A great, remote, but easily accessible stretch of Ma'alaea Beach is the home of the oceanfront portion of the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge itself spans 691 acres of wetlands and is the home of many endangered bird species as well as a nesting ground for the Hawaiian hawksbill turtle along its beachfront. The ocean is often very calm here, but it can be windy during the trade-wind days.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Bird-watching, coastal wildlife refuge, unfrequented, amazing views of the coastline and neighboring islands.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, beach-walking, and interpretive boardwalk with bird watching.
WARNINGS!: Remote location, so proceed with caution as there is no lifeguard present.
AMENITIES: Parking lot with ADA stalls, and ADA-accessible boardwalk and beach. No rest rooms or running water.
There is a small parking area with 12 parking spaces, with additional bus and handicap parking stalls. From this area you can access a 400-yard-long elevated coastal boardwalk that has great bird-watching and very information-rich interpretive signs about the refuge and its endangered species. There are two access ramps from the boardwalk to the beachfront, the most secluded of all the beaches in this area. Though close to the road, the sounds of surf and wind obscure much of the road-related noise. The beach has a gentle slope and very little surf, except during occasional summer swells, so the swimming is easy and safe. Be aware there is no lifeguard at this area. The closest public restroom is quite a distance, either at Kenolio Park in north Kihei or at Ma'alaea harbor shops.
This area is mid-way between Ma'alaea and Kihei, along route 310 also known as North Kihei Road.
From Ma'alaea: take Route 30 east to Route 310 toward Kihei. Drive on Route 310 for 1.8 miles looking for the signs and a turnout on your right (ocean-side).
From Kihei: to reach the boardwalk entrance you must drive past as there is no left turn into the entrance. Pass the parking lot, travel approximately 0.8 miles, and look for the right turn into power facility. You can turn around here and cross the road safely, heading back toward Kihei and the boardwalk entrance visible on the right.
More about the reserve:
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge links:
Getting to the Refuge Visitor Center:
The Refuge office is located about a mile north of Kihei. Taking Route 310 east to Route 31 north for less than 0.5 mile, look for the milepost 6 of Mokulele Highway (Highway 311) and a familiar U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo (with the dark-blue fish and goose) at the entrance on the right.