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Introducing Wailea

With its tidy golf courses, protective privacy walls and discreet signage, Wailea looks like a members-only country club. And that’s without mentioning the ubiquitous valets. Wailea is South Maui’s most elite haunt, and it stands in sharp contrast to Kihei. Don’t bother looking for a gas station or fast-food joint; this exclusive community is all about swank beachfront resorts and low-rise condo villas, with all the glitzy accessories.

One look at the beaches and it’s easy to see why it’s become such hot real estate. The golden-sand jewels sparkling along the Wailea coast are postcard material, offering phenomenal swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. If you’re not staying here, say a loud mahalo (thank you) for Hawaii’s beach-access laws that allow you to visit anyway.

From Lahaina or Kahului, take the Piʻilani Hwy (Hwy 31) to Wailea instead of S Kihei Rd, which is Kihei’s stop-and-go main road. Once in Wailea, Wailea Ala-nui Dr turns into Makena Alanui Dr after Polo Beach and continues into Makena.