Poolenalena Beach

Poolenalena Beach: Laid-Back Snorkeling and Swimming at Wailea's Coastal Hidden Gem
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Offering a relaxed, relatively secluded experience, Poolenalena Beach is a favorite destination among Wailea locals, who appreciate its expanse of golden sand and its excellent photography opportunities. From snorkeling to swimming, and, of course, sunbathing, there's plenty to keep you occupied at this hidden gem of a beach.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

There’s a lot to do and see in Wailea, but a casual day at the beach is always a top option. Several great locations can be found in the area, but few offer the blend of beauty and seclusion found at Poolenalena Beach. This should be your go-to when you want something a bit different than the ‘typical’ tourist beach experience.

Sometimes referred to as Paipu Beach, this local favorite has long been a top hangout for residents. You’ll rarely find more than a few people visiting at a time, although your mileage may vary depending on when you visit.

Despite its location near the Wailea Golf Club, many vacationers have no idea this beach exists. Even some locals tend to overlook this destination, although it’s grown a bit more popular in recent years. Still, it’s entirely possible that you’ll get the entire beach to yourself.

Boasting a vast expanse of stunningly golden sand, this lovely beach deserves a visit not only because it’s quiet, but also, because it boasts exceptional photo opportunities. The sand itself is gorgeous, as are the lava rocks and the nearby reef.

While it’s possible to enjoy the scenery for a few minutes before you continue on your way, the beach beckons you to slow down and relax in a secluded space — free of the tourist crowds that tend to populate the area’s better-known beaches. 

If you prefer to spend time at a well-developed beach with lots of amenities, you may be disappointed by the limited offerings at Poolenalena Beach. The facilities that some tourists expect are lacking here, so it’s important to arrive prepared for every scenario if you intend to hang out for a full afternoon.

One source of solace: if you need a bathroom, you can take advantage of the onsite porta-potty. It might not be fancy, but this simple offering actually brings an extra element of convenience as compared to some of the area’s other secluded beaches.

A small reef makes this a compelling spot for snorkeling. When in doubt, arrive in the morning, as the winds that typically arrive in the afternoon can make snorkeling unpleasant for some. No matter when you stop by, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the turtles that often hang out near the reef.

If you don’t snorkel, you’ll still want to arrive with swimming gear. The sandy beach offers an easily accessible water entrance and the water is calm enough for a quick dip. You’ll need to steer clear of a few large rocks, but these are easily visible. No worries if you’re uninterested in swimming; many visitors are content to remain on the sand the entire time they’re at this beach.

When you’re willing to forgo fancy amenities for the sake of serenity, there’s no better Wailea destination than Poolenalena Beach. Set aside a leisurely afternoon to explore this local oasis.

Insider Tips:
Poolenalena Beach actually consists of two separate, but adjacent beaches. They offer similar scenery but are different enough to warrant learning about it prior to your visit. Many visitors park at the nearby Chang’s Beach and then meander towards Poolenalena Beach. Both are worth checking out — just be aware that multiple beaches exist.
-Shade is limited at this location. While this won’t bother dedicated sunbathers, it may be an issue for some visitors. As such, it’s best to arrive prepared with beach umbrellas. 
The Poolenalena Beach is great for parking: here.
-Keep in mind that some locals have been known to go nude here, so not all visitors will always regard this beach as family-friendly. That being said, it’s far from a party destination, so it will likely be peaceful when you stop by.