Wailea is a luxurious resort community in south Maui known for its five beautiful, crescent shaped beaches. Polo Beach is one of these pristine stretches of sand, forming a double crested beach. It is conveniently located directly behind the Fairmont Resort with ample beach parking and full facilities. Tourists and locals alike frequent this area to enjoy snorkeling at Polo Beach.
Sandy Polo Beach is big enough to enjoy the warm Maui sun. South swells provide waves for boogie boarding and body surfing. The best feature of this gorgeous beach? The underwater coral formations. They are covered with sponge coral and teeming with marine life! Polo Beach is a mecca for snorkelers and scuba divers, making it known as one of the best places to snorkel on Maui. Recent snorkeling conditions have been excellent throughout south Maui, so I decided now would be the ideal time to check out snorkeling at Polo Beach!
Snorkeling South Maui
Visiting south Maui is an absolute must for snorkeling enthusiasts and nature lovers. The south side of the island spans from north Kihei to Makena and has many snorkeling spots for all experience levels. Here snorkelers enjoy vibrant coral reefs and more consistent sunny weather! With an average of 280 days of sunshine per year, south Maui offers idilic vacation weather. Fantastic snorkeling opportunities while visiting the island are ensured by the continual sunshine and light morning winds. Give south Maui a visit if you're planning a trip to the island soon!
Directions to Polo Beach
To get to Polo Beach from the Shops of Wailea, drive south for 1 mile on Wailea Alanui Drive. The Grand Wailea, Four Seasons, and The Fairmont are a few beautiful hotels you'll pass along the way. Take a right on Kaukahi Street towards the ocean just after passing The Fairmont. Soon after this right turn you will reach the public beach access parking lot on your right hand side. There are plenty of parking spots here and this lot is rarely full. Find your parking spot and follow the sidewalk that takes you straight to the beach! Alongside this walkway, you will find grassy areas for picnicking and barbecuing, along with restrooms and a public shower.
Polo Beach History
Polo Beach is a destination steeped in history, even boasting ties to the island’s ranching heritage. ‘Ulupalakua Ranch once extended along the shores of Polo Beach, at which time it was known as 'Dead Horse Beach'. Over time, the name of this beach has transitioned into Ke One O Polo (the sands of Polo), known by locals as Polo Beach. While the cattle have moved on, visitors come here to enjoy the sun, waves and incredible snorkeling opportunities that make Polo Beach a cherished part of Maui’s history and a present-day paradise.
Accessing Polo Beach
There weren't many other beach-goers at Polo Beach when I arrived at 8:00 am. Snorkeling on Maui is always best in the morning hours before the trade winds pick up and cool the land. Today the ocean appeared to be all mine! With the gorgeous ocean in front of me and the tall white oceanfront villas of the Fairmont Hotel just behind, I had jaw-dropping 360 degree views all around. I had heard that between the north end of Polo Beach and Wailea Beach, a place called 'Wailea Point' reportedly offered some of the best snorkeling in south Maui. Of course I had to find out for myself if the rumors were true!
The water entry at Polo Beach was very easy thanks to the long stretch of sand that extends into the ocean. There were some larger waves coming in, but the shallow waters allowed me to walk out beyond the break and put my mask and snorkel rentals on there. It is important to assess wave conditions before heading out into the water, as well as follow some of these other helpful Hawaii snorkeling safety tips!
Snorkeling at Polo Beach
The snorkeling at Polo Beach is indeed excellent! The reef is decorated with sponge coral and houses abundant Hawaiian marine life. A young honu (turtle) was swimming up to the surface for a breath of fresh air not long after I swam out to the northern point's tip. As I traveled further, I came across numerous schools of Hawaiian reef fish. This included Christmas wrasses, brown surgeonfish, moorish idols, and various triggerfish species.
This area is by far some of the best snorkeling I've experienced on the south side of Maui. I already felt very content with this snorkeling adventure, so you can imagine my full amazement when I saw my first white-tipped reef shark as I was heading towards the shore! Seeing a shark definitely made my heart race, but these friendly sharks are safe and rarely aggressive towards humans. The whitetip shark forages at night and spends its days resting in reef caves, which is exactly where I spotted it.
Strolling the Wailea Boardwalk
After my snorkel, I enjoyed a nice walk along the shore on the Wailea boardwalk. This path starts at Polo Beach and ends at Mokapu, allowing access to many of the best snorkeling locations in south Maui. It is a perfect way to get some steps in while taking in views of the beautiful coast and world-class resorts of Wailea. The Wailea boardwalk was a fantastic way to cap off my snorkel day.
In the heart of Maui’s top snorkeling spots on the south shore, Polo Beach offers not just breathtaking ocean vistas but an incredible snorkeling experience. So, why not make Polo Beach your next tropical escape? It is one of our favorite places to snorkel, sunbathe and stroll along the shores of vibrant south Maui. Your adventure awaits!