With beautiful beaches, tons of opportunities for fun in the sun, and plenty of places to relax, Maui is truly an island paradise. And Wailea, located on the southeastern coast, is the perfect place to kick back and take it all in. Find out how to get to Wailea, where to stay, and how to have the best day ever on Maui.

Your Wailea Itinerary

Ready to find your own slice of paradise? Here’s how to spend your day in Wailea, from your first cup of coffee to the amazing sunset.

Early Morning: Start With Kona Coffee

Coffee lovers, take note. Hawaii is known for its Kona coffee, which hails from the Big Island, and you’re definitely going to want to try it while you’re vacationing here.

Head straight to Honolulu Coffee, which is located in the Shops at Wailea and opens bright and early at 6:30 a.m. Sure, you could get a plain ol’ cup of coffee, but why not get a tropical espresso drink and start your time on Maui in true island style? Try the Hawaiian Latte, which has a hint of coconut and macadamia flavor, with whipped cream on top.

If you’re feeling a little peckish, treat yourself to a morning pick-me-up at Brekkie Bowls, an adorable spot that specializes in ultra-healthy açai bowls packed with superfoods. Build your own bowl with pineapple, dragonfruit, papaya, kiwi, or other tropical fruits; top it off with granola, toasted coconut, agave, and bee pollen; and add chia, hemp, cacao, or maca. This breakfast treat will definitely keep you fueled for an adventurous morning.

polo beach
The Polo Beach in Wailea.

Morning: Hit the Water

The Wailea area is known for its many watersports opportunities, so you’re going to want to hit the water bright and early. Whether you want to check out the sea life underwater or propel yourself above the water, you’ll find tons of things to do.

Always wanted to learn how to surf? You’ve come to the right place. Even if you’ve never tried to balance on a surfboard before, Waves Hawaii Surf School will teach you the basics. Grab a board, pair up with a world-class instructor, and hit the waves. This surf school also offers stand-up paddleboarding classes, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to paddle alongside turtles and whales.

Want to get up close and personal with the sea life and gorgeous colors underwater? Grab snorkeling gear from a local shop like Boss Frog or Snorkel Bob and head straight for one of the top snorkeling spots on the island. Take your pick from spots close to Wailea, such as Polo Beach, Po’olenalena Beach, Maluaka Beach, or Big Beach. Or head to the west side of Maui to hotspots like Honolua Bay, Napili Bay, or Olowalu. Book a boat trip to nearby Turtle Town to mingle with some of the coolest underwater creatures you’ll ever see.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, book a combo snorkeling and kayaking adventure to see the best above and below the water. Maui Kayaks offers eco-friendly excursions so you can rest assured that your awesome day doesn’t harm the environment or the turtles.

keawakapu beach
The Keawakapu Beach.

Late Morning: Soak Up Some Sunshine

After an amazing morning, kick back and relax under the sunshine. Don’t miss the most popular beach in the Wailea area, which is located in Makena State Park. Also known as Big Beach, this white sand beach has plenty of room to spread out your beach towel. It also boasts a dramatic backdrop, thanks to the Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone, and crystal-clear water.

If you’re feeling social, head to Keawakapu Beach or Kamaole Beach Park, both of which are great for sunbathing, swimming, boogie boarding, and hanging out. Tropical drinks and snacks are just steps away, and both beaches offer gorgeous views of the ocean.

If you’re looking for luxury, head to Wailea Beach, which is adjacent to the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons Resort, two of the island’s chicest places to stay. A beachfront walkway snakes along this beach, so you can also take a stroll and do some people watching.

Early Afternoon: Grab Some Lunch

After some time in the sun, it’s time to grab a healthy bite in Wailea. Find out what all the fuss is about at the South Maui Fish Company, which specializes in two things: poke bowls and fish tacos. The poke bowls here are rumored to be the freshest and tastiest on the island, and you can even get the hot version if you’re feeling spicy. The fish tacos come with spicy aioli and slaw, so you really can’t go wrong here. Just make sure you get there before this food truck runs out of the day’s catch.

If you have your heart set on some of Maui’s awesome fusion food, head to Aloha Thai Fusion. Start with some veggie-packed spring rolls, nosh on some jumbo coconut shrimp, and dig into some smoked pulled pork with homemade pineapple barbecue sauce and pineapple slaw.

Late Afternoon: Get a Spa Treatment

You definitely deserve an afternoon at the spa, so find your favorite treatment, settle into a cushy robe, and treat yourself. For one of the best wellness-focused day spas in Wailea, set your sights on Olavine Spa, which offers a range of massages, customized facials to bring out the best in your unique skin, and body treatments like cocoons and scrubs. This small spa uses local products when possible, so you can look forward to walking away smelling like a mix of Kona coffee, passion fruit, and coconut.

You don’t have to stay at the Grand Wailea to experience its luxe Spa Grande. This impressive spot has been named one of the best spas in the country, and it strikes the perfect balance between island notes and cutting-edge techniques. Whether you choose a massage, facial, or body treatment, don’t miss the Healing Waters of Maui or the other unique water therapies on offer.

Evening: Go to a Luau

No visit to Maui would be complete without a luau, and you’ll have tons of options to choose from in the Wailea area. Want an authentic experience? Go for the Old Lahaina Luau, located right on the beach on the island’s west coast. Book a table in the amphitheater-style seating area; enjoy a delicious meal of roasted pork, poke, and fried rice; and watch the performance unfold in the form of colorful costumes and gorgeous dances.

Looking for something a touch more upscale? The Grand Wailea is known for taking the traditional performance to new heights with fire, acrobatics, and knife dancing. What makes the Grand Luau at Honua’ula one of the best is that it’s on the small side, so you’ll get a stunning view without huge crowds. You’ll also get a lei greeting, a hula dancing lesson, and access to an open bar, along with some amazing photos.

wailea beach path
The Wailea Beach Path.

Late Evening: Catch the Sunset

Since Wailea is perched on the west side of Maui, it’s the perfect spot to catch a gorgeous sunrise. Grab that special someone or pack up the whole family and admire the sun as it slips below the horizon, creating a fitting end to a fabulous day.

There are a bunch of places to catch the sunset, but locals have a few faves. Makena Cove is one of the best spots, but it requires a little hunting to find this semi-hidden gem. You’ll have to walk to the end of a path, over a rock wall, and out onto the beach, where you’ll find lava rocks, palm trees, and a stunning view of the sunset. Looking for a spot that’s even more off the beaten path? Try Keawakapu Beach, which offers one of the best sunset angles on the island and tends to be quietest in the middle of the beach.

Just north of Wailea, Oneloa beach is another prime spot to round out your day. This beach tends to be relatively quiet, making it ideal for a peaceful end to an awesome day on Maui. Of course, if you want to stay close to Wailea, Kamaole Beach Park III is also a great spot to perch yourself and snap a few shots of the gorgeous setting sun.

Kahului Airport Guide

When you fly to Maui, you’ll have the chance to choose among a few different airports. The island’s largest is Kahului Airport (OGG), located on the north side of the island, about 16 miles north of Wailea. OGG has one main terminal, making it easy to reach virtually everywhere in the airport on foot.

Most routes from OGG go to Honolulu, but you can also reach Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, and Hawaiian destinations like Kailua and Lihue. International routes are limited from OGG, but you can fly from here to Canadian destinations like Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. Hawaiian Airlines operates the most flights from OGG, and the airport also hosts Air Canada, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Mokulele Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America, and WestJet.

How to Get to and From Kahului Airport

To get from OGG to Wailea via your own wheels, hop on the car rental shuttle near baggage claim and find your preferred car rental company. If you’re planning to drive yourself around the island to do some sightseeing, your best bet is to grab a rental car as soon as you land. If you’d rather let someone else take the wheel, you can hail an Uber or a taxi from the airport, too.

If you prefer public transit, the Maui Bus is at your service. Hop on the 10 bus and transfer to the 35 to get to Wailea. Note that you can’t take surfboards on the bus, so you’ll have to use another mode of transit if you’re traveling with a board.

What to Do at Kahului Airport

OGG has tons of quick service and takeaway dining options, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Grab a Croissan’wich at Burger King, a sandwich at Frankly Gourmet, or a pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. For sit-down service, don’t miss Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill, named for Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar. Starbucks serves coffee, and the Kanaha Beer Kiosk pours brews to cover all of your beverage needs.

Want to grab a quick snack or souvenir? Spin by Pineapple Country for T-shirts or Kahului Trading Co. for keepsakes.

Alternatives to Kahului Airport

Can’t find a flight to OGG? Try Kapalua Airport (JHM) instead. Located on the northwestern edge of the island near the West Maui Forest Reserve, JHM is about 35 miles from Wailea. This airport hosts Mokulele Airlines and ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, both of which offer flights to other Hawaiian islands. If your vacation plans also include stops in Honolulu, Moloka’i, or Kailua, JHM could be a convenient and affordable airport for you.

makena beach
The Makena Beach (Also Known as Big Beach) in Wailea.

Where to Stay in Wailea

From beautiful resorts to private condo rentals to budget-friendly hostels, Wailea has just the accommodations you’re looking for. Check out some of the best places to rest your head in the Wailea area.

Top Hotels in Wailea

Wailea’s resort game is on point. Whether you’re looking for a family-style resort, a place that can accommodate your whole crew, or a getaway just for two, you’ll find it in this slice of paradise.

Imagining a cool, contemporary resort right on the beach? Settle in at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, which is perched right on the beach. Chill out in your luxurious room or your own villa, put your feet into the soft, white sand, and dig into Hawaiian cuisine right on the property. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a couple’s island escape, you’re definitely going to want to visit the spa, which offers ocean-inspired rituals and treatments.

Thinking classic luxury? Book your stay at the Grand Wailea, which has a whopping nine pools, unbeatable views of the ocean from your very own balcony, and access to one of the hottest beaches in town. Pick a standard room or a suite, and get ready to feel like you never want to leave the resort property for the duration of your stay. With seven restaurants and tons of tours and experiences right on property, why would you ever leave?

If you really want an over-the-top experience, plan your stay at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea. This gorgeous spot has beautiful guest rooms and suites, 64 cabanas perfect for sunning yourself, fitness classes so you can stay in shape while you’re away, and plenty of water-based activities. You can even hit the links, shop till you drop, and take a dip in all three saltwater pools. The Wi-Fi is free here, too, so you can keep everyone up-to-date on every luxury experience with Instagram Stories.

Best Hostels in Wailea

Hostels are great for budget travelers, but they’re also awesome when you want to stay near a bunch of built-in travel buddies. Though you won’t find hostels in the heart of Wailea, there are several elsewhere on Maui.

A short drive north of Wailea, the North Shore Hostel offers private rooms and dorm-style accommodations with free breakfast and a variety of free shuttles to the beach, Kahului Airport, and other destinations. Near the North Shore Hostel, the Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel is the place to get social. This hostel has tons of free tours every day, along with shuttles to the beach, happy hours on Monday, and a party every Friday.

Just east of the Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel, the Aloha Surf Hostel has free Wi-Fi, a community room with a pool table and ping pong, and a hot tub. Dig into a free pancake breakfast in the morning, and kick back near the outdoor barbecue in the evening. This hostel has private rooms and shared six-person rooms and offers free tours around Maui.

mokapu beach park
The Mokapu Beach Park.

Coolest Private Rentals in Wailea

The best part of renting a private apartment in Wailea is that you can feel like a local for a day, a weekend, or even a week or two. When looking for spots to rent, be sure to prioritize price, capacity, and, of course, location. While some Wailea rentals are adorable single-family bungalows, most are high-rise condos with stunning views of the ocean. If you’re envisioning lazy mornings around the pool, double check to make sure your condo rental offers access to the building’s rooftop pool.

If you want to be right in the middle of the action, think about staying near Kalama Park, which is right on the ocean and offers easy access to tons of shops and cafés. You’ll also find tons of rentals near Kamaole Beach Park III, which is on the north side of Wailea and is walkable to the beach and cute cafés. Of course, you can also stay in the middle of it all if you score a spot near Mokapu Beach Park, which has a sandy beach and plenty of snorkeling and boogie boarding.

Wailea is truly a destination that needs no filter on Instagram. Plan every step of your getaway on GoDoTrip and get ready to escape to paradise.