Makena Beach, Maui: A Hawaiian Paradise

Nicknamed “Big Beach,” Makena Beach is popular with skilled skimboarders and bodysurfers.

Makena Beach on the island of Maui in Hawaii, picture
Maui's Makena Beach.
Design Pics Inc. / Alamy

Dreaming about your own piece of Hawaiian real estate? On Maui’s south shore, four miles from the flashy Wailea resorts, lies Makena Beach—a roughly half-mile swath of soft white sand where you can spread out a blanket and stake a day's claim.

Aptly nicknamed “Big Beach,” Makena stretches between a forest of spiny kiawe trees and a beautiful but treacherous shore break beloved by skimboarders and bodysurfers. Swim or skim with caution, or take a short stroll to Pu’u Ola’i, a rust-colored volcanic summit sheltering Makena’s north end. At 360 feet, the dormant cinder cone offers views of Kahoolawe and Molokini Islands, and makes a perfect perch for spotting sooty terns, red-tailed tropicbirds, and the occasional migrating whale. From here, a rocky path leads to “Little Beach,” a secluded crescent popular with nude sunbathers and other free spirits, all here to live the dream.