Airport Beach (Kahekili Beach Park)

Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii
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Entry Map
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Difficulty
beginner
Viz (last reported 2284h ago)
Max Depth
40ft

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Airport Beach (Kahekili Beach Park)

Kahekili Beach Park is the park that includes Airport Beach Maui. It’s sometimes called North Beach because it is the north half of Kaanapali Beach. Airport Beach Maui in Kahekili Beach Park is one of Maui’s best beaches for several reasons. It is adjacent to Kaanapali Beach, the most famous beach in Maui, but it is not nearly as crowded as the main section of Kaanapali Beach, because it does not have any of the major resort hotels found in that nearby area (the Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, and Sheraton). It has a long wide stretch of smooth light sand. The ocean near shore is shallow. The waves are usually not too big for swimming. It’s a great snorkeling spot with plenty of fish to see, including the Hawaii state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Kahekili Beach Park has a large free parking lot. There is a pavilion with benches and picnic tables. Additional picnic tables are on the grassy areas. There are real bathrooms. The boardwalk through the park provides a paved path for walking several miles along the beach. Airport Beach Maui is within a ten minute walk of several large condos, including Maui Kaanapali Villas, Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Nanea Ocean Villas, Honua Kai, and Mahana. Why is this called Airport Beach? From 1961 to 1986 there was a small airport here called Kaanapali Airport (HKP). Royal Hawaiian Air Service was the airline that flew small twin-engine Cessna propeller planes here from Oahu. The 2615-foot runway was surrounded by sugar cane. The small A-frame terminal had an upstairs bar called the Windsock Lounge. Who was Kahekili that this park is named after? He lived from 1737 to 1794 and was the last king of Maui from 1766 to 1793, before King Kamehameha came from the Big Island of Hawaii to conquer Maui and unite the Hawaiian islands into the Kingdom of Hawaii.
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Airport Beach (Kahekili Beach Park) Tide Chart and Surf Report (Beta)

Monday
2:03 AM / 1.274ft
Monday
8:37 AM / 0.064ft
Monday
4:35 PM / 1.946ft
Monday
11:02 PM / 1.042ft
Tuesday
1:44 AM / 1.191ft

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Zentacle
Zentacle
Sep 21, 2021, 1:05 AM
scuba
A very pleasant beach and entry. A beach-side plaque commemorating King Kahekili's reign from 1766 - 1793. The reef area, although not extensive, is fine for new snorkelers.
Cayley Larimer
Cayley Larimer
Jul 27, 2021, 10:28 PM
scuba
Pretty reef, great beach to relax at after. The shower can be a little crowded but the bathrooms are nice.
Mayank Jain
Mayank Jain
Jul 21, 2021, 7:45 PM
scuba
A nice easy dive with great facilities. There are a lot of good reefs here, so I'd love to come back after getting to see a reef map to explore some new spots.
Blake
Blake
Mar 3, 2014, 12:00 AM
snorkel
Snorkeled here a few years back - great site for something so close into shore. The resorts were fully built at that time (referencing earlier review) and didn't seem to have a negative impact on the reef life. Very few snorkelers. Best spots are a little farther north from the park in front of the Westin property before you get to the Honua Kai condos. There was an empty lot there too, which was nice and quiet and less people at the time. Great spot for beginners - will take my wife there for some of her first times on a reef next week.
Charlie Eng
Charlie Eng
Oct 7, 2009, 12:00 AM
scuba
Snorkeled here twice on different days, a slight current pushes you northward so do not go too far away from shore. Watched a dive class show up in a white unmarked van and 6 students and one instructor went the same time we did. They started their dive on the left on a sandy bottom at 30ft and we turned right to follow the better corals. Ran into a turtle around the area of the Westin's Hotel. Played with an octopus just 15ft over from the turtle. The colors of the corals are vibrant! Not a whole lot of fish life, just small stuff. I definitely would come back here for a night dive! Note the photo of the entry/exit is real old, it doesn't show the Westin Hotel at all.
William Terrill
William Terrill
Oct 18, 2008, 12:00 AM
scuba
I snorkeled this in the afternoon and swells were a little pushy. Good coral and a fair amount of marine life. I spotted a small octopus in the open on a lava finger and watched him for a while.
Steve Porter
Steve Porter
Nov 28, 2007, 12:00 AM
scuba
If your looking for this place…look for the Westin Resort…the building to the left is over the old runway. My wife and I went out for 15 minutes, but vis was crap because of surge. This is a pretty good dive otherwise, but the explosion of growth in Hawaii is really shrinking the beaches, and taking away from the whole exploring experience diving use to be.
Bill Stohler
Bill Stohler
Nov 6, 2007, 12:00 AM
scuba
Just a quick update. Adjacent to the beach park, there is now a towering hotel/timeshare (three towers), and the beach park has lost most of its solitude. Other than that, the world below remains largely unchanged. I will mention that this became my most common Maui dive site to spot the relatively rare hawksbill turtles (up to two on a dive). One day in the shallows, I found a dragonet fish. This fish is not found in the Hawaii reef fish ID books, and I suspect that it was an aquarium release.
Alan from Gentry
Alan from Gentry
Dec 21, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
Did our checkout dives here before going to Lanai Cathedrals, etc. 21ft with depth gauge in the sand. Good sand channels to do basic skills. Understand this is a common area for OW dive training. Some fish and adequate reef. Would be a safe night dive. Had a south to north current flow the day we dove. Easy dive into current with drift back to beginning by end of dive. Look for a sand chute all the way up to the beach to exit the water from. Can get tossed onto the reef if not paying attention upon exit. Overall a good place for a checkout dive if you are staying north of Lahaina.
Bill Benton
Bill Benton
Jun 6, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
Very nice place. Beware of the thorns around the trees if seeking shade. Good vis here.
Mark in CA
Mark in CA
May 19, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
This is pretty classic Hawaii diving. We did it as a checkout dive upon arriving in Maui, in preparation for more serious diving with Ed Robinson...Molokini, Lanai Cathedrals, etc... We enjoyed it enough to go back later though as well for a couple of reasons. For one, it's very easy to park there, and the entry is quick and easy. Facilities are decent with bathroom and shower. Plus, we wanted some good classic fish photos and this is a VERY shallow dive (maybe 20' mostly) so the lighting was good for photography. All the basic fish and coral are there. Saw a nice little ray once, as well. Really nothing special in a way, just a good easy entry/exit with all the basic Hawaiian fish. Good spot to adjust your gear, figure out your weight, etc....
Gary Harmon
Gary Harmon
Mar 27, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
This is an enjoyable place to snorkel, shore dive, or picnic. Lots of locals at this site having parties and weddings. Easy snorkel. We can always count on seeing eels here. This site is hidden by new construction. I just remember to turn opposite the Sugar Cane Train. Love2snorkel
Travis A
Travis A
Aug 13, 2004, 12:00 AM
scuba
On our trip to Maui my wife and I did 2 shore dives here. Additionally we did 4 boat dives elsewhere. (Molikini being 2 of the boat dives) We found that the beach wasn't very crowded, however they are in the process of building a large resort hotel so that could all change in a few months. The reef goes from about 8' of water out to about 30 to 35' It is quite easy to navigate and there are ample marine fish and corals. We even spotted a few turtles at the site. The first 1/3 to 1/2 of the corals on your way out has been overtaken by algae, but the rest of the reef is quite similar to Molikini Mid Reef. If you go out past the main reef formation you will come across isolated reefs amongst the sand which are also quite pleasant to look at. The beach is right off of the main drag that runs along the west side of the island. The parking is shaded which is a definite plus. There is additionally a bathroom house, covered picnic tables (which were reserved both times we were there) and there is a shower just off of the beach. The entry is quite easy, simply throw your gear on at the edge of the sandy beach (under the shade trees) and walk about 30' down and into the ocean. One final note: if you are going with a group of people it is quite easy for a few to go SCUBA, a few to snorkel, and even a few to remain on the beach to bask in the sun.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Bryan Heit
Bryan Heit
May 13, 2004, 12:00 AM
scuba
Great site for everyone. Lots of fish, the odd turtle, very extensive reef. Entry is a breeze unless there is surf. Only downside is there are a lot of other divers here.
Chuck Knauf
Chuck Knauf
Jun 12, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
Did this dive as a solo dive while wife was reading on the beach on 23 Mar 03. Had GREAT conditions - no surf and very little current. Entry and exit were about as easy as it gets. First time I used my GPS receiver to locate a dive site. Really appreciate the coordinates on the website! Had a good time just touring the reef. Lots of Mu Fish, Humuhumu, Trumpet fish, Arc-Eyed Hawkish, Yellowtail Coris, Wrasse and other reef fish. Spotted a 4' Whitemouth Moray Eel just below some snorkelers at about 12 ft. Had a blast pointing him out to the snorkelers. My dive graph looks like a yo-yo because I went up to grab their cameras and go back down to photograph it for 5 or 6 of them. Had a Discover Scuba class swim through and the dive leader was kind enough to hang back and let me get the photos before he brought the class in for their photos. After surfacing I was thanked by the class for finding the eel as it was the only one that they had seen on their dive. Was a nice relaxing and fun dive.
Rob
Rob
May 27, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
Always seems to be a nice dive no matter what. Just dove there 2 days ago. Enter and kick North, then drift back with the current and light kicking. With years of diving in Hawaii, I finally got caught without a dive flag by the DNR law enforcement guys, they let me off with a warning since I'm from "out of town". Showers are great, parking is shady, but on the weekends sometimes groups can rent the picnic area and that plugs up the parking....
Al Mialkovsky
Al Mialkovsky
May 18, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
A large swell died down about a week ago but all the southern shore dives are still very murky. We were very surprised to see the fantastic visibility that exists here right now. At 40 feet the vis is 50-60 feet and when we went out past 70 feet the vis was close to 100 feet. The first reef has tons of life with some healthy turtles and tons of eels. We took some fantastic photos of all the creatures.
Stephen Scott
Stephen Scott
Dec 18, 2002, 12:00 AM
scuba
A nice easy dive. Easy access for beginners. Nice free parking and showers. Great beach as well.
Anonymous
Anonymous
Nov 2, 2002, 12:00 AM
scuba
Great location for beginning diving.
Don Giordano
Don Giordano
Apr 9, 2002, 12:00 AM
scuba
This dive site has something for everyone. I did this dive with a dive scooter and later freediving. With the scooters we cruised over the top of the coral and swooped down into the sand patches in between. It was a great experience. The coral is very bright green/yellow. There are lots of turtles here. The days I dove the site they were in the deeper waters near the edges of the coral. If they're not moving they blend so well with the coral you may not see them. If you're snorkeling, stay on the surface, move slowly and keep look carefully. Freediving is good in as little as 10 to 15 feet of water. The outer reef is in about 30 to 40 feet. The entry is from a sand beach. There are nice showers and plenty of parking. If you only have a few days for beach diving this is one of the sites you should dive.
Bill Stohler
Bill Stohler
Mar 30, 2002, 12:00 AM
scuba
"Old Airport" is a great dive, when the surf is down and the current isn't very strong (the current can be very strong here). The diversity of marine life (magnificent snake eels, manta rays, eagle rays, etc.) and the health of the reef make this a great dive. There is a "bicolor anthias' reef around 70 feet to the north of the entry. Very popular with divers, tourist groups, etc. Great white sandy beach, picnic tables, showers, restrooms, grassy area. Adequate parking.
Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts
Aug 19, 2001, 12:00 AM
scuba
Great spot! Can't ask for a more convenient place - drive into a parking lot, walk across some grass, down a pretty sand beach, easy sand entry - 10 yards out and you're on the reef! Facilities are all there - grass, beach, shower, dressing/restrooms, covered picnic area. Diving or snorkeling is good. Lot's of intro and cert dives going on but swim on out further and you'll be alone. Surprising amount of marine life here - seen spotted eagles, barracuda, and got my best pics of a lionfish here! Plenty of morays (many types!) and turtles. Lots of the common tropicals. First reef is at 40' max while the second (a little more barren) can reach 70 feet. There has been an algae problem here for the last few months (it's now 08/01) and it's been kinda yucky. Hard to get the stuff off your gear or take good pics in this otherwise good viz. No doubt the @#*@ golf courses and hotels are getting fertilizer in the ocean and causing the algae to bloom. They gotta be killing a lot of coral too. Sad....Expect a slight current here sometimes. Swim up current first or expect to walk back if you don't pay attention. Perfect for night dives but you need to get permission for locked gate.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Ken Mason
Ken Mason
May 21, 2001, 12:00 AM
scuba
I joined a buddy of mine as he did one of his check out dives. It was a fun dive mostly under 40 feet good vis. and marine life. Nice easy entry. Not wonderful for Hawaii, but it would be great most other places. A fun place to tune up for later dives.
Originally posted on shorediving.com