From the legends of old Hawai‘i, it is said that the goddess who watched over canoe builders, Lea, was transformed into a small forest bird, ‘elepaio, and would fly down from Haleakala and along the shoreline of South Maui. That’s how the area became known as Wailea, the “waters of Lea.”
Wailea Resort was planned out in every detail from the very beginning. It consists of 1500 acres conceived as an integrated residential resort community, and is a perfect example of how to best use smart growth to satisfy visitors. The resort has blossomed along five of South Maui’s most beautiful beaches.
Today, Wailea Resort consists of over 2,000 exquisite homes and condominiums, six resort hotels, three commercial and shopping centers, an award-winning tennis center and three world-class golf courses. It’s all surrounded by mature tropical trees, lush flowering shrubs and one-and-a-half miles of golden beaches. Nothing less is expected in Wailea.
The five crescent-shaped beaches of Wailea are strung along the coastline like shells. Each one is an oasis of shimmering sand that is enclosed in lava rock outcroppings at both ends. This makes for a sheltered bay, which is good for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Wailea beaches have been named at the top of Dr. Beach’s lists of “America’s Best Beaches” for years.
Keawakapu Beach just past the Mana Kai Resort is accessible where South Kihei Road ends, and has plenty of parking but no amenities. In addition to being a more secluded beach, the attractive cove is a good location for scuba diving in about eighty feet of water.
Mokapu and ‘Ulua Beaches are protected, sandy coves, offering parking, showers and restrooms, located on the north side of the Wailea Beach Marriott and adjacent to Wailea Elua. They feature excellent snorkeling out by the first reef.
Wailea Beach, fronting the Grand Wailea Resort, offers a short but wide expanse of sand with waters that are excellent for swimming, snorkeling and body boarding. Parking and showers are also available.
Polo Beach, adjacent to The Faimont Kea Lani, provides parking and facilities, and features a beautiful underwater view of large numbers of fish among the lava rock outcroppings.
Amid the lush greens of Wailea’s golf courses, you can still see features of pre-contact Hawaiian lava rock walls that were preserved and worked into the course designs, particularly on the Gold Course. The courses are surrounded in natural features, including sculpted kiawe trees of the original dryland terrain. This area is a natural desert, so Wailea Golf Club uses a private source of brackish water to maintain the courses, which helps conserve the precious fresh water from ‘Iao Valley used in the past.
Wailea’s Old Blue, Emerald and Gold Courses are among the top-rated golf links in the United States. These 18-hole championship courses wind along the lower slopes of Haleakala, and offer an ocean view from every hole. The courses change tee and pin placements daily to provide a consistent challenge for golfers. For tee times, call Wailea Golf Club (808) 875-7450.
Set on a hillside above the Gold & Emerald clubhouse, Wailea Golf Club’s training facility simulates the gameplay of the Emerald and Gold Courses with several putting, chipping, and target greens, including traps and flags. It features a driving range, video instruction, private lessons and group clinics at Wailea’s David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
Both Wailea Golf clubhouses offer locker room facilities, full-service pro shops and preferred rates for guest staying in Wailea Resort. The award-winning Gannon’s restaurant is located in the Gold & Emerald clubhouse and Mulligan’s on the Blue is in the Old Blue clubhouse.
Consistently ranked among the country’s top tennis resorts by Tennis Magazine, the Wailea Tennis Club features 14 courts, including 11 plexipaved, three of which are lighted for night play. One is a stadium court, which can accommodate 1,000 spectators on terraced seating. Perched above the Wailea Tennis pro shop is Joe’s restaurant, featuring the cuisine of Chef Bev Gannon.
The Wailea Tennis Club’s staff pros offer a daily range of activities and clinics devoted to various aspects of the game, including doubles strategy, ground strokes, volleys, serves and overhead strokes. Clinics are limited to six students although private lessons are also available. Reservation are required; call (808) 879-1958.
Just need a partner? No problem. One of the club’s most popular services is game arranging. With a pool of over 100 skillful and willing players, the Wailea Tennis Club guarantees a partner to match your skill level, given 24 hours’ notice.
Various competitive events are hosted throughout the year, including the Wailea Open Championships, one of Hawaii’s largest and most popular tennis events. The club also offers the Wailea Tennis Fantasy Camp, a four-day extravaganza of world-class instruction and drills under the tutelage of four of the sport’s top professionals along with social activities.
The Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, Andaz Maui at Wailea and Hotel Wailea provide four- and five-star accommodations with full-service amenities, dining options and activities.
Multi-award winning Grand Wailea Resort is a feast for the senses with a grand entrance of cascading waterfalls and sculpted landscapes. It features six independent guestroom wings offering ocean views and pool views. The resort pool is actually a 2,000-foot long river with waterfalls, grottos and slides. Grand Wailea restaurants offer a wide selection of distinctive cuisine, including
Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, a delightful blend of Pacific Rim cuisine and sunset views over the lagoon, Bistro Molokini, featuring innovative dishes with Polynesian and Hawaiian influences, and a daily breakfast buffet on the terrace of the Grand Dining Room with spectacular fountain and ocean views. Amasia, a new restaurant by Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine Chef Alan Wong, is where East meets West. The 50,000-square foot Spa Grande remains at the top of each award list as one of the most luxurious spas in the world. A visit to Grand Wailea Resort would not be complete without a terme bath or treatment experience in Spa Grande.
DINING & EVENTS
Move over, West Maui ... Wailea Resort is fast becoming the hot spot for new restaurants and top chefs. From Asian to Italian and American comfort to Hawai‘i Regional, the restaurants sprinkled throughout Wailea are outstanding culinary experiences. In addition to the Grand Wailea restaurants described above, other notables are: Nick’s Fishmarket and Ko in The Fairmont Kea Lani; Capische? at Hotel Wailea; Spago, Ferraro’s and Duo at the Four Seasons; Mala Wailea and Migrant at Wailea Beach Marriott; Ka‘ana Kitchen and Morimoto Maui at Andaz Maui; Longhi’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Tommy Bahama in The Shops at Wailea, as well as Monkeypod Kitchen, Fabiani’s Wailea and Pita Paradise Bistro in Wailea Gateway Center.
Twice a year, in spring and fall, Wailea Resort hosts a dine-around promotion, Restaurant Week Wailea, when participating resort restaurants serve up extraordinary pre-fixe menus to savor. For over a dozen years, the Maui Film Festival at Wailea has brought movie star glitz and glam to Wailea Resort each June. The Celestial Cinema big screen is set-up on the greens of Wailea Gold Course for movie premieres and film festival award screenings. The Taste of Wailea, A Taste of Chocolate, Starry Night Moondance and more gala parties are hosted around the resort.
A wealth of shops, art galleries and lifestyle activities can be found in Wailea Resort for an unforgettable vacation experience.