If you’re looking for an uncrowded beachfront in the Kapalua resort area, Oneloa Beach should definitely be on your radar. Despite easy access and plenty of virtues, this roughly quarter-mile swath of north-facing sand usually offers abundant elbow room.
Oneloa Beach is also called Ironwoods Beach, and it lies to the west of the skinny, rocky peninsula of Makaluapuna Point. On the eastern side of that peninsula lies D.T. Fleming Beach Park.
You can park directly at Oneloa Beach in the smallish but rarely full parking lot by the junction of Kapalua Place and Ironwood Lane. Alternatively, you can access the beachfront via the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which runs roughly 2.5 miles between D.T. Fleming Beach and Kapalua Bay Beach.
You’ll walk through undeveloped coastal sand dunes cloaked with naupaka and other vegetation. Along with the dunes, Oneloa Beach is flanked by vacation housing, but it lacks the towering condos and resort high-rises that backdrop some of the other area beachfronts. That adds to the more tranquil vibe here. You won’t find much in the way of facilities aside from showers.
The access path reaches the eastern end of Oneloa Beach, where some visitors turn back given the rocky shelf just offshore precludes swimming. But if you walk westward along this pretty strand, you’ll discover that the far end of the beach usually has a nice sandy seafloor along it.
Here, when the conditions are calm, you can enjoy some nice swimming and snorkeling. The waves here, especially with a good northerly swell, also call to body-boarders of decent skill. But when the surf is rough in Oneloa Bay, driven by heavier-duty north swells, you should stay out of the water. For one thing, it’s easy to get dashed against rocks, and, for another, rip currents may arise in such conditions. Don’t take chances, not least on account no lifeguards watch over Oneloa Beach.
Speaking of snorkeling, you can also (when seas permit) explore the eastern end of Oneloa Bay along Makaluapuna Point.
With its northern aspect, Oneloa Beach offers good front-row seats for both sunrises and sunsets. In the winter, you should also scan the Pacific skyline for the spouts or raised-up flukes of humpback whales. Sea turtles sometimes cruise the nearshore waters here as well.
Along with enjoying Oneloa Beach itself, you ought to consider walking the path to Makaluapuna Point to the immediate east. The Kapalua Coastal Trail can bring you to that access path heading at the Office Road/Lower Honoapiilani Road parking area. Makaluapuna (“Spring Hole”) Point is notable for the unusual, spiky lava-rock formations called the Dragon’s Teeth. You can also see the Kapalua Labyrinth here, and generally relish superb coastal views spanning Oneloa and Honokahua bays. (Turtle- and seasonal whale-watching opportunities are even better from this peninsula.)
It’s really rather surprising that Oneloa Beach isn’t more trammeled, given its long sandy run and beauty. Definitely consider stopping by while staying in the Kapalua area and/or hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail!
If seeking directions or other information on this West Maui beach, keep in mind there’s another Oneloa Beach in South Maui, near Makena. (It’s also really nice, by the way.) The alternative Ironwoods Beach name for this Oneloa Beach helps clarify.