Hanakaoo Park

Hanakaoo Park – Ditch the Crowds on West Maui’s “Canoe Beach”
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Hanakaoo Park’s beachfront—“Canoe Beach,” as it’s often called—is continuous with Kaanapali Beach to the north, but is quite a bit less crowded. The quieter sands, plus the picnic facilities and decent watersports options, makes this a well-loved West Maui locals’ hangout. It’s also noteworthy as one of a relative handful of Maui beaches watched over by lifeguards.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Hanakaoo Park lies directly south of one of West Maui’s main attractions, the famous Kaanapali Beach. Indeed, Hanakaoo’s sands—known to many as “Canoe Beach”—connect to Kaanapali’s, part of the long continuous beachfront running south of Puu Kekaa (Black Rock). But by comparison, Canoe Beach is fairly uncrowded, though weekends can be lively with mostly locals.

The relatively quiet sands are a strong part of Hanakaoo Park’s appeal. So are the picnic facilities, including grills and covered pavilions. You’ll also find restrooms and showers here. There’s ample free parking at the Hanakaoo lot between Highway 30’s milemarkers 23 and 24, including additional spaces along the old cemetery on the north side. Try to arrive early on weekends, when the lot often fills up. 

Hanakaoo or Canoe Beach is one of only a handful of Maui beaches stationed with lifeguards. (The other in West Maui is D.T. Fleming Beach Park farther north up the coast.) Besides swimming, a variety of other watersports are popular here, including bodysurfing and boogie boarding in the shore break. It’s also a go-to place for jet-skiing, and the commonly calm waters invite stand-up paddleboarding. The surf-casting is pretty solid as well, if you’re of the angling persuasion.

Meanwhile, local outrigger clubs launch canoes at Hanakaoo Park—hence the whole “Canoe Beach” label. It’s a blast watching them doing a practice paddle or a high-octane race, needless to say. (There are often canoe races here on Saturdays: definitely a good reason to come then, but expect a quickly filling parking lot.)

While the water is sometimes pretty murky, Canoe Beach is also a decent place to go snorkeling, especially off the south side. Sea turtles are regular sights here—reason enough to don masks and swim fins!

West-facing Hanakaoo Park provides fine seats for sunset, a beautiful capper to a day of swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, and oceanfront picnicking. Another reason to visit? The option of moseying northward along the beach and beyond to the more thronged—but postcard-perfect—sands of Kaanapali Beach. (Walking there is often a heck of a lot more pleasant than hunting for parking at Kaanapali.) Resort-lined Kaanapali has a very pleasant beachfront path well worth strolling. If you want a bit of low-key, surfside exercise, therefore, consider combining the linked-together sands of Hanakaoo and Kaanapali in a there-and-back walkabout.

Enjoy a more laidback, less touristy West Maui beachfront within shouting distance of busy Kaanapali Beach at Hanakaoo Park!

Insider Tips:
-Hanakaoo Park is also an archaeological site. Check out the basalt boulders close to the lifeguard tower. They bear depressions betraying their long-ago use for sharpening and shape adzes. An interpretive plaque spotlights this fascinating history.
-Be careful if you go snorkeling at Hanakaoo Park while people are surf-casting (as is often the case): You don’t want to get tangled in fishing line, after all!