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Tip: This town on the Big Island is also known as "Kamuela."

The Wonderful World of Wailea

By Eliza Escano

Wailea Beach.  Photo courtesy of Versello.

Wailea Beach. Photo courtesy of Versello.

Wailea’s name translates to “water of Lea,” the goddess of canoe-builders. What was historically a fishing settlement in South Maui is known today for its glorious coastlines, posh resorts, dive havens, world-class golf fairways, and exciting local cuisine.

Snorkeling, Diving and Beach-Going


Aerial view of popular diving and snorkeling spot, Molokini. Photo courtesy of Aftab Uzzaman.

From Wailea’s golden shores, one doesn’t only get to gaze at the magnificence of Molokini barely three miles away. A quick 20-minute boat ride will bring you to its famous crescent teeming with brilliant marine life. While most are content with exploring inside the islet, its back wall is a favorite site for more experienced divers. Back on the resort front, the sandy stretch of Wailea, Mokapu or Polo Beaches will inspire awe and relaxation. Further south of Wailea, Makena offers excellent diving at Five Graves or Five Caves, or the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.



Dinner at Mala Wailea in the Wailea Beach Mariott. Photo courtesy of jenn.

Savvy diners can satiate discerning palates with a reservation at Monkeypod, Ka’ana Kitchen and Morimoto Maui—both located at The Andaz, or Capische? at Hotel Wailea. Make room for bold Hawaiian and Filipino flavors at Migrant at the Marriott Wailea lobby, or savor the eclectic blend of Mediterranean and Hawaiian Regional Cuisine at another Marriott Wailea restaurant, Mala. For proper cocktails and late-night dining, Cow Pig Bun is a must.

Wellness and Renewal


The perfect place for a massage. Photo courtesy of Neeta Lind.

If wellness and renewal are high in priority, Wailea’s exquisite spas will take you on a blissful transformation. The Awili Spa and Salon at The Andaz Maui features an apothecary of organic and local fruits and herbs that infuse treatment oils and scrubs. Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Kea Lani has fascinating amenities such as the volcanic mud bar, heated stone bench and shower rooms that simulate a rainforest. Spa Grande at Grand Wailea Resort offers a rejuvenating soak in their termé, which consists of five therapeutic baths that use Hawaiian salts and essences. And The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Maui takes wellness to another level by working with a clinical nutritionist to integrate body treatments, fitness activities and a nourishing menu plan for their guests.


shopping on maui

The Shops at Wailea. Photo courtesy of fat_albert9631.

Style hunters can find locally designed resort wear at Wailea Gateway Center’s Otaheite Hawaii, splurge on high-end brands at Shops at Wailea or bargain hunt for island-inspired treasures at Kihei Kalama Village Marketplace.

Popular Annual Events


Whale origami at the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Annual Whale Day. Photo courtesy of Kaiscapes.

Wailea sees its fair share of glitz and action through the year. February’s Whale Festival celebrates the return of Hawaii’s larger-than-life humpback whales through parades, marathons, a whale count and a community Whale Day. Hollywood’s finest gather with the island’s cinephiles at the Maui Film Festival held in June. The week-long event also shines the spotlight on local chefs and culinarians with its star-studded opening soiree, Taste of Wailea and Taste of Chocolate.

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