Hana’s Two Famous Beaches

Visitors lament that there aren’t any nice beaches in Hana. Waterfalls, yes, but beaches, no. This is a common misperception among those who made the mistake of turning around in the town of Hana, thinking they had reached the final destination. A few miles past the town of Hana are two of the most stunning beaches you’ll find in East Maui, including one that consistently ranks as one of the top 10 in the United States.

Waves roll in on the flat sand of Koki Beach in Hana, Maui.
According to legend, Koki Beach is where Pele, the volcano goddess, met her mortal end. Photo © Brandon Bourdages/123rf.

Koki Beach

To reach Hana’s two famous beaches, travel 1.5 miles past the center of town (Hana Ballpark) and then make a left on Haneo‘o Road. Going downhill, the first beach you’ll come to is Koki Beach, a favorite hangout of local surfers. Koki gets windy during the afternoon. On the left side of the beach, you can scramble over some rocks to reach some hidden sections of sand. Access to these smaller beaches is only possible at low tide, so most visitors stay on the main section of beach. The dark-red sand is a product of a cinder cone known as Ka Iwi O Pele (“the bones of Pele”). According to legend, this is where Pele, the volcano goddess, met her mortal end. Her bones were stacked high on the shoreline before her spirit traveled southeast to the Big Island.

Hamoa Beach

Continue along Haneo‘o Road, paralleling the ocean, the snowcapped peak of Mauna Kea on the Big Island occasionally visible in the distance. At low tide you can also see the remnants of the ancient Haneo‘o Fishpond, although access to the fishpond rests on private land. As the road rounds back to the right, you’ll finally catch glimpses of a beach that Mark Twain considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

View over lush trees to the yellow sand beach of Hamoa on Maui.
Look down at Hamoa Beach from a viewpoint. Photo © Maria Luisa Lopez Estivill/123rf.

Before you experience Hamoa Beach for yourself, however, you need to find a parking spot. Parking is tight; park only on the right side of the road so that traffic flows smoothly on the left. You might have to drive past the beach before you can find a space. Access to the beach is down the stone stairway. The park area at the bottom of the stairs is property of the Travaasa Hana hotel but the sandy beach is public property.

This is the best spot in Hana for a relaxing day at the beach. On the calmest of days it’s possible to snorkel along the rocky coastline, though most visitors will prefer to bodysurf the consistent, playful shorebreak. This can also be one of the best surf breaks in the area.

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