Colorful Beaches of Maui

VM Maui
Colorful Beaches of Maui

If you enjoy all the brilliant colors of nature, or you're passionate about photography, the stunning spectrum of Maui's beach sand is something you'll appreciate. White sand is prevalent here, but we're lucky to have red and black sand beaches as well, both of which are very uncommon. If you'd like to experience them all during your vacation to Maui, read on for a quick guide to these wonderful beaches.

White Sand

This most common sand type certainly has its charms. It's soft and beautiful, and you'll have plenty of choices among these beaches. White sand is created by corals and shells which are broken down bit by bit via wave action and the digestion of certain kinds of marine life. We can thank our many vibrant reefs for generating the sparkling white sand beaches that have helped make Maui such an icon of paradise. Here are the primary areas where you'll find white sand beaches.

  • West Maui - These beaches are well-loved for their tranquil conditions and great snorkeling spots. Kaanapali Beach is a top favorite, where you'll find most of our vacation rentals. Launiupoko can be found on the way to Lahaina from central Maui and lies right along the road. There are great spots for surfing and snorkeling here.
  • South Shore - Makena Beach (aka Big Beach) offers about a mile of sprawling white-orange sand, dramatic views and gorgeous water. Keawakapu Beach is another great favorite for its wonderful scenery, tranquil water, and fascinating tidepools.
  • North Shore - Most North Shore beaches are your best choice for windsurfing and surfing activities. The favorites here include Ho'okipa for surfing and Baldwin for soaking up the sun in milder conditions. You'll have no trouble finding these on any halfway decent map if you look at the north shore.

Black Sand

This kind of sand provides a dramatic visual effect in the surrounding landscape. The color black can be hard to find in natural substrates around the world. In our case, it's the black lava rock that issues this kind of sand through erosive forces. Because it's made of pulverized lava rock, it isn't quite as soft and smooth as white sand, for the most part.

A good spot for black sand is Wai'anapanapa Beach our in East Maui. It's a very long drive from our Wai'anapanapa Beach our in East Maui. It's a very long drive from our West Maui accommodations, but sometimes, if you want a unique visual experience, you have to go the extra mile. This spot is full of fascinating green vegetation, and there are unique geological features, including a sea cave on the beach, and a natural arch. This spot is located just before Hana, if you're coming from the north. The beach isn't the safest for swimming, as the currents are strong, but the photo opportunities are endless.

Red Sand

Many visitors wonder what makes Maui's red sand red, and what makes some of its soils this distinctive hue. The answer is: iron. It came from past lava flows to create red sand in much the same way as black sand. That's why you'll find red sand in Haleakala Crater, which comprises the summit of the dormant volcano. If black sand is rare, red sand is more so. Maui is one of the few places in the world where you can find red sand beaches. The contrast between the red of the sand and the rich blue of the ocean and sky is particularly striking.

  • South Maui - South Maui has one red sand beach, and that is Onelui Beach, located off Wailea Alanui Drive. Nearby is the cindercone that created the dark red color. You'll have to make a bit of a trek to get to this beach, but once you do, it is very interesting scenery and the snorkeling is wonderful when conditions are right. Be aware that there are no lifeguards there.
  • East Maui - Kaihulu is another beautiful red sand beach, but it is also a nude beach, so be aware of that. It is located on the south side of Hana Bay on the far edge of Ka'uiki Hill.

We hope you get to see all these colorful gems on your vacation! Mahalo for reading this week!

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