HAWAII — South Maui

Honolulu is the only big city found in the Hawaiian Islands and it is the centre of business, culture and politics. Most of the sights you will see in this area are found in downtown and Chinatown. You will find lots of things to see including beautiful public gardens, lovely beaches, museums, restaurants as well as some great shopping centres which are easily accessible on foot.

The areas found here are:
Ma´alaea
Maui Ocean Center
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Preserve
Kalepolepo Beach Park
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Waipuilani Park
Cove Beach Park
Kamaole Beach Park
Keawakapu Beach
Mokapu and Ulua Beach Parks
Wailea
Wailea Beach
Wailea Coastal Nature Trail
Polo Beach Ppark
Makena
Molokini Island Preserve
Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Ma´alaea

Ma´alaea
The Ma´alaea District of Mau´i is found about six miles south of Wailuku, where the Honoapi´ilani Highway reaches the south coast. There are plenty of attractions to keep a visitor happy in this area including the harbour where you can take a whale-watching tour or a snorkelling tour to Molokini Atoll.This is the windiest area on Mau´ which gives it ideal conditions for windsurfers out in Maalaea Bay. Ma´alaea Bay is part of the National Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary which is a favourite mating and birthing grounds for the endangered Humpbacks. Green Sea Turtles browse reefs that border the harbour entrance. The beach here is famous for its ‘Pipeline wave’ which attracts surfers from all over.

Maui Ocean Center
This aquarium focusses on sealife of Hawaii and the Pacific. Special tanks are set up to allow you to get close to turtles, rays, sharks, and the unusual creatures of the tide pools. You can explore the world of dolphins, whales and seals through the interactive Marine Mammal Discovery Center with over 60 exhibits and hands-on activities. If you are a certified diver you can even participate in the Shark Dive Maui programme where you will encounter sharks, stingrays and fish up-close. For everyone else there is an acryic tunnel which you walk through which makes you feel as though you are walking in the middle of the sea. Special tanks get you up close with ; allow two hours or so to explore it all. Then facility is small but well done and you can spend around 2 hours here. The center is part of a complex of retail shops and restaurants overlooking the harbour and you enter from Honoapiilani Highway (Route 30) as it curves past Ma´alaea Harbour.
For information about the center visit the website at: http://www.mauioceancenter.com

kealiapondnationalwildlifepreserve

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Preserve
This reserve is around 700 acres of natural wetlands which attract migratory birds and other wildlife. It is one of the largest natural ponds in Hawaii during the winter monhts but the area shrinks over the summer. You can view the pond from the boardwalk on North Kihei Road as well as from the visitor’s centre off Mokulele Highway at the 6-mile marker. Some of the native birds that you might see here include the Hawaiian black-necked stilts, Hawaiian coots and black-croned night herons. There are interpretive signs on the boardwalk where you can learn about the wildlife you may see here.
For information about the center visit the website at: http://www.fws.gov/kealiapond

Kalepolepo Beach Park

Kalepolepo Beach Park
This beach is found on the south side of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary headquarters. The water is calm and shallow which makes it a great family beach. The water is encircled by the stone walls of Ko´ie´ie Fishpond. This fishpond is the most intact one surviving on Mau´i today. The 3 acre fishpond was built in the 16th century to raise mullet for royalty and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. This beach is also the site of the ancient Kalepolepo Village which belonged to King Kamehameha III in the 1850s and the Fishpond was part of this.

Traveller's Tip

The water can get rather murky here especially after rain so just be careful before you go into the water.
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
This is a great place to learn about whales. Volunteers provide lots of information about whales as well as sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, dolphins and so on. The sanctuary is found next to the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Preserve and this is prime humpback whale viewing territory. The sanctuary contains interactive displays and throughout the year it hosts a range of activities including moonlight tidal-pool explorations.
For information about the Sanctuary visit the website at: http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov

Kihei

Waipuilani Park

Waipuilani Park
This park is found in front of the Maui Sunset Resort and it is a spectacular place to sunbathe, relax, or picnic. Behind the sand dunes is a small beach but it is unsuitable for swimming due to its proximity to a water-treatment plant. This park often hosts local activities, such as volleyball and croquet, and it attracts many dog lovers. It is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

Cove Beach Park

Cove Beach Park
If you want to learn to surf then this is the place to come but the beach isn’t good for swimming. Morning is when the surf schools are here.

Kamaole Beach Park

Kamaole Beach Park
This beach which is found just off South Kihei Road is divided into three sections: Kamaole 1, 11 and 111 with 1 being the largest. You can walk the length of all three beaches if you don’t mind getting your feet wet. Kamaole I (across from the ABC Store) is a very wide golden sandy beach between outcroppings of dark, jagged lava rocks. It offers perfect swimming with a sandy bottom but gets deep very quickly. At the southern end of the beach is a grassed area.

Kamaole 11 is located further south and it is much the same as the first beach except it doesn’t have a grassed area. If you happen to visit this beach after ther has been a lrge swell you may see shingles exposed. When the waves wash over these you can hear a rumbling sound. The local people call this beach Iliiliholo which means ‘running pebbles&rsquo.

Kamaole III has a short but wide sany beach and it is the smallest one. You may find several large exposed rocks at the water’s edge. This beach is good for swimming except when the surf is high but be careful because the water gets deep fairly quickly. Out of the water this is a great family beach with its playground, volleyball net and barbecues. The north and south ends of the beach attract snorkellers. This beach is another good spot to watch for whales in the winter months.

Keawakapu Beach

Keawakapu Beach
This beach is found near Wailea stretching from the southernmost part of Kihei to Mokapu Beach. It is a beautiful white sand beach and it is bordered by some of the most expensive homes on the island. It has great swimming conditions in good weather but can be dangerous if the surf is high. This beach rarely gets croded and it is a great place to come in the winter months for whale spotting because the whales come quite close to shore. At the northern and southern ends of the beach where there are rocky outcrops are good places to snorkel. This is also a popular beach for divers because an artifial reef has been created here consisiting of about 150 cars which lie at a depth of about 25 metres which were dumped here in the 1960s. The reef is found about 35 metres out and is a good place for beginner divers with lots of fish to see. There are three beach access points, all with outdoor showers. To get to the south end, go south on S Kihei Rd until it dead-ends at a beach parking lot. Near the middle of the beach, there is a parking lot at the corner of Kilohana and S Kihei Rd; look for a blue shoreline access sign on the makai side of the street. At the northern end, beach parking can be found at the side of Mana Kai Maui.

Mokapu and Ulua Beach Parks

Mokapu and Ulua Beach Parks
These adjacent beaches are found at the north end of Wailea near the Marriott Hotel. These beaches are accessed by the same path - the one on the right is Mokapu which is found in front of the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort and the one on the left is Ulua Beach. Ulua is the most popular of the two and has been named as one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in America. Ulua Beach is named after an offshore island and bird sanctuary that was destroyed during WWII artillery practice. It is a great beach for swimming with its sandy bottom and gentle slope to deeper water. Snorkeling and diving can be done at the southern end of the beach where there is a rocky point but the water is sometimes cloudy. There are also lots of tidepools to explre here because of the reef formations.

Wailea

Wailea
This luxurious resort community spans 1,500 acres of land with fantastic ocean views. The area was once an isolated and dusty area that was developed into the resort area you see today by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. (of sugar-cane fame) in the 1970s. He created the artifial green landscaped found here today by piping water from the other side of the island. There are five hotels found in Wailea including some opulent resorts such as the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel And Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. There are also high end shops with some lovely restaurants and entertainment.

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach
This beautiful beach is found near the Grand Wailea Resort. There is a a wide, sandy stretch of golden beach which is protected on both sides by black lava points. The water has a sany bottom with a gentle slope that makes it safe for swimming. The year-round waves are good for body boarding and beginner surfers. More experienced surfers should come in the afternoon when the swell picks up. From this beach you can see the offshore islands of Kahoolawe and Lanai. It is also an ideal spot to whale watch in the winter months. The waters are unclouded which makes this beach an ideal snorkelling spot. Wailea Beach is adjacent to restaurants and shops with restrooms and equipment rentals.

Wailea Coastal Nature Trail

Wailea Coastal Nature Trail
This 1.5-mile coastal nature trail stretches between the Fairmont Kea Lani and the green grass of the Wailea Beach Marriott. It is a great morning walk that meanders uphill and down past native plants, old Hawaiian habitats, and luxury hotels.The ocean side of the trail has some very rare native plants such as the silvery hinahina which was named after the Hawaiian Moon Godess becaue of its colour. You can pick up the trail at any of the resorts or from clearly marked ‘SHORELINE ACCESS’ points along the coast. Go early because by midmorning it is crowded with joggers and beachgoers. This trail crosses several black-lava points which provide magnificent views of offshore islands and the ocean. Benches allow you to stop and take in the view across Alalakeiki Channel, where you may see whales in the winter months. Sunset is another good time to hit the trail.

Polo Beach Park

Polo Beach Park
This lovely and secluded beach is found in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani resort and you can walk to here from Wailea Beach along a paved pathway. It is another beautiful crescent-shaped beach which is good for swimming and snorkeling as well as whale-watching.

Keawalai Congregational Church

Keawalai Congregational Church
This church is found on Makena Bay and is one of the earliest missionary churches in Mau´i. It was built in 1855 of 3-foot thich=k walls of burb=nt coral rock. Sermons are still held in the Hawaiian language. The adjacent cemetery has tombstones with cameo photographs, many of these are Hawaiian cowboys from the 1920s.
For information about the church visit the website at: http://www.keawalai.org

Makena

Makena
This beach is found just off Makena Alanui Road. It is just beautiful with its mile of perfect orange and white sand, dramatic cliffs in the background and brilliant blue and green water. Makena or Big Beach as it is known is famous for its sloped shoreline and large shore break which makes it a very popular place for body boarding and body surfing. It is not a place for an inexperienced swimmer as the waves can be powerful and you could end up being dumped. For a dramatic view of the beach you can climb Puu Olai which is the steep cinder cone near the first entrance to the beach that you pass if you are driving south. Continue over the side of the cinder cone and you will come to Little Beach which is a nudist beach. This is a great beach for body surfing.

A little further north, just off Makena ROad you will come to Makena Landing which is also known as Five Caves or Five Graves. This is an excellent spot for snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving. This area is well known for its underwater sea caves and abundance of reef sharks.

Traveller's Tip

Be careful when you are walking out on the sand at Makena Beach. The trees have large thorns that can be found on the ground underneath and around them. These thorns can go through shoes so it is inadvisable to go barefoot around near the trees.
Molokini Island Preserve

Molokini Island Preserve
Mokolini Island lies 2.5 miles off the coast and is part of Ma´alaea Bay. It is a designated Marine and Bird Conserrvation Area and as such is protected. This island is actually the remains of a cinder cone that rose above the surface and erupted thousands of years ago. Molokini is unique in that is one of the few that rose all the way from the deep ocean floor and erupted above the water. Many of these never break the surface of the water and actually erupt below the surface. The waters around the island are crystal clear and calm and they teem with brightly coloured fish and the floor of the ocean contains brightly coloured coral. Because of its crescent shape, Molokini provides a natural barrier against the waves and currents. Inside the crater is suitable for beginner to intermediate snorkelers and the back-side of Molokini has advanced diving for scuba divers. Tour boats sail every morning from Ma´alaea and Lahaina to Molokini and there are several companies providing these.
For information about the snorkelling tours visit the following website at: http://www.gohawaii.com/au/maui/regions-neighborhoods/south-maui/molokini

Traveller's Tip

The best time to go to Molokini Island is in the summer months and in the morning when it is less windy. The tour boats provide breakfast on the way out to the island and lunch after snorkelling but it can be a long day at 5 to 6 hours.
Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve
This area which is found around 7 miles from the Wailea Ike/ Wailea Alanui intersection is also known as La Pérouse Bay and it is found at the end of the road and here you will find a black sand beach and a fantastic ocean view. It is where Mau´i had its first official visit by a European explorer, the French admiral Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, in 1786. It is found south of Makena Beach where the road ends in a huge area of black-lava flows which was the result of Haleakala’s last eruption in 1790. Before the road ends it passes through the Ahihi-Kinau Marine Preserve just past the last entrance to Makena Beach. The Preserve contains around 2000 acres. This is a great place for snorkelling, especially in the morning. Some areas have been closed to the public to help protect natural features including unofficial trails to Kalua o Lapa, Kalaeloa and Mokuha and are due to reopen on August 1, 2012. Some open areas are Waiala Cove and the coastal area along Ahihi Bay, including the ‘Dumps’ surf break. Past Ahihi Cove, the road winds inland through a lava field which is known as Cape Kinau. The water around is is protected. This area is also the start of the Hoapili Trail where you can hike through the remains of one of Mau´i’s ancient villages. You will need to bring water as there are no public facilities here. there are no public facilities and little shade.