Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The southwest coast of Maui, called the Gold Coast in the old days, truly is a treasure trove of safe-and-scenic beaches. In the north end are the darling triplets of family beach parks, Kamaoles I, II, and III. These beaches connect via a shoreline trail that continues to the glamorous array of beaches along the Wailea Resorts, five or six sandy nooks with good snorkeling and backed by swanky resorts. A paved path connects them all, with a half-dozen or so public parking lots along the way.
On the south end of Wailea, the path ends at Polo Beach and the Fairmont Kea Lani. From there, most visitors go south on the main road, making a beeline for Makena State Beach, better known as Big Beach. Don't do that. Stay on the coastal road and make your way to Po'olenalena (poo-ooh-leena-leena). New, modern beach homes have detracted from the country vibe, and even a sign has been erected. But still, this sweet beach sizzles with a local scene. If you walk to the right at the beach via a trail, you'll find Little Po'oleena Beach (pictured above), just over a low lava reef and not visible from the larger beach.
Po'olenalena has room to roam and shade along the backshore courtesy of stickery kiawe trees. You can beachcomb south and pick up routes that go all the way to Pu'u Olai which are the cinder cones at the north end of Makena. Maui Trailblazer has more details on how to find a spot to call your own on south Maui, even on busy weekends.