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This is the ultimate guide to Maui, Hawaii in 2020.
And let's do this the right way:
This is NOT your average “Top 10 things..." list.
Yes, we’ll cover the most-visited favorites. But you’re also going to find hidden experiences that our clients remember for decades. So if you’re looking to explore Maui, you’ll love this new guide.
Called the "The Valley Isle" because its valley was formed between two volcanoes, Maui provides a variety of experiences from active to serene. Maui is home to Lahaina, a historic 18th-century whaling port. Each year from December through March, the whales return to the warm shallow waters of Maui to give birth and nurse their young. You can travel to the top of Haleakala, a 13,000 ft. dormant volcano that forms the Southeastern portion of the island. Maui's famous Road to Hana transverses some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world. Maui vacations offer a combination of fun and beauty. You can visit this island again and again and still not have time to do everything, or dine in all of its restaurants. If you enjoy the ocean, Maui has miles of beaches and endless varieties of water activities. Golfing and tennis opportunities are abundant. Or if you prefer, bring your beach towel, catch some sun and play in Maui's refreshing waters.
Like all the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is blessed by warm air temperatures year-round, and ocean waters that range from 72-77 degrees F in winter to 77-81 degrees in summer. The island's distance from other continents, the moderating effects of the surrounding water, and the tropical location combine to create this pleasant climate. Hawaii's topography, particularly the mountains and valleys and location of each island, contributes to the great variety of microclimates within very small areas.
Polynesians, from Tahiti and the Marquesas, were the original peoples to populate Maui. The Tahitians introduced the kapu system, a strict social order that affected all aspects of life and became the core of Hawaiian culture. Modern Hawaiian history began in the mid-1700s. King Kamehameha I took up residence (and later made his capital) in L?hain? after conquering Maui in 1790, during the Battle of Kepaniwai. On November 26, 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European explorer to discover Maui. Cook never set foot on the island because he was unable to find a suitable landing. The first European to visit Maui was the French admiral Jean Franois de Galaup de La Perouse, who landed on the shores of what is now known as La Perouse Bay on May 29, 1786. More Europeans followed: traders, whalers, loggers (e.g., of sandalwood) and missionaries. The missionaries began to arrive from New England in 1823, choosing Lahaina because it was the capital. They clothed the natives, banned them from dancing hula, and greatly altered the culture. They tried to keep whalers and sailors out of the bawdy houses. The missionaries taught reading and writing, created the 12-letter Hawaiian alphabet, started a printing press in Lahaina, and began writing the island's history, which until then existed only as oral accounts. Ironically, the work of the missionaries both altered and preserved the native culture. The religious work altered the culture while the literacy efforts preserved native history and language for posterity. They started the first school in Lahaina, which still exists today: Lahainaluna Mission School. The Mission school opened in 1831 and was the first secondary school to open west of the Rocky Mountains. At the height of the whaling era (1840-1865), Lahaina was a major whaling center with anchorage in Lahaina Roads; in one season over 400 ships visited Lahaina and the greatest number of ships berthed at one time was about 100. A given ship tended to stay months rather than days which explains the drinking and prostitution in the town at that time. Whaling declined steeply at the end of the 19th century as crude oil (petroleum) replaced whale oil. Kamehameha's descendants reigned in the islands until 1872. They were followed by rulers from another ancient family of chiefs, including Queen Liliuokalani who ruled in 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was founded. The island was annexed by the United States in 1898 and made a territory in 1900.
Imagine standing at the top of a 10,000 foot dormant volcano - two miles high - getting on a bicycle, and coasting down a 38-mile road all the way to the ocean, without pedaling. This is a reality on Maui's Mount Haleakala. Thousands of downhill biking enthusiasts have experienced this adventure since the industry began in 1982. Of all the activities on Maui, this is the one that can't be done anywhere else on earth. This is how it works. You're picked up at your hotel and transported to a baseyard at the foot of the mountain. Here you're fitted with the windbreakers, helmet and gloves you'll be wearing on your downhill journey. After a continental breakfast you're off to the top of the mountain where you witness the spectacle of Haleakala Crater. This enormous crater is 21 miles in circumference, 3000 feet deep, and is large enough to fit all of Manhattan Island within its perimeter. If you choose to go at sunrise (a good choice) you will also see one of the most spectacular solar displays found anywhere. Your breathtaking descent begins from the crater rim. Each group follows a lead guide in radio contact with the "chase van" that follows the group with cameras, warm clothing, etc. Many stops are made on the way down for extraordinary views of the island. A luncheon stop is usually made at one of the restaurants and then the final descent is made to the sea. Once at the bottom, the experience takes on a somewhat surreal quality as your mind keeps replaying the constant series of turns and roadways that led to your final destination. One glance up at the top and you realize that you've conquered a mountain. You've connected with Maui in some way that you know is different. You smelled the camphor of the eucalyptus trees as you passed through the forests, and you breathed the cool thin air from Maui's highest slopes. Today was a different day for you, and it was worthwhile.
Every trip to Maui should include a visit to Hana. There are very few places that rivals Hana in sheer beauty and power of nature. Each bend of the narrow, winding road carved along the Hana coastline curves into a valley of waterfalls and fresh water pools. Dense jungle and rainforest are so thick in places you wonder how anyone could have made the trek before the Hana Highway. The forest appears in layer upon layer of higher and higher canopies of overgrowth and spreading trees. The African Tulip tree stands out against the emerald green as beautiful plumes of brilliant orange high above the forest dome. The pale green of Kukui trees, which produce the Kukui nut used in ancient Hawaii as a source of oil for night lanterns, softens the dark forests of Koa and mahogany. The air is fragrant with the sweet aroma of ginger blossoms and everywhere you look are tropical flowers of all colors and shapes. Tropical fruit trees line the road - and sometimes cover the road - with mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit, mountain apple, breadfruit and wild berries. Hana is heaven on earth and should not be missed. Take a mini-van tour. That way, you won't miss a single view or wonder what the name of that huge tree is. You'll learn all about the place names, the plants, flowers, and the Hawaiian stories and legends of the area. Drive yourself in a rental car, but pay close attention to the road and the traffic. Hundreds of curves, narrow bridges and very wet areas will keep you within the speed limit. You'll want to stop at lots of the turnouts to get good photos of waterfalls and valleys, old bridges and tiny villages. Hire a private tour guide who will travel in your rental car with you. We've had some of the best luck with these services lately, and they're not half as expensive as you might think.
Enjoy a feast for the senses at one of Maui's Hawaiian luaus. Food, drink, dance, music and much aloha. It is highly recommended that you take one in while you're on Maui. First, there's the food. On the morning of the luau, a pit or "imu" is dug and filled with kiawe branches and river rocks. A fire is lit, the stones are heated and then a combination of banana stalks, banana leaves and ti leaves are placed in the imu pit along with a pig. The hole is covered up and the pig steams all day until the "imu ceremony" when it is unearthed and presented to all as the main dish. It is called "kalua pork" and meat prepared in this manner is lean, succulent, and falls away from the bone. In addition, traditional dishes such as lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, haupia, poi, and other exotic fare is available for the tasting. There is also a wide selection of American dishes, including beef, fish, chicken, salads, vegetables, exotic fruits, desserts and an open bar. The food at an authentic Hawaiian luau is always wonderful, but that's just the beginning. Next, there's the music and dance. Some luaus on Maui are distinctly authentic. these luaus portray the culture of old Hawaii exclusively, featuring the Hula and other dances unique to the Hawaiian Islands. Other Maui luaus include other cultures of the Pacific Rim including the Maori of New Zealand, dances from Tonga and Fiji, the drums of Tahiti, and the fire dancers of Samoa. All Hawaiian luaus on Maui are held at sunset and are filled with the romance of the islands. Whether young or old, newlywed or celebrating a 50th anniversary, you will find this evening at a luau to be uniquely Hawaiian and very special.
Riding stables and working ranches are located from Kapalua in West Maui to Makena in South Maui and from Waihee Valley to Hana. Once the guide knows your level of experience, he or she will match you up with a horse that will be appropriate. If you're a beginner, don't worry, they've seen your kind before. If you're a veteran equestrian they have rides that are a bit more challenging. Maui horseback rides will take you: Through a tropical rain forest and down to windswept cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. Into the crater of Haleakala (like riding on the moon). Up into the Hana highlands near the famous Oheo Gulch. Onto the ranch lands high above the central valley, with views galore. From the beach at Makena to the winery at Ulupalakua. All in all, your Maui horseback ride will be one of the most beautiful and fun rides you have ever taken.
Now the fun really begins. Skyline Eco Adventures offers the only zip-line adventure on Maui. Located on the slopes of Haleakala at about the 3500 ft. level, Skyline offers a series of four (perhaps more soon) zip-line jumps over progressively larger gorges or canyons. It's a good thing that you have already had experience on the first three by the time you get to the fourth jump because you probably wouldn't do it otherwise. It will offer however, perhaps the single most exciting moments you will have on your entire vacation. This tour is fun!
When was the last time you were on a submarine? Never? If you're one of the few who have been on a submarine, we'll bet it didn't have windows! Here's your chance to board a $4.5 million submarine, dive to a depth of 150 feet, and cruise around the ocean floor for an hour - and see everything out there from the best vantage point possible. Sound exciting? It is! The climate-controlled cabin and giant viewing ports make your voyage below the surface both comfortable and interesting. You'll see hundreds and hundreds of fish and coral heads of all sizes and colors. Sometimes you'll see eels, rays and occasionally a shark. As you inch along the sea floor, more and more is revealed, color upon color, shape upon shape. During the winter months whales have swum into view. Each trip is different, but each dive is exciting, informative and educational. Semi-submersibles, or glass bottom boats, are also available. The underwater experience is similar to that on a submarine except you remain on the ocean surface. The cost is less but the visual impact can be impressive as well. They're a far cry from the old glass bottom boats people used to use 20 years ago off Lahaina's coast.
Snorkeling is Maui's #1 Activity! Never snorkeled before? Don't worry. It's simple, can be learned in a matter of minutes and mastered on your first outing. It's easiest to learn with the assistance of one of the crew on a Maui snorkeling trip, so you might give that a try before you set out on your own. There's a reason people love snorkeling on Maui. The ocean waters surrounding Maui and its neighbor islands of Lanai and Molokini are comfortably warm, have great visibility (often in excess of 100 feet), and are teeming with beautiful coral formations and colorful tropical fish. The viewing begins within feet of the shoreline and may extend out a quarter of a mile in some areas. As you glide over fantastic spires and crevices of coral, watch for eels, starfish, rays, lobster, or even a giant ulua. The panorama is hypnotic: swaying limu and sea urchins, the endless shifting of the sandy bottom between coral cliffs.
People love dinner cruises. When you think back on your moments on Maui years from now, this last evening may be the one you remember most fondly. Floating gently between the islands of Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe, clouds painted with every sunset color, the ocean reflecting the sun's last moments, the gentle lapping of waves and the soothing rhythm of the sea, a glass of wine in hand, a companion at your side - ah, it's a fine life! This is a wonderful way to gather family and friends, too, to share a convivial evening of fun with a fine dinner, generous libations and good music. Some vessels even have room for dancing. And there's nothing quite like returning to the port of Lahaina, the town's light reflected in the waves, as you end a special evening drenched in stars. It's hard to think of a better way to celebrate an anniversary, have a mini reunion or bid 'aloha' to island friends. A large part it has to do with romance. We're a romantic species and no activity plays the heartstrings better than a dinner cruise at sunset, especially on your last night on Maui. Dinner cruises usually include: Full dinner, an open bar, live entertainment. The best show of all: the islands, the sea, the mountain peaks, clouds, sun, stars, and - as often as heavenly possible - the moon.
This is one activity that almost warrants a page of its own, it's growing so rapidly. Maui's coastline is ideal for kayaking, particularly in the early morning when the ocean is smooth as silk. Many spots are perfect for this activity: underwater marine preserves of Honolua Bay and La Perouse Bay, and picturesque spots such as Makena and the Hana coastline, just to mention a few. Whale season is one of the best times to go as there is no greater thrill than viewing one of the "gentle giants" from kayak-level. Talk about having something to write home about! And no experience is necessary. After a few minutes of instruction you'll be paddling out beyond the surf and exploring the little bays and inlets along the shore.
A two-hour whale watching trip may not be enough to satisfy your curiosity about these marine mammals. You may want to go on a couple of different trips during your holidays (Whale watching season hits its peak in February). Many types of boats offer whale watching. Large ones provide stability on the ocean. Some have upper decks for greater viewing capacity. Rafts, or zodiacs, are more adventurous, more intimate and give more of a 'whale-eye' view of the surroundings. Whale watching by kayak is the best way to get close and personal with Maui's largest visitors. Morning is usually the best time for whale watching on Maui. The ocean is flat, making the whales easier to spot. Zodiac rafts are extremely exciting but not recommended for pregnant women or those with bad backs. Children love whale watching! The price for kids is usually half the adult fare.
Seventy-five percent of Maui is visible only from the air! If you haven't seen Maui by helicopter, you haven't seen Maui. Maui has a number of helicopter tours to choose from, each specializing in a particular type of aircraft: The A-Star is one of the most luxurious, designed specifically for sightseeing. No matter where you sit you'll have 180-degree visibility. The rotator shaft does not come between the front and back seats and there are no visual impediments interrupting your view forward. The back seat is raised to give a better view above the seats in front and there is an abundance of windows. The Hughes 500 is small, fast and maneuverable. It seats only 4 passengers so each person is guaranteed a window seat. The Bell Jet Ranger is a little larger than the Hughes and smaller than the A-Star. The McDonnell-Douglas Notar is designed without a tail rotor, giving a noticeably quieter flight. This helicopter is often hired by professional photographers on aerial shoots because it can be flown with the doors removed. With regard to photography, many Maui helicopter companies equip their aircraft with special video recorders mounted in the nose and along the sides of the helicopter. Some even have camera lenses mounted in the cockpit. As the pilot flies along he directs the taping, selecting the camera offering the best view. The result: at the end of your helicopter tour you're presented with a video tape of your actual flight to take home and enjoy over and over.
Kaanapali is a luxury resort environment with beautiful shops, beaches and lots of activities for fun. Great restaurants, shops and hotels with tropical gardens for your enjoyment. Up until 1956, Kaanapali was part of a large sugar plantation. The resort planners that selected this area of Maui, put their biggest and best resorts on Kaanapali beach. Many high-end resorts line the beach and are all connected by an excellent paved beachside path. To stroll along this path at sunset is a must. Black Rock, an extinct volcano, is the only peninsula and is situated about mid-way along Kaanapali beach.
Napili offers you a trip in to "old" Hawaii and is one of the original resorts which maintains its 1940's-1950's character. This is partly the reason for its popularity. The accommodations in the area are predominantly low rise situated in a quiet residential area. Napili Bay is one of Maui's most picturesque and gentle surf beaches and is framed by beautiful palm trees. It's terrific for snorkeling and particularly safe for small children. Whichever one of the accommodations you might choose from below, the access to Napili Bay is only a few minutes away.
Kihei is located on the South West side of Maui appoximately 25 minutes from the airport. It is a town that is filled with many shops and stores. It is also an area where you can get a good feel as to how the locals may live. There are also some great beaches to be explored. The Kamaole Beaches are great for a variety of activities and are generally very safe. The best thing about Kihei, however, is the incredible accommodation prices. Kihei has some of the very best values on all of Maui.
The "Road to Hana" is an experience. Located at the far Southeastern corner of Maui, half of the pleasure of Hana is the two hour drive that hugs the rugged coast with its tropical rain forest and many waterfalls. The road is perfectly drivable by any rental car - you do not need a 4WD vehicle. Sometimes the road goes from pavement to gravel but it is graded and consistent. Start early in the morning to get the best use of sunlight and to avoid the crowds. There are many waterfalls near the road and they are all beautiful to look at - pull over and take a look. Between the 15 and 16 mile markers, there is a hill - it is where King Kamehameha fought the Maui King warriors and defeated them. Further on the road, Nahiku is one of the most luxuriant and green areas of Maui. Flowers and plants grow strong, tall and green here and, once you see it, you will never forget its beauty. Don't miss the Blue Pool waterfall and swimming hole - another one of the many memorable vistas and locations along the road to Hana. Hana itself is one of the most peaceful places in Maui where no one rushes to do anything. Hana Bay has a beautiful black sand beach where it is quite safe to swim. On the other side of the Ka'uiki Head peninsula at the South end of Hana Bay is the Red Sand Beach - while the swimming is not excellent, the walk and the colors make it memorable.
Centrally located, historic whaling village that has been restored with many fun shops and great places to dine with lots of things to do. Lahaina is West Maui's center for boating and diving activities. It has a "real" downtown with many things to do. It is very crowded and bustling. Parking is not easy in Lahaina so come to town early in the morning to find the best spots. Front Street is exciting and energetic and a good place for a stroll. The old world view of Hawaii comes through in Lahaina. Go to Lahaina to eat, shop, buy and talk. As an old whalers' port, it is no surprise that there are many boating activities originating from Lahaina. There are few places to stay in Lahaina but there is an abundance of exciting night-life and many restaurants. Be careful of the sun in Lahaina. The word actually means "cruel sun" and it can quickly give you a memorable burn to take home.
Just South of Kapalua and Napili, Kahana is one of the quietest resort areas on Maui. In Kahana, you'll find a wide range of oceanfront accommodations from budget to more deluxe. Smaller units like studios to larger three bedrooms can be found here as well. The oceanfront values in Kahana are some of the very best on all of Maui.
Wailea is located approximately 35 minutes from the airport and is considered to be one of the very most upscale areas on all of Maui. It is a peaceful, luxurious resort environment with miles of beautiful beaches for walking, swimming and snorkeling. For those who enjoy golf and tennis, Wailea is an ideal setting. Shopping for luxury goods can be done at the nearby Wailea Shopping Village. Shopping for groceries and other basic items can be done right next door in the town of Kihei. The hotels and condos in the area tend to cost a bit more, but the quality is considered to be some of the very best on Maui. So, it's well worth the money! The beaches in the Wailea are some of the most beautiful in all the Hawaiian islands. There is a beach path that is well preserved that can be used to stroll from resort to resort or restaurant back to your hotel.
Kapalua is one of Maui's great planned communities, featuring your choice of luxurious bay, ridge, or golf villas (they're not called condos at Kapalua). Kapalua is a world class resort and home to three championship golf courses.
Honokowai offers a tranquil setting which is minutes from the activities of Kaanapali and Lahaina. The beautiful secluded beaches of Napili and Kapalua are just to the North of Honokowai. Most of the accommodations in the area tend to be more high rise in nature which allows for spectacular oceanviews. There are some tremendous oceanfront values to be found.
Five minutes South of Wailea, Makena is a serene area with excellent snorkeling and swimming beaches. Makena has deluxe beachfront condos with spectacular views. The only hotel in Makena is the Maui Prince Hotel. Makena is also home to the famous Haleakala volcano, now in its dormant years. Its last eruption was in 1790. Makena also has excellent hiking trails - walking up Pu'u Ola'i is not that easy, but it is rewarding. From the top you have an excellent view, including Big Beach and much of Wailea. You might also see a few of the thousands of the wild deer resident in this area of Maui. While you are driving, stop at some of the good roadside food stands.
Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui's resort hot spots, a four-mile stretch of golden sand completely open to the public but bordered by resorts, shops, and restaurants along the paved boardwalk or "the strip."
It's popular, but crowded only in spots, and definitely large enough to find your own section of paradise.
The Black Rock landmark (also called "Soul's leap") in front of the Sheraton is a popular if somewhat scary jumping point and also an incredible snorkeling location with clear and flat waters full of colorful fish and turtles.
Sunset views are always amazing and the summertime swimming is idyllic but there's some seasonal high surf and occasional strong currents, especially in winter.
There are lifeguards on duty, outdoor showers, and public restrooms in the nearby hotel pool areas. Vendors also line the strip with water activity equipment rentals.
Kaanapali is off Hwy. 30 in west Maui and although there are a few spots for public parking (near the Maui Kaanapali Villas), you'll almost always need to walk through one resort or another to reach the beach, so you may just want to park at one of the hotels and spend some money but save some time.
The seaside town of Kihei in South Maui has three Kamaole beaches, named simply Kamaole I, II, and III, each with a slightly different ambiance.
The third one is the most popular, but all are easily accessible and busy with locals and tourists.
Kamaole I has a large strip of fine white sand with great swimming conditions and grassy picnic areas.
Number II is just south, with a smaller sandy area but is also good for swimming.
The third is the largest of the three and the most popular, with a strip of golden sand, playground for children, and lawn leading down to the water that's perfect for picnics, Frisbee-throwing, or kite-flying.
The waves are more consistent there and it's a good spot for boogie boarding and some surfing when the winter surf picks up. Fish like to hang out near the rocks at both ends of the beach so snorkeling is fun in those relatively shallow waters. Lava rocks are spread around the shoreline and the water dips quickly after a certain point out, so swimming is generally safe but currents and waves can gain strength quickly.
Kamaole has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecue grills, and is also an amazing place to see a Maui sunset.
These beaches are just off South Kihei Rd., with parking across from the Maui Parkshore condos.
Beautiful Hamoa Beach on East Maui has been voted one of Hawaii's favorites. Sea cliffs with lush tropical vegetation surround the bay of gray sand, which is made up of crushed coral and lava.
The Hotel Hana Maui maintains the beach, which is actually public property, and offers some amenities specific to their guests (chairs, towels, umbrellas, etc.). Their restrooms and outdoor showers, however, are open to everyone.
A nearby beach hut rents out bodyboard and snorkeling equipment. Although snorkeling is best near the rocky outcroppings on either side, the waves are very popular for surfers and bodyboarders along the entire 100 feet of sand. Powerful currents and offshore breaks are not protected by any fringing reefs, so it's an ideal spot for experienced surfers (but a tough place to start learning) and no lifeguards are present.
The Pacific scenery is topped off by the small island of Alau visible from the shore. Take the Hamoa Beach turnoff from Hana Hwy. (Hwy. 360) and park on the road then take the steps down to the beach.
Waianapanapa ("glistening waters") is a 120-acre state park with a black sand beach, fresh water caves, historical sites, and blowholes. King's Highway, an ancient coastal footpath, makes for a nice coastline hike from the beach to the town of Hana a few miles away, and the black sand of the small sea arch is actually tiny, smooth lava pebbles that formed when hot lava flow came into contact with the cool waters of the ocean and the waves shattered them against the shoreline.
The beach, also called Honokalani, is set against lava cliffs that include tidepools and volcanic tubes.
Legend has it that an ancient Hawaiian Chief killed his wife in one large cave, where she was hiding after her jealous husband wrongly suspected her of infidelity, and that the tidepool waters of Waianapanapa cave turn red at times during the year to commemorate her death. (The scientific reason for the color change is thought to be small red shrimp.)
There is tent camping allowed by permit, cabin camping by reservation, restrooms, showers, picnic, and parking facilities.
Powerful currents and strong waves hit the beach and swimming is dangerous, especially near the rocky reef. It's important to remember not to take any sand from this beach - it's a rare and limited natural resource that cannot be recreated.
Off Hana Hwy. (Hwy. 360), just past mile marker 32, take the paved road to the left.
Wahikuli County Wayside Park includes one of Lahaina's most popular beaches, a small stretch of sand that's great for family visits.
Its calm water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling amongst the fish but it isn't an ideal place to surf.
The park includes restrooms, showers, covered pavilions, picnic tables, and BBQ grills. There's also free parking in the paved parking lot and plenty of shady spots.
This lovely sandy area on the very northern edge of Lahaina Town is a favorite for the weekend crowd especially. You can reach the beach off Hwy. 30, it's on the left as you travel north on your way to Kaanapali.
Ulua Beach is yet another example of a perfect Maui strip of golden sand - wide and crescent-shaped with two rocky points at each end for great protection from the open ocean and for great snorkeling and diving when the waters are calm, especially near the south end.
Although it was named for an island and bird sanctuary that used to sit offshore, that land was actually destroyed during WWII artillery practice and Ulua doesn't have the nearby reef directly offshore that other Hawaiian beaches do to slow open ocean waves.
The sometimes rough waters make for good surfing or bodyboarding and swimming is generally safe, with the shallow and gently sloping sandy floor. But there are no lifeguards on duty and strong currents can occur quickly plus there are some rock hazards to look out for.
It's been named one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in America and is very popular with the general Wailea resort crowd staying nearby. The Ocean Activity Center is also close and rents a variety of water sports equipment.
The beach offers restrooms and shower facilities and there's a small parking lot under the blue "Shoreline Access" sign on South Kihei Rd. near the Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort.
Wailea Beach is one of the best beaches serving Maui's South Shore resorts, with a perfectly curved wide shoreline and black lava points at each end.
The waters of this mini bay are protected from strong surf and lovely for swimming and snorkeling. Its waves aren't the professional surf wave sizes of other Hawaii beaches, but they're big enough and fun to ride.
The shore provides a great vantage point to see Pacific humpback whales as they swim by between December and April, and you can also see the islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokini plus spectacular sunsets from the soft Wailea sand.
A paved walkway connects the many resorts along this beach, with lush tropical plants, restaurants, and sandy coves to explore. There are restrooms, showers, and limited free parking on Wailea Alanui Dr. (park at the blue "Shoreline Access" sign).
D. T. Fleming Beach, named "America's Best Beach" in 2006 on Dr. Beach's famous list, is a favorite swimming and snorkeling spot as well as a relatively competitive surf zone in Maui.
It's a cove named for the man who started commercial pineapple crops in the area and curves from the 16th hole of the Kapalua golf course at Makaluapuna Point round to the sea cliffs.
Snorkeling is fun - there are tons of colorful fish chasing each other around - and there's a shallow sandbar offshore that rounds out a nice swimming area.
The beach is popular but not too crowded and trees provide shade across the sandy strip. Waves are particularly good near the sea cliffs on the right edge of the beach and lifeguards are on duty. Facilities include parking, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecue grills.
The beach park is off Hwy. 30 north of Kapalua.
Kapalua Beach is a golden sand cove in front of the Kapalua Bay hotel, with lava rock points protecting the water on both ends from any large swells.
The other edge of the sand is bordered by a coconut tree grove, a path, and lawns with swaying palm trees dotting the landscape. The beach gently slopes towards a calm, clear bay that's deep enough for snorkeling, wide enough for kayaking, and flat enough for young swimmers to safely paddle around, too.
A variety of tropical fish gather near the lava rocks, so it's a wonderful area to explore the sea life as well. Tranquil waves slowly roll in at this postcard perfect location and the surf is never too strong or powerful.
The hotel end includes chairs, umbrellas, and an activities center for its guests, but there is also public access on the other side and the entire beach is open to the public. Lifeguard, restroom, and outdoor shower facilities are provided.
It's popular and somewhat crowded at times, with only 30 or so public parking spots. You can walk to the beach if you're staying at the Kapalua Bay hotel, or use the small parking lot located off Lower Honoapiilani Rd. by Napili Kai Beach Club if you're not.
Maluaka Beach is one of four beaches surrounding Makena Bay in South Maui.
The somewhat isolated Maui Prince resort, some exquisite golf courses, and gentle sloping hills of kiawe trees are the only other scenery around, and the beaches are outstanding. Maluaka Beach is closest to the hotel and has mostly calm waters for some of the best swimming in the bay.
Snorkeling is also excellent near the two black lava points that sit at either end, and you can see Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokini from the shore.
Palm trees and grassy sand dunes offer shade and picnic spots, and there are restrooms and showers available and lifeguards on duty. Be on the lookout for seasonal high surf, especially in the winter.
You can park along Makena Rd.. To get there, turn right off Makena Alanui at the "Shoreline Access" sign near the hotel, then head towards the water.
The popular Maui location Oneloa Beach (sometimes called Big Beach, Makena Beach, or just THE beach), is almost a mile long and over 100 feet wide. It was part of an even larger beach that was divided by a 1970 earthquake and lava flow that created the cinder cone hill called Puu Olai ("Earthquake Hill") now sitting on Big Beach's northern end.
Across that hill and connected by a short path is a much smaller strip of sand called Little Beach. While that spot feels more deserted, with the lava rock surrounding a tiny bay on three sides and a steep hill starting just behind the golden sand, local authorities actually give it a bit of attention since it's become somewhat of a nudist hangout (watch out, you can actually get a lewd conduct ticket!).
Oneloa is Hawaiian for "long sand" and this long beach is especially busy on weekends. It was named favorite beach among Hawaii Magazine readers and has picnic areas and paved parking lots (but only portable toilets). You can see both Kahoolawe and Lanai from its shore and snorkeling is particularly good around the foot of Puu Olai.
The surfing and bodyboarding conditions are usually great, and the southern end of the beach draws a surfing crowd. Thunderous waves can build up during storms, and strong currents can be dangerous, especially since most of Big Beach's waters are directly open to the ocean.
It's off Makena Alanui Rd.. Drive past the Maui Prince hotel to the second dirt road and drive through the trees to the shore.
H.A. Baldwin Park is a community park with a beautiful long white-sand beach that is utilized well by Maui residents. Its facilities include picnic tables, restrooms, showers, parking areas, baseball diamond, and a soccer field.
The beach is within walking distance from Paia so it attracts locals and is a family outing place on the weekends.
The waves on this central North Maui beach are perfect for bodyboarding and sometimes for surfing. Lifeguards are present on the Paia end, but the wind usually picks up in the afternoons and can make strong currents hazardous - be especially careful outside of the reef just offshore.
There are two areas somewhat surrounded by rocks that are safe pools for young children to swim - one section near the large pavilion and another at the opposite end of the beach.
Most of the shore borders sandy and grassy dunes which block the beach from the parking lot view, so don't leave valuables in your car and be aware of personal safety.
Baldwin Park is located off Hana Hwy. between Sprecklesville and Paia.
Hookipa Beach is a world-famous windsurfing location and the site of two major world-class competitions each year. With coconut trees lining the gold sand, and strong winds and constant waves rolling in to shore, this beach has been described as a mecca for surfers since the 1930's and the "home of contemporary surfing."
A grassy cliff provides a great viewing spot for spectators of the sport, and there is a coral reef 1/8 mile long that creates a calmer pool in which to take a dip during less windy moments.
Snorkelers and divers enjoy the reef as well, but need to time their explorations around intense wind conditions and the daring surfers who might fly by on some of these ideal Maui coastline waves.
The beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, and parking available, but there are no lifeguards on duty and the shoreline is a bit rocky.
It's located a couple miles past Paia by mile marker 9 on Hana Hwy.
Description: The Tournament North Course opened its lush fairways in 1962 and is one of
only two courses in all of Hawaii designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The
architect took advantage of the rolling landscape to create gently sloping
fairways and large contoured greens to ensure a challenging approach to
Stretching 6,700 yards, this par 71 course will challenge your club selection and putting skills. The Tournament course begins at sea level with a par 5 hole extending 550 yards. The course hugs the shoreline before winding its way to the West Maui Mountain foothills.
Description: The Resort South Course was originally created as an executive course and
was later redesigned by architect Arthur Jack Snyder in 1976. At 6,400
yards, the Par 70 course is a more forgiving golf course with subtle,
undulating greens that accomodates all levels of play.
The land which Kaanapali Golf Courses was founded, originally housed a sugar cane plantation. Players will see the Sugar Cane Train steam past several holes on the course (now used for tours) and are reminded of Hawaii's rich culture and history. Along many holes on the Resort course lie natural canals, gulches and lava rock boundaries.
The course is landscaped with native flowers along the trails like the hibiscus, bougainvillea and plumeria, as well as the Norfolk Pines and coconut trees that border many fairways. These features are part of what makes the course most enjoyable.
The Resort South Course was recently renovated by Hawaii's most prolific golf course architect, Robin Nelson. This course focuses on strategy of your round, not necessarily distance or strength, which is why this course is enjoyed by both the beginner and avid golfer.
Description: Located on Maui's beautiful southern shore, the course opened in 1987 but is undergoing a complete revitalization that includes: a more golfer-friendly and inviting course design and layout for the visitor; a completely revamped pro shop featuring upscale logo wear and brand names, such as Lacoste; an all-new fleet of golf carts; updated driving range and teaching facilities; ice-filled coolers (with complimentary water) on every cart; on-cart video GPS yardage and cart-tracking systems; and a modernized starter's and receptions area.
Description: Dominating Maui's skyline is the majestic 10,023-foot dormant volcano, Mt.
Haleakala. Meandering across her lower foothills are the pristine fairways
of the Wailea Blue Course.
Stretching 6,765 yards from its tips, this classic Arthur Jack Snyder beauty has charmed her way into the heart of many a Wailea golfer. With cooling fountains, serene lakes, exotic blossoms and coral sand bunkers, the Blue is a true Hawaiian resort course.
Her immaculate fairways are woven through the resort, offering a picturesque "tour" of Wailea, with spectacular views of the azure ocean and dramatic volcanic slopes. Her graceful design and generous fairways offer a pleasing repast for "weekend" golfers, but elevation changes and strategically placed hazards have tested some of the best professional players.
Like Wailea's other courses, ocean vistas are to be found at every hole. In fact, years back when the LPGA Women's Kemper Open was played here, tournament officials had to admonish some of the competitors for slow play.
Turns out the pros were dallying at the 12th hole to do a little whale watching.
Description: The home course of The Champions Skins Game, the 7,078-yard Wailea Gold is
the most challenging of Wailea's trio, with a rugged and masterful design
that takes advantage of the terrain's natural undulations. But four to six
tee boxes on every hole also make it a suitable track for virtually every
Created by architect Robert Trent Jones II, the Gold was honored by both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest as one of the country's ten best new resort courses when it opened in 1994. It has also been recognized by the Maui Historical Society for its preservation of prehistoric lava rock walls during construction, and hailed as one of the world's best designed courses by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler in the magazine's first golf resorts poll.
Called a thinking player's course, the Gold offers a true test of one's golf skills. But the most difficult hazards on it are the distracting island views. In one round, you can enjoy spectacular vistas of the ocean, Molokini islet, ancient lava rock walls, coconut trees and sparkling white bunkers.
Description: Designed to be fun for practically every player, the 6,825-yard Wailea
Emerald Course was one reason Golf for Women Magazine first granted the
Wailea Golf Club a Top Fairways Award for the country's most
women-friendly golf clubs, an honor that Wailea has won seven
The Emerald delights players with its carpet-like fairways, colorful foliage, and numerous vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Haleakala. Relatively few forced carries and kinder fairways are ideal for players who view golf as an enjoyable form of recreation rather than a grueling test of concentration and precision.
For players seeking a greater challenge, four to six tee boxes on every hole allow them to tailor the course to their skill level.
One of the more unusual features of the Emerald Course is the double green shared by holes #10 and #17. The green borders a 2.7 million gallon brackish water lake and is one of the most picturesque spots on the course.
Description: The Bay Course measures 6,761 yards from the championship tees and 6,151
from the regular men's tees, with four par threes, 10 par fours and four
par fives for a par-72 total.
The front nine holes begin behind the Kapalua Bay Hotel and meander uphill before turning down to the ocean at Oneloa Bay, then uphill again and back down.
The back nine holes run up to Pineapple Hill, down toward the bay, back up around a small lake and down to the clubhouse. Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Islands of Lanai and Molokai from nearly every hole can be distracting but quite pleasing to golfers.
In addition to a great championship golf course, Kapalua Bay has one of the best pro shops in the nation. It is rated by Golf Digest's Golf Shop Operations as one of "America's 100 best." This is a direct reflection on Gary Planos, who was named PGA Aloha Section's "Merchandiser of the Year" for 1987, 1988, 1989 and even won the national PGA competition in 1988. Planos operates separate pro shops at each of Kapalua resort's courses.
Description: The Village Course measures 6,611 from the championship tees or 5,981 from
the regular men's tees. There are four par threes, 11 par fours, and only
three par fives on the par-71 course. There also are two lakes creating
water hazards on three holes.
Tournaments held on the Village Course include the Maui Open and the Aloha Section Hall of Fame Championship and Pro-Am.
The facilities at Kapalua Village include the Village Cafe restaurant, a snack shop on the course (where holes 7, 8, 14 and 15 meet), and a fully- stocked pro shop where golf clubs and powered golf cars can be rented.
Golf cars are required on the course. Resort guests have priority for tee time reservations, which are required.
Description: Looking for a challenge? The par 73, 7,411-yard Plantation Course is the
course of the champions, site of the PGA TOUR Mercedes Championships each
January featuring an elite field of previous year's PGA TOUR winners. The
field has included such golf greats as Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Justin
Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and more.
The grand scale of the course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore unfurls across natural geographic formations and pineapple plantation fields that take your breath away.
Description: If you enjoy the peaceful escape the Makena Golf Course provides, then
you'll love the addition of the new North Course, another 18-holes of
championship golf designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Opened in 1993, the
North Course goes out of its way to make golfers feel at one with their
There are no distractions on this course-unless you considered the unobstructed views of the blue pacific, neighboring islands, and humpback whales breaching during whale season to be a bit distracting.
In fact, to make it feel more like a nature walk and less like a golf course, even cart paths on the North Course are tucked away and hidden from view. You will have some obstacles to overcome, however. And as an added bonus to save golfers some time looking for lost balls, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed most fairway so that everything slopes back towards the center.
Description: The firm, well-undulated greens, and narrow fairways provide a challenge,
while the ocean views are the perfect aesthetic compliment. The South
Course has become a favorite of many golfers due to its more open layout
featuring three oceanside holes.
One of the most stunning is #15, a 188-yard, par 3, which offers gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean from the elevated tee. The South Course was voted the 10th "Best in State" course in 1995-96, and 14th in 1997-98.
Description: The Dunes at Maui Lani is an exciting links-like course. Its holes and
fairways are similar to the courses of Scotland and England.
It is a most challenging course with holes laid out through sand dunes and around traps guarding lush greens. Like many classic links courses, the front nine heads out, and the back nine heads in.
According to Nelson, "Anyone who has seen Ballybunion, Wild Dunes, or Shinnecock Hills will recognize a similar look and feel at The Dunes."
Description: Set in the rolling hillsides of "up-country" Maui, Pukalani Country Club
overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the Valley Isle of Maui from
1,100 foot level of Haleakala, an extinct volcano whose name in Hawaiian
means "House of the Rising Sun".
Pukalani's 18 holes were designed by golf course architect Bob Balddock, and they cover nearly 160 acres. Built in 1970, the course is 6,962 yards long from the championship tees, plays to a par 72, and features 19 greens in its 18 hole layout!
Description: Nestled upon the foothills of the West Maui Mountains, Sandalwood offers
guests spectacular panoramic views of the Valley Isle. A popular choice for
both visiting and local golfers, Sandalwood plays host to numerous Maui and
State-wide tournaments throughout the year.
It is located conveniently located in Waikapu, a mere twelve-minute drive from Kahului Airport, twenty-five minutes from Wailea, and thirty-five minutes from Kaanapaii.
Course architects, Nelson and Wright, designed this 72 par course, complete with a driving range, practice and putting greens, a two-level clubhouse that includes a Pro Shop, full restaurant and banquet room, and a cart barn with guest locker room facilities. A continuous cart path runs throughout the course and a roving beverage cart provides refreshments daily.
Description: Waiehu Golf Course's 18-holes overlook a stunning tourmaline blue sea,
with the famous Waihe Reef in sight just offshore. Entering from Lower
Waiehu Beach Road, one sees the clubhouse complex complete with restaurant,
golf cart rentals, pro shop and registration office.
Sharing the beachfront with Waiehu Beach Park, beautiful white sand beckons from below the 6th, 7th and 8th holes on the makai side. Waiehu Golf Course hosted the 1996 USGA Amateur Links Championship, and several local leagues regularly hold events there.
The 174-plus acres are located between the towns of Waihe and Waiehu and are easily accessible from Kahekili Highway (34) from both North and South.