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Beach Spotlight: Po’olenalena Beach and Polo Beach

Po’olenelena Beach and Polo Beach exist within one mile of each other on the South shores of Maui.  They are touched by the same surf swells and are home to the same turtles, fish and marine life that thrive in this area.  They both offer the same morning stillness as new days begin and sweeping views of the sunsets with the long rays of light framing West Maui Mountains, Kahoolawe and Molokini in the distance.  However, these sister beaches possess their own personalities, their own reputations and can offer difference experiences to beach goers. 

Here we feature these two beaches and what they have to offer, we are certain they are both worth a visit. 

Polo Beach

This double crescent beach has ties to Maui’s rich ranching history as the ‘Ulupalakua Ranch used to reach addict to its shores. Around that time it was known as Dead Horse Beach, but later dubbed after a latter landowner, Ferkany Beach, and then later, Ke One o Polo (the sands of Polo).  Locals know it as Polo Beach and the sign at its entrance agrees. 

This location can be found at the base of Kaukahi Street off of Wailea Alanui Drive. You will find a nicely shaded and paved parking lot, as well as picnic tables, grills, public bathrooms and a shower.  The beach itself is surrounded by resorts and connects to the Wailea Coastal Walk, thus it is well maintained and also very popular amongst visitors especially. In the morning you will find lots of joggers passing through.  Locals also enjoy the amenities of this beach, hosting family parties and taking advantage of shoreline fishing opportunities.  At all times of the day you will find a good number of snorkelers, boogie borders and sand castles.  There is no lifeguard on duty so be cautious and knowledgeable about tides, currents and waves.
We love this beach for its lush greenery and the ease of parking and restroom access.

Po’olenalena Beach

Just a mile down Wailea Alanui Road we find Po’olenalena Beach, which is also knows as  Chang’s Beach, as well as Paipu Beach.  It’s South entrance sits adjacent to the Makena Beach Resort property and at the North end of the property is a dirt parking lot that offers about two dozen spots.  A portapotty is available on this end, but no showers. Perhaps it is this less-than post-card perfect entrance that has kept this beach from becoming over-crowded with visitors and you will find lots of space and a more remote vibe than the maintained beaches.  But that’s not to say this beach doesn’t have a truly delightful appeal.  We love this beach for its old-time Kihei feeling, reminiscent of when South Maui was not much more than kiawe trees and pristine, deserted beaches.  Kiawe and coastal vines frame this beach, so watch out for thorns. This beach draws many locals who enjoy casting surfing lines and lots of room for their keiki to run around. To join in the authentic experience, pick up some sushi and poke from local grocery stores and enjoy a sunset pupu (appetizer) picnic.

Po’olenalena Beach has clear waters and good body surfing on most days. There’s a generous portion of shallow water that extends into the ocean which provides lots of room for snorkeling.  Fishes and turtles alike can be found near the rocky outcropping. As always, be careful in the ocean, and be mindful of waves and currents as there is no lifeguard on duty. 

All in all, these two beaches offer a little something for everyone and you can’t go wrong. 

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