Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach: Visit South Maui’s “Turtle Town”
The Bottom Line:

Maluaka Beach is a great South Maui shore for family-friendly sand-and-surf. Besides excellent swimming, the beach is a well-known snorkeling destination, particularly famed for its easily seen sea turtles.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Located south of Wailea along the Makena Beach & Golf Resort, Maluaka Beach is one of the premier places in South Maui for snorkeling. It’s also an all-around crowd-pleaser, with generally calm waters ideal for swimming, a wide beachfront, and good picnicking opportunities.

There are two main places to park: at the end of Makena Road and farther north across from the Keawalai Church. Many visitors using the northern lot by the church drop off gear (and people) at the beach, then go park.

The beach includes a lawn area, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and grills. For shade, head to the south end. The sand is inviting above the swash, but it also continues offshore in a gently sloping beach face. This, and the normally calm waters, make Maluaka Beach a great place to take a dip, including for kids. (Obviously, you’ll want to practice common-sense ocean safety, including assessing current conditions before going in the water. But this is, overall, quite a reliably friendly place to get wet.)

But Maluaka Beach is probably best known for its snorkeling opportunities, as we mentioned at the outset. You’ll find reef features on both sides of the beach, but the southern end is the best place to put on a snorkel mask. Edging along the coral-studded reef margin, you’re likely to see a host of fish—tangs, wrasse, parrotfish, butterfly fish, eels, and others—plus urchins, octopi, and other invertebrates. 

But the stars of the show—and the reason this is one of the spots in Maui often called “Turtle Town”—are sea turtles. Green sea turtles are abundant and regularly seen off Maluaka Beach. You may well see a snorkeling-tour boat offshore for this very reason. 

And you often don’t have to work particularly hard—or cover all that much “ground”—to spot one of these graceful, mild-mannered reptiles. Turtles often forage right in the shallows here, though they’re often more numerous a bit farther out.

All things considered, then, you’re only getting a small share of the Maluaka Beach experience if you stick to the picnic table or the beach towel. We highly recommend coming here with snorkel equipment!

As elsewhere along this South Maui coastline, sunsets are another plus when visiting Maluaka Beach. And in the winter, you’ve always got at least a chance of seeing a spout or a fluke offshore, given the humpback whales that frequent Maui’s waters that time of year.

If you’re anywhere in the Wailea area, carve out some time for Maluaka Beach—and get a firsthand look at South Maui’s Turtle Town!

Insider Tips:
-Beach nomenclature in this part of South Maui can be confusing. Be aware that Maluaka Beach is sometimes unofficially called Makena Beach—and be aware there are several other Makena beaches in popular parlance, including just south of here.
-Take a few minutes to appreciate the Keawalai Church (from the outside) when visiting Maluaka Beach: Its handsome stone structure dates back to 1832. (But don’t walk through the church graveyard.) 
-Snorkeling’s best in the morning: partly because you may avoid peak crowds, partly because you’ll beat the wind that often rises by afternoon.