🏝North Shore of Maui: Best Beaches & Things to Do (2024)

Best things to do on the North Shore of Maui blog post cover.  Text overlaying an image of a surf board fence in Paia, North Shore, Maui under a blue sky.

The North Shore of Maui is a region best known for pristine beaches, epic wind sailing, and being the gateway to the famous Road to Hana scenic drive into Maui’s tropical rainforests.

With turtle-filled beaches, charming historic towns, amazing surf, and a thriving local scene, it has a lot more to offer for those who take the time to discover it!

Sophie and I have family that host us whenever we visit in the small town of Haiku. This local guidance has allowed us to find all of the best beaches and spots to visit on the North Shore.

In this guide, I will discuss all of the best towns, secret beaches, and places to visit in the beautiful Maui North Shore.

If you are hoping to see The Valley Island in its purest form, free from the curated experience that the tourist towns manufacture, it is worth setting aside at least a day to explore the Maui North Shore.

🏖 Top 10 Best Beaches on the North Shore of Maui

While the South Maui and West Maui regions get most of the attention, there are a handful of incredible tropical beaches on the north shore of Maui that rank among the best on the island.

Impossibly blue water, soft golden sand, and vibrant green palm trees decorate some of these treasured coastlines.

The best part is that the beaches of the Maui North Shore tend to be far less crowded than their west coast counterparts.

Discover the best hidden shorelines in our

🌴 1. Baldwin Beach Park

Sophie Marland stands on the beautiful golden sand of Baldwin Beach on the north shore of Maui.
Sophie walks along the shore of Baldwin Beach.

Most people consider Baldwin Beach Park to be the best beach on the North Shore of Maui. This park provides more than just sand and ocean water, featuring recreational facilities such as a basketball court and a sheltered picnic area.

Visitors will also have free access to BBQ pits, restrooms, and showers with a lifeguard on duty most of the day.

Soft white sand with deep blue and teal ocean water creates a magical, tropical scene. In the distance, the West Maui Mountains tower majestically to complete a postcard-worthy frame.

Find out more about this incredible beach in our

🏄 2. Ho’okipa Beach Park

A view of Hookipa Beach from Hookipa Lookout on the Maui North Shore.
The view of Ho’okipa Beach Park, as seen from Ho’okipa Lookout.

Ho’okipa Beach Park is a haven for sea turtles and a mecca for surfing and windsurfing. It is the most famous and popular beach on the Maui North Shore, particularly for tourists who want assurance of seeing the adorable “honus” (Hawaiian for sea turtle).

Ho’okipa Beach is the final beach on the Hana Highway prior to where the Road to Hana scenic drive officially begins at Mile Marker 0.

Turtle sightings are guaranteed. On one of our visits, we lost count at over 100 turtles on the beach!

A small cove in the corner of the shoreline has been dedicated as a honu resting area, monitored by local surfers and a daily lifeguard.

Find out more about seeing the turtles and visiting this beach in our

🐢 3. Kaulahao Beach

Despite being located directly on the Hana Hwy, most tourists drive right by the turtle sanctuary of Kaulahao Beach, also known as Kuau Beach Park.

Kaulahao Beach is considered one of the best secret beaches on Maui. Appreciated mostly by residents, this locals’ hangout offers a small beach with coarse sand and deep blue water.

There is also a dedicated section of the beach for the sea turtles to sleep, much like the one found at Ho’okipa Beach.

Find out more about this beach in our

🏝 4. Sprecklesville Beach

Blue sky, green ocean, black rock, and red shore complete with gold sand beach make up the scenery at Spreckelsville Beach.

The colorful and photogenic Spreckelsville Beach (aka Sprecks Beach or Baby Beach) is an extension of Baldwin Beach.

It is a great option for photographers like ourselves to get some interesting snaps. Windsurfers and casual beachgoers also frequent Spreks Beach to get away from crowds.

What makes this hidden gem so remarkable is the natural color palette. Visitors will discover a lava-red shelf with blue skies, golden sand, aqua water, green trees, and black lava rocks filling out the scenery.

Both Baldwin Beach and Sprecks Beach are considered some of the best beaches on the Maui North Shore and have become popular stops on the Road to Hana scenic drive.

Find out more about this beach in our

🌊 5.Paia Beach / Lower Paia Park

Footsteps lead down Paia Beach on our walk along the North Shore of Maui.
Footsteps lead to the tropical east shore of Paia Beach.

Paia Beach is located within Lower Paia Park and is within walking distance from the historic Maui town that bears its namesake.

The beach is more of a pale gold than true white but is pleasant for sitting and walking when the winds are calm. The water in Paia Bay tends to be true sea green or aqua in color.

Lower Paia Park offers most essential facilities such as parking, bathrooms, and showers. A lifeguard is also on duty from 8am-4:30pm each day.

The east end of Paia Beach has more tropical vibes than the west, which is typically quiet.

Don’t be surprised to find some free-spirited beachgoers seeking out the clothing-optional Paia Secret Beach on the west end.

🔎 Find out more about this beach in our

⛱ 6. VOR Beach

A kitesurfer enjoys a day in paradise at VOR Beach on the Maui North Shore.
A kitesurfer enjoys a day in paradise at VOR Beach on the Maui North Shore.

Hidden down a dirt road behind Kahului Airport (OGG) is a tropical paradise known as VOR Beach. This amazing beach is always quiet and visited primarily by locals.

The sand at VOR Beach is a bit coarse, and the setting is not as immediately daydreamy as some of the others on this list. However, if you walk just a short distance to the left upon arrival, you will find thriving palm trees lurching over the sand, creating a postcard-perfect frame.

VOR Beach is always our first stop when we touch down on Maui. I just love how pretty and quiet the beach always seems to be!

Time permitting, be sure to include this hidden gem on your Maui itinerary and discover why it is considered one of the best secret beaches on Maui.

🔎 Find out more about this beach in our

🍹 7. Kanaha Beach Park

A myriad of windsurfers take to the sky at Kanaha Beach on the Maui North Shore.
PC: loraineltai

Kanaha Beach Park hosts two miles of tropical blue waters, white-to-gold sand, lush greenery, and unbeatable views of the West Maui Mountains.

With its walking distance proximity from Maui Airport (OGG), this semi-secret gem is a great place to start or end any Maui itinerary.

As you may have noticed by now, the North Shore of Maui is known for high winds and strong currents that delight local windsurfers.

Of the beaches in the north, Kanaha Beach is the most popular.

Find out more about this beach in our

🐠 8. Mama’s Fish House Beach aka Kuau Cove

This will not be the only time we mention Mama’s Fish House in this guide.

Mama’s Fish House restaurant is a must-eat destination for the foodies out there, but anyone can enjoy the idyllic golden-sand beach that adorns its oceanfront property.

Known also as Kuau Cove, Mama’s Fish House Beach is a quaint but picture-perfect tropical setting favored by visitors who want to experience aloha with their taste buds as well as their eyes.

The beach is one of the best on the Maui North Shore and on the list of the top 10 best places to watch sunset in Maui.

🔎 Find out more about this beach in our

👙 9. Paia Secret Beach

Paia Secret Beach is a clothing-optional expansion of Lower Paia Beach (aka Paia Bay) accessible via a short overland trail.

The sand is far more coarse than most other beaches on our list and surprisingly different from its sister beach.

However, it is one of the quietest beaches you will find anywhere on the island of Maui, with beautiful views besides.

While you’re nearby, be sure to visit the Paia town nearby. It is considered one of the Top 10 towns to visit in Maui.

🔎 Find out more about this beach in our

🦞 10. Lobster Cove Beach

This tiny cove is the least-known beach listed in the top 10. It is precisely this anonymity that earns it a spot on our list, as you are all but guaranteed to have this piece of paradise all to yourself… if you can get to it!

The simplest way to get there is to begin at VOR Beach and walk east along the shoreline, scrambling over lava rock at times. However, be mindful of the tide times as high tide may make walking back challenging or impossible until it recedes.

You will first pass Euro Beach, a fine option as well, followed by the truly remote Lobster Cove Beach before the shoreline ends.

🌺 Top 10 Things to Do on the North Shore of Maui

While most visitors of the region are here to begin the Road to Hana drive or to explore the incredible beaches, there are plenty of fun things to do on the North Shore of Maui.

Historic towns, local shops, and fresh-caught seafood are claims to fame for North Maui, but there is truly something for everyone.

Below are the top 10 things to do when visiting the Maui North Shore.

🛍 Explore Historic Paia Town

One of the best things to do on the North Shore of Maui is to explore the historic plantation town of Paia. The colorful, pastel buildings are home to a number of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, often more reasonably priced than other parts of the island.

Paia is a refreshing town, away from the high-rise resorts of South and West Maui. Its laidback hippie and surfer vibes are more synonymous with island life – don’t be surprised to see a shop closed during typical opening hours with a sign saying “gone surfing, back later”!

If you’re looking for unique Hawaii gifts or souvenirs, Paia is a great place to find them!

With more affordable accommodation than other parts of the island, spectacular beaches, and great shops and restaurants, Paia is quickly becoming one of the top places to stay on Maui.

🍽 Have Dinner (or Lunch) with a View at Mama’s Fish House

Enjoy lunch or dinner with a view at Mama's Fish House, one of the best things to do on Maui North Shore

Indulge in fresh-caught Maui fish at Mama’s Fish House, with a menu that changes daily based on the catch of the day.

Located on the eponymous Mama’s Fish House Beach, it is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Maui before enjoying dinner at this high-end restaurant.

However, this place is no secret, being renowned for its incredible seafood. As such, you will want to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment!

🍤 Enjoy Fresh Seafood from Paia Fish Market

Right in the heart of town is Paia Fish Market. Known for its fresh seafood at an affordable rate, you can expect to see lines outside from soon after it opens!

It is a particularly popular dinner spot for people coming back from the Road to Hana. If you enjoy seafood, you won’t want to miss eating here.

🤿 Chill & Snorkel with Turtles

There are quite a few places on Maui where you can expect to see the famous Hawaiian sea turtles, known locally as honu, but the North Shore has a few beaches where you are guaranteed to see them.

When the surf allows, these same beaches also provide opportunities to snorkel with them for those who wish to do so, just be sure not to touch or bother them!

The best beaches for seeing sea turtles are Ho’okipa Beach and Kaulahao Beach. Both have designated sections that are off-limits to humans and, as a result, are nearly always packed with resting turtles. Ho’okipa has a higher population of honu but does not typically allow swimming or snorkeling. Kaulahao Beach allows you to get a little closer and snorkeling is permitted.

🍍 Take a Maui Pineapple Tour

A pineapple tour is one of the best things to do in North Shore Maui

Hawaii has a rich history of pineapple farming, once considered the pineapple capital of the world.

On a Maui pineapple tour, you can learn more about the history, culture, and the hard work that goes into producing this iconic fruit. You will also get to sample Maui Gold pineapples and at the end of the tour, you’ll even get an ‘airport-ready’, fresh pineapple to take home!

🎭 Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center

Situated in a 1917 mansion, Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center is the only historic estate on Maui that is free to the public. In addition to tours of the beautiful grounds, you can also discover galleries and exhibitions, as well as take a class in a variety of arts.

Be sure to stop by The Gallery Shop for one-of-a-kind locally made gifts and souvenirs to take a piece of art home with you.

🚵‍♀️ Bike Down Haleakala Volcano

View from the summit of Haleakala Volcano in Maui

Take in one of the best views in Maui from the summit of Haleakala before biking down the slopes of the volcano. A van will drive you to the top of the mountain from which you will bike 24 miles (39km) from 6,600 ft (2000m) to sea level. While it may sound daunting, the journey requires less than 1 mile of peddling and takes place all on paved roads at your own pace.

While this incredible adventure is technically in the upcountry, the start and end point for these tours are in either Paia or Haiku, sneaking it into this list of Maui North Shore best things to do!

🏄 Watch Surfers at Jaws

Peahi or “Jaws” is Maui’s most famous surf spot and is home to one of the biggest waves ever surfed. This famous surf break sees surfers take on waves ranging from 30-80ft high and is a phenomenal sight to witness.

However, the perfect conditions that are required to create these mega waves happen for only brief spells each year between November and March. When the big swells occur, surfers are towed into the massive waves by jet skis.

If you’re fortunate enough to be on Maui when these epic waves occur, head to the viewpoint over the Pe’ahi cliffs for the best vantage point. However, the 1.5-mile road to the viewpoint is heavily rutted and often muddy, so four-wheel drive is required. Alternatively, park at the end of the road and walk down.

🚘 Begin the Road to Hana

As incredible as the North Shore of Maui is, most visitors only experience it at 60mph as they drive by it to begin the famous Road to Hana scenic drive.

I advise doing both, though I recognize time can be limited.

If you are planning or considering undertaking this lengthy drive, you will find Mile Marker 0 just past all of the beaches and towns I have discussed in this guide.

For most, this is a full-day endeavor, but I recommend it as an overnight adventure. If you are interested in finding out more, have a look at the guide to the Top 25 Road to Hana Stops we have prepared and see for yourself why this famous highway is on everyone’s Maui itinerary.

🧐FAQs about the Maui North Shore

The following are answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding visits to the North Shore of Maui.

To reveal answers and find out more information, simply click the dropdown arrows for the corresponding box.

What are the best beaches on the north shore of Maui?

The Top 10 beaches on the North Shore of Maui are:

  1. Baldwin Beach Park
  2. Ho’okipa Beach Park
  3. Kaulahao Beach
  4. Sprecklesville Beach
  5. Paia Beach / Lower Paia Park
  6. VOR Beach
  7. Kanaha Beach Park
  8. Mama’s Fish House Beach
  9. Paia Secret Beach
  10. Lobster Cove Beach
What are the best things to do on the north shore of Maui?

The Top 10 Things to Do on the North Shore of Maui are:

  1. Explore Historic Paia Town
  2. Have Dinner (or Lunch) with a View at Mama’s Fish House
  3. Enjoy Fresh Seafood from Paia Fish Market
  4. Snorkel with Turtles
  5. Zipline Over the Rainforest
  6. Take a Maui Pineapple Tour
  7. Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center
  8. Bike Down Haleakala Volcano
  9. Watch Surfers at Jaws
  10. Begin the Road to Hana
What towns are in North Maui?

Kahalui, Paia, and Haiku are the three towns on the North Shore of Maui. Kahalui is the largest and is where the airport and most of the major chain stores are located. Paia is a charming, historic tourist town on the Road to Hana, whereas Haiku is not much more than a residential community with a grocery store and a few small restaurants.

Is the Maui north shore worth visiting?

The north shore of Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches you will find anywhere in Hawaii, as well as some incredible things to do. It is worth a day on any Maui itinerary, especially for visitors with plans to drive The Road to Hana.

📖 More Maui Guides

A photo of travel blogger Sophie Marland standing on the shore of Red Sand Beach in Maui.
Discover the best Secret Beaches of Maui, including the incredible Red Sand Beach seen above.

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Before you go, you may want to skim some of the titles for other relevant Maui guides below to ensure you do not miss any epic beaches, sunset destinations, or noteworthy things to do during your visit to the Valley Isle!

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's “Chief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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