Ho'okipa Beach Park

Pa'ia, HI

Ho’okipa Beach Park – Mile #9 on Hâna Highway (36)

Because I live in Pa’ia town, a lot of my friends and family ask me lots of questions related to this side of the island like where to eat, fun activities, and mostly what are the best beaches to visit. More often than not, they ask me about Ho’okipa beach. Most likely because it’s such a popular spot on Maui so they’ve heard of it, unlike some of the other more private beaches close to Pa’ia.

This beach review will be a little longer, more in depth review than my other ones, mainly because I get asked about it so much I already have a good idea of what questions you may have, and I plan to answer those.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

I’ll start by talking about what Ho’okipa beach is really known for, and that’s surfing (windsurfing and board surfing). Not only is this a favorite surf spot for locals, but they also hold professional competitions here (like the Aloha Classic and Red Bull surf competition). If you are a beginner surfer, this is not the place for you. I get a lot of people ask me about that who just started (or are starting to surf) and they want to try surf Ho’okipa – not a good idea.

hookipa beach photo

The surf here is NOT for beginners. Experienced intermediate to advanced surfers only. With strong rip currents and shallow reefs are not easy to navigate here, so even recommend that more advanced surfers take time to learn this spot, chat with local surfers, and really do their homework before going out. I’ve had family members, who are experienced surfers, run into issues here where they couldn’t get back in after the current suddenly changed.

I’m definitely not trying to scare you, just more so let you know that this is not a surf spot for beginners, so even if someone has told you that “you should be fine”, take it from a local, I would avoid surfing here if you are just starting out as a beginner. I’m only adding this here because I will have friends, friends of friends, even family tell me that they heard it wasn’t that bad and was fine for beginners. Probably someone who visited here, not from here, and doesn’t know what they are talking about.

I would definitely recommend you checking it out, taking it in, watching the local surfers and learning, studying, etc.. but maybe keep your board in the truck for this one! I go here often just to sit on the beach and watch the surfers while my kids play in the tide pools (which we’ll talk about next).

The Lookout – Right when you first turn into the entrance for Ho’okipa, there is a long parking lot on the right side, just before you descend down to the beach area. It’s called the lookout, and it’s the best place to take in the insane views of this whole area. You can walk down the cliffs a bit fronting the ocean (cautiously of course), and you can also watch the surfers (which is what most people do here). I always tell people to park here and check it out for a bit before going down to the beach area. It’s definitely worth it.

Swimming at Ho’okipa

One question I get asked a lot from family and friends when they come to visit is “can you swim at Hookipa Beach?”. So let me take a minute to answer that question – Yes, sort of…

Ho’okipa beach is not known for swimming. Can you swim here? Yes, it’s not a casual swim. There are a few spots where there are breaks in the reef so you have some sandy bottoms, but even then the waves and current are usually not very calm. So if you want to run in and take a quick dip, sure but not a casual swim. If you have kids though (and even if you don’t), the tide pools are fun to play in.

Here’s a great picture I took that shows how big the surf can get, but how shallow the tidepools stay.  It’s fun too because when the surf is big, it crashes against the reef (which looks awesome) but then you get splashed on while sitting in the tidepools.

Ho’okipa Beach Park Maui Hawaii

There is a stretch of reef that parallels the beach and it blocks the waves, creating tidepools. Not deep at all, kids LOVE to play around in them. We used to have family outings here and all the grown ups would be sitting in the tidepools watching (and maybe having some drinks) the kids play around. My kids have played there as small as 2 years old. The tidepools are crystal clear so it’s such an adventure for the kids to play around in.

Turtles at Ho’okipa Beach

If you are looking up information on Hookipa, I’m sure you’ve heard you can see sea turtles (Honu) here. This is another question people ask me a lot “When is the best time to see turtles at Ho’okipa beach park?”. They are pretty much always there, whether you catch them lounging in the sand or out eating limu (seaweed) around the reef.

Just beyond the exposed reef that runs parallel to the beach, you will see some turtle heads popping up as the break for air before going back down to eat. If you go to the east corner of the beach, under the pavilion table area and closer to the lookout (which I’ll mention next), that’s where you’ll see lots of Honu relaxing on the beach. You’ve probably seen pictures of this before as it’s widely posted by tourists in awe of the large amount of turtles.

Oftentimes people have to do a double take because there are so many, and their shells are dark, they blend in with all the big boulders & rocks that are around.

hookipa beach sea turtles

As for the best time to see turtles at Ho’okipa, I would say late afternoon to evening time (close to sunset). Honestly, you will see sea turtles anytime, just late afternoon / evening there is going to be a lot, guaranteed to see them.

Another good spot to see sea turtles on the north shore is Baldwin beach park. If you go to the east corner of that beach as well, there is a small little cove and around sunset the turtles start coming out of the water to relax. I go there often because it’s walking distance from my house so it’s a little closer.

Ho’okipa Facilities / Amenities

Ho’okipa beach park is big, totaling 8.4 square miles. There is an area called pavilions, which houses 3 pavilions (obviously the name), and bbq grills. There are public restrooms (ADA accessible as well), showers, and lots of parking with 170 spots split between 3 different lots (plus additional street parking if needed). Lifeguards are on duty daily from 8:00am to 4:00pm

Directions / Location:

Public Restrooms

One set, adjacent from the pavilions

Swimming:

Shore swimming, surfing, lifeguard on duty

Picnic Areas:

3 pavilions with picnic tables and bbq grills at each pavilion

ADA Accessibility:

Parking and restroom

Parking:

There are three parking lots (lookout point, entryway lot, and gravel lot) with more than a 170 total parking between the 3 lots