Beach & Ocean Sports
Maui Ranked the "Best Beach Destination" and "Best Beach Honeymoon Destination" Worldwide by U.S. News
The spectacular beaches of Wailea and Makena vary from long stretches of white sand to smaller, cove-like beaches. These include: Keawakapu Beach, Ulua and Mokapu Beaches, Wailea Beach, Polo Beach, Palauea Beach, Makena Landing, Paipu Beach, Maluaka Beach, Oneuli Beach, Makena Beach, Little Beach, Ahihi-Kina'u Reserve, and La Perouse Bay.
In addition to beachcombing, sunbathing and relaxing, Wailea and Makena beaches provide magnificent starting points for ocean sports and activities. From snorkeling to sailing, surfing to kayaking and whale watching to diving, the variety of ocean activities you can enjoy during your Wailea beach resort vacation is virtually limitless.
Whale Watching in Hawaii
Every winter, 80 percent of the world's humpback whales make the 3,000-mile swim from the chilly waters of Alaska to bask in the warm shallows off the coasts of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Whale watching is Hawaii's premier activity from mid-December until mid-March, when pods of Pacific humpback whales spend their time fluking, mating, calving, spouting and having an all-around great time.
On the Wailea coastal walk, you can look for whales through the telescope installed by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. For a closer look, take a whale-watching cruise out of either Lahaina or Maalea harbor. To get up close and personal with these 40-ton gentle giants, take a whale-watching kayak or raft excursion out of Lahaina Harbor.
Even if you're not usually the sporting type, you don't want to miss the chance to try snorkeling on Maui. The waters offshore are so clear that snorkelers are guaranteed to see tropical fish in every color of the rainbow and possibly even a green turtle or two. In many places, all you have to do is wade into the water and look down.
Along the Wailea coastline, and in front of Destination Resorts Hawaii's Wailea Elua Village Condos, Ulua Beach is a great snorkeling beach. Another terrific place that requires a bit more effort to reach is Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Preserve, south of Makena. This 2,000-acre reserve on Maui's rugged south coast features a series of rocky coves and black-lava tide pools, teeming with tropical marine life.
Molokini, 3 miles off Maui's coast and 10 miles from Ma'alaea Harbor, is one of the most widely known snorkel and diving spots in Hawaii. A sunken crater that's now a marine sanctuary, the floor is well coated with colorful coral that feature lots of fish and incredibly clear visibility.
As the ultimate way to explore the underwater world of Hawaii, scuba diving enables you to see Maui's more than 100 tropical marine species, investigate sea caves, and swim with sea turtles and monk seals in the clear tropical waters off the island. The most popular spot on the island is Molokini, a marine-life park inside a crescent-shaped crater that has three tiers of diving: a 35-foot plateau inside the crater basin, a wall sloping to 70 feet just beyond the inside plateau and a sheer wall on the outside and backside of the crater than plunges 350 feet.
Hawaii Night Diving
Exciting and unpredictable, diving at night means you don't see anything until the beam of your light reveals it. You might see lobsters, needlefish, manta rays or parrotfish wrapped in their transparent sleeping bags.
Like riding an underwater rollercoaster, these handheld motors let you skim the bottom, do loops and corkscrews, cruise gracefully and maneuver like a sea lion.
Experience Maui's magnificent underwater world by plunging 100 feet below the surface in a high-tech submarine. This option is especially fun for people who don't swim - but it's not for those who are claustrophobic!
Boating and Sailing in Maui
To really appreciate Maui, you need to get off the land and onto the sea. Trade winds off the Lahaina Coast and the strong wind that rips through Maui's isthmus make sailing around the island exciting. Many different boats, from three-masted schooners to catamarans and spacious trimarans, offer day cruises from Maui.
Hobie Cat Sailing
If you don't know how to sail, here's your chance. Hobie Cats are like small sailboats with only one sail. After a single lesson, you'll be ready to sail off into the Maui sunset.
Maui Fishing Charters
Book a sport-fishing charter vessel out of Lahaina or Maalea harbors and troll for big-game fish. Marlin (as big as 1,200 pounds), tuna, ono and mahimahi all populate Maui's coastal and channel waters.
Ocean rafting is a great way for more adventurous types to experience sea caves, discover dolphins, and swim with sea turtles.
Maui has Hawaii's best windsurfing beaches, thanks to brisk winds and dependable waves. In winter, windsurfers from around the world flock to Paia to ride the waves. Hookipa Beach Park, on Maui's windward side, attracts top windsurfers from around the globe. The best place to watch these athletes leap over the waves is on the grassy cliffs above the beach. They take to the water after noon (board surfers claim the waves in the morning).
Soar 400 feet above the waves for a bird's eye view of Maui. A cross between skydiving and waterskiing, parasailing involves sailing through the air, suspended under a large parachute attached by a towline to a speedboat.
Surfing in Hawaii
If you've ever wanted to try this ancient Hawaiian sport, several surfing schools in Maui can teach you. Lessons are typically 2 hours and include equipment and instruction. If you're already an expert, try surfing the massive waves at Peahi. Here, jet boats tow you far offshore and bring you up to speed before whipping you into the path of these giant waves -some as high as 60 feet.
Glide gently over the water and see Maui from the sea the way the early Hawaiians did. You'll find easy launching at Makena Landing - but start in the early morning before the wind comes up and makes the sea choppy and paddling difficult.
Snare small waves while you're standing in shallow water with one of these short surf boards and have a blast. The far south end of Wailea Beach is a perfect place to boogie board, where the surf is often low.
The best chance you'll get to bond with sea creatures, the Maui Ocean Center offers opportunities for certified SCUBA divers to spend about 40 minutes swimming with sharks, stingrays, puffer fish and all the other species in the center's three-quarter-million-gallon exhibit.