Monday, March 3, 2014

Luxury Sniking on Maui's Gold Coast

With nearly five miles of beach park gardens, open sands, and a resort path, Kihei-Wailea is a sniker's dream. Prepare for the snike (snorkel-hike) by putting on a swimsuit, stepping into flip-flops, and putting a mask and snorkel into an equipped day pack (you can also lug the swim fins for safer snorkeling).

Start at a frock of coco palms at little Charley Young Beach Park at the north end of Kihei and drop down to the the yellow sand of Kamaole I Beach Park, where you can clip the flops to the pack and barefoot it. Three Kamaole Parks lie side by side, separated by small peninsulas and each backed by a large greenscape. You might want to take your first dip at Kamaole III Beach Park, where fish swarm a black-rock reef.

From there, climb the grassy bluff to pick up the Eddie Pu Trail, which skirts the Kihei Boat Ramp (where snorkel tours depart) and drops to Keawakapu Beach, the longest run of sand on the snike. Locals love it. At the far end of the beach begins the Wailea Resorts path, which swerves for more that a mile past several destination resorts and five coves with sandy beaches. The best place for a dip is midway at Ulua or Mokapu beach, each with a short path down.

You might want to detour inland to check out the Grand Wailea Resort, with its huge atrium with statues, flowing gardens, and fantasy-land swimming pool. The path ends at Polo Beach Park below the Fairmont Kea Lani. Along this stretch of coast (dubbed the Gold Coast in the sixties) are a dozen or more access parking lots, so options abound. For more details, see Maui Trailblazer pages 38 to 45.