Makena beach also known as Big Beach and Oneloa beach is located in Makena State Park in Maui and is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui.
The Hawaiʻian name for Big Beach is Oneloa, “long [stretch of] sand.”
- Makena Beach Quick Tips
- Where is Makena Beach located
- Where to stay near Makena Beach
- Big Beach vs Little Beach Maui: What’s the difference?
Makena Beach Quick Tips
- Sand & water color: Fine white sand (not rocky) and turquoise blue water
- Other names: Big Beach, Oneloa beach
- Best for: Surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, snorkeling and swimming.
- Known for: Large shore break
- Swimming conditions: Waves can get incredibly dangerous. Check conditions before going.
- Lifeguard: Yes!
- Cost: Free
- Parking: Large paid lot or free street parking.
- Available tours: There are snorkeling tours, Turtle Reef Kayak tour (so cool!)
Where is Makena Beach located
Location: South Kihei Road, Makena
The best way to get here is to rent a car. If you don’t have a car rental you can rent a moped for the day, or take an Uber/Lyft. Uber/Lyft will be your most expensive option depending on where you are staying.
If you decide to explore the island by moped you can rent one here for up to two weeks at a time!
Makena Beach Parking
There are two options when parking. You can pay to park in a large lot right by the beach. Or you can park on the street for free and walk 10 minutes to get to the beach.
We arrived in the middle of the day and there was plenty of parking available.
What you can Expect at Makena Beach
- Great surf
- Famous for its large shore break
- Beautiful turquoise water
- Lots of quality sand (not rocky)
When we arrived at Makena Beach I could hear the thunderous waves crashing from the parking lot. I said to my husband “is that sound the waves??” He responded with “I don’t think so.”
Turns out, it was the waves, and they were massive. The biggest waves I have ever seen.
There were lifeguards stationed in the water on surfboards.
There were more lifeguards at multiple guard towers. And even more walking along the beach with megaphones yelling to “do not get in the water, it is dangerous to swim”.
I spoke with a local and she told me that when she was at there last year a women got knocked over by a waves and died on the spot. She said, and I quote “this beach is famous for breaking peoples backs.”
The state website warns that “High surf, particularly during the spring and summer months and during southerly (Kona) storms, generates dangerous shorebreak waves and powerful rip currents at Big Beach.”
The neighboring Little Beach has much calmer waves.
I have honestly never seen so many lifeguards on one beach. They were stationed in the water and out of the water. It’s like they were just waiting for disaster to strike.
There were so many lifeguards I couldn’t decide if it made me feel safer, or less safe. It had me thinking, why do they need so many lifeguards? Is my life in danger? lol
Lifeguards are posted between 8 am and 4:30 pm.
Makena Beach Snorkeling
On calm days, snorkeling around the point separating the two beaches (little beach and big beach) will give you great chances of seeing some marine life.
Pole fishing is also popular at Big Beach for ulua, or crevalle (See video below to see just how massive these fish are). These popular game fish may reach five feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds. Kinda nuts.
Pros and Cons
- Great quality sand
- Gorgeous blue water
- Lots of space to spread out.
- Not a ton of shade
- Waves can get too big. Not always suitable for swimming or snorkeling. Great if you know how to surf.
Big Beach vs Little Beach Maui: What’s the difference?
There is a big difference between the Makena Beaches also known as Big Beach and Little Beach.
Put simply, little beach is a nude beach. I was shocked walking in because I had no idea before hand that everyone would be naked. It was interesting, but definitely not my jam.
Big Beach (Makena Beach) is not a nude beach. It is more of a family beach with great waves, and beautiful sand and water.
Big Beach and Little Beach are two of Maui’s most popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding beaches.
Things to do near Makena Beach
- Makena Cove – amazing ‘secret beach’ literally right next to Makena beach. Definitely worth checking out.
- Little Beach (also known as Oneloa Beach) – Nude beach in Maui
- Oneuli Beach – black sand beach
- Maluaka Beach
Conclusion: Is Big Beach worth visiting?
Yes! Absolutely, this was one of my favorite beaches in Maui.
What to Pack for Maui
- Dresses for Hawaii – Packing a few good dresses is essential for Hawaii. Dresses have become my go to on trips to help quickly put an outfit together. Revolve is one of my go to shops for beach dresses. ASOS also has great summer dresses.
- Shorts – Anyone who is traveling to Hawaii needs a good pair of shorts. Khakis are great for guys. For women, cute athletic shorts or denim shorts are perfect for a breezy summertime look. These Levi denim shorts are my current favorites! These high waisted athletic shorts have gone viral on instagram and for good reason, they are AMAZING.
- Sports bra – This SKIMS bra is the most comfortable sports bra you will ever wear! Trust me. I travel with 5 of them. Also, highly recommend checking out the SKIMS fits everybody bra is to die for as well.
- Hiking boots – I have two pairs of hiking boots that I love. My Columbia waterproof boots and my Salomon hiking boots. Highly recommend checking them both out!
- Sandals – LOVE these Teva’s! They are my new go to travel sandal. Shop my favorite Teva’s here. They are great to wear in the water snorkeling and also amazing for hiking in Hawaii.
- Agolde 90’s jeans – I actually can’t remember the last trip I have been on where I haven’t brought these Agolde jeans. I have them in multiple colors and sizes. Check out my full review here.
- Tank tops – Free people is my go to place to buy cute and affordable tank tops. I have this tighten up tank in almost every color.
- Hat – essential. Shop the newest hats at Nordstrom.
- Beach cover-up – Having at least one good cover-up is essential on any beach trip. I recommend ASOS, Nordstrom and Revolve as well.
- Tennis Shoes – I guess you could wear sandals hiking the trails in Maui but I would recommend tennis shoes or hiking boots. It can get narrow and slippery in parts. These New Balance shoes are amazing. Only problem is they sell out so fast! Blah. They look so cute with shorts too!
- Packing cubes – I always go to Urban Outfitters for my packing cubes. They have the cutest ones!
- Quick Dry Travel Towel – This quick dry towel is amazing to travel with. It really will come in handy when you need extra room in your suitcase.
- Snorkeling gear – for obvious reasons.
Planning a trip to Maui? Here are our best MAUI BLOG POSTS:
My husband and I have been to Maui a couple times and have written up more blog posts to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Hawaii travel guides to help you plan your trip. I hope it helps!
Maui general trip planning
- Guide to Visiting the Red Sand Beach– One of the best beaches in Maui!
- Hookipa Beach – (Best beach to see turtles in Maui)
- Makena Beach/Big Beach (One of my favorite beaches in Maui)
- Little Beach (also known as Oneloa Beach) – WARNING – nude beach.
- Oneuli Beach – Black sand beach
- Maluaka Beach – all around great beach
- Slaughterhouse Beach – (AKA Mokuleia Bay)
- La Perouse Beach (Bay) – great snorkeling tours here. Best if reached by boat.
Maui Hikes & Lookouts
- Sliding Sands Trail – (also known as Keonehe’ehe’e Trail) is one of the most unique hikes on Earth!
- Waihee Ridge Trail – Most Underrated Maui Hike
- Hoapili Trail – (Hike through lava fields in Maui)
- Dragon’s Teeth Hike
- Ohai Trail Loop – (Easy but Awesome)
- Leleiwi Overlook in Haleakala National Park – (Maui must see!)
- 6 Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls – The Best and Most Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls
- 7 Waterfalls in Maui That You Can Swim In – Must see!
- 13 WATERFALLS IN MAUI YOU CAN’T MISS