Most visitors believe you have to travel to Hana on Maui to see a black sand beach. Not so! Indeed Honokalani Black Sand Beach, located in the Wainapanapa State Park near Hana is spectacular and well worth visiting. But did you know that you can experience the exotic nature of black sand only 20 minutes from Kihei? Part of the Makena State Park, Oneuli Beach is one of the least used beaches in South Maui. It offers great snorkeling, diving, SUP, and kayaking, but isn’t great for casual swimming and boogie boarding because of the shallow reef. It is also a great place to take a unique picture that will make people say “Where is THAT???”
Oneuli Black Sand Beach in South Maui…no, you don’t have to drive all the way to Hana for black sand!
Oneuli is located just north of the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone (which can be seen from just about anywhere on the South Maui coast). Go south on Wailea Alanui Dr. from Wailea, which turns into Makena Rd. Turn right at an easy to miss dirt road 3.8 miles south of the Grand Wailea Resort. If you get to Big Beach, you’ve gone too far!
What is the best beach on Maui that is also a great snorkeling location? This is different than asking what is the best place on Maui to snorkel, since most of the best spots don’t really have any beach to speak of. Having a beach at your snorkel spot may appeal to you if you have family members who don’t snorkel but still want to accompany you and do more than sit on uncomfortable rocks waiting for you to come back.
My first choice for best beach on Maui to snorkel is in West Maui at Black Rock, on the north side of famous Ka’anapali Beach. If you are staying in Ka’anapali, access is easy because you don’t have to contend with parking. There is a public parking garage at the north side of Ka’anapali Beach, but it does fill up frequently by mid-morning. The snorkeling around Black Rock is usually good, and fairly unique because of the sheer lava wall that you can swim along. This is one of the few snorkeling spots where early morning may not necessarily provide the best visibility because the lava wall will still be in shadows until the sun gets high enough in the sky.
If you are staying in Kihei or another South Maui location, I recommend Ul’ua Beach as a great snorkeling location that also has a great beach.
Early morning snorkel at Ulua Beach
Ul’ua Beach is in the Wailea/Makena area of South Maui. See my post on Early Morning Snorkeling at Ul’ua Beach for more details.
This is second in my series of posts on “Best Maui Beaches.” Check out my first “Best Maui Beaches” post: Best Maui Beaches: Boogie Boarding.
Early mornings on Maui are not to be missed. The morning waters are usually peaceful, and I really love the colors and cool breezes. Here’s a picture at Ulua Beach in the Wailea/Makena area of South Maui that I took after an early morning snorkel. Morning is my favorite time of day to go snorkeling on Maui, not only because the conditions are usually better, but it is much easier to get a parking spot close by as well! When you get to Ulua beach, walk to the right (north) until you see the rocky outcroppings for the best snorkeling. It is actually easy to get into the water at Ulua, because you can enter at the sand right before the lava starts. Check out my page on “Snorkeling on Maui” for more information and tips. Enjoy!
Early morning snorkel at Ulua Beach, South Maui