Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea 5.0

Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Like all of Hawaii's beaches, Wailea Beach is open to the public, but it draws far more vacationers than locals.

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 Like all of Hawaii's beaches, Wailea Beach is open to the public, but it draws far more vacationers than locals.
Wailea Beach, one of the finest beaches in Maui, is a crescent-shaped shore with light brown, powdery sand that stretches over one-third of a mile. The Four Seasons fronts a lovely section of the beach, which it shares with several other hotels. Like all of Hawaii's beaches, Wailea Beach is open to the public, but it draws far more vacationers than locals. The small waves on Wailea Beach are suitable for skimboarding, body-surfing, paddleboarding, and Hobie Cat sailing. Other water activities, including ocean dives and kayaking, are available for an additional charge through Maui Undersea Adventures, which runs a scuba center near the beachside path. The Grand Wailea, next to the Four Seasons on Wailea Beach, also sits at the center of this fine stretch of beachfront. Its soft, fine-grained sand is groomed every morning. The resort offers free daily activities including beach yoga. The Marriott's rocky oceanfront straddles two small, but lovely, beaches: Ulua Beach to the north, and Wailea Beach to the south. Getting to either beach involves a scenic, five-minute stroll along an oceanfront boardwalk. Ulua Beach has soft, brown sand and calm surf. During high tide, the shoreline becomes very narrow and leaves little space for sunbathers (the better option is to stay on the lawns above the Marriott's rocky shoreline) but the beach is much less crowded than Wailea Beach. On the far north side of Ulua Beach, there's a rocky outcropping that extends into a vibrant coral reef. On a good day, you can spot stingrays and turtles around this popular snorkeling spot. It's also great for shore dives. Just outside Wailea, Polo Beach is one of the most private-feeling in Wailea (all Hawaii beaches are public) due to its rocky surrounding shores. Public beach access is available through a small parking lot next to the resort, but the beach is filled mainly with guests of the Fairmont. The calm waters are good for snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking, and are safe for children. Complimentary canoe lessons take off from Polo Beach. The Ritz provides direct access to the D.T. Fleming Beach Park -- a nine-mile crescent of sandy beach. It's about a five-minute walk from the main property to the shore. The beach's strong currents and rough waves can be dangerous, but there are lifeguards on duty. The best part: relative isolation. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa faces Kaanapali's four-mile stretch of white-sand beach. The resort provides free umbrellas and beach chairs on the beach. Wind and currents vary, but water sports, from kayaking and snorkeling to windsurfing and beginner's surf lessons, are possible along the beach. The wide crescent-shaped beach directly in front of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel hotel is mostly swimmable (though currents can get strong) and far less crowded than much of Kaanapali Beach to the south, where the area's bigger resorts sit. No question, the beach in front of the hotel is great. The waters are calm enough for snorkeling and swimming, and the beach is empty compared to beaches further south in Kaanapali near the large resorts. The waters are calm enough for snorkeling and swimming. The Sheraton was built on and around Black Rock, and everyone staying at a resort on Kaanapali Beach is bound to end up there, whether it's for the excellent snorkeling or to witness the nightly cliff-diving ceremony. Black Rock is the busiest section of Kaanapali Beach, but for good reason. Turtles swim incredibly close to the shore. And the sunsets from Black Rock are incredible. The Royal Lahaiana sits in front of a northern section of Kaanapali Beach, just beyond the beach's landmark, Black Rock. But not many travelers realize there's another stretch of sand just beyond the lava outcropping, a much more tranquil shore with amazingly clear water and gentle surf. There's spectacular snorkeling at the table reef in front of Kahekili Beach Park, a five-minute walk north, or at Black Rock to the south. Snorkeling gear is avaialble at the resort's beach activities center for $15 a day. Even farther north on Kaanapali Beach, there's the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas. It's much less crowded, but still has clear water, gentle surf, and terrific snorkeling opportunities. Outside Kaanapali Beach, there's Napili Bay. Its calm, clear waters and soft beige sand make it great for sunbathing and swimming. There are vibrant coral reefs about 50 feet from the shore, which make for great snorkeling. The hotel provides snorkels and masks, but for fins, you'll have to bring your own or rent from Snorkel Bob's, a five-minute walk away.