Ulua Beach is a beautiful strip of sand nestled in the heart of Wailea’s busy tourist area but is more secluded and quiet than most Beaches in the area. The fairly narrow strip of golden sand is excellent for snorkeling and relaxing, letting the stresses of the world melt away. Our Ulua Beach guide lets you know everything you need to know about this excellent little oasis.
- Location – South Maui – Ulua Beach Road
- Amenities – Showers and Restrooms
- Beach Type – Sheltered Sandy Bay
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – Escaping the Crowds
<<< Keawakapu Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Wailia Beach Guide >>>
The Beach is lined by the Wailea beach path which starts just north of the beach and runs the entire length of the Wailea District. There are some low-rise resorts directly behind the beach but the high planted Sea-Wall that lines the beach gives you plenty of solitude down on the sand as you drift away into paradise.
The Beach is quite small for Wailea Standards only 750 ft (250m) long, and quite narrow, but this adds to the charm as the beach has a more intimate feel. At times it can be very narrow though as the water can wash almost all the way up to the sea wall. This is due to the fairly shallow beach angle which gives bathers a good amount of distance to wade into.
There are 3 Large resorts lining the beach, The Andaz Maui, the Wailea Elua Village, and the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott. Despite this, the beach remains pretty quiet as the Andaz guest tend to use the Mokapu Beach while the Wailea Beach Resort Guests head over to Wailea Beach. The Elua Village Guests make Ulua their home, but this is a lower occupancy hotel and spatially residential so they do not flood the beach.
Getting There and Parking at Ulua Beach
As you head up Wailea Alanui Drive you will pass the Andaz on your right and then find Ulua Beach Road directly after, with the Wailea Fairway Estates gated community on the left. The Road is quite small as is the sign so you can miss it. If you get to the Elua Village Entrance, which is more noticeable you have gone too far.
Naturally, all this is reversible if you are coming in from the other side.
There is a good-sized Free Beach Parking lot at the end of Ulua Road, with over 70 spaces. This also serves Mokapu Beach so can fill up but turn over is relatively good. Don’t be tempted to park on the street or outside a bay, your car will unlikely be there on your return.
If the lot is full then there are few other options. The whole area is taken up by the large hotels and the only choice is the Shops at Wailea, they offer free parking for a limited time, but it’s quite a trek down to the beach. You could also try the Second Keawakapu beach lot, but this is even smaller and another trek along the beach to Ulua, although you could just use Keawakpu Beach instead.
Things to Know
The Beach has a few nasty rocks lying under the waterline. These can be nasty when introduced to toes and even nastier if the surf is up. Water Shoes are definitely recommended here.
The Presence of the Wailea Beach path means there will be a large throughput of people, just wandering by taking a peek. This can mean the beach lacks privacy, but you can find secluded spots snuggled up to the sea wall.
The Beach is pretty shallow, which means small changes in water level can almost inundate the beach. At high tide with moderate surf, there is very little beach, and in winter erosion can make this even worse.
There is a small drop-off just a few feet beyond the waterline but then there is a good distance of fairly shallow water to play and explore.
The Beach is great for relaxing and getting away from the world. It is pretty secluded and you can almost pretend the large resorts are not even there. It’s nice and quiet and you can find your own spot and just melt away.
The Reasonably shallow water is great for bathing and you can stay well within your depth. The water is typical of Hawai and beautifully warm. Just watch out for those hidden rocks and coral! Definitely consider Water Shoes.
Swimming is also really good here. You can stay fairly shallow and follow the beach line, or stronger swimmers can head out along the rocky coastline towards Waliea for a really challenging Adventure Swim (Experienced Open Water Swimmer only).
The shore break is not one of the best and surfing and bodyboarding are not best practiced here.
There are quite a Few Turtles that frequent the Reefs and they do on occasion haul out on either Mokapu or Ulua. If you see turtles on the beach leave a good distance to them, They also nest here so if you see a turtle haul out at night leave well alone. Nests will be marked and MUST be avoided by law! You will almost certainly spot Turtles when Snorkelling here, so let’s look at that!
Snorkeling at the beach is excellent. The Calm water and easy entry make it a perfect spot and the two rocky headlands have large structure bottoms covered in coral and teeming with marine life. Both ends of the beach are excellent while the middle offers a flat sandy bottom with little to see.
At the north end of the beach, the reef is less obvious, but there is a large underwater reef complex. This stretched over 400ft from the shore and is 35oft across, that s a lot of Reef. The Reef is formed by a lave flow that has been heavily eroded and the majority of it is now underwater, only the higher portions still poke out in the middle of the reef. Hours can be spent exploring the coral gardens here. The Visibility here is largely affected by the surf, both here and at Mokapu Beach, when it’s rough or has been rough the vis can drop quite a bit.
At the South Side, the Reef is smaller but stronger swimmers can head out further around the headland where the sand dissipates and the water really can clear up without the sediment to cloud it up. There are a lot of large reef fish here, and with the wonderfully clear waters it is an excellent spot to snorkel, just take care not to get too carried away and head too far from the beach, if the current runs the wrong way there are limited options to get out of the water!
What to Eat?
Nearby food options are basically non-existent. You are basically in the heart of Wailea though so there are countless options in the nearby resorts, hotels, and Shops. You will need to travel to any of these and as such we are in danger of this becoming a “best place to eat in Wailea” guide!
For us, the beach really begs for a nice oceanside picnic. Bring a Cooler, a few drinks, and some cold food to enjoy down by the ocean.
The beach is open to the public and with great parking, there is no need to stay near on the beach to enjoy it but it is a great part of Maui to stay in so you may well be considering it. It’s great to have a nice quiet beach to escape to.
This is the Budget Option and we use that term loosely. Prices can be around $1000 a night at peak times dropping to $500 at quiet part of the year. For this, you get residence-style living with a fully-equipped condo, outdoor BBQs, and beautiful gardens.
If you raised an eyebrow at us calling $1000 a night budget…here is the reason why. The Elua Villages’ two neighbors make that seem cheap. Expect to pay double to stay at these two illustrious resort-based hotels.
The Andaz is a brand new “concept” Hotel and offers stunning accommodation, gorgeous grounds, incredible dining, and heartstopping prices.
The Wailea Beach resort is more of the same. This huge maze-like resort complex is absolutely stunning but has the prices to match. It is also not actually even don’t the beach and instead sits on the headland that separates Ulua and Wailea Beach. $2000+ night and you have to walk to the beach!
The two rocky outcrops at each end of the beach make this into a kind of cove and this means the bay area is fairly well protected from Surf. However the beach does have unimpeded access to 5000 miles of open Pacific Ocean, so when the wind blows a certain direction big waves can hit the shoreline, it would be ill-advised to enter the water in these conditions.
These are rare occurrences but there can be a fair shore break here. It is rarely a flat calm mill-pond style beach, but calm water is normally found just a few meters into the shallow beach water.
Currents are fairly mild in the area but can run across the beach. Extra care needs to be taken at the south end of the beach as once around the headland exploring the rocky reef area there are few opportunities to get out of the water if you cannot get back to the beach due to a current. If this happens, stay calm.
Do not attempt to get out on the rocks, and do not exhaust yourself fighting a current, we promise it will win. There are a few Black Sandy beaches breaking the otherwise pure rock faces here. You are not supposed to use them, but we are well beyond that mattering now. If you fail to spot one, keep with the current and keep going staying close to shore, eventually you will find Wailea Beach. It’s a bit of a hike back along the Beach Path but better than the other options!
The best option is not to get in this position and read the current and not extend yourself more than is safe. Read our Sorkelling Saftey Tips.
<<< Keawakapu Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Wailia Beach Guide >>>
Have Your Say
Have you been to Ulua Beach? What did you think of it? Was it busy or quiet when you visited? What did you do at the beach? Did you sample the Snorkelling? What did you see? We would love to heat your thoughts on this incredible beach and to hear about what you experienced on your visit. And of course any questions just fire away,