Visiting Makena is a must if you’re on Maui’s South shore. Further South past the resort and golf communities of Wailea is a quieter, more rural area called Makena. The popular beach duo, Big Beach & Little Beach are part of Makena State Park. Big Beach is also called Oneloa Beach and is a large white sandy beach, perfect for an early morning beach run, catching some rays, playing a little beach volleyball or even building a sand castle. At nearly a mile and a half long and about 100 feet wide, there is enough space for everyone.
The water is beautiful here and there is some good snorkeling; however, the shore break must be respected. Watch the waves, never turn your back to the ocean and if the swell is too big, stay out of the water. There is a popular saying here: “when in doubt, don’t go out.” In most places on this beach, there is a steep slope so enter and exit the water carefully. There are warning signs posted by the lifeguard at this beach so if you are definitely getting in the water here, it may be a good idea to stay close to the life guard station.
On the North end of Big Beach is Pu`u Ola`i, a cinder cone created when Haleakalā erupted long ago. For the sure footed adventurer, there is a short trail that will lead you over the cone and in just a few minutes, you will find Little Beach. Pack away anything you may be carrying in your hands because you will need both hands for the trail in some places. Little Beach is a nice hidden beach for those who prefer their birthday suit over a bathing suit, but everyone is welcome!
Keep following Makena Road for a few more miles through the dry desert scrub brush landscape, dominated by the kiawe trees, and eventually the landscape changes to a wide expanse of dry, black jagged lava fields. When the road ends, you will arrive at gorgeous La Perouse Bay.
This is area is home to Maui’s newest lava flow that occurred around 250 years ago. The jagged lava rock field may be appealing for some to want to explore but it is important to not get off the trail. There are culturally significant areas as well as your safety to preserve so please follow the signs.