Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Wailea, Hawaii

  • Published 2022/04/07

In 1971, the firms Alexander & Baldwin and Northwestern Mutual engaged in a partnership to develop the community of Wailea in Hawaii.

You can find this census-designated place in Hawaii’s Maui County.

Wailea also belonged to the Wailea-Makena census-designated until 2010.

The community of Wailea was once a fishing settlement. Its name means “water of lea,” referring to the goddess of canoe-builders.

According to legend, the goddess turned the area into a majestic forest where birds would fly and appreciate its splendor.

The people who lived there grew sweet potatoes during the ancient Hawaiian period, going down to the shore for fishing.

Today, Wailea is known for its 1,500 acres of jaw-dropping beaches, filled with resorts and attractions.

It’s also just 35 minutes away from the Kahului Airport, so you can head there immediately after arriving.

The place’s crescent beaches and spacious golf courses continue to attract tourists from everywhere in the world.

Likewise, its expanse—roughly three times the size of Waikiki—accommodates visitors who want to relax and enjoy the bountiful seas.

Do you want to know more about Wailea, HI?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town:

Enjoy the Waters of Wailea Beach

Waves on the shores at Wailea Beach

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Compared to other beaches in Hawaii, Wailea is a relatively peaceful destination.

Visitors who just want to relax in the company of deep blue water should be welcome here.

If you’ve booked a stay in any of the nearby resorts, you can just head to Wailea Beach whenever you like.

Picturesque sunset at Wailea Beach

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Go to the beach to see the rows of palm trees lining the coast, with a paved walkway leading you back to your resort.

The path would also lead you back to other nearby shops and restaurants.

Rocks at Wailea Beach

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When you reach the beach, you can rent water sports equipment to enjoy the water to your hearts’ content.

Go on a boat to the deep water for snorkeling or swimming, thanks to the calm seas.

Practice Your Swing at the Wailea Golf Club

Wailea Golf Club with tall coconut trees in the forefront

Shulevskyy Volodymyr /

This award-winning golf course should satisfy your deep craving for a round of golf.

Even a sun-kissed beach paradise like Hawaii can offer delightful land activities.

The Wailea Golf Club has the rugged Gold Course, which has won awards for its customer service, design, and beauty.

Likewise, the course provides a good challenge to players, forcing them to use every club in their bag.

Spectacular view of Wailea Golf Club

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You can also enjoy gorgeous mountain and ocean views while readying your swing.

The master golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II designed the course, which has six tee boxes on every hole.

Players of every skill level can enjoy golfing here because of this layout.

Besides golf, you can also enjoy the course’s amenities, including pro shops, lounges, restaurants, and the Leadbetter Golf Academy.

Join the Feast at the Grand Luau at Honua’ula

Interior view of the Grand Wailea Resort

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Count yourself lucky if you’ve booked a stay at the Grand Wailea Resort.


This resort offers the unique Grand Luau experience, a showcase of Hawaiian culture you shouldn’t miss.

You can watch performers practicing traditional Hawaiian ceremonies and listen to their music.

Then, you can also feast on authentic Hawaiian dishes like poke, poi, kalua pig, and haupia.

Bird's eye view of the Grand Wailea Resort

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The resort offers you a private table with a great view of the majestic Wailea Beach.

Likewise, you can join hula lessons or simply enjoy the myths and legends of Maui performed in their brilliant glory.

Torches lit up during night at Wailea Beach

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Grab Shave Ice at Surfing Monkey

Go cool off at The Shops at Wailea by dropping by Surfing Monkey and trying their specialty shave ice.

You can try this local treat in various flavor combinations, such as banana, wild cherry, and pina colada.

The owner, Paul Davies, discovered the formula to make the best shave ice in Maui in 2008 after spending years working a day job.

His shop eventually became the biggest shave ice stand on the island.

Today, the shop creates all-natural flavors with fruit purees and zero added color or artificial flavoring.

Besides shave ice, Surfing Monkey has also expanded to vegan and organic ice cream.

It also comes in various flavors like salted caramel, Kona coffee, and mint chocolate chip.

Surfing Monkey is also available for weddings, corporate events, and parties on the island.

Explore the Outdoors at Makena Beach State Park

Aerial view of the Makena Beach State Park with thick row of trees and shoreline

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One of the signature beaches in Maui is the Makena Beach State Park.

People love visiting this beach because it’s one of the few beaches in the area untouched by resort development.

The beach has a shoreline of white sand that stretches roughly 2/3 of a mile, one of the largest beaches on Maui.

The Makena Beach lies between a pair of black lava outcroppings, so it receives protection from the strong trade winds.

Sunrise at Makena Beach State Park

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Likewise, it also provides majestic views of the neighboring islands of Kahoolawe and Molokini.

Two beaches, Big Beach and Little Beach, divide the state park. Big Beach lies south of Wailea near Makena Beach.

It’s also a terrific alternative to the crowded beaches of Lahaina and Kaanapali.

Trees at Makena Beach State Park

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If you are more adventurous, you can head to Little Beach. It’s got zero amenities and no lifeguard.

People also use the beach as a nude beach, even though state park regulations forbid it.

Enjoy Top Entertainment at Mulligans on the Blue

The only Irish-owned restaurant and bar in Maui is Mulligans on the Blue, which stands inside the Wailea Old Blue Course.

In 2001, Michael O’Dwyer realized his dream of starting an Irish pub after working in the food and beverage industry.

Visit Mulligans to try excellent Irish cuisine, washed down with delicious beverages.

You can also enjoy terrific customer service from the staff.

Since this pub is inside a golf course, it also serves as a perfect stop after a game with your buddies.

Sit back with a cold draft beer in your hand and watch the game on the pub’s 14 flat-screen TVs.

Likewise, the pub hosts live music every night as well as public events.

They also have outdoor seating if you want to bask in the moonlight.

Take a Stroll along the Wailea Coastal Walk

Coastal walk at Wailea

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There’s no place in Hawaii like the Wailea Coastal Walk.

No other area in Hawaii allows you to take in a whopping five amazing white-sand beaches, eight luxury resorts, and shoreline views of marine wildlife?

Imagine seeing sea turtles and breaching humpback whales on the beach with four faraway islands in the background.

Coastal Walk in Wailea, Hawaii

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The Wailea Coastal Walk also clocks in at just one and a half-mile, making it a perfect place for a sunrise stroll.

Moreover, the best thing about this path is that it’s free to the public and easily accessible.

Stop by, after your walk, at a nearby hotel restaurant or concession stand for a nice cup of coffee and hot breakfast.

A lonely tourist walking along the Wailea Coast

Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join Another Feast at Te Au Moana

Book a stay at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott to enjoy the luau called Te Au Moana, which translates to “the ocean tide.”

This event honors the rich traditions of the ancient Polynesians who traveled the oceans for centuries and respected the waters’ ability to support life.

Moreover, Hawaii’s top entertainment company—Tihati Productions—performs Te Au Moana, bringing these traditions and rituals to brilliant life.

Just sit back and enjoy the dances and food, or join in and celebrate under the starlit Maui skies.

Likewise, the luau offers a bona fide Hawaiian feast, teeming with flavorful local cuisine.

Ride the Waves at Ulua Beach

Twilight at Ulua Beach

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The Wailea resort complex on the south shore of Maui features Ulua Beach, a sandy beach nestled between two rocky points.

This beach is special because it offers diverse activities for the beachgoer.

On clear days, you can swim or snorkel in the deep water.

The waters offer a delightful view of brilliant corals and colorful fish.

Waves clashing on the shores of Ulua Beach

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Otherwise, the beach is a major spot for bodyboarders or surfers.

The water reaches higher levels than the area’s other beaches when the surf goes up.

Likewise, the beach sits next to a small park, ideal for picnics and small excursions.

Explore Maui with Hawaiian Ocean Sports

If you want to explore all corners of Maui, go to Wailea and link up with Hawaiian Ocean Sports.

The company provides several options to explore Maui and enjoy ocean recreation activities.

For example, you can join the shop’s swimming lessons, come aboard a tour on a Hawaiian outrigger canoe, or paddle on a kayak.

You can also just rent the gear if you want to travel yourself.

For over 15 years, Hawaiian Ocean Sports has become a Leader in Ocean Recreation (Alaka’i) on Maui.

The company continues to draw visitors to the ocean paradise.

Likewise, its partner companies provide eco-friendly adventures designed to preserve Hawaiian culture.

Shop ‘til You Drop at The Shops at Wailea

Exterior of The Shops at Wailea

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In the heart of Wailea Resort lies the top destination for shoppers who want to take a break from all the swimming and get some retail therapy.

This spot is the Shops at Wailea, an unmissable stop for shopping and dining.

During your visit, you can find shops offering apparel from world-renowned designers and artisans.

Fountain and shops at The Shops at Wailea

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Likewise, you can buy traditional island treasures if you want to bring home unique souvenirs.

On the other hand, the district also offers a diverse selection of restaurants.

These shops offer various cuisines, from familiar American dishes to thrilling local Pacific Rim meals.

Dive into Another World at Makena Landing Park

Just a stone’s throw from south Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort, Makena Landing Park is an excellent destination for tourists and residents.

This landing might not be ideal for sunbathers, but it’s perfect for swimmers and divers.

Its small sandy beach makes the coral reefs readily accessible for tourists on the island.

Enter Makena Landing’s underwater world through snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, or paddle-boarding.

Likewise, the area is also an active space for boat launching, so you won’t run out of operators who can take you on kayak or paddle-board tours.

Soak up the Sun at Keawakapu Beach

People enjoying at Keawakapu Beach

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On the boundary between Wailea and Kihei lies the beautiful Keawakapu Beach, an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and other seaside activities.

This 0.7-mile-long beach stretches to the end of Kihei, and you can reach it from the point where the road leaves the shoreline.

Besides sunbathing, you can also go snorkeling in the deep water or try boogie-boarding.

Despite its name roughly translating to “forbidden cove,” Keawakapu Beach is a welcoming spot for tourists looking for adventure.

Likewise, it features hotels and restaurants tastefully located far from the beach.

Spread out a blanket and relax under the sun in this wonderful Wailea location.

Swim with the Turtles at Turtle Town

You can reach the fabled Turtle Town from Maluaka Beach, just 20 minutes south of Kihei.

This beach might not be a popular spot, but it’s perfect for snorkeling, making it one of Maui’s best-kept secrets.

Likewise, the beach also sits next to the Makena Beach & Golf Resort, so you can stop by after your snorkeling trip.

You can also rent gear there.

Just ask around for the entrance to Turtle Town because it doesn’t have a signpost, which helps keep crowds away from Maluaka Beach.

If you want an unbothered view of the sea turtles in Maui, dive deep into Turtle Town.

However, remember that these turtles are endangered, so don’t touch them.

Bring Your Family to Polo Beach

Beautiful view of Polo Beach

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This famous beach in Maui comprises a pair of gorgeous crescent beaches.

You can find the Polo Beach Club at the south end, while you can go to the Fairmont Kea Lani hotel on the north edge.

The north end of the beach usually gets crowded with guests from Kea Lani, though the south generally remains peaceful.

What can you do on Polo Beach?

Vibrant sunset at Polo Beach

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On clear days, you can go snorkeling.

Just circle the rocky point off to the beach’s north end.

During south swells, the beach becomes a great spot for boogie boarding.

The beach carries an easy slope and a sandy entry point, which means you can play and swim in the water without hassle.

However, risky rip currents tend to form during large swells, so avoid the beach when this happens.

Final Thoughts

You can’t go wrong visiting Wailea for exciting summertime activities.

The community offers diverse attractions and activities that set it apart from other Hawaii beaches.

However, Wailea still has plenty of conventional seaside activities to offer the interested tourist.

Go cool off at Wailea today!

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