Maui attracts thousands to its dry stretches, its many beaches offering the perfect respite from the sun- but Makena takes the cake for its gorgeous sun-kissed shoreline and its native prickly-pear cacti, which makes for a great Instagram snap.
The unique topography has allowed for some rare flora to sprout sporadically in Makena’s tiny Greenland’s – mesquite, a grass native to the African Savannah, is a case in point. Makena’s Turtle Town is another major attraction – beware of touching these endangered green sea turtles, though. Not only is it a federal offense, but the human touch can also make these rare creatures susceptible to a rare but deadly virus. Snorkeling with turtles in the crystal-clear water will be super rewarding and is one of the more favored spots by tourists and locals alike. Another fun fact about Makena is that its lava-laden topography has made for a fascinating confluence between even beaches and rocky hills that overlook the bright blue sea and gaze into the horizon.
Beaches in Makena
The Makena State Park is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the vicinity, perched as it is close to the Molokini Crater. The area tends to get extremely busy on weekends and holidays, which is when locals flock to get some respite from the scorching heat. Weekdays, however, are your best bet and you can lounge about assuredly for hours without having to jostle for precious space on the sand. As for swimmers, while every beach has a designated team of lifeguards, it might be best to practice caution and stay safe- Big Beach is known for some of its insidiously rough undertows that have managed to knock a surfer or two off their feet.
White Rock Beach
White Rock Beach is home to several turtles that have built their nests in White Rock’s calm and clear shallow waters. Closer to the shores, the sand is super fine and makes for a great place to hitch your beach umbrella. Keawe trees fringe the beach and provide ample space for those who prefer to stay off direct sunlight.
Black Sand Beach
The black sand that brings this eponymous beach its fame is a remnant of lava erupted from the nearby Earthquake Hill. Black Sand is best known for its rich and abundant habitat, owing to the natural reef and hardened lava rock which provides sturdy foundations for aquatic life to breed around. Experienced divers and snorkelers will find plenty to discover here, while others can tread around three miles to the north on the Makena Alanui Road and reach the vibrant shopping bazaar at Wailea.
Nearby Resorts and Hotels
There are few hotels actually in Makena, but the area borders Wailea which has several hotels and resorts.
Makena Beach Resort by Destination Hotels
Destination Hotels has been well-known for its range of hospitable services for over 30 years. Not only are they pretty big in the game, but they also boast of a wide array of condo resorts in Wailea and Makena. Makena Surf is one of these prime properties, sitting on the coast of the Po’olenalena Beach and straddled by lush Keawe trees on all sides but one. Offering clear views of the ocean and a convenient cobblestone pathway that leads to the beach, Makena Surf has been a favorite among families and honeymooners alike. There are bungalow-style rentals surrounded by fertile tropical forests which make for the best-secluded getaway. The resort also offers access to an isolated stretch of the beach so you are assured of having your privacy whilst vacationing at the world-class resort.
Fairmont Kea Lani
Fairmont offers the most humbling Hawaiian living experience. Everything about living here- whether it is in a single-room suite or a sprawling mansion- is uniquely Hawaiian with a touch of local Maui culture. Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spa is one of the most coveted on the island and is often booked out over weekends, so you might want to have a spot booked if you like spending your time at the spa! Willow Stream infuses a bit of Hawaiian tradition on to globally-renowned spa techniques, making for a peculiar but refreshing spa experience! This sprawling property includes three swimming pools and a water slide with an additional pool for kids. There is a gym, golfing, and tennis facilities a few steps from the suites and evenings are lit up at Luana, the resort’s cocktail bar. For a fancy dinner, head to Ko, an award-winning signature restaurant.
Hotel Wailea, Relais & Chateaux
Consistently ranked one of the plushest romantic resorts in the world, Hotel Wailea offers a lot to talk about across its 15-acre fairytale forest that houses over 70 luxury suites. Known primarily for its ultra-private guestrooms that offer convenience at your doorstep, Hotel Wailea has a lot to boast of. There are a host of specially curated experiences for couples who enjoy a bit of adventure- from poolside poke and tropical mixology lessons to kiteboarding and serenity sound baths- a little bit of adventure can help spice up things! There is also a stunning treehouse dining restaurant that serves scrumptious sea bass among other in-season seafood. Perched atop lush avocado and mango trees, you get an unobstructed view of the ocean whilst you munch on lip-smacking appetizers and gaze at the arresting horizon. The resort also offers quiet and privacy to those who prefer laying low while on vacation!
The Four Seasons
When a classic like the Four Seasons sets up shop, you know there’s a whole lot to look forward to. The Four Seasons in Makena operates with the same principled approach that has propelled the company forward since its inception in 1961- innovation and dedication to offering the best-in-class services to all its patrons. At Makena, you can opt for one of their oceanfront sanctuaries which come equipped with balconies that oversee the horizon- or you could pick one of the few luxury cabanas which infuses traditional Hawaiian ways of living with luxe and comfort. Massive LEDs and adorable ceiling fans make for a great distraction when the sun is too hot for your liking! The chain also offers some pre-planned tours for couples and families, along with wine tastings and winter whale spotting events. The suites are, needless to say, stunning and everything you could want while on vacation at Makena, and the Club Floor on the top level offers exclusive access to a marvelous view of the ocean whilst offering unique beverages for its guests to savor.
Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott Maui
Marriott’s beachfront property in Maui ascends along the rocky curvature of the island’s upward slope. The guest rooms are spread over a spacious tropical area and are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, some of which include a huge bathtub or jacuzzi, and some come with intelligent showers. True to its reputation, Marriott offers the most comfortable living experiences to all its guests, which includes ultra-soft and luxe down-feather pillows and memory foam mattresses laden with feathery light throws and blankets that are made for snuggling! Another big plus is the Humble Market Kitchin by Roy Yamaguchi which was spearheaded by the Hawaiian Cuisine Movement and offers delectable cuisine inspired by Filipino, Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese culinary traditions. This ocean-facing restaurant can cook up a delight in no time and is a great spot for a candlelit dinner! Apart from the amazing food, the Marriott also offers access to three levels of golf courses – there’s the Wailea Blue, Gold, and Emerald Course each with varying degrees of difficulty in tandem with their closeness to the shore.
Andaz Maui by Hyatt
Hyatt’s massive resort offers 35 luxury suites and 11 villas, along with 301 spacious rooms with a lanai for unhindered, private viewings of the beach and island. The suites come with a full-length mirror and a sizeable table and closet- all polished with an excellent teak wood finish. Apart from the basics, the rooms are covered with every other basic amenity- from super-fast WiFi to a well-stocked refrigerator, you can be assured you won’t feel like you’re on an island! Andaz also boasts of a poolside with cabanas where everyone can pick from three infinity pools that face the ocean, a lagoon pool, and a tranquillity pool for adults.
If pumping iron while on vacation is your thing, this resort houses an ultra-modern fitness center to which guests have 24-hour access, and for those who prefer laidback evenings, Awili Spa and Salon offers uniquely Hawaiian spa services that are personalized as per your choice and convenience. As far as resorts go, Hyatt is one of the most differently-abled-friendly on the island. Ranking high on accessibility, the swimming pool, cabanas, concierge desk, and restaurants are specially constructed to improve the experiences of differently-abled persons.
Makena Golf & Beach Club
The Golf and Beach Club at Makena – privately owned by Discovery Land Company – is reinventing what Makena stands for. The Club is best envisioned as a tiny village, made up of a huge variety of living options from single-room suites to villas and mansions steeped in tropical jungles – there’s a bit for everyone wanting to partake in the weekend festivities at the Club. Daytime brings more options, from snorkeling to diving, and from birdwatching to wine tasting, the Club’s breadth of activities packs a solid punch. The Beach Club is a major highlight, offering a giant Micheal-Phelps designed pool with a trained swim instructor available at all times. There are also remarkable tennis and pickleball courts alongside an indoor gaming arcade for kids which houses an arts and crafts arena, a cozy theatre, and numerous activity programs to keep them busy!
A big variety of dining options greet you, including ceremonial Hawaiian delights and Continental spreads with modern infusions. The Club’s five-star dining offers healthy meal options that also happen to be customizable. What’s even better is that every meal sources the freshest ingredients- be it seafood or local veg- so what ends up on your plate is a scrumptious bite of nature.
Another exciting time to look out for is when the wellness spa is inaugurated. As the locals of this exquisite island proffer, health and wellness is a truly Hawaiian specialty, and no one does it better than the Mauis. The Club is putting together an array of spa treatments, including a hot and cold spa treatment room, steam rooms and jacuzzis, and Swiss showers to finish off! Some of the most intelligent minds in the world are collaborating to make this spa experience the best of its kind on the island.
Lastly, unique to its competitors, the Club offers a comprehensive health plan that allows you to enjoy delectable locally and globally-inspired cuisine at any of its partner restaurants without adding inches to your waistline!
Things to Do
Makena is known for being one of the best places to spot sea turtles native to the island. Lovingly called Honu by locals, the sea turtle inhabits the long, unceasing coastline of this paradisial island and is usually shy enough to not wander deep into a human dwelling. These reserved creatures have been bred on the island for long, but are now nearing endangerment, which is why most locals and informed tourists would rank this as one of the most rewarding experiences whilst on the island. The most unhindered view of this green sea turtle can perhaps be found at Turtle Town, eponymous for its famed inhabitants. The most precious spots are usually away from large crowds- which is what disturbs these turtles the most- and can be found near beaches, or hidden away in obscure alcoves.
Enjoy The Food
Be sure to try some of Makena’s locally-whipped up culinary delights, and sample local vendors and food trucks! While it might seem fancier to dine at restaurants serving Hawaiian-inspired cuisine, the best litmus for food tasting is your friendly vendor-next-door. The fish taco trucks are a perennial favorite, as are vendors offering freshly cooked kalua pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian method of cooking which involves an old-fashioned underground oven- though it may occasionally be used to refer to the oven itself. Independent vendors are the undefeated champions of kalua cooking, so look out for them!
Try some local food vendors for the freshest authentic Hawaiian. If you’re looking for something more classy and globally-inspired, try Ko for its lobster tempura and vegan curry. Gannon’s, Ohana Seafood Bar, and Kea Lani are well-reputed for their seafood mains, and if you’re craving something Italian, Ferraro’s Bar and Restaurant is where you should be going.
Hawaii is nothing if not its vastly historical beaches. This colorful pastiche of land carries stories across generations of its people, their culture, and their lives. The beaches, too, tell tales of faraway times when local chiefdoms were the talk of the town, and before volcanoes erupted to give the island its unique topography and colors. You could easily spend a day or two visiting different beaches for different activities- Honolua Bay is a favorite among snorkelers, while Turtle Town is known for, well, its vast concentration of turtles.
Things to Remember
1. Make sure to carry enough water to your excursions as potable water is not easily available on the island.
2. Carry extras for your beach essentials- sunscreen, snacks, and swim gear should be a priority while heading to the beach!
3. Wear insect repellent in the evenings, and make sure to carry some for reinforcements, as insect-borne rashes are pretty common.