Big Beach On Maui: Where Beauty Meets Danger

Big Beach is exactly the kind of beach that a person who has never been to Hawaii always associates it with. It has every Hawaii-characteristic trait one can think of: waters of all shades of blue, pillow-soft sand and postcard-level scenery. Yet on the other side of this gorgeous picture is a place of many risks and dangers. This issue is common knowledge for locals but an essential warning for first time visitors.

In this article we will be covering what said dangers of Big Beach are, what you can do to avoid them and why you should visit it nonetheless.

Big Beach: What It Looks Like & What You Need To Know About It

This beach is a place of many names. In more official sources you may encounter it by the names of ‘Mākena Beach’ or ‘Oneloa Beach’, but it’s the nickname that this natural marvel is most known by to the public. 

The immaculate vibes of Maui are known to everyone. It’s home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Pacific Ocean, with Big Beach being one of them. It is located in Mākena State Park which consists of two beaches and Puʻu Olai, a massive dormant volcanic cinder cone. 

Big Beach is undeveloped and consists of a half mile stretch of light yellow, tree-laden sand, crystalline water, massive tides and unsurpassed beauty. 

Big Beach by @wein2040 on Flickr.

What Are The Risks And How Can You Stay Safe?

With that said, in addition to all these heavenly traits, during a south swell, the already deceptive waves and a strong shorebreak of Big Beach can become merciless and result in dire injuries. While this may be absolutely amazing news for adrenaline-chasing surfers, it is also a serious warning for kids and adults alike and generally for inexperienced swimmers. This natural marvel will pull you under and pummel you into a boulder when you least expect and do it so fast you won’t even have time to blink. There have been numerous reports stating so. Even intermediate and advanced surfers are encouraged to reconsider conquering these waves. 

Review by @Kristendb8 on TripAdvisor

This is why there are many lifeguard posts on the beach and in any case, you can always consult them for more technical details and proper safety precautions. However, as long as you stick to mere feet-paddling and sunbathing, you’ll be just fine. So be sure to follow general safety rules and listen to the lifeguards’ guidelines.

Big Beach by @Pax Ahimsa Gethen on Flickr.

Why Should I Visit Big Beach?

Despite the controversy, there are actually quite a few reasons why Big Beach is worth your time. As we already covered, as long as you spend your time on-land you’ll be out of harm’s way. Visiting Mākena State Park means having access to not one but two gorgeous beaches: Big Beach and Little Beach, which is officially known as Puʻu Olai Beach.

Sunbathing in such wondrous scenery is always a plus and promises a good time. Unlike Small Beach and despite its prime status, Big Beach doesn’t get packed which automatically means a crowdless getaway with your loved ones. You may even spot a Hawaiian monk seal.

Hungry? There are quite a few vendors and concession stands near the parking lot where you can take a break and eat something yummy! Amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms and trash cans are available as well.

Mākena State Park is also good for sightseeing, fishing, and snorkeling (Little Beach).

So despite its deceptive waves, Big Beach is still an ideal option for a good beach. Just be careful and fully aware that the water is not for swimming. Otherwise, you can opt for Little Beach which is good for body surfing and swimming. 

Entrance fee for non-residents is $5 per person. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

Lifeguard at Big Beach by @Paul Matheson on Unsplash.

How Do I Get To Big Beach?

If you’re traveling from Lahaina, head south on the Honoapiilani Highway. Then pass Maalaea Harbor and make a right at North Kihei Rd. Head southbound on Piilani Highway as you pass Kihei. Then drive downhill towards Wailea Ike Drive and Wailea Alanui Drive. Turn left onto Wailea Alanui Drive. Pass Mākena Beach Golf Resort until you see the sign Mākena Beach and then turn right.

Big Beach by @Pierre Huat on Flickr.

Where Can I Stay Near Big Beach?

Maui is no Maui without offering you a place or a dozen to stay overnight. There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from and you can find them here.

What Else Can I Do Near Big Beach?

If you’re looking for additional activities to engage in, exploring your options in Wailea is your best bet. There you can find a vast selection of recreational opportunities that won’t leave anyone disappointed.

  • There are numerous scenic tours that you can book.
  • Are you a golfer? If so, you can go golfing at Mākena Golf Resort. 
  • Alternatively, you can visit Wailea Golf Club
  • Wailea Luau
  • Go hiking. The King’s Trail is the choice of many!
  • You can visit Four Seasons Maui where you can relax to your heart’s content by dining, taking advantage of their countless spa treatments or just by booking a room and staying there as a guest
  • You can go dolphin watching at La Perouse Bay
Wailea Beach Path by @Jad Limcaco on Unsplash.

Etiquette Guidelines

As a state park, Mākena State Park – including Big Beach – is a Leave No Trace policy active zone. Be sure to not litter and leave nothing but your footprints on the beach.

The Final Takeaway

As you can see, Big Beach in Maui is a fantastic destination for a proper beach day! It tries its best and in doing so provides its guests with a magical and unforgettable experience. Big Beach in Maui is Hawaii at its finest and a destination that should be on everyone’s list. As long as you’re cautious, follow the safety guidelines and look after yourself, Big Beach will offer you an amazing beach day with your loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim at Big Beach Maui?

You can swim in Big Beach only if you’re an extremely experienced swimmer and even then it’s always recommended not to.

Where is Big Beach?

Big Beach is in South Wailea, located in Mākena State Park.

Do you have to pay to go to Big Beach Maui?

Entrance to Big Beach is $5 per person for non-residents. Parking is $10.

How big is Big Beach?

Big Beach is pretty wide for Maui standards. The coastline is half a mile long.


While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about tourist destinations, sometimes life happens, weather happens, property owners happen, etc. We always recommend you go to the official web page and/or the relevant state authority page of your destination to check conditions, times and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!

Related Articles

How To Choose The Perfect Villa For A Family Vacation

Villas are gaining immense popularity among tourists and business travelers. They offer budget-friendly lodging, ample space for recreational activities, and utmost privacy.  Moreover, these properties have essential amenities like kitchen ... Read more

Hotel Hacks To Save Money – Top Tips For A Cheaper Stay

Staying in a hotel can be the most rewarding experience – you don’t need to cook, clean up, make the bed, worry about the cost of heating or electricity, and ... Read more

Glacier National Park Camping – Where To Grab Some Shut-Eye Between Exploring And Discovering

Glacier National Park is a beautiful destination to head to and explore, and if you are set on camping, there are more than 10 campgrounds in, and just outside, the ... Read more

Things To Do In Breckenridge, Colorado – Winter Fun And History In House-Sized Museums!

Breckenridge, spread across a basin of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range, is renowned for its ski resort, year-round alpine activities, and gold mining history. The Victorian core, in the Breckenridge ... Read more

Things To Do In Billings, Montana – Museums, Geology, History And More!

Billings is a city in southern Montana on the Yellowstone River. It’s best known for its being near Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where Lieutenant Colonel Custer died, but there ... Read more

The Best 14+ Things To Do In Newport, Oregon

For over a century now, the small seaside town of Newport has brought visitors pouring to its shores with the promise of unique sights and stunning coastal scenery. Newport’s historic ... Read more