The longest continuous stretch of sand on the whole island, this beach has fantastic views of nearby islands of Kaho'olawe, Molokini and Lanai, and a gently sloping expanse of sand that is perfect for walking and jogging. It is home to two Hawaiian canoe clubs, one of which does "guest paddle" programs for visitors. Sugar Beach continues the sand expanse that is Ma'alaea beach and spans from the junction of routes 30 and 310 (North Kihei Road) south to South Kihei Road turn-off. The south end is fronted by several blocks of condominium buildings that often provide a windbreak from the strong northwesterly winds blowing consistently through the area in the late mornings and afternoons.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Long stretch of beach, plenty of room, shallow calm water, and perfect whale-watching spot in wintertime. (November through March).
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, jogging, beach walks, Stand-Up Paddling, Hawaiian canoe paddling.
WARNINGS!: The area of the beach at its southernmost end (North Kihei Road) has a rocky jetty surrounded with underwater rocks and debris. Some shore break during summer surf episodes.
AMENITIES: No restrooms are at this beach; closest are located a short walk away at Kenolio Park across South Kihei Road opposite the south end of the beach.
South end of the beach (South Kihei Road)
The beach gets the name from its use as a cargo-loading area for the nearby sugar plantation back in the late 1800's. The remnants of a stone wharf can be seen at the South Kihei Road end of the beach. These days mostly condominium dwellers, local fishermen, and athletes use this beach. There is a small grocery across from the pier area that has snacks and beverages for your refreshment needs. Water hoses on the beach fronting the canoe club on South Kihei Road are just about the only amenities we found. The only public restroom in the area is at the far side of the baseball fields in Kenolio Park which across the street from the pier area. For a public beach wayside with full restroom facilities, picnic tables and showers, drive south for about 1 mile and look for it on the ocean side of the roadway. We found this to be a good support area for the south end of Sugar Beach, and has a ribbon of sand backed by dunes that buffers the roadway from the ocean front.
Central access (paved ADA pathway to the beach)
Adjacent to the Kihei Sands condominiums at 115 North Kihei Road there is a newly constructed paved sidewalk beach access pathway that puts you right in the heart of Sugar Beach. There is a single loading parking space next to the path. For a longer-term parking take a short drive south on North Kihei Road, make a right-hand turn onto South Kihei Road, then immediate right turn and follow the parking signs. This lot is 400 feet walking distance from the beach, so be ready to travel that far, or park at either end of the beach for closer access. There is very little shade at this part of the beach, but the buildings provide a windbreak for this area where high wind is the norm.
North-west end of the beach (North Kihei Road)
This portion of the beach curves up along North Kihei road (also known as route 310). An oceanfront canoe club at the north end of the string of condominiums marks the beginning of numerous gravel or dirt roadside parking pull-off nooks. The view is particularly majestic on this end, and the whales can be seen not so far off December through March, as mama and baby whales frequent the shelter of the bay. This end can be windy during the trade-wind weather, as the north-easterly winds bounce off of West Maui mountains into North Kihei area. There are no windbreaks, though there is a line of trees, mostly thorny kiawe (acacia) between the road and the beach that provide shade in this area. There are no beach facilities, but there is a portable restroom and two picnic tables at the Maui Canoe Club. The canoe club on is open to visitors wishing to participate in the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling.
Hawaiian canoe paddling:
Maui Canoe Club (off route 310 at the beach's north-western end) has visitor paddling programs daily Monday through Friday at 7:15 am for $15. More info at: http://www.mauicanoeclub.org/
From Ma'alaea and Lahaina: take Route 30 (Honoapiilani Highway) east. Turn right at the Route 310 junction (North Kihei Road) and follow it for 2.8 miles until the first condominium buildings appear on your right.
From Kahului or Kihei: Take Route 311 (Mokulele highway) to north Kihei and turn right onto route 310 (North Kihei Road). Then either turn left shortly onto South Kihei Road and look for roadside parking for the south end of the beach, or proceed on North Kihei Road past the condominiums and look for parking on the ocean side of the road for the north-west end of the beach.