Airport Beach: Short Swim to a Vibrant Coral Reef


Airport Beach, located in West Maui, is a true gem for beachgoers and snorkelers alike. This sandy beach has free parking, picnic tables, and other amenities for visitors. But the real draw of Airport Beach is the vibrant coral garden just a short distance from the shore. 

Whether you’re looking for a great snorkeling location or a quiet spot to relax, Airport Beach is one of the best Maui beaches for that.

What Is Airport Beach in Maui?

Airport beach: short swim to a vibrant coral reef 2

Airport Beach in Maui is a popular destination. Also known as Kahekili Beach Park and Airport Beach Park, it’s considered by many the best snorkeling beach on the island. 

Visitors can rent snorkeling gear in one of the nearby snorkel stores and explore the vibrant coral reef just a short swim away from shore. The beach offers a large parking lot for visitors, making it a convenient spot to explore.

During the whale season, which runs from November to May, visitors can often spot humpback whales breaching the surface near the coast. The area is also a popular spot for scuba diving, offering a chance to explore the beautiful ocean.

What Is the Airport Beach in Maui?

Airport Beach, or Kehekili Beach Park in Hawaiian, is one of Maui’s most beloved beaches. Located north of Ka’anapali Beach and Black Rock Beach, it offers all the amenities one could need, including restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. 

The beach area is perfect for a dip and sunbathing. The clear waters are home to a variety of sea creatures, making it an ideal location for skin diving or just observing marine life. With its convenient location and wide range of amenities, the beach is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Maui.

Why Is It Called Airport Beach?

From 1961 to 1986, the area that’s now called Airport Beach had a small airport, and its runway used to end here. Known as Ka’anapali Airport, this small airport flew two-engine propeller planes to and from Oahu.  

Now, many locals refer to this stretch of land as Airport Beach, and you can even see a plaque at the beach’s entrance that recounts the location’s history. 

When you check out this West Maui treasure, you’re sure to be fascinated by its past and charmed by its natural beauty.

What Sea Life Can You See at Kahekili Beach Park?

Butterfly fish
Airport beach: short swim to a vibrant coral reef 3

Kahekili Beach Park is a popular spot for marine life enthusiasts. Visitors can see a variety of colorful fish, including parrotfish, tangs, and butterfly fish, swimming in the clear waters.

In addition to fish, visitors can also spot green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals. These endangered species are protected, and visitors are encouraged to keep a safe distance from them and not disturb them.

Baby seal swimming close to the surface of the water
Airport beach: short swim to a vibrant coral reef 4

Kahekili Beach Park is known for its beautiful beach and easy access to marine life. Skin diving and scuba diving are other popular activities since the park is home to a number of coral beds. Rental gear is available from nearby snorkel stores (Yelp).

What Can You Do at Airport Beach, Maui?

Kahekili Beach Park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. The main attraction is the ocean, with its crystal clear waters and perfect conditions for snorkeling and diving.

Snorkeling at Airport Beach in Maui

Snorkeling in Kahekili Beach Park in Maui is a must-try for those looking to explore and discover Maui’s abundance of marine life. The beach offers a range of fish and other species to observe, including vibrant corals. 

The clear waters also offer excellent visibility, making it an ideal spot for both novice and experienced snorkelers. 

You can find the best spot to snorkel and the most beautiful and colorful reef right in front of the public beach pavilion. The reef starts almost at the sand and is very easily accessible. The pavilion is in the middle section of Kalehili Beach Park. Another great spot to snorkel is by the rocks at the south end of Kahekili Beach Park.

The beach can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. However, it’s not as crowded as Ka’anapali Beach to its south. 

Airport beach: short swim to a vibrant coral reef 5

Diving at Airport Beach in Maui 

Airport Beach in Maui is an excellent option for beginner divers. The beach offers calm waters and clear visibility, especially in the morning. You can observe a diverse array of fishes like porcupine puffers, trumpetfish, and Moorish idols, as well as some lovely corals.

The sandy shoreline, shallow water, and the lack of powerful currents and waves make it a safe and easy diving spot. These are perfect conditions if you’re just starting out.

Is Kahekili Beach Good for Swimming?

Kahekili Beach Park is a wonderful swimming spot in Maui and perfect for all skill levels. With its calm waters and gorgeous scenery, it’s easy to understand why it’s one of Maui’s most popular beaches. Even people who haven’t swum much before can enjoy Kahekili without feeling intimidated by waves or currents. 

There’s also plenty of shoreline for folks who’d rather just splash around the shallow end. For experienced swimmers, the beach offers opportunities for more rigorous exercise with deeper waters that dropto 50 feet for snorkeling, diving, and other aquatic adventures just offshore. 

If you’d like to relax in the shade after getting out of the ocean, you can rent beach umbrellas nearby. The beach has a stretch of light sand that you can relax on. 

All in all, Kahekili Beach delivers a delightful experience and is definitely a great place to spend a day of fun in the sun!

Whale Watching from Airport Beach

Kahekili Beach is a prime location for whale watching in Maui. Whale season is from December to May, and visitors can often see humpback whales as they migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to breed and give birth. 

It’s even possible to see them from the shoreline. The best time to spot them is usually in the morning when the water is calm, and the visibility is at its best. When it’s quiet, you can hear the gentle giants as they sing and communicate with each other. This can be a truly magical experience. 

It’s important to note that you should always follow whale watching guidelines and regulations. It’s crucial to avoid disturbing them as well as marine life.

Humpback whale
Photo by Ian Markham

Tips to Explore Airport Beach Safely and Sustainably

Airport Beach Maui is a beautiful and unique destination for many tourists and locals alike. However, it is important to explore it safely and sustainably. 

  • Don’t get too chose to the reef. It is crucial to be careful when swimming or snorkeling in order to protect the delicate ecosystem of the reef. Never step on live coral. When in doubt, swim over or around.
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen in order to prevent damage to the coral and other marine life. Generally, using less sunscreen and covering up also helps reduce the risk of harming coral as our understanding of how chemicals impact corals continues to evolve.
  • When exploring the area, try not to touch living creatures, as many are fragile, some can be dangerous, and it’s possible in popular places to disrupt the natural balance of the area. 
  • Avoid littering and dispose of your trash properly. Litter not only harms the natural beauty of the beach but also the marine life. Even better, pick some trash up and take it with you if you come across any!
  • Follow the designated paths and trails when exploring the beach. This will help prevent damage to the natural vegetation and wildlife habitats.
  • Do not take shells or other natural items from the beach as souvenirs. It may harm the ecosystem by removing important components of the beach’s natural environment, and other visitors may want to see them too. 
  • Watch for currents when swimming and snorkeling. While they aren’t as strong, you still need to be careful. 

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy Airport Beach while also helping to preserve it for future generations.

What Facilities Are There at Airport Beach?

The beach park offers a variety of facilities to make your stay more enjoyable. One of the most convenient features is a big parking lot. It’s next to Westin Villas, has about 20 spots, and you can park there for free. This allows visitors easy access to the beach without having to worry about finding parking elsewhere. Just take a path through the grass, and you’re there!

There are also restrooms, picnic tables, showers, grass lawns, and BBQ pits available for visitors to use. You can also find several restaurants within walking distance. Overall, Airport Beach Maui offers plenty of facilities to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.

How to Get to Airport Beach in Maui?

Airport Beach is on Maui’s western shore. The easiest route is going north on Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30). After turning left onto Kai Ala Drive, you’ll find a large free parking lot across the street from a county sewer treatment plant. The beach is easy to access, even for older visitors and those with disabilities. 

If you have trouble getting there, ask locals for directions. They’re usually friendly and happy to help.

Plan to arrive early, as the parking lot can fill up quickly during peak season! Once here, you can take in stunning views, experience clear waters, and so much more.  

What Can You Do Nearby?

There are also many activities and attractions near Kahekili Beach Park. Here are our favorites:

  1. Black Rock Beach: Located next to Airport Beach, Black Rock Beach, or Pu’u Keka’a, is a beautiful spot for swimming and snorkeling. Black Rock is a volcanic rock, and you can witness a daily cliff-diving ceremony there. 
  2. The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: The place offers a variety of amenities and activities for guests to enjoy. These include a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, lounge bar, restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and much more. 
  3. Whalers Village Museum: Located on the top floor of the Whalers Village shopping mall in Lahaina, this museum offers an interactive look at the history of whaling in Maui, including displays of artifacts and interactive exhibits. It’s about a 20-minute ride from Airport Beach. 
  4. Kaanapali Beach: This beautiful beach is located nearby and offers a great place to relax and soak up the sun. Considered one of the best beaches in Maui, it’s a famous attraction where visitors can enjoy three miles of clear water and white sand. 

Explore Maui with WildVoice

Come and explore the beauty of Maui with WildVoice! We offer a wide range of eco-friendly activities that will allow you to immerse yourself in Maui’s natural beauty. From the best snorkeling destinations to the most majestic diving spots, we can help you get there!

Our experienced and knowledgeable guides will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring Maui. They can even take you to some of the best-hidden gems and show unique and off-the-beaten-path locations that most tourists never get to see. 

We also pride ourselves on being a sustainable and eco-friendly tour company. So, not only will you have a great time, but you will also be doing your part to preserve the island for future generations.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to truly explore Maui with WildVoice. Book your adventure today and experience the island in a whole new way!

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