Picture this: fine white sand kissed by teal blue waters, the air hot and thick as you sit under the shade of a tree to escape even further into a book. There are only a few other people gracing the sand, but they’re far enough away to make it feel as though you’re on your own private beach. No high rise hotels. No jockeying for a beach chair. Just you, your book, and the sea. This can be your reality on the beaches in Paia Maui as it was mine for a few short days!
Most people know Paia Maui as the final gas and lunch stop before the Road to Hana. Paia is a small beach town located on the North Shore of Maui with a hippie vibe. There are two main streets, Baldwin Avenue & Hana Highway, where you’ll find the majority of shops and restaurants placed in buildings reminiscent of old Wild West towns.
If you’re visiting Paia for more than a pitstop before Hana there are plenty of things to do, but this post is dedicated to the four best beaches within walking distance from Paia town that you absolutely must check out.
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Quick Tips for Visiting Paia’s Beaches
- Parking: All of Paia’s beaches have parking lots, although some are larger than others.
- Cost: All of the beaches are free to visit! This means you can stick to your Maui budget while still experiencing the beauty of the island.
- Facilities: Some of the beaches in Paia have facilities such as bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables while others do not. Don’t worry though, I’ll specify which ones have them as we break it down.
Paia Beach Packing List
There are a few things you’ll definitely want to bring with you to any of these Paia beaches to ensure you have a good time!
- Sunscreen: reef safe sunscreen is a must when you plan to swim in the ocean. I personally love Sun Bum products.
- Sunglasses: protect your eyes! The sand is bright in the sun and polarized sunglasses will protect them.
- Hat: I’m all about the sun protection and HATE putting sunscreen in my hair. So I always wear a hat!
- UPF shirt: if you’re going to be doing a significant amount of snorkeling or swimming, definitely consider wearing a UPF shirt. The sunscreen can get washed away with excessive swimming and toweling off. Wearing a protective shirt means you can snorkel longer!
- Water Bottle: It’s so important to stay hydrated on the beach. I suggest using a reusable and insulated water bottle so that you can add ice to your water, helping you stay hydrated and cool!
- Snacks: There is a great grocery store in Paia called Mana Foods that has delicious grab and go food and plenty of snacks to keep you full when you spend a day on the beach.
- Change of clothes: I used to just stay in a swimsuit all day, but now when I’m ready to head back to town, I change into a dry pair of clothes.
- Book: These beaches are perfect for getting lost in a good book
- Snorkel: Definitely an optional item to bring to the beach, but always nice to have if you want to see if there are any fishies swimming about
- Water Shoes: These are unnecessary at these beaches as the entrances are all sandy!
Beaches in Paia Maui: Paia Bay Beach
Paia Bay is the best beach in Paia for your first stop as it’s the closest beach to town. This white sandy beach is about a ten-minute walk from Baldwin Ave along Hana Highway. Don’t worry, there is a sidewalk the entire way.
On the way, I highly recommend stopping at Paia Bowls for a smoothie, acai bowl, or iced Matcha latte that you can bring with you to the beach!
The waves at Paia Bay can get quite large, but I was lucky on the day I visited as they were calm enough to swim! This is an incredibly popular surfing and boogie boarding beach when the waves are bigger.
This is my favorite beach in Paia because it was my first time realizing that a beach in Hawaii could still have large trees as the backdrop instead of high rise hotels and resorts. Instead of beach chairs and umbrellas, it’s the trees that provide a bit of respite from the strong sun rays. Always wear (reef safe) sunscreen though, I definitely got burned relying on the shade.
Note: There is a small restroom at Paia Bay Beach in the parking lot
Beaches in Paia Maui: Secret Beach
Secret Beach is known for one thing, nudity. A fact I was unaware of as I wandered away from Paia Bay and found a stretch of sand with no one else around. As I read my book, the figure of a fully nude man moved into my peripheral vision. I kind of shrugged and didn’t think much about it. He didn’t bother me. I later asked about it at the hostel and they confirmed that this beach is, in fact, a nude beach.
Secret Beach is located in between Paia Bay and Baldwin Beach. From the street, you wouldn’t know it was there which I guess makes it the perfect spot to let it all hang out. To get here, just walk along the dirt path behind Paia Bay. The path will lead you to this secluded stretch of sand.
You could also access it by walking the path from Baldwin Beach.
You don’t have to be nude to enjoy this beach. Which is the great thing about nude beaches, they have a come as you are vibe. However, if you’ve never experienced the freeing sensation of swimming in the ocean without any barrier between your skin and the salty sea (in broad daylight) you might want to give it a chance.
Note: This is the only beach mentioned here that does not have a parking lot and is only accessible on foot.
Beaches in Paia: Baldwin Beach Park
Baldwin Beach is a 2 mile stretch of fine white sand that is a hot spot for windsurfers when the conditions are right. Baldwin Beach is more popular as it also has restrooms, covered picnic tables, and a lifeguard on duty. However, it is large enough that you won’t feel crowded by the other people there.
The one thing that Baldwin Beach doesn’t offer much of is shade. It’s fairly wide open and exposed to the sun. So be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and even a rash guard or top with UV protection.
Beaches in Paia: Kaulahao Beach
My Irish roomie in the hostel where I was staying told me that Kaulahao Beach was the beach to see sea turtles. Since I still had a few hours before my flight back home I headed out to scope out some sea turtles. Because, if you’ve seen one sea turtle, you want to see them all!
So, off I went to find this small beach located in the opposite direction than the ones mentioned above. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the Baldwin Ave & Hana Highway intersection in Paia. However, the sidewalk does end leaving you to walk along the shoulder of Hana Highway. It’s not too long of a stretch though, as a few minutes after the sidewalk ended I saw the sign for Kaulahao Beach and turned in.
There is a small parking lot if you have a car. When I arrived around 7:00 am there were a few people parked, but they quickly left – likely wanting to get a jump on the Road to Hana. When they left it was just me, a local fisherman, and four sea turtles sprawled out on the sand, mostly napping from whatever adventures they had under the sea (please read that last part in Sebastian’s voice from the Little Mermaid, thank you)!
If there’s one thing I learned from my trip to the Galapagos it’s to give wild animals their space. So I didn’t get too close to them, although the fisherman had no qualms about walking right by their heads! If you plan to visit this beach in hopes of seeing a sea turtle, please give them at least 6 ft of space (we should all be familiar with this distance by now). This is their safe place to rest their heads for a bit. Let them be.
I wouldn’t recommend swimming here – there are large rocks in the water that could be dangerous if you aren’t aware or a big wave comes and knocks you into one.
Now, I know – there are many stunning beaches in Maui. Red sand, white sand, black sand, yellow sand – all of the sands! Plus the lush green backdrops and beautifully warm water to swim in – you really can’t go wrong with any of them. But if you’re looking for a town with a chilled out vibe, excellent food, no resorts, and beautiful beaches for you to finally read that book then the Paia beaches are a must visit on your trip to Maui.
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