Launiupoko Beach park
Launiupoko Beach park
A water sports playground meets picnic in paradise, this is Maui's premiere West Side ocean park nestled just a mile south outside of the town of Lahaina. Easily found off route 30, this county park with great facilities is popular with locals and visitors alike. Coconut tree-shaded picnic table-studded ocean-front lawn runs the entire length of the park. Sandy beach fronts the ocean on the left side of park, while a fully enclosed cove protects the littlest swimmers from the swells and currents. There are three spectacular surf breaks that go off during medium-size southern swells, mostly in the summer. During the winter season you can see whales right from the shore, as they cruise the waters between Maui and Lana'i in great numbers.
AT A GLANCE
HIGHLIGHTS: Beginning surfer- and SUP-friendly, abundant shade, small sheltered kids' cove, and spectacular views and sunsets. Bonus: Winter whale watching!
ACTIVITIES: Longboard surfing, SUP, swimming, near-shore whale watching in winter, picnicking.
WARNINGS: shallow, submerged rocks and reef in some of the near-shore areas, enter water carefully especially during low tides. Best entrance for surfing is to the left of the kids' pool.
AMENITIES: Shower and rest room facilities, picnic tables, barbeques, dedicated parking, additional parking across the highway.
County of Maui Launiupoko Park website link:
This is the closest beach park for the south end of Lahaina, and is popular. If the primary parking lot is full, go to the overflow parking area across the street. The park has abundant shaded areas with many potential picnic locations with barbeques and benches provided. At the center of the park you will find a small sandy kids' lagoon that is separated by the stone jetties from the open ocean. If you desire less park commotion and more privacy, stretch of the beach to your left (facing the ocean )has trees blocking the road view, making you feel far more remote then you actually are. The place offers superb views of Kaho'olawe and Lana'i islands, and the sunsets here are often colorful postcard pictures in the making. Whales are highly visible January through March, just mile or so off-shore, as the whales with babies prefer this sheltered part of the whale sanctuary. Whale sanctuary itself spans the ocean waters between all the visible islands. The beach is made of the softest finest sand mixed with dense river sediments, so the water is often a bit cloudy near shore but clears up past the low reef and breakers.
Launiupoko has surf breaks suitable for long-boarding during southern or south-western swells. The waves often form 3 distinct surf-able breaks within 100 yards of shore. When there are waves to be had, there will be a steady rotation of surfers taking advantage of the surf all day long. If you are new to surfing here, it is worth sitting back for a few minutes to see the line-up spots for the surf breaks, as well as the safe channels in which to paddle out.
Watch out for the stand-up paddlers as their increased buoyancy allows them to catch the waves further out, and according to surf etiquette, it becomes their wave and they have the right of way, often taking over the breaks. Many are often friendly enough to share the wave they are on, but wait for the eye contact and acknowledgement, or catch yourself the next wave. General guideline is first person standing up on the wave peak has the "right of way", but that may not always mean you will not have several people on one wave at a time.
The best beginner surf spot is located at the far right end of the park, when facing the ocean. Walk over past all the picnic tables, and enter the water from a sandy spot in a small cove that will be evident. As you paddle out look for a narrow channel in the reefs (aligned with the large tree) for easier access.
Take Route 30 from Ma'alaea harbor area heading to Lahaina to the 18-mile marker. Look for Kai Heleku Road traffic light intersection and "Launiopoko Beach Park" sign, turn left into the parking lot. The parking lot is small, but additional parking can be found across the highway off of Kai Heleku road.
Take route 30 out of Lahaina heading south, and look for Kai Heleku Road traffic-light intersection and "Launiopoko Beach Park" sign, and enter the park on your right. Look for parking; if the lot is full, additional lot is located across the highway.
Mile 18 on route 30 at Kai Heleku Rd. & Honoapiilani Highway intersection.