Maui’s Best Beaches

More than 60 beaches hug Maui’s coastline, including four that have been named “Best Beach in America” by environmental scientist and author Steven “Dr. Beach” Leatherman. Choosing which stretch of sand to visit is an inviting tropical challenge, and it could take months — or even years — to leave your footprints on all of them. Here’s a starter kit of beaches we recommend for the attractions they offer — from sunup to sundown.

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Ulua Beach MauiBest Beach for a Midmorning Snorkel
Ulua Beach, Wailea

Maui has dozens of beaches with spectacular snorkeling, but this Wailea enclave stands out for its ease of access, protected conditions and wealth of colorful marine life. Ulua’s amenities include showers and restrooms, as well as free public parking; spaces are limited, though, so try to get there before 10 a.m., and enjoy snorkeling in pristine conditions before the wind picks up. No parking? No worries. You also can reach Ulua on foot along the Wailea Coastal Walk, which borders the oceanfront hotels. The best snorkel spot is around the lava-rock headland that separates Ulua from Mōkapu Beach just below the Andaz Maui Resort. Here, turquoise uhu (parrotfish) crunch on vibrant corals, and schools of manini (convict tang) dart through holes in the reef. Also, keep an eye out for honu, hīhīmanu (spotted eagle rays) and he‘e (octopus). The water may be rough when the wind is coming from the north (more common in winter), or when the summer surf is high enough to generate an advisory. But that’s just a few days per year, and the rest are downright gorgeous.

Runner-up: Nāpili Bay, Nāpili

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