Guide to South West Maui
South West Maui
South West Maui is the vacation strip of the island. Along the coast you will find the most beautiful white sand beaches, vacation homes, condos, one of Maui's best B&B's as well as several great vacation rentals and amazing five star resorts. The Aston Wailea and the Maui Prince Hotel in Makena are just two among many.
In addition this part of Maui is the best spot for diving or snorkeling. Just off the shore is Molokini, a small volcanic crescent, which can be expored snorkleing or diving. Book a day trip to sail over to Molokini, where you can explore Maui’s underwater world.
Inland you can find top golf courses and the most fascinating jewel of the island, Haleakala. By driving or taking a tour up the slopes of the gigantic volcano, you can experience dramatic changes in climate, flora and fauna.Explore the fascinating nature on a quaint horseback ride through the lush countryside, or explore the volcano on a downhill ride with a mountainbike. Southwest Maui has it all.
Kihei To Wailea
With a 10,000 ft. mountain backing it up, Kihei (Hawaiian for "shoulder cloak") has the best weather of all of Maui. Haleakala catches most of the clouds and so it is usually very dry and sunny. Kihei is a mixture of inexpensive condos and moderate hotels. Many Californians have made Kihei their second home, and here are some of the best and most affordable B&B's, vacation rentals and vacation homes on Maui. The 'Hang Loose' environment and moderate housing costs made the town very popular with the younger crowd.There are plenty of activities such as diving, tennis and snorkel-and sailing trips, as well as some good restaurants and plenty of shopping. Check out the Maui Coast hotel or the budget Maui Oceanfront .
From the Kihei beaches you have an excellent view of Molokini, Lanai and Kahoolawe.
A few miles south of Kihei is Wailea, which means in Hawaiian "Joyful Waters". The sugar barons Alexander and Baldwin already appreciated the wonderful coast at Wailea and constructed the first golf courses and hotel resorts at the end of the 19th century. Today this area sets standards for the planned development of quality resorts . Stay at the Aston Wailea or enjoy the posh atmosphere of the Palms at Wailea or the Maui Prince at Makena. Once you drive into the Wailea area, you will see that every palm tree, water fountain, and lawn is a result of excellent landscaping. You could probably spend your whole vacation within the resort complexes without getting bored. If you prefer B&B, stay at the famous Whale Watch House or at the Oceanside Retreat.
Driving towards Haleakala, the 10,000 ft. volcano will surprise you in many different ways. Did you know that there was wine grown and produced in paradise? Well, do not miss to visit the only commercial winery of Hawaii. Surrounded by majestic eucalyptus groves, you can taste Maui’s Blanc de Noir and Maui Blush. On the surrounding ranches you can find some of the best horseback-riding on Maui.
On Haleakala’s western slope through Kula and Ulupalakua contryside, there are several protea and chrysanthemum farms. The cultivation of vegetables, like onions, carrots and salads is also an income source for the local farmers. Since the weather is different in this altitude, it is possible to grow plants here, which would usually not survive a tropical climate.
In the early days, artists came up here to paint, and others chose the upcountry to escape from life on the central plain. Today's residents blend with hippies and other unique characters and make it a colorful mix. A great place to visit is the Hui No'eau, the Visual Arts Center, where you can learn about local art, history and even take classes or meet visiting artists.
The country life is lived in Makawao , which means "beginning forest" in Hawaiian, and is located southeast of Kahului. Follow Hwy 37 in the direction of Haleakala. Some Portuguese immigrants, who were specialized in cattle ranching founded the small village. The town gained popularity when rodeo events were organized to celebrate America’s Independence Day on 4th of July. The colorful, wooden architecture and country lifestyle still remain. There are some outstanding Mexican and American steakhouses along the main street. The best ‘saimin’, a nutritious noodle soup, is offered at the Kitada. Grassing cattle and horses surround Makawao.
A few miles upcountry is the village Olinda, which got its name after a Spanish speaking tourist exclaimed from an upper viewpoint: " O linda vista (o what a beautiful view)".After passing through the different climate zones you will reach the entrance to Haleakaka Park.
For those contemplating to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning during your highly deserved vacation, it may be worth it. One of the most exciting and memorable events to witness the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala and watch the sunrise. You can do as part of a sunrise tour or by bike. Haleakala means " the house of the sun". Demigod Maui saw that the sun rose every morning out of the crater, so he climbed to the top, lassoed each ray and secured it at a nearby tree. He struck a deal: To be set free again, she would slow her way across the islands, so that his mother had more time to cook and dry his clothes.Looking at our weather today, the sun is keeping her deal.
As you drive up during day-light hours you will encounter quite a few mountainbikers who are taking the downhill challenge.It is more a scenic trip rather than a challenge, unless you are Swiss or German and insist on biking up instead of down.
After passing the entrance to the National Park, where you have to pay a fee, the vegetation changes and rough, dark lava stones appear along your way. There is a Visitor Center right after the entrance, where you can pick up some information. The road up to the summit is the fastest climbing highway in the U.S., and it is curvy and long. You have to park the car at the summit parking lot and walk the last few yards up to a glass shelter. Even on nice summer days it gets very cold on the summit, especially in the early morning hours. Take a sweaters or blankets with you.
After the sun appears the inside of the crater becomes visible. It is often compared with the landscape on the moon. The crater is the largest in the world, it measures over 20 miles around, 3000 feet deep, 7,5 miles across and 2,5 miles wide. All New York City’s Manhattan would easily fit in it. Haleakala had its last eruption in 1790.
The mountain measures 10,023 feet above the water surface and 19,000 feet underneath the surface of the ocean.
All species and animals are protected. Due to Haleakala’s unique, barren natural environment, the local plants and animals are considered real survivors. One of the most impressing flowers is the Silversword. It belongs to the family of sunflowersand has blossoms reaching heights of over 3 feet.A great way to explore the crater is on horseback.
The park is offers excellent hikes and walks, plus there's a number of cabins to stay in (two in the crater floor - booking required) and it should definitely be a part of your trip to Maui.
South West Maui has the longest and sunniest beaches. You can find everything from white sandy beaches to black beaches made of volcanic sand .Maui residents take care of their beaches, which can be seen by the beaches’ outstanding facilities and cleanliness. There are over 80 beaches on Maui, so it is impossible to describe them all. Their calm waters make swimming safe almost all year round. Nevertheless be cautious and respect red flags and lifeguard orders!!
All beaches on Maui are public, so you can access them whenever you like. Sometimes the only tricky part is to find parking, or to find the beach you are looking for.
Wailea Beach As you can guess by the name, you can find Wailea Beach just behind the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons Resort. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui. Since it is not easy accessible from the road, it is mostly frequented by the resort guests.
Ulua Beach and Mokapu Beach Those beaches are located just outside Wailea towards the north. They are well equipped with all necessary facilities. Calm water makes them good swimming beaches. Snorkeling is interesting around the lava rocks, which divide the two beaches. Come in the mornings, so you have the beaches for yourself.
Makena Beach – Oneloa Beach Oneloa means in Hawaiian "long sand", and that is definitely what it is. This beautiful white sandy beach is ¾ miles long and wide. The beach is located shortly after the Maui Prince Hotel along Makena Ala Nui road, a very rutted dirt road. Oneloa beach is a great picnic beach, so bring plenty of food and drinks, but no alcohol. Due to the high shore break, swimming and snorkeling are only for advanced swimmers. From Makena Beach you are able to see Molokini and Kahoolawe.
"Little Beach", or Puuola Beach can be reached by climbing over a small hill, a rocky cinder cone. There nude bathing is part of the fun, although it is illegal.
La Perouse Bay – Keoneoio Bay This segregated beach is located at the end of Makena Alanui Road and named after the French explorer La Perouse, who discovered the bay in 1796. If you do not have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, it is recommended that you hike the last 3,5 miles. Don’t forget to wear good shoes, because you have to step over sharp lava stones. The beach’s history is remarkable. The lava flow of 1790 buried an old village, which ruins are still visible today. You can also start nice hikes from the bay. Strong currents and rough waters are not inviting for swimming.