Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach - A Busy But Beautiful Beach That's a South Maui Must-See
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Wailea Beach in South Maui offers a picture-perfect beach backdrop from which visitors can swim, sunbathe, snorkel, and more. Located in a heavily populated resort area, this is a great beach for those wanting to be close to other attractions but not so much for those looking for some ocean solitude. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Situated on the southwest stretch of Maui, Wailea Beach is one of those quintessential Hawaiian beaches. Soft waves lap against a long, wide beach comprised of fine white sand. It’s truly a gorgeous place and once visited, it becomes easy to understand why it has earned various positions best of beach choices and awards. 

The name Wailea means “the water of Lea” and refers to the goddess of canoe builders. It is an apt name as you will often find sea kayakers and canoers launching their boats out and exploring the waters around Wailea Beach. During the winter, whales often play and crash just offshore of Wailea Beach and often boaters will try and see just how close they can get to these sea behemoths. These waters in general are also excellent fishing grounds and the original Hawaiian name for a point just south of the beach was Kahamanini, meaning “place of the surgeonfish”. 

Of course, there is also plenty to do and see and enjoy on Wailea Beach proper. The generally calm waters here make it ideal for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. On either side of the beach, there are rocky points that are ideal for snorkeling thanks to the calm and clear water conditions paired with active marine life. 

Wailea Beach is considered a very safe beach to swim at due to its calm waters, but it is important to note that there are no lifeguards attending here and sometimes the waters can get rough. So visitors should stay cautious and watch others in the water to better gauge conditions before wading in. Overall, the waters at Wailea Beach tend to be the calmest in the morning hours. Stronger gusts and winds tend to blow later in the afternoons and with them, rougher, more churning waves that are great for boogie boarding but not so much for other activities. 

This Maui beach is bordered by condominiums along the north and resorts on the east and south. Maui here is pretty popular and commercialized and these resorts are not embarrassed about ensuring their guests have the best access to Wailea Beach. This means that you will frequently find rows of umbrellaed chairs set up at Wailea Beach, particularly on the weekends. It also means that there tends to be plenty of crowds throughout the week. So if you are looking for a quieter, more secluded beach, this is not it.

But what Wailea Beach does have is access to plenty of amenities. Visitors will find very well-maintained public access and general public amenities like bathrooms and showers. For those not staying at a resort, free public parking is readily available. If you’re in need of beach supplies, several outfits line the dunes at the back, offering rental items like kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and paddleboards. If you find yourself a bit peckish, you will find nearly a dozen of fantastic dining establishments just a short walk away. 

Even if you don’t end up staying for long, going to Wailea Beach is highly recommended simply for the views. Standing on the white sandy shores and looking across the turquoise blue waters, the visitor can enjoy breathtaking views of the neighboring islands of Lanai, Molokini, and Kaho’olawe, as well as the northwest stretch of Maui. Sunset has its own obvious charm, but truly there is no bad time to enjoy the stunning vistas offered at Wailea Beach.

Insider Tips:
-Go early. The earlier you go, the better you’ll be able to stake out a position at the beach and not find yourself rubbing elbows with resort cabanas. 
-Renting a kayak and going out to explore the waters in a different way really is a fantastic experience and one anyone who enjoys paddle sports should try at Wailea Beach. Kayak outfits can generally be found on the beach itself or there are a couple of companies just south where you can rent a kayak or take a guided tour.