Maluaka Beach, Maui (Turtle Town): Complete 2024 Visitor Guide (2024)

Maluaka Beach, Maui, is a beautiful, pristine beach with a long stretch of golden sands, crystal-clear blue waters, and FUN-sized waves, perfect for families with kids!

Located on a secluded and remote South Maui corner, far from tourist resorts, we spent three relaxing days frequenting this gorgeous beach, and often had the beach all to ourselves.

Unlike Kapalua and Ka’anapali beaches, where the waves can be SCARY, the waves on Maluaka Beach were perfect! Just the right size for some thrills, while kids could still enjoy boogie boarding!

Maluaka Beach, Maui (Turtle Town): Complete 2024 Visitor Guide (1)

Great snorkeling spots along the rocky sides of Maluaka Beach, and a giant natural swimming pool right in front!

Viewing Hawaiian green sea turtles on your Maui bucket list? Can’t miss them here, that’s why Maluaka Beach is also known as Turtle Town, Maui!

We saw a whole bunch, some real giants, gracefully swimming in the ocean waters, or just napping on the beach, where you can barely tell them apart from the lava rocks.

Vacationing in Maui? Join us as we guide you on how to plan your trip to Maluaka Beach in Maui.

Hey, by the way! Snorkeling is probably at the top of your Maui itinerary — check out our guides to the best tours to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, two of the top snorkel spots on Maui!

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Directions to Maluaka Beach, Kihei, Maui

Turtle Town, Maui & Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach is also known as Turtle Town, or considered part of the Turtle Town stretch of beaches along the leeward side of Maui.

Turtle Town is quite a joke in Maui, and if you ask locals directions to Turtle Town, you’ll get a variety of answers, simply because many different locations are referred to as Turtle Town in Maui.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

How to get to Maluaka Beach

Take Highway 31 to Wailea Ike Drive and head south on Wailea Alanui Drive, the main artery through the towns of Wailea and Makena.

The road name will change to Makena Alanui Drive when you go through the town of Makena.

You will pass through some beautiful, green golf courses on your left.

If you want to pass by Keawala’i Church or are headed to the north parking lot, take a right on Honoiki Street and head south on Makena Road.

Most people head to Maluaka Beach South Access, and for that, you can continue on Makena Alanui and take a right to Makena Keonoio Road, and follow the road signs to parking.

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Maluaka Beach Parking

Maluaka Beach parking is ample and free, with two public parking lots!

The Maluaka Beach parking lot on the north end is near Keawala’i Church, along Makena Road, handy if you want to visit the church or take some photos.

The Maluaka Beach parking lot at the south end near the Maluaka Beach south access is a lot more spacious, and we usually have no problems finding a spot here.

There is an overflow lot beyond the initial parking area as well.

Most people prefer to park at the south end, much closer to the best Maluaka Beach snorkeling spots!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Maluaka Beach Map

The below Maluaka Beach map shows the location of the beach and how to get there.

Maluaka Beach Access

If you parked on the south end, take the beautiful walkway lined with palm trees that parallels the beach, and there are small access paths and steps off the walkway to the beach on your left.

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If you parked on Makena Road along the beachfront on the north end, you have small access paths leading to the beach from the road.

If you have a lot of gear, you can drive on Makena Road, and there are a couple of convenient points where you can offload the gear, and head to parking.

Maluaka Beach Reservations

No reservations or permits are needed for Maluaka Beach. Yay!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Maluaka Beach Amenities / Facilities

Location:South end of Wailea-Makena, South Maui
Lifeguard:No
Beach Amenities:Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grass areas, walkway
Food Nearby:Wailea-Makena
Parking:Two free public parking lots, north end and south end
Directions:Makena Keonoio Road or Honoiki Street, off Makena Alanui (map)

The beach is open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. There are no lifeguards.

There are picnic tables on the grassy knoll perched above the beach, a great place to relax and spot humpback whales (in winter) or spinner dolphins.

Best Things to Do at Maluaka Beach, Maui

Maluaka Beach is one of the best family friendly beaches on Maui, with super soft sand, fun, manageable waves, and great snorkeling.

You get beautiful views of Pu’u Olai cinder cone in the distance to the south.

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Keep an eye on the kids though, there are no lifeguards.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

1. Maluaka Beach Snorkeling

Maluaka Beach is one of the best Maui snorkeling beaches, with fringing coral reefs on both ends of the beach.

The north end coral reef is smaller and snorkeling here is mostly around the lava rocks near the beach.

The south end coral reef is extensive and continues off shore for quite some distance, and you get to see bigger fish as you head further off shore to the outer reef and deeper south.

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If Maluaka Beach snorkel is in your plans, keep your base at the south end. The younger kids can snorkel here with their parents, close to shore.

The more experienced teenage kids can head for the outer reef, where they’ll encounter bigger fish and more variety.

We saw plenty of red slate pencil urchin, schools of yellow tangs and convict tangs, and many types of butterflyfish and reef triggerfish in the coral reefs closer to shore.

Our older kids saw some green sea turtles, a manta ray and a moray eel on the outer reef and as they ventured further south.

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To identify these common and beautiful reef fish, consult our Hawaiian Fish Snorkeling Guide!

2. Admire Turtles on Maluaka Beach (Turtle Town, Maui)

There is a reason why Maluaka Beach is also called Maui Turtle Town: turtles galore!

On every visit to Maluaka Beach, we’ve seen many Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu), either while snorkeling in the waters or on the sandy beach itself, resting.

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Hawaiian green sea turtles are an endangered species and protected, make sure you give them a wide berth, and let them rest on the beach in peace!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

3. Maluaka Beach Swimming

With lava rocks and coral reefs on both ends, Maluaka Beach is a huge natural swimming pool in the middle, with shallow waters.

Waters are usually calm, especially in the mornings, making Maluaka Beach a great beach for swimming laps along the shore.

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The water gets to about 15 feet deep as you go further from the shore, so life vests or other flotation devices are advisable.

Also, every once in a while, catamarans will come quite close to the beach, where passengers on snorkeling trips embark and disembark, so keep an eye out for them.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

4. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book on Maluaka Beach

The finely powdered, super soft, long stretch of sand on Maluaka Beach is perfect for sunbathing or relaxing with a book!

Being one of the relatively uncrowded beaches in South Maui (we often had the beach to ourselves in the mornings), finding the perfect secluded spot is easy.

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You have some shade from large trees on the south end of the beach, else bring a beach umbrella.

5. Stay Back for Spectacular Sunset Views from Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach is one of the best sunset beaches on Maui, and admiring the sunset with your partner as you stroll along the golden sands is one of the most romantic things to do on Maui!

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The setting sun transforms the skies into a colorful panorama as it gracefully sinks into the Pacific Ocean waters.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

6. Surf or Boogie Board on Maluaka Beach

If you’ve been to Kapalua or Ka’anapali beaches, you probably know how towering some of those waves can be!

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Not so at Maluaka Beach, where the waves are much more manageable, the perfect size for kids to boogie board or for beginning adults to try their hand with surfing!

We kept returning to Maluaka Beach because our kids had so much fun boogie boarding! Every once in a while, they would get a thrilling wave, just enough excitement for them.

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7. Kayak or Canoe on Maluaka Beach

On the last day of our Maui vacation, our teenage kids and we rented a group canoe, and had some great fun canoeing in the open ocean waters at Maluaka Beach.

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The waters were calm and placid, and we could canoe some distance out and get beautiful, panoramic views of the southwest Maui coastline!

Use Makena Road to offload the canoe(s) or kayak(s), before you park, so you don’t have to lug it all the way from the parking lot!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Snorkeling and Water Activities Gear Checklist

Though you can rent snorkeling gear or use the ones that come with tours, we invested in our own gear, mainly due to Covid-19 (why take the risk?).

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Tips for Your Visit to Maluaka Beach, Maui

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Compared to the other beaches on Maui, Maluaka Beach tends to be uncrowded, especially in the mornings and early afternoons.

We felt we had the best beach experience here!

With limited shade, make sure you apply reefsafe sunscreen liberally, even if you’re in the water, swimming or snorkeling.

Check the weather and surf conditions. While usually calm, high surf conditions or large swells are common when storms move in.

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We rented all the beach gear and equipment from nearby Wailea-Makena, and packed picnic lunches, snacks and drinks.

Restaurants and food trucks are also conveniently nearby, a few minutes drive.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Ocean Safety Tips

Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful, but ocean activities can be dangerous. Ocean conditions are dynamic and can change without warning.

Here are some tips to enjoy the ocean and beaches safely:

  • ALWAYS heed posted warning signs.
  • Check conditions just before you arrive at your chosen beach, and watch conditions at the beach for a bit before you decide to enter the water.
  • Swim at a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguard for advice before you enter the water.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean, whether you are standing at the shore or on a cliff above. If you see wet rocks or sand, it means the water has been here recently.
  • Know your limitations, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. If in doubt, do not go out.
  • If you choose to enter the water, go with a partner or in a group.
  • Know that alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills in the water.
  • Keep children close and always keep your eyes on what they are doing in the water.
  • Watch for sharp coral or rocks or sea urchins.
  • Check advisories regarding water quality at various beaches here.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

What Else to Do Near Maluaka Beach, Maui, HI

Molokini Crater

On a clear day, you’ll be able to Molokini Crater off in the distance, the crescent-shaped remnants of a volcanic crater.

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Molokini Crater snorkeling is the best snorkeling in Maui!

You can find over 250+ species of tropical fish in the protected waters of the crater basin, with spectacular underwater visibility.

You can’t swim there, but you can take a boat tour, and some leave right from Maluaka Beach!

Keawala’i Church

Just a few minutes from the north end of Maluaka Beach is Keawala’i Church, an old stone church, a historic landmark.

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Apart from attending a service (when available), you can take some beautiful photos of the church and the picturesque setting, even if you can’t go in.

You get some fabulous views from the church and grounds of the Pacific Ocean, Molokini Crater in the distance, Lanai and Kaho’olawe islands, and the West Maui mountains.

Also check out the safety guide published by Maui County.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

The Best Maui Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?

Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!

A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!

A Maui whale watching raft tour, which will let you see the massive humpback whales at eye level! (You can also opt for a more sedate boat whale watching tour.) A MUST winter Maui activity!

A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!

A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!

An oceanfront luau in Wailea where you can enjoy a sunset buffet and traditional Polynesian entertainment. You can also opt for a Kaanapali oceanfront luau.

Renting a Car in Maui

The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.

Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Maui car rentals now!

Where to Stay in Maui

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.

We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Maui vacation rental on VRBO now!

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!

If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.

If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!

If you are planning a brief first visit to Maui, here’s our 3-day Maui itinerary to help you flesh out your own trip! And if you are considering a couples getaway to Maui, read about the top romantic things to do in Maui!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.

One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!

Maui boasts one of only two national parks in Hawaii. Read our round-up of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park. We also have the ultimate guide to sunrise at Haleakala.

We also have a guide to the best hikes in Haleakala National Park, and in-depth hiking guides to the two most epic hikes in the park: the Sliding Sands Trail and the Pipiwai Trail.

Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!

We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.

Water activities are plentiful in Maui! Check out our epic guide to whale watching in Maui, and our guide to the best Molokini snorkeling tours and the best Turtle Town snorkeling.

If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.

Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.

We also have articles on the much-visited Kaanapali Beach, the popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.

If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.

Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.

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Maluaka Beach, Maui (Turtle Town): Complete 2024 Visitor Guide (24)

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Maluaka Beach, Maui (Turtle Town): Complete 2024 Visitor Guide (2024)

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