Makena - Maui Untamed and Wild

La Pérouse Bay, Makena, Maui
••• La Pérouse Bay, Makena, Maui. Photo by John Fischer, licensed to About.com

Bordered on the north by the posh Wailea Resort area and on the south by the ʻAhihi Kinavu Natural Area Reserve, the Makena area of South Maui, offers the visitor a return to nature and much earlier days of Hawaii.

Space and freedom are the signature of Makena. It is the place where the paved road ends, the defiantly wild, rugged and magnificent place where the spirit can run free. Grand, seductive, and utterly irresistible, Makena is Maui untamed.

History of Makena:

In ancient times, Hawaiians settled in small villages along the Makena shore. They came to fish the large schools of akule that practically swam into their nets.

People from the uplands would come for the weekly hukilau, the seafood version of the luʻau.

It was just south of here that French explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup, Compte de La Pérouse, became the first non-Polynesian to set foot on Maui in 1786. The place where he landed is named after him: La Pérouse Bay.

The Makena Beach & Golf Resort:

Makena was home to just one hotel - the Makena Beach & Golf Resort which closed in mid-2016. The hotel, staff and grounds have a very distinctive Japanese feel and many of the guests were Japanese.

The staff had a reputation for being among the friendliest and most helpful on Maui.

All rooms opened to a central courtyard featuring immaculate Japanese gardens and mesmerizing koi ponds.

The moving quilt work of color is a wonderful contrast to the precision landscaping of the trees, shrubs and rocks.

Nature Abounds in Makena:

The hotel property sits on an 1,800 acre resort area through which a Nature Walk meanders with hidden tidal pools and trails.

You'll see many of Maui's flowers and other native plants in bloom.

In the winter months, November through April, humpback whales come close to shore and create immeasurable joy for hotel guests.

Resort Amenities and Golf:

The Makena Beach & Golf Club will reopen as a private club. The area is known for its warm white-sand beaches, great tennis and the famous Makena Golf Courses.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., these unique courses have 36 spectacular holes of the most pristine golf imaginable. Golf Digest rates the courses as 4 stars and considers them one of Hawaii's top ten courses. Golf for Women ranks the courses as one of the most women friendly in the country. Condé Nast rates the staff as the second best in the country.

Big Beach and Little Beach:

Drive south of the hotel and you'll discover a world of pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breezes that soothe the spirit.

Oneloa, appropriately called Big Beach, runs more than 3,000 feet long and 100 feet wide. The sands are dazzling white and the water runs turquoise to jade.

A 360-foot volcanic cinder cone, Puʻu Olaʻi, separates Oneloa from its smaller counterpart Little Beach that remains (to the dismay of many locals and contrary to law) a clothing optional beach.

Keawalai Church:

Founded in 1832 and built in 1855, the Keawalaʻi Congregational Church sits on a site near a lovely, sandy cove overlooking the ocean.

The walls of the church are 3-feet thick and were constructed of lava rock, using coral as mortar.

Ti plants surround the church, bowing to the Hawaiian belief that they ward off evil spirits.

The church's cemetery feature headstones contain ceramic photo portraits of the deceased.

The church is located about 3 miles south of Makena town on Makena Road.

Makena Landing :

In the 1800's Makena Landing served as the dock for the famous Rose Ranch (now the ʻUlupalakua Ranch) located in the hills of Upcountry above Makena.

King David Kalakaua, was a regular visitor at the ranch, and ships from around the world came to call at Makena Landing to visit the successful American rancher who was the trusted friend of royalty.

As late as 1948 the cattle of Maui were driven by moonlight down the slopes of Haleakala into the surf and herded onto barges to be shipped to market.

Makena Landing Today:

Today there is no longer a road from the ranch to the landing. A beach park at the old landing was popular until it was hit by a storm in 1999 and runoff from the shore caused the water to be cloudy and killed off the coral reef.

Today the shoreline is rocky. Little beach remains. No lifeguard or facilities are available at Makena Landing Beach Park.

Dining Options in Makena:

Aside from numerous roadside stands and lunch trucks, the only dining options in Makena were found at the Prince Hotel.

The Prince Court restaurant is a recipient of the Hale ʻĀina award for "Best Hotel Restaurant on Maui", Prince Court features Contemporary Island Cuisine, which is a deliciously creative approach to seafood, steaks and game.

Cafe Kiowai offers casual, open air dining for breakfast and lunch while surrounded by the largest Koi pond on the island.

The Makena Clubhouse Restaurant features light lunches in a picturesque setting overlooking the 10th hole of the Makena South Golf Course.

Hakone offers Japanese cuisine with two menus rolled into one. The "traditional" menu features complete dinner selections as well as sukiyaki and sushi platters. The "tropical" menu blends Hawaiian culture with Japanese ingredients and is on the cutting edge of Hawaiian dining. The sushi bar is so popular that our sushi chef maintains a sushi web site. Before astounded eyes, he prepares traditional sushi with integrity as well as creative rolls from his repertoire of over a hundred specialties.

The Maui Sunset Luau is one of best on Maui with wonderful sunset views, an all-you-can-eat buffet and top entertainment befitting the most discerning guests. It is offered Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings.

More Profiles of Maui

Profile of Maui - Hawaii's Valley Isle

Profile of Kihei, Maui - Maui's Sunny South Shore

Profile of Lahaina, Maui - Where History and Playfulness Meet

Profile of Māʻalaea, Maui - Now a Destination of Its Own - Not Just a Stop Along the Highway

Profile of Wailea - A Sanctuary of Beauty on Maui's South Shore