Chang’s Beach

Chang's Beach & Five Graves/Caves: Uncrowded South Maui Sands & Topnotch Underwater Exploration
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Two of the South Maui coastline’s gems, Chang’s Beach and Five Graves are rarely crowded destinations for water lovers. The beach is a small, irresistible cove with sand, snorkeling, and boogie-boarding. Just to the south, meanwhile, Five Graves (also known as Five Caves) is one of the best snorkeling and diving sites on the Valley Isle.

- The Local Expert Team

Chang’s Beach is a small sandy cove lying south of Poolenalena Beach (which, though larger, is also surprisingly uncrowded much of the time). The cove beach comes named for a Chinese family, the Changs, who long farmed along this seacoast.

The Makena Road parking lot serving Chang’s Beach is also pocket-sized, but you’ve got a good chance of finding a space. And if it is full, you can park just north at the south access for Poolenalena.

What it lacks in size, Chang’s Beach makes up for in sand-and-surf loveliness and water activities. It’s a pleasure to kick back on the pretty sands, but the real draw lies offshore. With a decent surf, body-boarders have a blast here. Meanwhile, a reef buzzing with fish draws snorkelers when conditions are on the calmer side.

A few small lava-rock points south of Chang’s Beach separate it from the celebrated (but rarely swarmed) Five Graves snorkeling and SCUBA site. Actually, you’ll see this spot referred to both as Five Graves—a reference to the little graveyard you pass to access it directly from land—and Five Caves, for its numerous underwater caverns. A tad confusing, but no matter: This is one of Maui’s top places to slip into swim fins!

One of the top places, that is, if you’re an experienced snorkeler or diver. This isn’t really a newbie-friendly spot, what with the rough, rocky entry, the strong currents, and the amount of swimming involved.

But for those who can handle it, the rewards are rich. Coral formations, caves, and arches create entrancing submarine scenery. And the sea life is abundant, from eels, octopuses, and small fish to whitetip reef sharks, sea turtles, and—especially farther out—the occasional manta. The caves are mostly best left to divers, but snorkelers have plenty to see as well.

The closest parking for Five Graves is by the aforementioned graveyard: Look for the graves and a blue “Shoreline Access” sign to know where to pull off. The little cove here with its sharp rocks accounts for the semi-tricky entry. If parking’s hard to come by here—or if you want an easier way into the water—you can go a short way south to Makena Landing. This, however, necessitates a long swim back north to get to the cave area.

Whether you’re kicking back or body-surfing at Chang’s Beach, or you’re goggling at sharks and turtles at Five Graves, this stretch of the Makena seashore delights.

Insider Tips:
-If you’ve got the endurance, you can actually swim from Chang’s Beach southward to Five Graves.
-If you’re uncomfortable exploring Five Graves on your own, you’ll find multiple options for both guided paddling and snorkeling/dive tours.