Wailea, and the smaller Makena to the south, are resort areas on the south side of Maui, Hawaii, immediately south of the town of Kihei. They are known for their luxury resort hotels and condos, upscale restaurants, fancy shopping center and expensive golf courses. And although hidden behind the hotels and condos now, the beaches that attracted the developers in the first place are still there in all their golden sand beauty.
From Maui's main airport in Kahului, follow the signs to Kihei and Wailea via Highway 311 (Mokulele Highway). Highway 311 becomes Highway 31 (Pi'ilani Highway) in Kihei and it ends in Wailea, where it becomes Wailea Ike Drive. Driving time from the airport to Wailea is about 30 minutes.
The main street through town is Wailea Alanui Drive and The Shops at Wailea (Wailea Alanui Drive and Wailea Ike Drive) serve as the center of town.
- Makena Beach, South Makena Rd (in Makena State Park 1 mi S of the Maui Prince Hotel, there are two parking lots on the W side of the road). A beautiful stretch of beach south of Wailea that is good for swimming. There are two beaches -- Big Beach, which is the main one, and Little Beach, which is over a hill at the north end of Big Beach. Facilities are limited with just pit toilets and a few picnic tables. It's a good idea to bring your own food if you want to eat as the concession trailer is very expensive for what you get.
Go swimming or snorkeling at one of the many beaches along the coast. Take a stroll along the Wailea Beach Walk. It stretches for a mile and a half and connects the town's beaches. In winter, it provides a good spot to watch whales.
If you're a golf enthusiast, there are two golf clubs with five courses in the area.
- Wailea Golf Club, 100 Wailea Golf Club Dr, ☎ +1 808 875-7450, toll-free: +1-888-328-MAUI (6284), fax: +1 808 875-5114, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Three courses -- Blue, Emerald and Gold -- that offer views of the ocean and Haleakala. Emerald is considered the most forgiving and Gold the most challenging. $155-225 with twilight rates available on the Blue course.
- Makena Golf Courses, 5415 Makena Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 891-4000, fax: +1 808 879-2834, e-mail: email@example.com. Two courses -- North and South -- that play out amongst the rolling hills of the area. The South course has a couple of holes by the ocean, while the North course tends to play higher on the mountain. $120-190, with cheaper rates after 1PM.
- Caffe Ciao, 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr (in the Fairmont Kea Lani), ☎ +1 808 875-4100. noon-10PM. Cafe next to the bar with outdoor tables. There is also a deli with takeaways.
- Ferraro's Bar e Ristorante, 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr (in the Four Seasons Resort), ☎ +1 808 874-8000. 11:30AM-9PM. Outdoor dining with Italian fare and seafood. $25-50.
- Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr (Grand Wailea Resort). 5:30PM-9PM. Located in a Polynesian-style hut in a lagoon off Wailea Beach. Rated highly for ambiance. $30-60 for mains; $12-20 for appetizers.
- Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe, 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr (in the Shops at Wailea), ☎ +1 808 875-9983. Open for lunch and dinner. Serves a mix of seafood and meat dishes. $30-40 for mains; $7-20 for appetizers.
Accommodation in Wailea and Makena is on the upscale-side, with hotels in the four and five star range. If you want or need something cheaper, Kihei is a better bet.
- Fairmont Kea Lani, 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 875-4100. All suites. Super-service restaurant in the hotel is Nick's Fishmarket.
- Four Seasons Resort, 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 874-8000, fax: +1 808 874-2244. Quiet luxurious resort with pampering service.
- Grand Wailea Resort, 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 875-1234, toll-free: +1-800-888-6100. Maui's largest and most spectacular hotel, with 787 rooms, numerous fantastic pools, art throughout the lobbies, children's play areas, beach, restaurants.
- Maui Prince Hotel, 5400 Makena Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 874-1111. A luxury hotel that is built around an Asian Meditation Garden. The resort is near Makena Beach and features golf courses, tennis courts, signature restaurants, and extensive facilities for meetings, weddings, and social events.
- Outrigger Palms at Wailea, 3200 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 879-5800. The Outrigger Palms at Wailea Resort Hotel is minutes from beautiful Wailea Beach, the town of Kihei and the award-winning Wailea Golf Club in Maui.
- Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 3700 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 808 879-1922. Originally the Intercontinental. 546 rooms. On a rocky shore adjacent to two different beaches. Not to be confused with the Maui Marriott, which is a timeshare property on Kaanapali Beach.
- Hotel Wailea Maui, 555 Kaukahi St, ☎ +1 808 874-0500. A 15-acre all-suite resort nestled on the plush hillside overlooking world renowned Wailea. Recently upgraded one-bedroom suites offer 900 square feet of spacious accommodations with a separate living area and private lanai. The resort also features an award winning Italian restaurant, swimming pool and beautifully landscaped grounds with waterfall and koi pond.
- Ho'olei at the Grand Wailea, 146 Ho'olei Cir, ☎ +1 808 856-2000. Luxurious beach vacation home rentals with access to the Grand Wailea Resort amenities and resources including pools, golf, tennis, and the world renowned Spa Grande.
- Makena Surf, 4850 Makena Alanui Dr, toll-free: +1-866-384-1366. Makena Surf is a beachfront, security-gated community which features one-to-four bedroom condominiums with tennis courts and BBQ areas on site and easy access to swimming pools and nearby championship golf courses. Units are typically booked through an agent or directly from the condo owner.
- Outrigger Palms at Wailea, 3200 Wailea Alanui Dr, ☎ +1 303 369-7777, toll-free: +1-866-733-0519. Two-story condos with kitchens and laundry facilities in every room.
- Wailea Beach Villas, 3800 Wailea Alanui Dr, toll-free: +1-866-384-1366. Wailea Beach Villas offers comfortable private beachfront penthouse villas with views of Molokini, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. The villas are all over 2000 sq ft with 2 and/or 3 bedrooms. All villas have gorgeous lanais, gourmet kitchens, floor to ceiling windows, luxurious bathrooms, inside laundry.
Wailea/Makena is almost as far as you can go south, but there are a couple of good spots to go to for snorkeling and hiking before the road ends for good.
- Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve, S Makena Rd (about 1.5 mi/2.4 km S of the Maui Prince Hotel). An offshore reserve with good snorkeling and sea turtles sometimes. There is a rocky parking area on the right shortly after entering the reserve.
- La Perouse Bay, S Makena Rd (about 3 mi/5 km S of the Maui Prince Hotel). The end of the road where the lava from Maui's last eruption flowed into the sea. There are some stables near the parking lot and a rocky beach, although it isn't recommended for swimming. There are also a couple of hiking trails, including the Hoapili Trail which winds its way along the coast through some shade and then strikes inland over the lava fields to Kanaio Beach some 2 - 2.5 miles away. The coastal parts are quite pretty but the section through the lava can be long and warm.
Heading north up Highway 31 will bring you to the main part of Maui, which is all accessible within a day's drive.