LOCAL'S BEACH, Winner Makena Big Beach Address: South of Wailea at the end of Wailea Alanui Rd Phone: 984-8109 Website: http://hawaiistateparks.org One of our isle's rarefied jewels, the one and only Oneloa (colloquially, "Big Beach") is part of the 164.4 acre Makena State Park, located on Maui's sunny South side. Its sandy stretch skirts an ahupuaa where archaeological evidence shows (as described by Project Kaeo, a research effort supported by a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs with matching funds from the Maui Tomorrow organization) that aboriginal Hawaiians lived in and cultivated the area's natural abundance for more than a millennium. Today, the beach is still a kamaaina playground--as it well should be for a millennium more--(though it's now surrounded by development of a different sort, like the infamous Wailea 670 project) and wave-revelers rejoice in everything from skim or sponge boarding, to the spectator sport of watching tourists get tumbled in the shore break.
Big Beach is pretty straightforward. It's a big beach. The biggest beach on Maui, in fact (almost two-thirds of a mile long and 100 yards wide). But that's not the only reason why it's the best swimming beach: the crystal blue water and endless golden sands make it quite a looker, too. Unlike North Shore beaches, Big Beach doesn't get slammed with wind in the afternoon, making for a pleasant on-shore experience. It's popular with locals and tourists, swimmers and skimmers. In this case, bigger is better. Makena Beach State Park, South Maui