Ulua and Mokapu Beach Parks
Hours of operation are 7:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. No camping is allowed. No motorized vehicles, rollerblades, bikes or skateboards are allowed on the pathway.
The Ulua Beach/Mokapu Beach Park complex offers two free parking lots (however, they get full quite early in the morning!), clean bathrooms, two outdoor sets of showers, a jogging path along the beach, wooden dive racks for donning dive gear, and manicured lawns. Food and beverages are not available on the beach, so, unless you want to take a nice walk along the main road to the Shops at Wailea, you should take along some snacks and drinks. Taking a beach chair is easy if you find a parking spot in the adjacent parking lot, otherwise, it may be a bit of a walk from the next available parking spot at the Shops at Wailea.
THINGS TO DO:
If you like the sunrise, Ulua/Mokapu Beack Park is a fantastic early morning swim, walk, jog or simply sit and enjoy kind of spot. Divers, especially dive schools get to this beach around 7:00 am to conduct guided dives and classes because of the generally nice conditions in the water early in the morning.
The bottom is mainly sand in front of the beach and it becomes rocky at the edges where rocky points jut out to sea. The best snorkeling is around these points where you will see coral, a variety of reef fishes, and, generally sea turtles. Occasionally, you can observe some gems of the sea such as manta rays and white tip sharks (which are not dangerous at all and are quite beautiful to spot). The variety of marine life makes this beach a wonderful dive site. The reef on the right side of the beach is the best spot to dive, as it gently drops down to 20 feet deep where you can spot colorful reef creatures such as butterfly fish of a variety of species, the famous Hawaiian humuhumuukunukuapuaha trigger fish, and a variety of small invertebrates, if you are a careful observer. Advanced divers can drop down to 50 feet and visit what locals call "Antheus Rock" where creatures such as the Hawaiian lionfish can be spotted.
SURF AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
Good place to snorkel when the surf is low. It is best to snorkel or dive in the morning, when there is no wind. In the winter, this beach is protected from the north-west swells. In the summer, however, it can be affected by south swell bringing waves all the way to the shore where they crash on the beach creating a steep drop-off and currents. Always check with the locals if you are not sure. Ulua Beach is actually a great spot on most mornings when other beaches are not because it is protected from most harsh weather conditions.
Afternoons are almost always windy, on all south facing beaches in the Kihei area. Ulua Beach can still provide some refuge as there are trees on the right side of the beach to shelter you from gusts.
THE CULTURE BEHIND THE NAME
Ulua is the Hawaiian name for the many species of Trevally (Caranx genus), a fish highly prized for its tender and tasty meat. A Hawaiian proverb says "Ka ulua kapapa o ke kai loa" (the Ulua fish is a strong warrior. There were many names used to distinguish different types of Ulua: ulua 'aukea (white ulua), ulua 'ele'ele (black ulua), pa'opa'o (green and yellow with vertical green bands), ulua nukumoni (grey/green trevally with mottled spots), ulua kihikihi or mahai (kagami or silver ulua) and 'omilumilu or 'omilu (blue with black and yellow markings). It was also important to regognize the different sizes of Ulua based on their stage of growth such as papiopio or papio (young), pa'u'u (intermediate), and ulua (adult). These fish played an important role in Hawaiian religious rites and was used as a substitute if a human sacrifice was not available.
HOW TO GET THERE:
- Take Piilani Highway towards Makena,
- turn right on Okolani Drive,
- turn left on Wailea Alanui Drive,
- turn right on Hale Alii Place
- Note that the road sign for Halealii Place is hard to find. To know that you are in the right spot, look for the Wailea Fairway Estates driveway, where a stone wall bears the writing "Wailea Fairway Estates" in big white letters. This driveway is exactly on the opposite side of the entrance to Ulua/Mokapu Beach Park.
- The entrance to the Park is marked by yellow metal gates.