What’s your idea of a dream Hawaiian vacation? Kicking back at one of Hawaii’s best luxury hotels or condos while soaking up beautiful beach scenes?
There’s nowhere better than sun-kissed Wailea in South Maui to do just this!
Wailea is one of our favorite areas to stay on Maui.
It’s the perfect place to stay for honeymoons or romantic trips. (Check out all the fun Maui activities for couples!)
It’s also a favorite vacation destination for celebrities. Clint Eastwood and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler have homes in the area. Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton and Jennifer Aniston are some of the other celebs and A-listers who vacay here too.
But this upscale area calls out to anyone who wants a chilled-out holiday in an exclusive resort community – with beach walks, tennis courts, golf, spas and high-end shopping and dining at your fingertips.
Why you’ll love staying in Wailea, Maui
If this is your first trip to Hawaii, you’ll probably want to know a little more about Wailea before diving into the specific resorts.
Even if you’ve been to Maui before, you might still want to brush up on what Wailea is like today!
Let’s start with the golden sand beaches in Wailea.
There are five picture-perfect beach coves – and they’re some of the best beaches in Maui. One of them, Wailea Beach, was even named “America’s Best Beach” back in 1999.
Meandering along the Wailea coastline is the roughly two-mile-long Wailea Beach Path.
One of our favorite things to do in Wailea is to walk along this path in the morning before the sun gets too strong. We’ve seen turtles, stand-up paddleboarders and outrigger canoes – and the Pacific Ocean views are nothing short of stunning.
In the winter months, you’re likely to spot whales too.
Golfers like teeing off at the Wailea Golf Club. It’s home to three championship golf courses – the Gold, Emerald and Blue courses.
Tennis players can hit balls at the award-winning Wailea Tennis Club. In January, 2022, two new pickleball courts were also added here.
You’ll find some great restaurants at this indoor/outdoor shopping and dining complex too.
Lineage teases the tastebuds with their Asian-American themed dishes. (We love their sake selection and “Buddha Belly” rum-and-sour-pineapple cocktails.) The always-popular Monkeypod Kitchen is the go-to place for craft beers, organic salads, hand-tossed pizzas and fish tacos.
If you drive about three miles south of Wailea to Maluaka Beach, you can snorkel with sea turtles in the area known as “Turtle Town.”
(Some of these turtle spots are more easily reached by boat. We suggest combining snorkeling at Turtle Town with Molokini, a teeny volcanic islet off Maui’s south coast.)
Continue driving a further three miles south down the coast to the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve for more of some of the best snorkeling in Maui.
Lastly, Wailea is just a short drive from the Kahului Airport (only 25 minutes away).
Best places to stay in Wailea, Maui
Read on for the best places to stay in Wailea!
1) Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
A Waldorf Astoria property, the Grand Wailea is ginormous, with 780 generously-sized hotel rooms.
It also chalks up a mega list of impressive activities for both couples and families.
For one, the 9-pool complex, connected by a lazy river (2,000 feet long), is a wonderland for water babes of all ages. It includes waterfalls, a rope swing, white water rapids, water slides, a sandy bottom lagoon and even a water elevator.
Then there’s the 20,000 sq. ft. Camp Grande kids’ club, complete with a small movie theater and video game arcade. From scavenger hunts and ukulele lessons to lei making, the younger set are entertained so mom and dad can happily sip Mai Tais undisturbed as they lounge around the adults pool.
Free scuba introductory classes in the pool? Check. Complimentary yoga? Another check.
Art tours to gape at mermaid sculptures, Marc Chagall lithographs, Dale Chihuly glass pieces and paintings in the resort’s private $35 million art collection? Of course!
Oh, and what about the largest spa in Hawaii? With a hydrotherapy circuit and aromatherapy baths that precede your massage, it’s pure heaven.
The spa is being totally revitalized and won’t re-open until later in 2023. But you can still get Lomi Lomi and hot stone massages in a wing of the resort that’s been turned into a temporary spa.
(Earn your spa treatment by working out beforehand in the resort’s state-of-the-art fitness center.)
The Grand Wailea features its own luau too. Here’s your chance to try poke and poi, while being entertained by traditional Hawaiian dancing and music.
(We haven’t tried this luau, though, so check reviews when deciding if this luau is right for you.)
To amp up the luxury, book one of the resort’s recently renovated Napua rooms and suites.
These exclusive new club accommodations are part of a resort-wide “refresh” taking place in 2022 and 2023. They give you complimentary access to the Napua Lounge for food and drinks three times daily.
Yes, it’s no contest.
The Grand Wailea is hands down one of the best places to stay in Wailea for deluxe accommodations – with something for everyone in the whole family.
Just be aware that its size and energy may feel overwhelming for some. (We weren’t fazed during our stay though and could always find quiet spots to read and relax.)
Grand Wailea: Check rates and availability
2) Wailea Ekahi Village
Sprawling across 34 acres of colorful gardens, the Wailea Ekahi Village is a well-kept, low-rise condominium community.
It houses individually owned studios and one- and two-bedroom vacation residences in 50 or so two-story buildings. All have full kitchens.
Units on the ground floor have spacious walk-out lanais that open onto the manicured lawns and gardens blooming with bougainvillea and papaya, lime and banana trees.
Through Vrbo, we rented a 970 sq. ft. one-bedroom/two-bath unit on the second (top) floor – all second floor units have soaring vaulted ceilings in the living room.
Several quiet pools are scattered about the property.
There’s also a large main outdoor pool, surrounded by loungers on the grass. The grounds of Ekahi wind down to this pool area.
Beside the pool, a luxurious new pavilion with a gourmet kitchen is available for guests to barbecue and eat.
Each afternoon just before sunset, Ekahi residents and guests gather informally by the main pool – bring your own beverages and snacks if you’d like to meet and mingle outside!
Best of all, the pool area has its own private beach entrance opening directly onto lovely Keawakapu Beach.
Quieter than some other Wailea beaches, this beach cove has ankle-deep golden sand.
The swimming is safe and calm too (at least it was for us in November).
Sea turtles also came face-to-face with us when we snorkeled by the rocks at the left side of the beach (as you’re facing the water).
As for the individual units, we were careful to choose a condo close to the beach (in Building 27).
Even then, it was still a bit of an effort (and a 5-minute walk) to reach the beach – carrying our Tommy Bahama backpack beach chairs on our backs and lugging an umbrella, towels and other beach stuff.
Units further back (e.g., in Building 42, 43, 44 and 46) have a 10- to 15-minute walk to the beach.
Mind you, once you’re set up on the beach, it’s a sand-and-sea Shangri-La!
In short, the Wailea Ekahi Village has some of the best Wailea vacation condos for an upscale and restful holiday.
It’s good value, and we loved our stay! (It’s less pricey than neighboring Wailea Elua Village, also top-rated.)
You can book a condo at Wailea Ekahi Village various ways.
We used Vacation Rentals by Owner (Vrbo), which is like Airbnb. And we booked with a “premier host” who lives on the island of Maui.
You can also book through the Pauli family. They live at Ekahi several months of the year and manage various units.
Wailea Ekahi Village (on Vrbo): Find specific condo units here
Pauli Family Properties: See available units
3) Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
Where to stay in Wailea that’s modern, trendy, deluxe – and on a spectacular beach? Meet the 5-star Andaz Maui!
Though kids are welcome, this resort caters more to adult tastes and romance, making it one of the best hotels in Wailea for couples.
It has direct access to Mokapu Beach (with great reef snorkeling) plus multi-tiered infinity pools with views of the ocean.
Dining options include delicious Japanese food at the Morimoto restaurant plus cocktail service at the poolside Bumbye Beach Bar and posh Lehua Lounge.
You can also get luxury treatments at the ‘Awili Spa and Salon.
All of this draws couples and honeymooners from far and wide.
As for the rooms and suites, they’re minimalist in décor with private balconies and minibars. Villas offer a kitchen and option for a private plunge pool or hot tub.
No question. The Andaz is easily one of the best Wailea beach hotels.
Andaz Maui: Check rates and availability
4) Hotel Wailea
Hotel Wailea was recently named the best resort in Hawaii (2022) by Travel + Leisure readers.
This – and the fact that Conde Nast Traveler rated it among the “top 24 most romantic hotels in the world” (2021) – probably says it all.
Set among lush tropical gardens and ponds with water lilies and koi, this adults-only resort is a tranquil retreat. It’s the best place to stay in Wailea for couples seeking sophisticated kid-free accommodations.
All of Hotel Wailea’s 72 rooms are one-bedroom suites with ocean views, offering the ultimate in good taste.
They feature white oak floors, Hawaiian Ohia wood furniture, kitchenettes with Sub-Zero appliances and their own private outdoor spaces. A deep soaking tub, Nespresso machine and Molton Brown bath products make every room a personal paradise.
For unmatched romantic dining, enjoy a private chef’s dinner in the Treehouse. Another attraction is the hotel’s poolside bar, The Cabanas, revered for its artisan tropical cocktails.
The difficulty is deciding whether to hang by the swimming pool or go to the beach.
Nestled up on a hill, Hotel Wailea isn’t located right on the beach.
But a Mercedes-Benz limo can promptly shuttle you to Wailea Beach (the same beach nuzzling the Four Seasons), where you’ll find free beach chairs, towels and bottled water.
When you feel like exploring the island, do it in style in a sporty 1957 Porsche convertible. The hotel can arrange delivery of a vintage Porsche Roadster for you to use for the day.
Oh, we also hear that rates at the Hotel Wailea are less than at the Four Seasons (covered below in #5).
5) Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
If you’re wondering where to stay in South Maui that nails it for both well-heeled couples and families, the Four Seasons Wailea is a top contender.
This 383-room resort has a prime location fronting beautiful Wailea Beach.
It features all the luxurious comforts that every type of traveler will appreciate. (Celebrities like the hotel too. We once saw Arnold Schwarzenegger on the beach here.)
Modern rooms sport marble bathrooms, Nespresso machines and spacious private balconies.
More than 2,000 original artworks by Hawaii-influenced artists grace the property, which even has an art director on staff.
There are also two kid-friendly pools, a secluded adults-only pool for couples looking for quiet time, a kids’ club, game room and a full-service spa.
As is to be expected at a Four Seasons, the hotel is staffed to the gills.
Pool butlers bring you Evian spritzers, sunglass cleaner and chilled towels. They serve iced fruit popsicles and other chilled treats every hour too. (Note that some guests report that the service, which is typically super attentive, isn’t yet at pre-pandemic levels though.)
We especially like that the white-curtain poolside cabanas are free (unlike the $500+ charge at nearby properties). And there are no resort fees.
Not in the mood to wander off the enchanting grounds for a meal? You have plenty of choices among three onsite restaurants, including one of Maui’s most-acclaimed restaurants, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago.
Simply put, the Four Seasons is the best luxury Wailea hotel with direct beach access.
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea: Check rates and availability
6) Fairmont Kea Lani
Its white turrets and arched breezeways might make you think you’ve arrived at a Moorish palace.
But the local Hawaiian artwork, “Alohas” from the staff, lush tropical landscaping and outrigger canoe experiences definitely remind you that you’re firmly on Maui.
The name Kea Lani means “white heaven” – and the Fairmont Kea Lani is heavenly indeed! It’s another one of the top Wailea luxury hotels.
Hugging 22 acres of beachfront property, the Kea Lani prides itself on being Maui’s only all-suite and villa luxury resort, with 450 units overall.
It features three outdoor pools, including one with a water slide for the kiddos and an adults-only pool.
Spa-goers rave about its award-winning Willow Stream Spa. It soothes the body and soul with locally inspired treatments that use Maui-sourced product, oils and herbs.
There are 413 spacious suites. These one-bedroom suites start at 860 sq. ft. and come with marble bathrooms, private balconies and kitchenettes with microwaves and fridges.
(The microwave allowed us to heat up deli items from the hotel’s market, so we could have a simple meal when we didn’t want to venture out.)
To go all the way, book one of the beach-facing villas. They have private plunge pools, as well as kitchens and dining rooms.
This 5-star Maui resort has a somewhat secluded feel, being the only hotel on Wailea’s Polo Beach, which is flanked by lava rock walls on both sides.
If comparing it to the Four Seasons, most agree that the Four Seasons is a touch more deluxe.
However, the Kea Lani started a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2022 (that will continue through 2023).
All suites and villas are being completely “reimagined” from top to bottom, with a water-inspired décor. And the grand lobby will be redone too.
So the Kea Lani could ultimately end up giving the Four Seasons a good run for its money.
Fairmont Kea Lani: Check rates and availability
7) Polo Beach Club
Tucked away at the far south end of the coastal Wailea Beach Path, the 8-story Polo Beach Club boasts a fantastic beachfront location right on Polo Beach.
Each vacation condo has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full kitchen. All are ocean-facing, with marble floors and glorious beach vistas from the private lanais.
They’re quite high-end, and many have been remodeled.
Depending on the unit you book, you can expect granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, along with tasteful furnishings and artwork.
The swimming pool at the resort is framed by tropical plants and tall palm trees, and there’s free underground parking.
These are privately-owned Wailea vacation rentals.
Some are managed by Hyatt as a “Destination by Hyatt Residence.”
Others can be booked through Vrbo. We’ve found that many property rentals available through Vrbo are also managed by vacation management companies, with professional cleaning and other services.
With Vrbo, you’re also likely to find beach umbrellas, chairs and an ice cooler in a closet to use at the beach.
Polo Beach Club, a Destination by Hyatt Residence (on Booking.com): Check rates and availability
Polo Beach Club (on Vrbo): Find specific condo units here
8) Wailea Beach Resort, Marriott Maui
The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort offers 547 upgraded guest rooms, stocked with flat-screen TVs and Nespresso machines.
Four outdoor pools and a water park attract couples, families and friends vacationing together.
Other amenities include a small movie theater, a family game room, spa and gym.
Note that while the Wailea Beach Resort is an oceanfront property, it doesn’t have a beach. To get your toes in the sand, you have to walk five minutes to Wailea Beach in front of the neighboring Grand Wailea.
On the plus side, this 4-star Maui hotel is just a short walk (five minutes at most) to the Shops at Wailea and their restaurants.
It’s one of the best Wailea resorts if you want to stay in a brand-name hotel – but you don’t want to drop huge wads of dough on your accommodations.
Wailea Beach Resort: Check rates and availability
9) Wailea Beach Villas
The Wailea Beach Villas Resort was named the #3 resort in the whole of the Hawaiian islands by Conde Nast Traveler (in 2019) – and there are many great Hawaii resorts to choose from!
Nestled on 12 acres of lushly landscaped property on the beach, this property offers two-, three- and four-bedroom villas.
With self-catering facilities like impressive kitchens and living areas, you can go about your day on a schedule that suits you. But thanks to their panoramic ocean views, luxury bed linens and high-tech sound systems, you’ll certainly turn on vacation mode the second you step into your villa!
Some villas even have private plunge pools.
The amenities match the luxury of the villas.
Traveling with kids? There’s a designated children’s area with a waterfall.
Adults can enjoy an infinity pool with views overlooking the beach and sea (cabanas are free), a high-quality fitness center and concierge service, where you can arrange all you want for the ultimate Hawaiian beach vacation.
The location is perfect. You have direct access to Wailea Beach out front, while the Shops at Wailea are right at your back door.
Like the Polo Beach Club (#7 above), some units are managed by Hyatt. Special services (available at an extra cost) include private chefs to come in and cook, plus grocery shopping and tour assistance.
You can also find villas through Vrbo. Some Vrbo-managed villas can often be rented for less than Hyatt-managed villas.
Wailea Beach Villas, a Destination by Hyatt Residence (on Booking.com): Check rates and availability
Wailea Beach Villas (on Vrbo): Find specific villas here
10) Ho’olei at the Grand Wailea
So you already know that the Grand Wailea (#1 above) is one of the best Wailea hotels.
The Ho’olei Villas are situated in an exclusive resort community attached to the Grand Wailea.
If you have the budget and you’re looking for primo Wailea accommodations, they could be the perfect place for your Hawaiian vacation. You get access to all the hotel services and features of the Grand Wailea – but in a more peaceful setting and with more space to splash out in.
No stone has been left unturned in these gorgeous villas. Some have ocean views; others have a garden view.
Ranging in size from 3,400 to 4,000 sq. ft., they feature 3½ bathrooms and can sleep six to eight people.
Fresh contemporary artwork decorates the walls and French doors lead out onto private terraces. Gourmet kitchens are kitted out with everything you need to cook for the family.
Wailea Beach is about a 10-minute walk away. Or text, and a free shuttle will pick you up and take you to the Grand Wailea.
If you want to stay closer to your villa, the property has its own tropical pool area with waterfalls and swim-in grotto.
When evening comes, take in the technicolor sunsets from your lanai – they’re particularly phenomenal this side of the island.
Ho’olei at the Grand Wailea: Check rates and availability
Wailea vs. Ka’anapali
Kaanapali (spelled as Ka’anapali in Hawaiian) is another top resort area in Maui, located in West Maui.
We’ve already written about the best resorts in Ka’anapali.
So, is it better to stay in Kaanapali or Wailea?
When asking the question “What’s the best part of Maui to stay?” the Kaanapali vs Wailea debate pops up frequently.
You should know both are great areas. We love both, each for different reasons.
Here’s our take, and then you can decide for yourself.
First, Wailea in South Maui.
Wailea is chic and deluxe. In the winter months, Wailea has calmer water compared to Ka’anapali, making it a better choice for water sports and ocean activities.
There’s less nightlife in Wailea than Ka’anapali, which can either be a pro or con, depending on the type of vacation you’re looking for.
Wailea is also more spread out than Ka’anapali, so it feels less crowded. While you could get by without a car, you’d really want one in Wailea (whereas you don’t need one in Ka’anapali, except for day trips).
Next, Ka’anapali in West Maui.
A pro is its proximity to Lahaina for shopping and restaurants.
As for the weather, Ka’anapali is better in the summer months.
But you can still expect lots of sunshine in winter. On our last trip to Maui in late November, we only experienced one day of clouds and another day of rain during an 11-day spell in Ka’anapali.
One more point: Ka’anapali is less of a splurge than uber-luxe Wailea. (Kapalua, however, another area in West Maui, competes neck-to-neck with Wailea in the luxury department.)
That wraps up our collection of the best resorts in Wailea, Maui!
Hopefully you now know why the 1,500-acre resort area of Wailea is one of our favorite areas in Maui.
Stay at one of the beachfront hotels or vacation condos covered here – and Wailea will likely become one of your favorite Hawaiian vacation destinations too!
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Photo credits: 2, 8, 9 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase