Olowalu Beach

Olowalu Beach (Shoreline) – An Excellent Place to Explore the Shallow Reef in Kihei
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

When you want to see all the wonders of the ocean, jet on over to Olowalu Beach. Home to Olowalu Reef, this Kihei beach offers glimpses of sea turtles, reef sharks, stingrays, and so much more. So, bring a waterproof camera plus a picnic lunch and get ready to spend an incredible day in paradise.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

If you love snorkeling around stunningly beautiful reefs and seeing all the marine life in their midst, you definitely need a trip to Olowalu Beach in your life. The Olowalu Reef runs right along this exquisite shoreline in Kihei, letting you gaze in wonder at its impressive coral structures. Plus, there’s plenty of fun to be had right on land, especially if you like playing in the sun and enjoying a nice picnic with a view.

The star of the show is the reef, of course, which serves as home to many phenomenal creatures, including colorful tropical fish and sea anemones. As its nickname Turtle Reef suggests, sea turtles often swim around the reef and even come up to the shore, especially at sunset.  If you go further out, you can see reef sharks in all their glory. The water can get murky at times, however, so you need to watch the conditions to determine if it’s safe.

If you want to stick to the sands, you can stroll along the beach at your leisure. Avoid the tree-lined areas though because the Kiawe trees drop big thorns all through the year. The sand at the water’s edge feels the best underfoot, especially on sunny days. The dry sand can get quite hot, so bring beach chairs and picnic blankets to sit on plus flip-flops to wear as you walk around.

Don’t miss the chance to:

Go Snorkeling Along the Reef
Also known as Turtle Reef, Olowalu Reef travels right along the shoreline, letting you explore its fascinating structure up close. Huge coral heads are a common sight, as are sea anemones, tropical fish, sea turtles, and so much more. If you go out further away from the shore, you’ll have a chance at seeing huge reef columns reaching up to the surface.

Take Pictures of Reef Sharks
If you’re a strong swimmer, bring your waterproof camera and get a few snaps of the reef sharks. You can find the sharks out around the ledges near the tall reef columns. The reef sharks come in all sizes, so don’t be surprised to see some that stretch five feet in length. Let the sharks have their space as you observe them in the water, so you don’t stress them out with your presence.

Stroll Along the Sandy Shores
Do you love to feel the soft sand beneath your toes? If so, kick off your shoes and delight in how soft the wet sand feels at this beach. The golden sand takes on a dark hue as the waves lap over its surface at the water’s edge. If you’re feeling creative, use the sand to create a beautiful sand sculpture, too.

Have a Delicious Picnic Lunch
If you want to grub on your favorite foods in paradise, bring your picnic supplies down to this beach. The soft sands are the perfect spot to lay out a beach blanket, while the crisp blue waters offer an unforgettable view. Just be sure to grab a spot in the open beach area rather than under the trees. The kiawe thorns can end your peaceful meal really quick, especially if you kneel or sit on one.

Unlike more popular beaches on the island, there are no amenities at this spot. So, plan to go without a bathroom, showers, and even trash cans. Barbecue grills, picnic tables, and benches are a no-go, too. You’ll need to pack out what you bring with you to act as a good steward of the land. Don’t forget to bring your own picnic blanket, beach chairs, umbrellas, and all the other gear you’ll need to have a great time.

Insider Tips:
-Only park on the sand if you’re driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Otherwise, you’re bound to get stuck. Parking at Olowalu Beach Public Parking Access is available: here.
-Skip the snorkeling trip if the water looks murky. To stay safe, you need to clearly see all the creatures and potential hazards around you.
-Want fresh fruit, snacks, and more for your picnic lunch? Stop by the Olowalu Juice Stand just up the Honoapiilani Highway for all your supplies.