South Maui Vacation Guide

Discover where to Play, Eat, Shop and Stay in South Maui

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About South Maui

Sunny and Active but still with the peaceful, tropical feel of an island

Are you ready to embark on a Hawaiian adventure that will leave you with more palm trees than you can count and a smile that stretches from ear to ear? Look no further than South Maui, where paradise meets a laid-back beach town vibe. Picture yourself lounging on pristine golden sands, sipping on a Mai Tai while the warm Pacific breeze rustles through your hair. And where better to experience this tropical dream than in a vacation rental in South Maui?

South Maui, also known as the "South Shore" or "South Side" is the "sunny side" of Maui. Drive south from the airport (20 min) thru the isthmus that divides Maui. Most of South Maui actually faces west and offers spectacular sunsets. You'll find 5 famous resort hotels with restaurants, shops and special events. Luckily there are also luxury condo resorts and in Kihei not only resorts but also some local color and nightlife.

Areas in South Maui

VIew the Towns Available on the South Shore of Maui

South Maui divides nicely into the areas of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Ma’alaea is technically central but we include it here. Think of Kihei as a beach town growing up; Wailea as the Country Club, Makena as wilderness being discovered and Ma’alaea as the boat harbor with a location convenient to everything. Among these areas you will find the condo perfectly suited to you. Choose an area, a condo, and take advantage of all South Maui has to offer. It’s here for you; awaiting your arrival.

Beach/Ocean front accommodations are at a premium on the South Shore because most condos here are in low rise buildings with a few mid-rise (4-7 stories) options. Often you can save money by choosing one of the condos a bit back from the beach and still get amazing views with only a 5 minute drive or 10-15 minute walk to the beach. Condos tend to get larger as you head south in this region.









Highlights of South Maui

Sunshine, Great Beaches, Whale Watching & Water Activities: Ma'alaea - Kihei - Wailea- Makena

The weather here tends to be sunny. Haleakala shelters all but Ma'alaea from big winds so you can play golf in the afternoon.
The towns of South Maui vary from the colorful, lush tropical landscaping of Wailea, to the natural setting and indigenous plantings of Kihei on to the wilderness and historically punctuated areas of Makena and Ma'alaea on the Bay at the base of the isthmus - a great location for those wanting to tour the entire island.

For upscale shopping try The Shops of Wailea, an outdoor shopping center filled with necessary to extraordinary. In Kihei and Ma'alaea you'll find shops, boutiques & outdoor kiosks. So remember: South Shore equals Sunny and Active but still with the peaceful, tropical feel of an island.


  1. Wailea Beach
  2. Makena Beach
  3. Kamaole Beaches (I, II, and III)
  4. Maalaea Bay Beach

Water Sports:

  1. Kayaking
  2. Stand-up paddle boarding
  3. Surfing

Cultural Experiences:

  1. Maui Nui Luau
  2. Te Au Moana Luau
  3. Traditional Hawaiian crafts

Things to do in South Maui

Activities for Adventure lovers, Kids, Rainy Days & Hawaiian Immersion

Whether you're traveling with kids or just looking for some fun in the sun, South Maui has something for everyone. So come on over and discover the magic of Maui! The beaches of South Maui are the best on the island and offer activities from, building sand castles to sunning to great walks or jogs and net fishing. The ocean offers swimming, snorkeling, ocean kayaking, Boogie Boarding & Stand Up Paddle Boarding. There is also golf, including major tournaments and 6 courses within 10 minutes of one another and hiking and a cultural scene.

Activities for Adventure Lovers & Sunseekers

Beach Bumming:

South Maui is famous for its beautiful beaches, and for good reason. Spend a lazy day lounging in the sun, playing in the surf, or building sandcastles with your kids. Some of the best beaches in the area are listed below. Maui County is beginning to charge non-residents for parking access to county parks which include several well known beaches. Kiosks for payment are available but you will also be able to purchase weekly/monthly passes for island wide access - keep an eye on our blog for updates.

  1. Kihei's Kamaole I, II & III Beaches are 3 of the most popular beaches in South Maui, and for good reason. These beaches offer soft sand, gentle waves, and clear water for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Plus, they're all within walking distance of shops and restaurants in Kihei. Perfect for families with plenty of sand, shallow waters, Kam II has life guards, restrooms
  2. Keawakapu Beach: Soft sand way out into the water. Runs 1/2 mi between The Mauna Kai to the North and Wailea Ekahi & Malhuia to the South. Great for sand castles, jogging, walking your dog, snorkeling and sooo much more. No life guard - public shower at both north and south entrances.
  3. Ulua Beach: in Wailea between the Andaz and Elua - some great snorkeling off this small beach. There is a wreck off the coast that attracts scuba divers.
  4. Wailea Beach: White sand, turquoise water, and sunsets that make you go "wowza!"
  5. Makena Beach: Also known as "Big Beach," this stunning stretch of sand is perfect for long walks and boogie boarding. No Lifeguards - The shore break here is very dangerous - be careful
  6. Maalaea Bay Beach (Sugar Beach)- Not your typical beach day, but it's a great spot for spotting whales and sea turtles. Long, narrow, windy.

Water Sports:

South Maui is a playground for water sports enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing. Rent equipment from places like Hawaiian Paddle Sports or Maui Wave Riders and hit the waves.


The crystal-clear waters of South Maui are perfect for exploring the underwater world. Rent some snorkel gear and check out the colorful fish and coral reefs at places like Molokini Crater, Ahihi Bay, and Turtle Town.

Whale Watching:

If you're lucky enough to be here during whale season (December through April - a few arrive in Nov and some are still spotted in May), take a whale watching tour and get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Maalaea Bay is a popular spot for whale watching tours. A few smaller boats for the more adventurous also leave from Kihei Boat Ramp.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe:

Fun and relaxing ride for a small group - see ECO activities below.


If you're an experienced surfer, head to places like Cove Park and Launiupoko Beach for some challenging waves. If you're a beginner, take a lesson from one of the many surf schools in the area. Head to the north shore when the waves are in and watch the pro's ride. Wow!


Paddle through crystal clear waters and see fish, coral, and maybe even a sea turtle or two.

Stand-up paddleboarding

Get your balance and explore the shoreline on a SUP board.


South Maui is home to some of the best golf courses in the world. Spend a day on the links and enjoy the stunning ocean views (The Makena Golf Courses were purchased by a private group. Only one is now open. Private course - members only)

  1. Wailea Golf Club with 3 courses - you can book ahead and save some money by committing to a package of 3 rounds or play after 1 pm (remember in the winter months it can be dark by 5:30 PM)
    The Old Blue Course: is the least expensive but a favorite of mine as it goes thru residential Wailea and offers a long course with amazing views. II has it's own Club House in the heart of Wailea which opens into one of our favorite 19th holes - Manoli's
    The Gold Course: has the most sand of any course in Hawaii but it is consistent. Challenging but fair, the way to score here is to stay out of the sand which is something I usually manage to do. The pros love this course. It was home to the Senior Skins PGA tournament for many years.
    The Emerald Course:known as the Resort Course because of its colorful landscape & amazing views, this is a bit shorter than the other Wailea courses and very popular among travelers.
  2. Maui Nui. This Kihei course has some great rates and an amazing driving range and great views. It also has a restaurant and is just down the road from the Maui Brewing Company. A public course that sees lots of play it is not as manicured as the Wailea courses but presents a good challenge and is well worth the play. Support the Driving RANGE - best on Maui and AMAZING.
  3. The Isthumis courses (King Kamehameha Golf Club and the Dunes are described in the CENTRAL MAUI guide


Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails in South Maui. The Waihee Ridge Trail and the La Perouse Bay Trail offer stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding mountains.

Take Wailea and Makena Alanui Dr south through the most recent lava flows from Haleakala - nearly 200 years ago, Don't miss this very erie landscape. Bring plenty of water and reef safe sunscreen - remember this is the desert side of Maui. The resorts in Wailea and Makena & Kihei water extensively to get their lush tropical look.

Activities for Children and Families:


No trip to Hawaii is complete without experiencing a traditional luau. There are several to choose from in South Maui, including the Grand Wailea Luau - more below in EXPLORE


If the weather isn't cooperating, and even if it is, head to the Maui Ocean Center in Ma'alaea for a day of indoor/outdoor fun. The aquarium features a variety of marine life exhibits, including sharks, turtles, and rays.

Miniature Golf, Climbing Wall, Bumper Boats:

Maui Golf & Sports Park: Ma'alaea Harbor.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe:

Fun and relaxing ride for a small group - see ECO activities below.

Sunset Watching:

South Maui is known for its stunning sunsets, so be sure to take the time to watch the sun go down over the ocean. Some of the best spots for sunset viewing include Kihei Beach, Wailea Beach, and the Makena Beach State Park. Many vacation rental resorts and condos offer spectacular sunset views from lanais and pools and some restaurants like Gannon's at the Wailea Gold and Emerald Course has breath taking views too.

Rainy Day Activities:

  • Aquarium at Maalaea Bay
  • Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
  • Movies

ECO Tour and Activities

Check out our blog for more on this - Learn about Maui's unique culture and connection with the land via the Malama Aina program.  

Lei Making:

Deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and history, the art of Lei making is more than just stringing flowers together. Learn customs rooted deeply in Hawaiian traditions and culture as you craft a beautiful lei.
Check out the Shops at Wailea and Haku Maui in Makawao

Hula Lessons

Learn the stories of old Hawaii thru Hula. The dance movements are an expression of the Hawaiian spirit and culture and encompass all of the best elements of Hawaiian culture.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe:

This is a real must do for all ages. You help launch this traditional sailing canoe from Polo Beach (on the border of Wailea & Makena) and are treated to sail along the coast with local guides narrating stories of the gods, geology, history and more. Usually a snorkel stop at turtle town tops off the day; No large crowds - just your family and perhaps 2 or 3 more. We love this adventure - bring reef safe sunscreen and hats. It can be frustrating as if the surf is too high it gets cancelled - after all you want to be safe and llaunching through a huge shore break is not. We have had to reschedule several times. No money changes hands unless launch does take place.

Explore South Maui

Where to eat, shop & stay in South Maui

Where to find Food in South Maui

Fine Dining

  • Ko & Nicks Fish Market at the Fairmont Kea Lani
  • Ferraro's at the Four Seasons
  • Humuhumunukunukuapua'a at the Grand Wailea
  • Matteo's Oesteria at Wailea Town Center

Casual Eats

  • Kihei Caffe
  • Fish Market Maui
  • Maui Tacos
  • food trucks
  • Freds & Moose McGillicudy's across from Kamaole II Beach
  • Coconut's Fish Cafe at Kamaole Shopping Center

Happy Hours

  • Gannons at the Wailea GOLD Golf Course
  • Ko's at the Kea Lani
  • Tommy Bahama's at the Shops of Wailea
  • Monkey Pod Kitchen: Wailea Gateway Center
  • Pita Paradise: Wailea Gateway Center

    Luaus in South Maui

    • Te Au Moana Luau - A luau at sunset with fire dancers at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. Enjoy storytelling, and an epic feast.
    • Grand Wailea Luau - Enjoy the show with a classic Hawaiian buffet & an open bar, plus hula lessons & other activities.

    Maui Events Calendar

    Plan your trip during one of Maui's many special events. FOOD WEEK and MOVIES are some favorites

    Shopping in South Maui:

    Farmers Markets:

    For a taste of local flavor, check out the farmers markets in South Maui. The Kihei Farmers Market and the Wailea Village Farmers Market are popular spots for locally-grown fruits and vegetables. The Maui Swap Meet in Kahului (central Maui) is a great place to find fresh produce, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. Many craft items found at Farmers Markets

    Shopping in Kihei:

    Kihei is a shopper's paradise, with a variety of stores selling everything from souvenirs to high-end fashion. Check out the Azeka Shopping Center, Kihei Kalama Village, and the Maui Market Place for a mix of shops and restaurants.

    Shopping in Wailea:

    • The Shops at Wailea offer upscale food, art, and shopping - clothes. flip flops, Tommy Bahama and more
    • Wailea Gateway Plaza - Mostly restaurants, great chocolate, spa
    • Wailea Town Center - Maui Blooms florist, realtors, doctor's offices a great wine shop, Matteo's Osteria restaurant
    • Wailea Village - new shopping & dining mall adjacent to the Wailea Blue Golf Course pro shop. Small local shops well worth a look - same with the Tuesday Farmers Market held there.

    Shopping in Ma'alaea:

    • Maui Harbor Shops - at Ma'alaea Bay - includes Pacific Whale Watching store

    Cultural Experiences

    Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with a visit to the Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Beach Resort. Learn about traditional Hawaiian crafts like lei-making and hula dancing, and enjoy a feast of Hawaiian food and drinks.

    Check the events calendar -

    Where to Stay in South Maui

    How do I find Vacation Rentals in South Maui and Book Directly with the Host?

    You're in luck! You can find vacation rentals right here on Maui Owner Condos (MOC)! Our rental listings are 100% managed by the property owner or manager. Ditch the pesky third-party fees and interference - no middle man (Or woman) here!Look no further. Our website has some amazing vacation rental options in South Maui. CLICK HERE TO SEARCH

    Should you have a legal, permitted rental we would love to take a look and if appropriate, add it to our site. CONTACT US

    Transportation for South Maui

    Example Guide Transportation Subheading


    South Maui is served by Kahului International Airport (OGG) Lots more info here:

    On Island Transportation

    Most folks rent a car at the airport but with nearly 30% in taxes and fees added to a rental, many are opting for other options. You can find links to shuttles, cabs, rental cars and other options here:


    You don't need to rent a car to enjoy Maui. Delivery options for groceries and most anything you'll need for your time on Maui are abundant and easily arrange ahead of arrival so consider the following:

    Maui Grocery Shopping & Meal Delivery Services

    The Maui Bus:
    Routes, Schedules:

    Operated by Roberts Hawaii under a public-private partnership with Maui County government, the Maui Bus operates 14 bus routes and provide service in and between various Central, South, West, Haiku, Kula and Upcountry Maui communities. Click for live route maps & real time arrival times

    Statistics about South Maui

    Stats and Facts for South Maui Zip 96753

    129+ Properties for rent

    Prices range from $135/night

    POPULATION: (excluding Ma'alaea)

    South Maui has an approximate population of around 31,423 (about 1% of the total population of the island).

    South Maui:: 31,423.  (2,288/ sq mi)
    42% white, 24% Asian, 13.4% Hispanic, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 4.2%, 16% mixed 

    SIZE: (excluding Ma'alaea)

    South Maui  is about  9.3  square miles which is roughly 29% of the total size of Maui

    Driving Times from Kahului Airport (OGG)

    Haleakala: 2 hours

    Hana: 2 hours, 45 minutes (but expect longer with scenic stops along the way)

    Iao Valley: 30 minutes

    Ka'anapali: 50 minutes

    Kapalua: 1 hour

    Kihei: 30 minutes

    Lahaina: 50 minutes

    Wailea: 40 minutes

    Wailuku: 15 minutes

    Weather for South Maui

    Example Guide Weather Subheading

    As the saying goes, if it’s raining where you are, go a few miles south. Maui has many micro climates and most rentals can be found leeward Haleakala where it is the driest or the West side where Molokai and the West Maui Mountains offer similar protection.

    Most weather apps use a location in Kahului to get their weather info - it rains in Kahului a lot more than in Kihei -Maalaea and Wailea-Makena.  Sure it may rain upcountry or on the north or east side of Maui but South Maui and parts of West Maui are really desert climate.  At times in December-March you might actually get 5 days of rain but it doesn't last all day - amazing how many great sunsets appear after a day of rain.

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