Maalaea: Maui’s Peaceful Hidden Gem

Maalaea is widely known for its harbor. It was once a major commercial port for Maui as well as the site of the island’s first airport in 1927 until 1938. It is also home to the Maui Ocean Center, the state’s largest aquarium. On a daily basis, you can feel the wind breeze through. Some days are windier than others, but as a general rule, it is a normal trade wind. This small community is conveniently located 20 minutes from Wailea and 45 minutes from Kaanapali. Although technically not in Wailuku, it shares the same zip code.

Maalaea Surf

Maalaea is also known for an incredible fast wave that comes through known as “Freight Trains.” It became quite popular among local surfers for its rare but challenging surf break. Freight Trains is accessible through Haycraft Beach Park. A surfer must ride inside the wave if they are to keep up.

Maalaea Surf Spot

Maalaea Surf Spot

The waves can reach at least six feet high and must have a very large south or south-easterly swell to break. The surf break at Freight Trains rarely happens and several decades may pass with no sign of this elusive wave. It’s been considered one of the world’s fastest breaking waves which breaks in shallow waters. A surfer’s best chance of getting a few minutes of glory riding this wave will be during Hawaii’s hurricane season. Even then the chances are very slim, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the beautiful beaches or the amazing sea life at the Maui Ocean Center!


Maalaea Harbor Baby Beach: This beach is located east of the harbor and is protected from waves and boat traffic. It has calm conditions and is an ideal location for families with small children or inexperienced swimmers. It is also conveniently close to the Coast Guard Station and the local convenience store.


Maalaea Beach: Also east of the harbor, Maalaea Beach is perfect for couples who wish to take romantic sunset walks or spend a day soaking up the sun. The beach is secluded and quiet but can also be windy, and the waves may be choppy. However, if conditions are right, surfers and green sea turtles may be spotted.

Haycraft Beach Park: Haycraft Beach Park connects between Maalaea Beach and Sugar Beach, making it a great spot to take long walks or go for a jog. You can find shade and coverage from the wind that often makes its way to Maalaea. It’s a great spot for snorkeling but also home to sporadic rocks and reef. Haycraft is also the access point for the elusive “Freight Trains” phenomenon.

Maui Ocean Center

Most visitors are drawn to Maalaea either for the daily snorkel trips to Molokini or to experience Hawaii’s largest aquarium, the Maui Ocean Center. Since its opening in 1998, thousands of visitors, from small children to adults, have been captivated by its undersea world. The aquarium does its best to replicate Hawaii’s natural ocean ecosystem.


See Yellow Tang at the Maui Ocean Center, Hawaii’s largest aquarium

You can find one of the largest collections of living Pacific corals found in the world, as well as over 60 exhibits that feature outdoor tidepool and interpretive displays. There is also a 750,000-gallon open ocean exhibit with a 240-degree acrylic tunnel. Through various State and Federal partnerships, the Maui Ocean Center has rehabilitated and transplanted 700 corals back onto the state’s reefs.

In 2016, the center offered to the public their Night at the Aquarium. Guests are able to explore the various exhibits as the day progresses from day into the night. The event also featured live entertainment, presentations on the marine life and activities occurred from June through August.

They also have a program where they will take in sharks or stingrays, and after proper care, they are released back into the ocean.

Spend the Day in Maalaea

Begin the day with a morning snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater, or during whale season, go on a 2-hour whale watching adventure. In the afternoon, follow up your busy morning with a visit to the Maui Ocean Center and end the day with a romantic evening sunset walk along the beaches of Maalaea. There are also various boats that offer sunset dinner cruises that will take you along the majestic Pali sea cliffs while enjoying a delicious gourmet dinner.

Sunset Sail!

Sunset Sail!

You can find several shops and restaurants located at the Maalaea Harbor Village Shops. Enjoy delicious coconut shrimp, calamari strips, and macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi at the Seascape Restaurant. Head over to Beach Bums for an authentic bbq delights at a reasonable price for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with beautiful views of the harbor and ocean. You can also find the Ma’alaea General Store.

Canoes in Maalaea Harbor!

Canoes in Maalaea Harbor!

While in Maalaea a person can experience the amazing views of the gigantic windmills that seem to crawl up the West Maui mountains. Up the road a bit from Maalaea on Hwy 30, visitors can experience the majestic beauty of humpback whales during whale season. The Maui Tropical Plantation is located just 5 minutes away.

MaalaeaView from 408

View of Maalaea Break Wall!

Maalaea may be quiet and sometimes windy; personally, I think this area gets a bad rap about the wind, but it is not that windy all the time. The tropical trades help keep Maalaea cool and comfortable. This peaceful gem offers so much beauty and wonders. Take the time to slow down and experience all that it has to offer. You can find your next home in one of the ten different condos; they are all vacation rentable except Maalaea Mermaid. On the other side of the harbor you can experience pure beauty in an oceanfront home.

More Information

Maalaea is my home. I have lived in Maalaea for over 20 years and it would be my pleasure to assist you if you’d like to know more about the area or the available homes in the area. Please contact me at 808.280.0489 or visit my website.

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