Maui and Wailea Activities
One of the most popular regions of Maui, Hawaii, the south Maui towns of Kihei, Wailea and Makena remain a top local destination on The Valley Isle thanks to their predictably dry, sunny conditions, vast array of boutique shops, worldly restaurant offerings and string of impeccably gorgeous beaches. In addition to the obvious, however, visitors and locals alike are drawn to south Maui for its variety of activities, from water sports like snorkeling and surfing to exciting events like starlit luaus and seasonal whale watching.
Top South Maui Activities
Grand Wailea Luau - Honua’ula
Located at one of Maui’s most luxurious beachfront resorts, the Grand Wailea’s Honuaula Luau is a memorable evening activity for the whole family. With pre-show activities like Hawaiian lawn games, temporary tattoos, hula lessons, a lei greeting and photos with the cast members, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about the voyages of La’amaikahiki and Mo’ikeha, who traveled from Polynesia to the sacred island of Maui. Events like the torch lighting, imu ceremony and a fresh, island-inspired feast and open bar help set the mood, and dancers and fire performances will keep you intrigued throughout the show.
Wailea Marriott Luau - Te Au Moana
Translating to ‘the ocean tide,’ guests who opt for the Marriott’s Te Au Moana Luau will be treated to a fresh flower lei or fish hook necklace greeting, traditional Hawaiian underground oven cooking, and several pre-show activities designed to keep every member of your group entertained. Sit back and enjoy cultural highlights like dancing and musical performances, as well as ancestral storytelling, skill demonstrations and direct sunset views over the Pacific from a scenic beachfront location. Buffet menu items like lomi lomi salad, kalua pig and shoyu chicken are served, and thrilling fire performances can be expected.
Andaz Maui Luau - Feast at Mokapu
With classic and premium seating options, the relatively new Feast at Mokapu Luau is also one of the most elegant. Featuring food and beverage table service, a direct view of Mokapu Beach and a family-style, 3 course meal thoughtfully prepared by recognized Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco, this twice-weekly luau experience is both romantic and intimate, a perfect choice for those traveling to Maui on their honeymoon or for a relaxing getaway. Quality cocktails, wines and local beers from Maui Brewing Co. are on offer, and the fire-knife dancing finale is sure to wow even the most harsh luau skeptic.
For travelers looking to experience the beauty of the Pacific, local tour operator Pacific Whale Foundation offers an intriguing family-friendly Molokini Snorkel Tour to the world class snorkeling destination of Molokini Crater. Climb aboard the double-decker catamaran, departing from Ma’alaea Harbor, and enjoy a deluxe snorkeling tour at some of Hawaii’s top snorkeling areas, well known for their abundant marine life and high visibility. Tours include a BBQ lunch, non-alcoholic drinks and post-snorkel cocktails, as well as a waterslide, glass-bottom viewing windows and plenty of breathtaking photo opportunities along the south Maui shore.
Looking for something a little more on the thrilling side? Redline Rafting offers small group Maui rafting tours aboard their high speed custom raft, designed to host a maximum of 24 guests. Departing conveniently from South Kihei Boat Ramp, this tour includes coffee, morning snacks, snorkeling at approximately three of the island’s most highly recommended spots, and a full lunch. Guides are all very welcoming and helpful, and because the raft travels at high speeds, this tour is not recommended for those who are pregnant, or those with back and neck injuries. Snorkeling spots include Molokini Crater - including its lesser-visited back side - as well as the Forbidden Coast and Turtle Town, depending on conditions.
Departing daily from the south Maui town of Makena, an area known for its rich marine life, underwater formations, vibrant reefs and abundant beauty, a Maui kayaking tour is a fascinating and rewarding way to spend a morning on Maui. During your three hour tour, you will learn more about not only the proper techniques of kayaking and snorkeling, but about the local marine life, including the easy-to-love Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, as well as smaller endemic species like the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, bandit angelfish and plenty more.
Maui Ocean Center
Recognized as one of the ‘Top 25 Aquariums in the U.S.,’ the Maui Ocean Center is a great daytime activity for all ages (and all weather conditions). Whether you want to experience what it’s like to scuba dive in a 750,000 gallon tank alongside local reef and tiger sharks, or simply want to enjoy fascinating exhibits featuring jellyfish, rays, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles or coral reef systems, you’re sure to learn plenty of interesting information about life under the surface in and around the Hawaiian Islands. Located conveniently in Ma’alaea, keep an eye on their online event schedule to catch guest speakers, new exhibit announcements and other local happenings.
While you can watch locals tackle the waves on just about every shoreline around Maui, those looking to giving surfing a try - or perfect their existing skills - should opt for a surf lesson in Kihei, our laid-back south maui beach town neighbor. Choose from a private or group lesson, with multiple time slots throughout the day, and get ready to feel the rush of riding waves in the place where surfing was invented and continues to be an integral part of the culture. Led by experienced local surfers who can offer personalized tips for success, as well as a vast knowledge of the local conditions, you’re sure to have a fun-filled day in the ocean.
Maalaea Harbor Whale Watch
Available annually from December to mid April, a Maalaea Harbor Whale Watching Tour offers visitors and locals alike the chance to witness some of Hawaii’s most impressive part-time residents up close and personal. A budget-friendly tour option aboard a double-decker catamaran, Maui’s annual whale watching tours by boat offer visitors the opportunity to hear and see humpback whales as they frolic, swim and play in the surrounding waters. Certified guides are there to offer insight into their various surface behaviors, and guests are guaranteed to see whales on every tour (or the next tour is free).
Kihei Whale Watch
Departing directly from South Kihei Boat Ramp, Redline Rafting also offers a seasonal Kihei Whale Watching Tour aboard their high speed raft, available annually from January 15th to April 1st. Sitting almost at sea level, the raft gives you prime viewing to see these magical animals up close, while an onboard marine naturalist provides information about their annual migration, behaviors, mating rituals and more. With small group sizes not to exceed 24, this is a much more intimate option than the majority of larger boat tours, and whale sightings are guaranteed.
Kayaking Whale Watch
Available from December 15th to April 15th, a 4-hour Maui Kayak & Snorkel Whale Watch Tour is one of the most memorable winter activities on Maui, and a memory you’ll cherish for a lifetime. While boat tours offer easy transportation from one spot to the next, a kayak offers lucky visitors the chance to see nearly eye-to-eye with passing humpback whales. A combo tour that also includes plenty of opportunity to see other marine life at some of Makena’s top snorkeling spots, hearing and seeing the whales play from inside - or outside - your kayak is a thrill unlike any other.
Beyond the South Side…
Road to Hana Tours
Touted as one of the world’s best road trips, the perk of a Road to Hana experience on Maui is that it can - and often is - experienced in a single day. With more than 600 curves and 59 single-lane bridges, the appeal of this drive includes an abundance of tropical gardens, panoramic ocean views, jungle hikes, waterfalls, lava tubes, ancient sites, remote beaches and bays, and tons more. Those seeking the true natural beauty of Maui’s rainforest will find it on the way to Hana, and can partake in exciting activities like hiking trails through bamboo forests, waterfall rappelling, guided van tours and other opportunities.
Haleakala Bike Tours
Seemingly worlds away from the hot and humid shores of Kihei and Wailea, a trip to the slopes of Haleakala Volcano is well worth the little effort it takes to get there. Visitors seeking a way to up their vacation activity level will be delighted to discover a Haleakala Bike Tour, which includes a 26-mile downhill bike ride along the slopes of Haleakala, soaring past jaw-dropping beauty at every turn. Tours include a guided, narrated van ride up to 6,500 feet, where the self-guided bike ride begins, as well as the opportunity to stop at your leisure to experience the beauty - not to mention coffee and breakfast options - of Upcountry Maui.
Sheraton Maui Luau - Maui Nui
Located in west Maui on one of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the Sheraton’s Maui Nui Luau sits directly off the sand at Ka’anapali Beach, backing the stunning Black Rock cliff diving spot just offshore. This family-friendly luau focuses on the story of Maui, the legendary Hawaiian demigod, and includes a special torch lighting and cliff diving ceremony in celebration of Maui Nui. Polynesian crafts, a Pareo fashion show, traditional Hawaiian cooking methods and fresh flower leis are included, and the music and dances of New Zealand, Rarotonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and of course, Hawaii, are celebrated throughout the evening.