Despite being right next door to the bustling Kahului airport, Kanaha Beach Park remains one of Maui’s least traversed large beaches. At least by tourists. This is a massive park that has something for just about everyone — including a posted lifeguard those with young children will really appreciate.
Reaching Kanaha Beach Park is easy. As noted above, it is right across the street from Kahului Airport in North Maui. There are two main parking areas. The one most people will find convenient is the central located one; the one located just east of the Amala Place and Kaa St. intersection. This parking area offers the best access to the more swim-friendly area of Kanaha Beach Park as well as most of the popular park amenities, such as restrooms, outdoor showers, and the large open-walled pavilion with stage used for public and private events.
The second parking lot lies further east and is ideal for those looking to windsurf or kiteboard at Kanaha Beach Park. This eastern parking lot lies just in front of some of the best waters in Maui for windsurfing and kite surfing. In fact, you will find several teaching outfits operating out of here and any given day, so long as there is the slightest of wind, you will see the waters in this part of the beach teeming with kited boards. The very western end of the park is also a popular spot for kite boarding, so much so that locals commonly refer to the sands west of the Kalialinui Gulch which cuts through the park as Kite Beach.
During the winter months and northerly swells, Kanaha Beach Park also becomes popular for surfing. The beach and bay here are protected by an outer reef about a mile offshore. This requires quite the paddle to get out to the point of breaking waves, but once there, surfers get their choice of surfing conditions. That’s because first, the waves swell high before crashing down, which makes for exciting advanced surfing conditions. But once broken, the waves reform into smaller inner waves and create great conditions for more advanced beginners trying to hone their skills.
Looking for just a pleasant place to swim and sunbathe? You still get that at Kanaha Beach Park. For that, all you have to do is stake out your favorite spot along the long stretch of soft sands just in front of that central parking lot. That aforementioned outer reef protects this whole area from heavy surf, while the beach’s location in the small central valley between the more mountainous areas of land that just out to the east and west protect it from the worst of heavy gusts. Although you are going to experience a pretty steady breeze most days, which is part of why windsurfing and kite boarding are so popular in this area.
And still, this isn’t all that Kanaha Beach Park has to offer! Visitors to this park will also find plenty of grassy areas dotted with trees that are great for escaping the sun and hanging up a hammock. There are three volleyball sand courts (although you will have to bring your own ball and net to set up), and twenty-three picnic tables of which thirteen have been outfitted with grills. You can even apply for a camping permit and enjoy the beauty of Kanaha Beach Park all night long; going to sleep to a beautiful sunset and waking up to a glorious sunrise.
We will note that the vibe at this park is much more natural and community-like. This isn’t going to have the feel of a more manicured resort beach, nor of have that wilderness touch of a more remote beach. Kanaha Beach Park certainly has its beauty that goes along with all of its amenities, but you might pass on it if you don’t want to bother with the loud airport noises, bigger beach crowds, and the very mixed-use nature of the park.
Kanaha Beach Park is just a short walk from Kahului Airport. If you have some time to spare after you check in your bags for your flight home, we recommend hopping over here to soak in those last moments of Maui before you say goodbyes!