Wailea Beach is the Headline Attraction in the Wailea District. The focal point of the area, where the rich and famous come to get their perfect Instagram selfie and show their best life on Vacay in Hawaii. Lined by ultra-exclusive 5-star resorts it is the place to be seen in Maui for sure. But for those of us not checked into the mega-resorts, and less concerned with insta-likes what is the beach really like?
We take a look at the most prestigious beach in Maui to see if it’s worth your time visiting and if it lives up to the hype? In our Wailea Beach Guide, we show exactly what to expect from this star-studded sandy beach, what is good about its golden shoreline, and what is not so Rosey.
- Location – South Maui – Central Wailea
- Amenities – Showers and Restrooms
- Beach Type – Wide Sandy Beach
- Life Guards – None
- Best For – Celeb Spotting
<<< Ulua Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Little Beach Guide >>>
The Ultra-Luxurious 5-Star resorts that line Wailea Beach all advertise to their guests “Private Beach Access” This helps lure in the rich and famous knowing their privacy is safe on their own private beach. However, this is very clever marketing by the resort as we make one thing very clear… NO BEACH IN HAWAII IS PRIVATE!
Not the clever Phrase “private beach Access“. Not Acess to Private Beach! Sure the access to the beach is private, only hotel guests can walk in and out of their special access gate, but the beach itself is very public. And not in a public but frowned upon kind of way. Access is enshrined in law, there is a paved road leading to it, a public Beach bath runs the entire length of it and there is a Sizable Parking lot. It’s a bit naughty of the hotels really.
So anyone heading to Wailea Beach gets to share this hallowed sand with the rich and famous, the lucky souls who get to stay in the several thousand dollar a night super resorts that make u the backdrop to this rather pretty beach.
Getting There and Parking At Wailea Beach
Access is very straightforward. There is a public road right off the Wailea Alanui Drive, right in the middle of Wailea. Follow this down and there is a large, Free, Public Lot with over a hundred spaces.
There are actually two lots, both free and operated by Maui County. The First is on your right as you come down the hill or carry on to the roadside lot just near the beach. Ensure you stick to marked bays as parking enforcement is tight around here.
The Beach is just a few feet down a well-made Beach Path.
Things to Know
Walia Beach is one of the island’s busiest beaches and getting a good spot can be an issue at busy times. It is surprising that there are no lifeguards on duty when the beach is such a popular spot.
Securing a spot on the golden sands can be an issue but the beach is pretty long and very wide so there is a lot to choose from. A large part of the real estate is taken up by the various Hotel’s Sunloungers that are restricted to the use of the Guests. But there is plenty of space out on the sand.
While the Beach is beautiful, there is little about it that elevates it over the other beaches in the area, and for us, the crowds detract hugely from the beauty and idyllicness of the beach. However, it is one beach you need to experience once at least if you are staying in South Maui.
We have read gushing reviews of the Wailea Beach, It regularly ranks as one of the top beaches in the world, and travel writers wax lyrical about its perfection. In reality, we think it is an OK beach. Maui is home to some absolute gems and Wailea is just a fairly basic example.
The Sand is pristine and the water entry is mostly devoid of rocks and things to stub your toes on. The shore break is normally very placid with water conditions calm and flat. Like most Maui beaches this can change and a firm shore break is always possible when the wind blows just so, and normally suffers from the afternoon wind picking up.
Overall it is a REALLY nice beach and it does deserve its praise, it’s more a case of the rivals being underrated. This is the place to be so it’s where people flock, but in just about every way the surrounding beaches are better.
The prime reason for visiting Wailea is the hope of spotting one f the ultra-luxurious resort’s more famous guests. These hotels have hosted just about every Celeb and VIP that has visited the Island. The complete lack of ANY private beach in Hawaii means if the Celebs want to hit the beach, and grab that toes in the sand Instagram shot they are going to have to hit the Public Beach.
In reality, we very rarely see anyone famous down on the beach. Sure there are plenty of very wealthy people down on the sands but they are usually just rich not famous. The hotels offer beachside beds and loungers, where the guests can relax with sea views but still get some privacy. But there is always a chance and at some point, they have to venture down to the ocean.
Wailea Beach Path
The Wailea Beach Path runs right along the Wailea Beach and hikes off in either direction offer stunning coastal views and glimpses of the luxurious resorts. It’s a fairly short hike but a great way to get a little exercise after lounging on the beach.
The Nearly perfect sandy beach is just perfect for taking a dip. If there is a light shore break you can play in the waves or venture a little further out and relax in the warm clear ocean water. It’s a real tropical paradise beach and one best suited for relaxing swims.
The Fairly benign condition means the Beach is really suited to paddleboarding, The close-by parking lot means you can get your board there easily and enjoy some flat clam paddling up and down the coast, the headland to the south is a particularly nice spot for a paddle!
The Swell and Shore break are not very conducive to surfing for beginners. There can be a good break but this is more for the locals that know the conditions. on the whole Wailea is a bad surf beach.
You won’t be alone but taking in the sunset from Wailea is a wonderful experience. The Tiki Lamps come on as the sky colors up, and the sun takes its nightly bath. Take in the sunset either from the sand or along the Wailea Beach Path.
You might be surprised to hear Wailea has some really excellent snorkeling. For such a busy tourist spot you might think nature has upped and left but there are some great spots when conditions are right.
The center of the beach is a bust. Flat Sandy bottoms do not make good snorkel spots. To the North of the beach, there are some nice spots but they require some long swims as the rocks pick up.
The best Snorkelling is at the south end of the beach, to your left as you look at the Ocean. Here the sand dries up as you swim out and around the rocky headland. A maze of Lave rocks, canyons, and pinnacles developed and you can explore for quite a way around Waiea Point. The Sea-Life here is pretty incredible. There is a noticeable abundance of very large fish. It’s the usual suspects but the Pacific Chup and Unicornfish are all really good sized here.
There are also really abundant Turtles living in and around the rocky ends of the beach. There are turtles on most beaches in Maui and Wailea is no exception but there is more excitement here as the average Wailea Snorkeller is a little less experienced, and this might be their first turtle spot!
What to Eat?
Wailea is one of the few Maui Beached to have a beach bar. It’s illegal to drink on Maui’s Beaches but the bar occupies a little corner that’s not quite the beach and you can drink in the bar’s seating area. It’s not the most expansive menu and it’s operated by the Four Seasons so is pretty aggressively priced, but grabbing a cold one with your toes in the sand, Priceless.
Outside of the cafe, there are not really any beachside dining options. There are several fancy restaurants inside the hotels. There is a Spargo in the Four Seasons, and Humuhumunukunukuapua’a offers some very upscale beachfront dining but it’s all very formal and not really what we think of for beach dining. We tend to come in the morning or afternoon and leave for lunch or dinner.
Get your Platinum cars ready, if you want to stay on Wailea Beach it’s going to HURT!
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort – $$$$$
A stunning and ultra-luxurious hotel. Huge tropical pool complexes right by the beach and wonderful restaurants. The hotel has a huge number of rooms and this makes it one of the more affordable of the ultra-Luxury resorts on Wailea Beach.
Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott – $$$$$$
A seriously beautiful resort set on the headland above the beach offering stunning views and eye-watering prices
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – $$$$$$
An incredibly sophisticated hotel with ultra-high-end dining and stylish pools overlooking the beach and ocean. Basic prices are almost affordable but start looking at the suites and more luxury rooms and it quickly gets out of hand!
The simple truth is if you want to stay on Wailea Beach there are NO budget options. But that does not mean you are excluded. Some of the nearby hotels are great and a short drive will get you here in no time. We do not think Wailea Beach is worth the cost of the super resorts.
Wailea Ekolu Village: Destination Residences
Residential living in a wonderfully gardened village resort. The location is just up the hill from the beach and a bit of trek really but they offer prices 3-4 times lower, what a 5 min car drive to the beach!
Wailea Grand Champions: Destination Residences Hawaii
More Residential style living right on the golf course. We don’t play but the Grand Champions offers stunning views and unbelievable quiet. The condos here are really huge and offer an incredible space for the money.
Alternatively, stay over in Kameole, the beaches here are to die for and the hotels are far cheaper, and Wailea Beach is just a short drive away.
<<< Ulua Beach Guide – Beach Guide – Little Beach Guide >>>
Have Your Say
Let us know your thoughts on Wailea Beach? Ultimate Paradise or overrated Tourist Trap? What did you love about it? What Beaches did you prefer? And of course the all-important question… Who did you see? Let us know n the comments and if you have any other questions just fire away.