What To Do In Wailea, Maui
Wailea strikes the perfect balance between nature and luxury- affording visitors access to numerous pristine beaches, outstanding snorkeling, countless restaurants, and world-class resorts. On your next visit to this luxurious South Maui enclave, form a personal connection with the ocean, indulge your senses, and treat your mind, body, and soul. Here are the top ten best things to do in Wailea.
1. Explore above and below the ocean surface on a kayak tour.
Wailea’s calm morning conditions, abundant marine life, and stunning coastal views have made the area a hotspot for kayak tours. Several renowned kayak tour companies operate in the Wailea area. The best of the best? Aloha Kayaks Maui and Hawaiian Paddle Sports – by a mile. These companies have a stellar reputation for safely introducing visitors to the intimate magic of the sea. Most excursions depart from Makena Landing and are guided by a certified marine naturalist- on hand to show you the ropes, find an ideal snorkeling spot for the day, and offer knowledgeable insight. Don’t worry about packing your snorkel gear; all the necessary accessories are provided for an epic adventure. (Pssst, in whale season, scrap the whale watch and take a kayak tour instead. You won’t be disappointed.)
2. Spend an evening at a beachside Wailea luau.
Hawaii visitors flock to luaus, lured by pulsing drums, captivating fire dances, and promises of a feast to remember. In South Maui, there is no shortage of luaus. Wailea alone is home to three top-rated celebrations- Te Au Moana at the Wailea Beach Marriott, the Feast at Mokapu by the Andaz, and the Grand Wailea Luau. Each acts as a memorable introduction to Polynesian culture, boasting quality fare and riveting entertainment.
3. Unwind at Maui’s Best Massage & Spa.
One of the most important things to do on Maui is relax and unwind. When it’s time to relax, reset and refresh in Wailea head to Maui’s Best Massage & Spa. Now in its new home just outside of Wailea, in Kihei, Maui’s Best Massage & Spa believes that the healing touch is a necessity and not a luxury. Relax and unwind with some of Maui’s best massage therapists, outstanding spa treatments, and a wide variety of specialized therapies for all levels of stress and pain. This is a great way to start your vacation to help you settle into the relaxed pace of Wailea.
4. Shop til you drop at the Shops at Wailea.
There is truly something for everyone at the Shops of Wailea- man or woman, young or old. Renowned for its free entertainment and cultural experiences, this sprawling complex houses over 70 shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
Here, luxury meets local. You can find upscale brands such as Gucci and Louis Vitton alongside locally owned boutiques, music shops, and jewelry stores. In addition to shopping, the Shops of Wailea is an unlikely host to a plethora of weekly cultural activities, such as lei poʻo making and hula lessons.
5. Enjoy dinner and a show at Mulligans on the Blue.
Tucked in the hills above the Fairmont resort, Mulligans is one of the best places in South Maui to catch some live music. While the pub is only open Friday-Sunday, nightly live music is guaranteed, running from 6 pm to 8 pm. If a show doesn’t fit into your dinner plans, be sure to stop by Mulligans for happy hour from 2 pm to 5 pm. The $6 20oz brews and sweeping ocean views don’t disappoint!
6. Golf Wailea’s finest greens.
Golf enthusiasts will be hard-pressed to find a better place to tee up in South Maui than at Wailea Golf Club. Wailea Golf Club boasts three pristine courses, two full-service pro shops, and an acclaimed golf academy- which have collectively garnered over 170 awards.
In the spirit of genuine Hawaiian hospitality, Wailea Golf Club welcomes any golfer with open arms, from expert to newbie. In fact, the club has received multiple honors for its customer service and friendliness. The visually stunning, expertly designed courses will blow you away regardless of your golf status.
7. Walk the beach at Makena State Park.
Dubbed “Big Beach” by locals, Makena Beach is the longest beach on the Valley Isle. Three thousand feet of perfect white sand stretch from the northern headland, Puʻu Olai, to a rocky point on the beach’s south end. Big Beach is an idyllic spot to get your daily steps in and is a great place to enjoy the sunset. However, while the iridescent waters here might look inviting, it’s advisable to stay on dry sand. There have been more rescues and spinal cord injuries at Big Beach than any other beach on Maui, and even days that appear calm can suddenly turn treacherous.
8. Take a stroll on the Wailea Coastal Walk.
Running from the south end of Keawakapu Beach to Wailea Point, this meandering path acts as Wailea’s foot traffic expressway. The Wailea Coastal Walk stretches 1.5 miles, traveling past five golden beaches and eight world-class resorts- a choice route for beach hopping or bar hopping visitors. Much of the walkway is paved, ideal for fitting in a morning run or a leisurely sunset stroll.
9. Sample one of Monkeypod Kitchen’s famous Mai Tais.
Mai Tais are a staple in any Hawaiian bar. For visitors who are in pursuit of a dang good mai tai (if not Maui’s best mai tai), look no further than Monkeypod Kitchen in the Wailea Gateway Center.
Years ago, when dreaming up the drink menu, beverage director Jason Vendrell wanted to include a classic mai tai. However, his version had a simple twist, which proved to be a massive hit: a whipped lilikoi foam float. Today, Monkeypod Kitchen is lauded for its inventive mai tais.
10. Hike the historic Kings Highway at La Perouse.
Commonly known as the Hoapili Trail, the King’s Highway winds through an isolated plain of aʻa, sharp jagged lava, a few miles past Makena State Park. The trail is set amid Maui’s most recent lava flow (recent in geological terms, Haleakala last erupted around 1790), and the environment here is harsh, to say the least. However, the Hoapili Trail rewards hikers with otherworldly views of Haleakala and dazzling ocean blue hues. Not to mention, the trail comes with a fascinating backstory. Chief Piʻilani was the first ruler to unite Maui’s twelve mokus (districts) in the sixteenth century. He ordered a highway to be built during his reign, which circumnavigated the island- no easy feat in the 1500s.
While most of the highway has been erased by erosion, portions of it, namely the Hoapili Trail, have been restored to perfect condition. Be sure to bring solid sneakers; the sharp lava here will tear “slippahs” to shreds.
Bonus: Maui Film Festival
The Maui Film Festival and its related events (primarily the Wailea Chocolate Festival and the Taste of Wailea) typically set up shop in the area for five days every June. The festivities draw film buffs, movie stars, foodies, and thousands of attendees. However, the crown jewel of the festival is the Celestial Cinema, which presents nightly doubles features under the stars on the Wailea Golf Club greens. While it’s uncertain when the celebration as we know it might return in full force (something about a global pandemic…), the Maui Film Festival rightly deserves a spot on the best things to do in Wailea. Here’s to hoping the Maui Film Festival returns ASAP!