Past the luxurious 5-star resorts, perfectly manicured lawns and world-class golf courses of Wailea lies Makena, a region featuring both rugged natural beauty and one of the largest stretches of uninterrupted white sand in all of Hawaii. Makena Beach, known locally as Big Beach, is wide sweeping crescent of soft white sand nearly a mile long. Crystal clear water and great views of Kahoolawe and Molokini also await you there.
You may notice several beachgoers climbing over the rocks at the north end of the beach. On the other side you’ll find Little Beach, a small Maui beach with a very liberal dress code. While nude sunbathing is technically illegal in Maui, it’s become somewhat accepted on this out of the way beach. On Sunday nights people throng to little beach for a large drum circle and fire dancing at sunset. The short climb over the rocks can get dangerous, especially after the sun goes down so explore at your own risk.
Past Big Beach, Makena fades into a desolate, alien world of extinct lava fields. Sight of the last active lava flow on Maui (roughly 210 years ago), Makena has a single road that winds through the lava field to La Perouse Bay. Part of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Preserve, the bay is protected by the state’s Department of Land and natural Resources. The rocky shoreline spills into the brilliant blue water that in good condition offers some exceptional snorkeling.
Makena is one of the last undeveloped stretches of shoreline in South Maui, though plans are in the works to build a new luxury resort across the road from Big Beach. As a result, there are very limited facilities and no services aside from a fish taco stand or two outside the parking lot. So pack a picnic, gas up and plan a day in Makena.