Current conditions at Makena State Park
Beach & Nearshore
Makena State Park is also known as
Lifeguards are stationed at Big Beach at Makena State Park. Towers are located at the Big Beach I entrance and the Big Beach II entrance. The posted hours of operation are 8 am to 4:30 daily.
Location: South Kihei Road, Makena.
Activities: Bodyboarding, bodysurfing, fishing, snorkeling, surfing,
Description:Makena State Park consists of two beaches that are popularly known as Big Beach and Little Beach. Big Beach, a white sand beach approximately 3,300 feet long and 100 feet wide, is bordered by fingers of lava to the southeast and by Puʻu OlaʻI, a volcanic cinder cone, to the northwest. Big Beach has a steep foreshore, the result of high surf that periodically strikes the beach.
Little Beach is a small cove with a wide, white sand beach between two lava points on the seaward side of Puʻu Olaʻi. The ocean bottom fronting the beach is a shallow sandbar with a normally gentle shorebreak. A short foot trail leads over the lava point that separates the two beaches. The lone amenity in the 160-acre park is a paved parking lot that is open during daylight hours only.
Precautions: High surf, particularly during the spring and summer months and during southerly (Kona) storms, generates dangerous shorebreak waves and powerful rip currents at Big Beach. Inexperienced swimmers and bodysurfers should stay on shore during these seasonal periods of high surf or they should walk over to Little Beach. Little Beach is also subject to high surf, but it is possible to wade and swim near shore during most surf conditions. This is a remote site with no lifeguards at either beach or any other rescue assistance nearby. If you are not experienced in high surf conditions, give every consideration to staying on shore until the surf subsides.
While state park regulations prohibit nudity, Little Beach continues to be one of HawaiʻI's foremost nudist beaches. If public nudity offends you, you may want to reconsider visiting this beach.
Highlights: Big Beach and Little Beach are two of Maui's most popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding beaches. While Maui has many surfing and windsurfing sites, not many beaches have suitable waves for bodysurfing and bodyboarding. Big Beach is more for experienced wave riders, whereas Little Beach, with small, gentle waves breaking on a wide, shallow sandbar, is a good site for beginners. On calm days, snorkeling around the point separating the two beaches provides excellent viewing opportunities. Shorecasting, a form of pole fishing from sand beaches, is popular at Big Beach for ulua, or crevalle. These popular game fish may reach five feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds.
One of the most attractive features of the beach park is that it still has a feeling of wilderness, even though it is right at the edge of civilization. Big Beach is the longest, undeveloped white sand beach on Maui, so it attracts many people who are looking for a beach with no homes and no hotels. Only sand dunes covered with kiawe trees occupy the backshore.
The Hawaiʻian name for Big Beach is Oneloa, "long [stretch of] sand." Puʻu Olaʻi, the name of the cinder cone at the northwest end of the park, means "earthquake hill." Makena means "abundance."