Wailea, Maui – 14 Best Activities and Things to Do Nearby

Updated Apr 14, 2024 ,

Shops at Wailea

Wailea is one of the most luxurious areas in Maui. It is home to beautiful, crescent-shaped beaches, picturesque golf courses, and some of Maui’s most exclusive resorts. The upscale resort community lies in South Maui, occupying over a thousand acres of land. Even if you’re not staying there, it is a great place to spend a day exploring.

Wailea is known for its beaches, including Wailea Beach, one of the top US beaches in 2023. However, there’s no shortage of things to do, including some of our favorites, like visiting the Shops at Wailea or looking for shells at La Perouse Bay.

To help you plan your visit, here’s our list of the best activities and things to do in Wailea.

Experience Wailea’s Beaches

Wailea has no shortage of beaches. There are resort beaches, small secluded coves, and beaches that encompass vast stretches of sand. Aside from the famous Wailea Beach, our favorite is probably Makena’s Big Beach, but choosing just one is tough.

Other beaches we enjoy visiting in the area include Ulua Beach, Mokapu Beach, Polo Beach, and Makena Cove (Secret Beach). All have soft sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, offering the perfect setting for swimming and snorkeling.

When visiting the beaches in South Maui, be extra cautious of the ocean conditions, especially if you have little kids. On some days, the water can be calm with smooth rolling waves. However, the surf can be rough when it’s windy, producing much larger waves.

Learn More: 10 Best South Maui Beaches Near Kihei and Wailea

Watch Hula Dancing at a Luau

Attending a luau in Wailea is a great way to spend an evening immersing yourself in Hawaiian culture and tradition. It’s also a great way to enjoy local dishes, tropical drinks, and live entertainment while resting your feet after a busy day exploring.

During the luau, hula dancers gracefully and precisely move to the soft melodies of traditional Hawaiian music. Hula is storytelling through dance, portraying different tales of local culture and history. During the performance, you will share a delicious feast of traditional Hawaiian dishes, such as kalua pig, lomilomi salmon, laulau, and poi.

Our favorite luau in South Maui is Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Beach Resort, but there are several options across the island. Check out the post below for a complete list of the best Maui luaus to consider for your trip.

Learn More: 8 Best Maui Luaus From Ka'anapali to Kihei

Go Snorkeling

In addition to beaches, Wailea has no shortage of excellent snorkeling spots. Like many parts of Maui, Wailea boasts several locations with unique lava rock formations and numerous satellite reefs teeming with a variety of colorful coral and marine life.

Most of Wailea’s beaches offer snorkeling and are good options for those seeking accessible, family-friendly spots. Some of our favorite beaches to snorkel in the area include Ulua & Mokapu Beaches, Wailea Beach, and Maluaka Beach. Wailea also has several advanced snorkeling spots nearby, including Ahihi Kinau Reserve and Five Caves.

Finally, some of the best snorkeling spots near Wailea are only accessible by boat and are worth considering if you’re interested in booking a snorkel tour. Those spots include Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and Lanai Island.

Learn More: 10 Best Maui Snorkel Tours From Ka'anapali to Kihei

Whale Watch (During the Winter)

Whale-watching is a popular activity in Maui during the winter months, and if you’re in Wailea, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to see these incredible creatures. Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska to take advantage of the warm waters, where they can breed and give birth.

We were blown away the first time we saw whales playing off the shore in Maui. We were hoping to see whales, but we had no idea just how many there were. We had no problem spotting them all day long. It’s a really cool experience that we highly recommend.

While booking a whale-watching tour is the best way to see whales up close, there are plenty of places in Wailea where you can watch whales from the shoreline. Whale season in Maui runs from mid-December to April, although you could see them as early as October.

Learn More: 10 Best Maui Whale Watching Tours From Ka'anapali to Ma'alaea

Take a Kayak Tour

One of the best ways to explore Wailea’s picturesque coastline and get some exercise at the same time is on a kayak tour. Several tour operators in the area offer various tours, with many focusing on snorkeling, whale watching, or both.

While it’s possible to go kayaking on your own at many of the beaches in Wailea, a guided kayaking tour is a more enjoyable experience. Not only will guides help you navigate the ocean, but they’ll also know the best spots to visit and take in the sights.

Ideal for couples, families, and anyone who loves adventures, a kayak tour will take you to some of the best snorkeling or whale-watching spots in Wailea. Most tours leave early in the morning for optimal weather conditions and a comfortable cruise into the ocean waters.

Learn More: The Best Kayak Whale Watching Tours in Maui

Look Around the Shops at Wailea

After a fun-filled day in Wailea, we love visiting the Shops At Wailea to browse the shops, grab a bite to eat and a drink, or lounge around. The shops offer a range of shopping options, from luxury brands to island-style fashion, souvenirs, art galleries, local handicrafts, and more.

The upper-level houses high-end shops, while the lower level features mainstream retailers and local boutiques. The open-air shopping center is also home to several restaurants, which are the perfect place to relax and dine after a day at the beach.

Even if you don’t plan to shop, you should still stop for a quick visit. You’ll enjoy strolling through the open-air shopping area lined with palm trees, creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Enjoy a Tasty Dinner and Drinks

Waikiki Brewing Co Wailea

While we typically stay in West Maui when visiting the island, we never miss an opportunity to enjoy food and drinks in Wailea. Our favorite place to grab a bite after the beach is Waikiki Brewing Company, pictured above. It’s also a great place to catch a game on TV.

With various dining options available in Wailea, you’ll be sure to find something that fits what you’re looking for. From high-end restaurants great for dinner to laid-back brew houses great for apps and drinks, there’s something for everyone here.

If you’re staying at or near one of the resorts in Wailea, most of them, including the Fairmont and Grand Wailea, offer world-class dining options. The Shops at Wailea also offer several restaurants of varying styles, including our favorite mentioned above.

Play a Round of Golf

Wailea is the place to be if you’re heading to Maui to play golf. It’s home to some of Maui’s top golf courses, with three world-renowned golf courses, the Wailea Blue, Gold, and Emerald. They make up the 54 holes of championship golf that made Wailea famous among golfers.

Designed by famous architects, each course has unique features and varying difficulty suitable for a range of golfers, from seasoned pros to beginners. Golfing in Wailea is a must for enthusiasts, as it offers stunning ocean views, challenging terrains, and high-class facilities.

Walk the Wailea Beach Path

If you love scenic walks, the Wailea Beach Path is the best option in South Maui. At around three miles round trip, you’ll pass by four popular beaches if you walk the entire path. It can be finished in a little over an hour and has several resorts where you can stop along the way.

The well-paved path starts at Ulua Beach on one end and Polo Beach on the other, with Wailea Beach in the middle. It is suitable for all levels of walkers, including families with kids. You can start at any of the beaches along the way, as they all have parking.

Enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery along the path, and keep your eyes peeled for whales playing in the water during the winter! Walking the Wailea Beach Path is a great way to get that much-needed exercise while on vacation.

Visit Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

A popular place to visit south of the resorts in Wailea is the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, a protected area established to preserve marine life. At over 2,000 acres, the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve is home to various marine life and coral reefs.

The coast here is made up of lava rocks, so there’s no comfortable beach to relax on, but you’ll still find snorkelers posted up on the shoreline. If snorkeling isn’t your thing, there’s also the Ahihi Bay Trail, a quick and short trail with scenic views.

When snorkeling here, you’ll find fish right off the shore. The water starts out shallow and gets deeper the further you go out, so snorkeling is available for a variety of skill levels. Just be careful when waves are coming into the bay, as it can be unsafe.

See Dolphins at La Perouse Bay

La Perouse Bay Maui

Even further south of the resorts in Wailea is La Perouse Bay, a crescent-shaped bay lined with acres of lava rock. The landscape here is unlike anything you’ll find in Maui and is worth a visit for that experience alone. It’s also the furthest you can drive by car in this part of Maui.

From what I hear, this is also a great place to spot Spinner Dolphins playing in the water. We’ve visited multiple times during the day and have never seen them, but signs are posted with warnings to stay away from them, so I know they are there. I’ve read that the best chance to see them is between sunset and dawn when they are most active.

Aside from dolphins, this is also an excellent place to snorkel, but it is an advanced location, and entry into the water is not easy. It can also get extremely windy during the day, making the water rough and likely unsafe for most people. If advanced snorkeling isn’t your thing, stick to looking for shells on the shoreline. It’s a great place to find them!

Hike the Hoapili Trail (King’s Highway)

Like most areas in Maui, Wailea has some excellent hiking trails nearby. One of the best is the Hoapili Trail, also known as the King’s Highway, with a trailhead located at La Perouse Bay. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten-path trail, this is the one for you.

Coming in at approximately five miles round trip to Kanaio Beach, this trail is part of a path that used to circle the island and was built by King Piilani hundreds of years ago. It’s a rugged path with challenging terrain and can get quite warm, so be sure you are prepared.

The views on this trail are nothing short of spectacular, and they really leave you feeling like you’re in a remote part of the world. Just be sure to exercise respect when on the trail, as it takes you through archeological sites dating back hundreds of years. It’s best not to touch anything, stay on the marked trail, and leave everything as you find it for future generations to come.

Relax With a Spa Treatment

Spa Treatment

If you want to do something highly laid back while in Wailea, a massage and spa treatment might be for you. As an upscale resort community, Wailea is a great place for this and is home to some of Maui’s most excellent spas.

Listen to calming music and breathe in relaxing aromatherapy scents as you receive a massage or treatment from skilled therapists. You can opt for a treatment tailored to your needs and preferences using natural, high-quality products.

Many of the resorts in Wailea, such as the Four Seasons, have spas. There is also the popular Wailea Healing Center, where you can opt for treatments like acupuncture, yoga classes, massage therapies, IV therapies, and more.

Spend a Day in Kihei

If you’re looking to explore even more of South Maui, there is no shortage of things to do in Kihei, the town located north of Wailea. It has a more local feel and laid-back vibe than the resorts to the south and is a great place to really experience Maui’s culture.

Kihei is home to many of South Maui’s popular beaches, restaurants, and boutiques, making it a great place to spend the day relaxing, shopping, or dining. It’s also known for its nightlife and hosts a large outdoor community gathering every 4th Friday.

Learn More: 15 Fun Activities and Things to Do in Kihei, Maui

Places to Stay in Wailea

Grand Wailea

As one of the most popular areas for tourists in Maui, Wailea offers a range of accommodation options suitable to different budgets and preferences. Whether on a romantic getaway, a family holiday, or a solo adventure, you’ll find a perfect place to stay. Here are some of the best ones.

  • Four Seasons Resort – This five-star beachfront resort features spacious rooms, world-class dining options, an award-winning spa, and multiple pools.
  • Fairmont Kea Lani – Another luxurious beachfront resort offering elegant suites with private lanais, a sprawling pool complex, an extensive spa, and three onsite restaurants.
  • Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort – This expansive resort has 780 rooms, nine swimming pools, a 50,000 square foot spa, and a beautiful beachfront location.
  • Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – This chic resort, with a beachfront location, offers contemporary rooms with ocean views, several restaurants, and an expansive spa.
  • Wailea Beach Villas – These luxurious condominium units have gourmet kitchens, private lanais, and stunning ocean views, along with access to two pools and a fitness center.
  • Hotel Wailea – This adults-only resort offers spacious suites with private balconies and luxurious amenities like an infinity-edge pool, a spa, and a restaurant specializing in dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
  • Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui – This family-friendly resort offers spacious rooms and suites, a water playground, a fitness center, and multiple dining options.
  • Wailea Ekahi Village – These beachfront condos offer one- and two-bedroom units, a beachfront pavilion, and four swimming pools spread across 34 acres of tropical gardens.

Wailea FAQs

South Maui

Is Wailea Worth Visiting?

The upscale resort area in South Maui is home to stunning beaches, luxurious accommodations, top-rated golf courses, and excellent restaurants. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventures, Wailea has something for everyone. If you’re staying in Kihei, visiting Wailea should be on your list as it’s close by and offers a different feel that’s worth checking out.

Where is Wailea Located?

Wailea is a resort community on the south shore of Maui. It sits between Kihei to the north and Makena to the south and is approximately 16 miles from the Kahului Airport. After you’ve landed and grabbed your bags, it will take you approximately 30 minutes by car to get here.

What is the Weather Like in Wailea?

The weather in Wailea is warm and tropical year-round, with temperatures typically ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit. The summer months (June to August) are drier, while the winter months (December to February) can bring more rainfall. Wailea enjoys plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures, making it an ideal destination for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts.

What is the History of Wailea?

Wailea has a rich history that dates back to ancient Hawaiian times. The area was once a thriving agricultural community, with native Hawaiians cultivating crops like taro, sweet potato, and sugarcane. Around the early 20th century, the people of Wailea turned to cattle grazing and sugar production. Eventually, developers recognized its potential as a resort destination and started building luxury hotels.

Its first hotel, the Maui Inter-Continental, opened in 1971. Since then, the area has become home to some of the most luxurious resorts in Hawaii. Despite becoming a thriving tourist destination, Wailea remains deeply connected to its cultural heritage, with several cultural and historical sites that pay tribute to its history.

Justin and Katie Busa

Meet the Authors

Aloha! We’re Justin and Katie, the owners of Maui Hideaway. We’ve been visiting Hawaii together with our family for 20 years and would love to share the experience of the islands with you. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or just some vacation advice, we’re here to help!

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