There are lots of fun and exciting things to do in Wailea that even if you didn’t explore any other parts of the island, you’re guaranteed to have an epic time. From snorkeling to world class golfing, there’s Wailea attractions for every type of traveler.
Wailea is a resort area in South Maui. Filled with stunning beaches, romantic resorts and gourmet dining, Wailea is a top destination to spend on your honeymoon and there’s never a bad time to visit Maui.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or action packed family vacation, there is plenty of Wailea things to do that will suit your needs. After living on Maui for over 12 years I compiled a list of the best things to do in Wailea.
So without further ado here are 20 fun things to do in South Maui.
Maui Travel Planning Ideas: Check out these awesome things to do all over Maui!
1. Snorkel Molokini Crater
The most popular thing to do in Wailea is taking a boat tour to snorkel Molokini. Molokini is the horseshoe shaped volcanic crater that can be seen from South Maui’s coastline.
Molokini is a fish sanctuary and can only be accessed on a boat tour. Being that it is a fish sanctuary, people aren’t allowed to fish in this area which ensures that you’ll be able to see an array of fish and marine life.
Tours are usually paired with a visit to turtle town located in close vicinity to Molokini. You’re guaranteed to see turtles and tons of marine life. Don’t forget to wear your reef safe sunscreen and prepare to have one of your best days exploring Maui on the water.
2. Big Beach
Big Beach also known by the names Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach is one of Maui’s most iconic beaches and my personal favorite. Once your feet step on the sand, you’ll quickly realize why and how it got its name.
Big Beach is well over a half mile long and wide compared to most Maui beaches which means that you can always find a piece of paradise without being crowded by your neighbor. There isn’t much coverage on the actual beach so if you plan on spending a day here an umbrella and reef safe sunscreen is necessary.
The waves here are often big, and powerful. When the surf is up, you’ll also be front-row to some extreme boogie boarding and even surfing at the south end of the beach.
Since March of 2021, there is now a $10 fee for parking (residents are free). Parking can be a struggle when it is high tourist season and the car will be towed if not paid. There are kiosks at the parking lot to pay at with a credit card or you can simply park outside the lot and walk in with no fee.
Little Beach which we’ll cover a little later can only be accessed at the North end of Big Beach by climbing up and over the lava rocks.
Travel Tip: Big Beach has a significant on-shore break that can be extremely intimidating when there is a large south swell. The shore break crashes right at the water’s edge so you should always enter the water here with caution. Examine the ocean for 5 minutes before getting in so you understand what you’re getting into. If in doubt, don’t go in.
3. Splurge at the Grand Wailea
From daily morning beach yoga, the award winning spa or the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool you can spend a week at this resort and not run out of things to do.
Spend your days sipping a pina coladas by the pool and taking dips in the ocean. Finish a book in a day. However you choose to spend your resort time, make sure its relaxing and let your stress melt away.
4. Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Take your workouts outside and try stand up paddle boarding. One of the best places to try SUPPING is at Makena Beach State Park. This beach has golden sands which makes it easy for any paddleboarder to launch their board in the water.
Paddle boarding here means being near two large black rock lava outcroppings which makes it easy to find your bearings no matter where you are. The large lava rocks also shelters you from strong winds making this the ultimate place to get your stand up on.
5. Golf in Wailea
Wailea is home to not 1, not 2 but 3 beautiful 18-hole golf courses. Take your swing at either the Wailea Blue course, Wailea Gold course or Wailea Emerald course.
If you are golfing on the Blue course make sure to grab a cold pint at Mulligan’s after your rounds. It’s one of the best Irish bars on island. If you golfing on the Gold course, Gannon’s restaurant has a great happy hour.
6. Hike the Hoapili Trail
The Hoapili Trail also known as the Kings Trail is a lightly trafficked Maui hiking trail that is suitable for any skill level. The highlight of this trail is the beautiful coastline and goats! Yes there are wild goats that are running around at the beginning of the hike!
Shoes or hiking boots are a must because the lava rocks jut into the path and it’s sharp. It gets very hot so water and sunscreen is very important. This is one of the best things to do in Wailea if you love hiking as much as I do.
7. Go to a Luau
A luau takes you through Hawaii’s history and legends by showcasing the beautiful Hula dance, music and chants. Come with an appetite because a luau is dinner and a show. Taste local, Hawaiian cuisine and sip mai tais as you get a taste of authentic Hawaiian culture at a Wailea luau.
8. Explore Makena
Located 10 minutes past Kihei, Makena is the southern most area in South Maui. Once past Big Beach the road narrows and hugs the coast line. The curvy road takes you past beautiful ocean views, palm trees and volcanic rocks jutting out of the ocean.
You’ll see locals fishing and soon you’ll start to drive through a volcanic lava fields. This part of the island is very similar to most of the Big Island as its lava fields every which way you look.
When the road ends, you can park your vehicle in the parking lot and start to explore by foot. This area is known as La Peruse and is also where the Hoapili Trail starts.
9. Get Weird at Little Beach
If you love boogie boarding, sandy beaches, great views and being naked then you’ll adore Little Beach. Little Beach is Maui’s most famous nude beach. Although I tend to think that nudist beaches tend to attract the people that you don’t want to see naked. Go on a Sunday when there’s a naked drum circle and dancing.
10. Sunset Sail
One of the best things to do in Wailea is take a sunset cruise on the Pacific Ocean. It just doesn’t get better than this. A sunset cruise of South Maui offers stunning views of the Molokini Crater, the neighboring island of Kaho’olawe, white sand beaches and the sunset.
Enjoy dinner and a show featuring live ukulele music and island-inspired menu items such as the seared ahi. This tour is perfect for a romantic evening or a night out with friends. Toast to the good life and cruise in style aboard a spacious catamaran.
11. Have a Mai Tai at Monkeypod Kitchen
You can’t visit Maui without sampling at least a couple Mai Tai’s right? Monkeypod Kitchen is one of the tastiest restaurants on Maui.
Monkeypod’s Mai Tai is a twist on the traditional Mai Tai that is more spirit driven and topped with a honey-lilikoi foam! Yum! You will see this style of Mai Tai is fairly popular on Maui as many restaurants have their own version of a foam topped Mai Tai.
12. Secrets Beach
Secrets Beach is exactly what you want Maui beaches to look like. Although Secrets is not so secret as this is one of the most popular wedding beaches.
To access this beach you must hike around the outcropping on a semi hidden path. This beach is quiet, has calm waters and is a bit off-the beaten path. Come to this beach to relax, catch a tan and let your worries melt away.
13. Get a Traditional Lomi Lomi Massage
Lomi lomi is a traditional Hawaiian massage that uses a combination of massage techniques, nut oils like macadamia and breathing and dance. The massage is meant to restore energy and soothe the body. A traditional lomi lomi massage costs around $120-200 at a quality spa.
This is worth the splurge on your budget. Your best bet will be to book one with a hotel/resort to ensure the quality. Sit back, relax, and get your zen on. This is a great activitiy to enjoy when it’s raining on Maui.
14. Walk the Coastal Trail in Wailea
The Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail is a beautiful paved walkway that showcases the stunning beaches of Wailea. Here you’ll be able to get loads of Wailea sighseeing in.
The trail features wild flowers and is suitable for all skill levels. This coastal path climbs to Wailea Point and is a great spot to watch for whales from November through May.
15. Eat Jawz Tacos
Jawz Taco Trucks has some of the best tacos in Wailea. You can find this ono truck in the parking lot of the first entrance to Big Beach. Must try items include: Mahi Tacos, Pork Tacos and Shave Ice.
16. Shop at the Shops of Wailea
Need to bring home friends and family souvenirs that aren’t super cheesy? Head to the Shops of Wailea which is Maui’s premier retail destination.
Located in Maui’s famed south shore, the shops feature more than 70 stores, including world-renowned luxury brands, top island-restaurants and a collection of distinctive Hawai‘i stores.
17. Maui Film Festival
Every June, Wailea, Maui comes alive with a star-studded event honoring talent in cinema. This is a great thing to do in Wailea at night if you happen to be visiting Maui during this time.
The Film Festival lasts five days and nights which include film premieres, filmmakers panels, special screenings, tributes and award ceremonies.
The festivities rev up in the evenings at numerous culinary arts celebrations and galas, featuring world-renowned chefs, delectable desserts, and sophisticated Maui farm-to-table presentations.
Bring beach chairs or a blanket and watch film premiers under the stars on the lawn. Surrounded by beauty, you can’t create a better atmosphere.
18. Boogie Board at Wailea Beach
Wailea beach is the best place in Wailea for easy boogie boarding. The beach is wide, inviting and has perfect sand. The Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea sit on this beach. Boogie boarding is fun here due to the gentle slope and small waves.
Travel Tip: During south swells the surf can get big and rip currents and hazardous water conditions form. If you are unsure consult with a life guard or when in doubt, don’t go out.
19. Go Diving at Makena State Park
If you are looking for Wailea things to do in the water, Makena State Park contains, One’uli Beach (also called Naupaka Beach) which is an excellent beach for snorkeling and diving.
Most visitors only associate black sand beaches with Waianapanapa State Park but One’uli is the closest black sand beach to the Wailea Resort area. Oneuli in Hawaiian means “dark sands”. The beach is covered in a thick blanket of black sand, but at the water’s edge the sand disappears and becomes hard lava.
Coral and reef are found just past the water’s edge which contains abundant sea and marine life. Green Sea Turtles also frequent this area which makes it an excellent location for diving.
20. Get Romantic at the Four Seasons Wailea
The Four Seasons Wailea is one of Maui’s most romantic resorts. On days your not exploring the Maui, spend your days lounging at the adults-only infinity pool in one of the luxury or elevated ocean-view cabanas.
This idyllic oceanfront Maui resort is perfect for couples wanting to get away from it all and celebrate life’s special moments. Move from the pool to the spa and get pampered in luxury.