy a scenic view of the ocean meeting land.
How Do You Get to One’uli Beach?
Unless you’re great at reading coordinates, Google maps won’t help you reach this beach easily as the route to this beach is complicated.
If you are staying in South Maui’s main resort area, Wailea, it is a 10-minute drive to One’uli Beach. However, if you stay in West Maui’s main resort area Kaanapali, then buckle up for about an hour’s drive.
One’uli Beach is located in the Makena State Park area. If you want to access the beach traveling along Wailea Alanui Road, you’ll have to pass the Maui Prince Hotel and the Old Makena Road on the right.
The road takes a sharp turn to the east and proceeds to Ahihi Kina’u and La Perouse Bay. Immediately after the bend, but before you get to the main parking lot at Makena Beach, look for a dirt road turnoff through an unlocked yellow gate. Take the dirt road and follow it until you reach the ocean and a gravel parking space.
To access the beach from Kihei, head south on the Pi’ilani Highway until it ends. The road bends right onto Wailea Ike Drive, so follow this road till you get to the intersection at the end. You will know you are on course when you see shops at Wailea in front of you.
Turn left onto Wailea Alanui Drive, which will change names and become Makena Road and then Makena Alanui. You will eventually come to a dirt road turnoff through an unlocked yellow gate.
Parking at One’uli Beach
Parking at One’uli Beach is tricky. There is a gravel parking area available based on a first-come, first-serve basis. The beach has a self-pay parking fee system, costing $5 a day. It is possible to use the single pass for all sections of Makena State Park. The parking is unguarded so carry your valuables with you.
Tips for Visiting One’uli Beach
- Hawaii is notorious for its vast population of thorny Kiawe trees strewn over the coastline, and One’uli Beach is no exception. There is one right at the parking entrance area, so you’re safer wearing shoes.
- There are no facilities on this beach, i.e., no restrooms, showers, or food vendor trucks, so it’s best to carry water, food, or snacks. For restroom options, a short drive back down the highway to Big Beach should help you out.
- If you decide to walk near the cliffs on the south end of the beach, beware of falling rocks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Enjoy One’uli Beach!
One’uli Beach is just the place to vacation if you want an intimate, secluded getaway. It will offer you a perfect balance between sinking your foot in hot black sand and cooling off with a super cool snorkeling experience. Keep in mind all the tips we have suggested here, and you should be good to go!