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Kihei - Wailea - Makena area

Beaches. All the beaches in Maui are free and open to the public, no matter what buildings may adjoin the beach.  There generally is parking reserved for beach users.  The Kihei-Wailea-Makena coast of Maui has great beaches and it almost never rains. We found no need to go anywhere else on the island for swimming, because these beaches are superb.

The surfing is not very active on this part of the island, but it is possible to surf on a good day at Cove Park in Kihei.  There also is some surfing in front of the Renaissance Hotel in Wailea.

The Kihei beaches are good,  but the Wailea and Makena beaches are better.  The beaches in the Wailea area are fancy, but fun to visit, especially for sun-bathing and walking. Don't be put off by the umbrellas and the people serving drinks; remember; the beaches are free to all.

We like Ulua-Mokapu beaches for snorkeling and for swimming. This also is a great area for walking and jogging.  It is possible to walk all the way from Ulua Beach to Polo Beach on paved walkways that skirt the beach in front of hotels and private homes.  Our favorite part of the walk was between Polo Beach and Wailea Beach.  Look for the sign for Wailea Beach just past the Grand Wailea Resort.  Polo Beach is just south of there.  Both have parking.

Keawakapu Beach Park is tucked away, but our favorite place to visit in the Wailea area.  It is not marked on the main road from Wailea, so tourists often miss it.  You can reach it from a local road off the main road coastal road.  Approaching Wailea from Kihei heading south, the Kihei road turns up a hill to reach Wilea and all the Wilea resorts.  Instead of turning up the hill, continue straight south along the coast on the local road marked "dead end" (Its official name is Okolani Drive, but that won't help you.)  Follow this road to the beach parking.  You will be amazed at the big beaches that opens up in either direction.  If you walk south from these beaches, you will reach Ulua Beach and the more familiar areas that front the Wailea resorts, beginning with the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort on the north end.

Follow the coastal road south from Wailea to the state park in Makena.  (There are two parking lots, but you also may need to park along the highway.)  These parks are the home of the two Makena beaches, Big Beach and Little Beach.  Big Beach is the swimming mecca in this part of the island.  No matter how many cars jam the parking lot, the beach is large and uncrowded.  Big waves kick up right at the shoreline and make for great boogy boarding.  This also is one of the few beaches where you can find shaded areas.  Take the posted warnings about Big Beach seriously. The waves are very strong.

The other beach at Makena State Park is  -- informally -- a nude beach. You can reach Little Beach from the first parking lot or by climbing up the rocks on a path at the north end of Big Beach.

Our other favorite is a local Makena beach that attracts very few tourists.  Poolenalena State Park is about 1-1/2 miles south of the main intersection in Wailea.  (It was just to the north of the Makena Surf Condos.)  You might find Hawaiians there fishing and camping. The kids love it for the lack of tourists and for great boogie-boarding conditions.

See photo essay on Wailea-Makena beaches at dawn.

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Last updated January 5, 2002.