Magazine article Sunset

Maui's Southwest Coast: 10 Miles of Mostly Hidden Beaches

Magazine article Sunset

Maui's Southwest Coast: 10 Miles of Mostly Hidden Beaches

Article excerpt

Maui's southwest coast: 10 miles of mostly hidden beaches

Sandy beaches and sun-drenched days arethe primary elements of Hawaii's appeal. One of the best places to enjoy both is along Maui's fast-growing southwest coast, where accommodations range from luxurious resorts to less expensive rentals. There's little trace of the sun-worshipping mobs that crowd the island's northwestern resort areas--though here, as on much of the island, increasing tourism tests the narrow roads, and you may find traffic jams even in Kihei.

Maui's coastline from Kihei south to Makenais not only exceptionally sunny and dry (getting less than 10 inches of rainfall most years); it is also strung with a series of accessible, crescent-shaped beaches with clear water and gentle surf.

Fifteen years ago, a sleepy Kihei offeredlittle in the way of tourist facilities, and development at Wailea and Makena was virtually nonexistent. Today, Kihei bustles with tourists, and dozens of mostly low-rise condominiums line its main road. New sidewalks and improved streets make it easy to get to the beaches.

Even more growth is occurring farthersouth, though a quieter resort atmosphere still reigns. Wailea currently has two golf courses, two major hotels, and several condominium complexes. The Maui Prince, arguably the island's most luxurious hotel, opened last year at Makena.

Ten beaches in 10 miles, from lifeguarded parks to hidden coves

But this coastline's real cachet is itsbeaches, beginning with wide Maalaea Beach north of Kihei. With no facilities and only roadside parking, it attracts few visitors--making it ideal for a quiet walk.

More popular are Kihei's three lifeguardedKamaole Beach Parks. Proximity to rental units and to the main road makes them popular with visitors, but locals come, too. Park along the street or in the park's own lot; use the showers outside the rest rooms to rinse off after a dip. The gentle surf gives bodysurfers an occasional ride but is kind to swimmers and leisurely snorkelers as well.

More intriguing are the five beaches edgingWailea's hotels and condominiums. Though resort buildings dominate the shoreline, developers were required to maintain public access easements to the beaches themselves. …

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