Wailea translating to sacred waters of happiness; wai -water of life- and in ancient times the name Wailea meant water belonging to “Lea,” the goddess of canoe-making. Here, in small villages, people lived in harmonious intimacy with the life-giving sun and bountiful sea, the primary domains of ancient gods and goddesses.
Today, Maui’s beautiful south western Wailea’s activities still revolve around the sun and the sea. Wailea is a luxurious resort community known for its crescent-shaped beaches and world-class golf. The town is located on the south western shore of Maui and if you’re planning to visit the island, you should definitely plan some time to pass through Wailea.
Traditional Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Tour
If you’re looking for some cultural enrichment while in Wailea, check out a Traditional Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Tours through Hawaiian Ocean Sports. With a snorkel option, the tour takes you through the beautiful waters off of Wailea Beach and teaches you about the ancient art and sport of hoe wa’a, or canoe paddling. You’ll also get to experience a special part of traditional Hawai‘i as you walk the beach in the footsteps of the Ali’i (Chief Warriors).
On this tour guides will share Hawaiian legends, mythology, and stories passed down through generations. And you might catch a glimpse of Hawaii’s Honu turtles, Kohola whales, and many other sea creatures. A traditional Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Tour with Hawaiian Ocean Sports is one of the best ways to enjoy Wailea, and gain some cultural knowledge in the process.
Beach Day at Makena Beach State Park
Referred to as Big Beach by the locals, Makena Beach is one of the largest, most exquisite beaches on the southwestern side of Maui. With golden sands extending nearly 2/3 of a mile long and 100 yards wide, it provides a secluded alternative to the more crowded beaches of Kaanapali and Lahaina on the West (more touristy) side of the island. Its sandy shores stretch for nearly a mile, and it’s truly a destination spot for swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, and surfing.
Makena Beach has everything you need for a great day as well as night* at the beach: Lifeguards are on duty for safety patrol during the day, picnic areas and food trucks line the entrances, and clean public restrooms. If you are of a curious and adventurous nature then another secret that you will have to explore is Little Beach, accessed only through Big Beach, this spot is reserved for adults with a ‘clothes optional’* feature. If you’re on island on a Sunday, plan your day at Big Beach and your evening at Little Beach with fire and drum circle entertainment.
Play a Round of Golf
Among the world’s great golf destinations, few shine as brightly as Wailea. Renowned for its ideal golf weather – typically sunny with gentle breezes – Wailea Golf Resort, on the magical south western shore of Maui, is rated among the best golf courses in the country by both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest. The Wailea Golf Resort is not only a perfect place to practice your putting, it also provides breathtaking views of Maui’s coastline.
Go Horseback Riding
Maui has long been a mecca for horseback riding. Makena Stables is right in Wailea, and both tourists and locals attest that it’s the pinnacle of horseback and trail riding. Inexperienced riders can take lessons, while those who are more seasoned can saddle up with horses to match. The tours run by Makena Stables allow visitors to see stunning views of various bays and craters, making for a memorable, enjoyable time regardless of your experience level.
Kayak & Snorkel Tour
To continue your beach fun, explore a snorkel tour by kayak or SUP with Hawaiian Ocean Sports at either Wailea or Makena Beach. Kanaka Maoli, the first inhabitants to Hawai’i named this beautiful area Makena for the calm water and abundance of sea life. Join Hawaiian Ocean Sports for an unforgettable Kayak & SUP Snorkel adventure. They provide a private tour (max 6 persons: 2 persons minimum) on an amazing adventure from Makena Landing to Turtle Town in South Maui, where the water is calm, clear, and safe for the entire ohana. Be prepared to swim with honu(Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles) and varieties of fish endemic to Hawaii. This area is also known for hahalua (manta-rays) and naia (dolphins). During your tour, you will journey along the South Coast of Maui with Haleakala, Lana’i, Molokini, and West Maui mountains as your stunning backdrop. Their seasoned guides have spent most of their lives surfing, fishing, diving, spear-fishing and paddling around Maui’s tropical paradise. They have boundless mana’o (knowledge) passed from earlier generations about the stories and origins of Hawaiian culture and life.
LaPerouse Bay and Hoapili Trail
If you’re not into water and sand then LaPerouse might be more your speed. Located past Wailea, on the southern portion of Maui, in Makena, The Hoapili Trail, also called the King’s Highway, is believed to have been an old cattle road that Hawaiians would walk barefoot. This area was the last to see volcanic activity two centuries ago, lava streamed down to the ocean and created a jagged coastline with a large natural bay. The area, just north of LaPerouse, is the ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Reserve. La Perouse Bay is known for being a great snorkeling location. However, the majority of the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is currently closed for snorkeling to the public until July 31, 2018 to allow for regeneration.
The hike trail around LaPerouse Bay begins at the southwest corner of the parking area. Hike the shoreline trail, or take a short detour around some ancient Hawaiian ruins. The ragged lava shoreline hosts numerous small coves, lava arches, and tidepools. About a half-mile from the trailhead, a gorgeous little white sand beach awaits, enter a shaded grove of ragged trees, littered with the remains of rock walls, and watch for wild goats, and pygmy deer.
Staying on the shoreline trail will take you to the western point of Cape Hanamanioa and the southernmost tip of LaPerouse Bay for a 3-mile round trip hike.
Numerous other faint trails crisscross through the lava fields around LaPerouse, most leading nowhere. This is a breathtaking hike, please respect the ruins in the area by staying on the trails.
Hire A Local
Unsure of what you want to do or where you want to go while on the island? Hawaiian Ocean Sports offers a Hire A Local program, these guides will teach you Hawaiian ways and lead you to all the boasted about as well as secret spots that this beautiful island bestows.
Leave your comments and experiences with any of these activities, and others not mentioned, around the Wailea area.