South Maui, which faces West and enjoys the same world-class sunsets as West Maui, stretches from Ma‘alaea Baysouth to Makena. The long thin town of Kihei and manicured Wailea are in between. The area sits in the rain shadow of Haleakala so think warm and dry.
It also holds Maui’s greatest contrasts. Ma‘alaea Bay and Kihei have some of the island’s most affordable condos. It’s possible to find digs for around $100 a night, a rarity on Maui. (Maui has Hawaii’s highest average room rate at more than $350 per night). South Maui also offers five star resort-hotels at Wailea, where you can loll the day away in a spectacular spa. Kihei has Kalama Village for kikui leis; hop south and it’s the Shops at Waileafor black pearls and designer duds.
Ma‘alaea condos sit right at the edge of its deep curving bay, which shelters scores of boats at its marina. Most Kihei condos are across the road from the beaches, which include grassy parks with restrooms, showers and sometimes lifeguards. Small strip malls line South Kihei Road so you’re never very far from grocery stores or restaurants, a boon to the condo dweller.
Moving south, the Grand Wailea Resort anchors the center of this manicured stretch like some vast ship. It’s flanked by the Four Seasons Maui and the Marriott Beach Resort, not quite as flashy bit to farther south is Makena Beach and Golf Resort though its being converted to a private development in coming months.
If you go beyond Makena, you’re on the rough lava fields from Haleakaka’s last eruption, a black lava desert that stands in stark contrast to the lushness around it.