🏝 Papalaua Beach (Thousand Peaks, Maui): Complete Guide (2024)

Pāpalaua Beach (Thousand Peaks, Maui) blog post cover.  Text overlaying an image of Papalaua Beach looking towards Lanai with turquoise water, white sand, and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

Papalaua Beach Park, or Thousand Peaks Beach as it is known locally, is a small beach on the south shore of the West Maui region.

While the sand is generally more coarse and filled with debris than tourists prefer, it is popular for locals due to the ability to camp, snorkel, and BBQ.

We spent a magical evening camping there with a local family, cooking dinner right on the beach and sleeping beneath the trees. It was one of our favorite experiences from our dozens of visits to Hawaii.

We have created this guide to provide photos, directions, and everything you need to know for visiting the Thousand Peaks beach on Maui.

πŸ– Papalaua Beach (Thousand Peaks) Overview


Papalaua Beach Park (or Papalaua State Wayside Park) is a short stretch of course sand on the south shore region of West Maui.

It is also referred to as Thousand Peaks locally due to the many surf breaks, or peaks, that occur on the shallow reef offshore. These breaks make it a popular spot for bodyboarders and longboard surfers.

Locals enjoy Papalaua Beach as one of the few places where camping is permitted, although a permit must be obtained. It is also a popular spot for snorkeling when the ocean is calm and is considered one of the best destinations for watching the sunset in Maui.

Make sure you have beach shoes or tread carefully here as invasive kiawe trees line the beach, dropping their sharp thorns onto the sand.

These spiky thorns were a frequent problem throughout our visit!


  • Nearest Town: Lahaina & Kihei (both 20 minutes away, both Top 10 Maui Towns to Visit)
  • Public Bathrooms? Yes, portapotties.
  • Picnic Benches? No.
  • Showers? No.
  • Grills? No.
  • Lifeguard? No.

πŸ—Ί How to Get to Papalaua Beach (Thousand Peaks)

With Navigation: Input Papalaua Beach Park into Google Maps or other navigation.

General Directions from Lahaina: Drive 10 miles south along Highway 30 toward Kihei. Papalaua Beach will be on your right, but there is signage.

General Directions from Kihei: Drive 11 miles north along Hwy 30 toward Lahaina. Thousand Peaks will be the first beach on the right after driving through the tunnel.

πŸŒ… When to Visit Papalaua Beach / Thousand Peaks

The best time to visit Papalaua Beach is at sunset. In fact, this destination is considered one of the top 10 beaches for watching sunset in Maui.

Most of the beach is west-facing, providing a picturesque view of the sun going down behind Lanai.

Daytime is also an excellent time to visit, particularly on sunny days, as Thousand Peaks Beach has a stunning coral garden to snorkel.

Sunset photography from Thousand Peaks Beach in West Maui.
Sunset is a magical time to visit Thousand Peaks Beach

Overnight visits are also extremely popular here as it is one of three Maui county campsites.

Permits for camping must be obtained from the Maui Department of Parks and Recreation by clicking here.

🌺 More Maui Travel Guides

A swimmer walking the shore of Red Sand Beach, Maui.
Do not miss any hidden gems like Red Sand Beach! Check out our complete Maui Itinerary for more information.

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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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Written by
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 β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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