Snorkeling Wailea Beach is very popular and very busy, being the house beach for two big resorts, the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. The snorkeling here is good, if you swim past the right end of the beach. Past the left end is not as good with even lower visibility and fewer fish and corals.
Note: This page is a sample from our popular Maui Snorkeling Guide eBook available here.
The resorts also rent equipment like kayaks, paddle boards, and boogie boards, which can be dangerous to snorkelers. Most of the folks renting this equipment are inexperienced and we have almost been hit numerous times. So, be very cautious.
Not too far south of Kihei, Wailea is a beautiful sandy beach. Like all the beaches in South Maui, Wailea is best snorkeled in the mornings before the winds pick up.
The public parking area is large for this beach, but it can fill up, so come early to guarantee your spot.
Walk to the end of the sandy beach you choose to snorkel. You can enter barefoot and put your fins on when you can float.
Of the two choices here, the right end has the better snorkeling, though the visibility is often not great. The reef here is much healthier than the one past the left end of the beach and there are more fish to see. After entering and swimming away from the beach, you have to go a decent ways past the first few fingers of coral reef to get into the healthy coral area with interesting topography. If you swim around the point until you are facing the condos that are on the shore (photo below), you will be in the right area. It is about an 850 foot swim. We saw three turtles in this area on our last visit, too.
Avoid hugging the shore, because the corals are much better in slightly deeper water, about 10 feet, and the visibility is also much better farther out, too.
If you swim to Ulua Beach, the next beach north, and back to Wailea Beach, it is nearly a mile long swim. You can do that if you are up for it or just turn around before you get tired.
The snorkeling past the left end of the beach is decent, if you swim far enough. The visibility is often poor on this side, because of all the kicked up sand from the many people in the water here.
The reef near the beach is not very alive with either corals or fish. But, if you want to see some better corals, swim all the way along the point until you are in front of the big tree on the point (photo at right), about 900 feet. In this area the visibility improves, and the there is a patch of corals that are healthier. There are also better fish populations and we saw a couple of turtles. The depths here go down to about 15 feet.
But we recommend you don’t bother swimming much farther around the rocky point than the area offshore of the tree. There is a wide boring sandy area just past it. Though, if you were so inclined, you could snorkel from Wailea Beach to Polo Beach, the next beach south, and back. The round trip swim is nearly a mile.
We saw a decent amount of fish in good variety. There is some healthy coral here if you know where to swim.
1. Head south on S. Kihei Rd. Toward the end of the road, there is an intersection where you need to veer left onto Okolani Dr.
2. Continue to the intersection with Wailea Alanui Dr. and turn right.
3. Follow this through the big intersection with Wailea Iki Dr. near The Shops at Wailea. Keep driving until you pass the Grand Wailea Resort and turn right just after. There is a black stone sign that says Wailea Beach and a blue shoreline access sign with the number 106. If you see the Four Seasons Wailea, you just missed the turn.
4. Follow the road to the public parking areas, a large one under the trees to the right and some spots along the road down to the turnaround.
There are restrooms, showers, a barbecue, and a picnic table for your use at this beach.