Waiehu and Waihe’e, respectively meaning “rough water” and “slippery water” in Hawaiian, are two small towns located about four miles from Wailuku on Kahekili Highway (Highway 340).
People generally drive through the area on their way to Waihe’e Ridge trail but rarely stop in this untouched area of Maui mostly frequented by local residents and avid golfers.
Take an opportunity to get away from it all and be close to nature in Waiehu and Waihe’e.
Waiehu Municipal Golf Course
Waiehu Golf Course is a public golf course that opened in 1945 and is the main attraction in Waiehu.
The 18 hole-no-frills course is in great condition and sits right on the ocean behind Waihe’e Beach Park, providing stunning views of Maui’s North coastline and the West Maui Mountains.
Mostly visited by locals, the course is reasonably priced for both residents and visitors and is a nice change from the resort courses in Wailea, Kaanapali, and Kapalua.
In the clubhouse complex, you’ll find a pro shop and a starter’s booth. The restaurant is currently closed while undergoing construction but you can find refreshments at the pro shop. Cart and golf club rentals are available.
Tee times are from 6:45 am to 5pm on weekdays and 6am to 5 pm on weekends and holidays.
Tee time reservations are available two days in advance by calling (808) 270-7400 and (808) 357-9270.
Waihee Beach Park and Waiehu Beach Park
We are so spoiled with pristine beaches on Maui that compared to others on the North Shore, Waiehu Beach and Waihe’e Beach don’t have much to offer for visitors.
Although not good for swimming, and windy in the afternoons, the narrow beaches are a go-to for local fishermen and seashell hunters.
And, if you’re looking for a place to watch the sunrise this is it!
Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge
The Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge consists of 277 acres of protected wetlands, dunes, marine shoreline, reef systems and riparian habitat.
Once inhabited by two thriving ancient villages, Kapoho and Kapokea, the natural attraction features a large inland fishpond as well as several heiau (sacred sites).
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) is actively restoring critical native habitat while preserving the area’s rich archaeological and cultural history.
Feel free to check it out for yourself (the hike is about three miles long), and if you’re eager to learn more about the refuge, HILT offers guided hikes and volunteer opportunities:
- Talk Story on the Land: free guided hikes led by Scott Fischer, chief conservation officer for HILT. Learn about the area’s history, geology, and ecology. The tour is only offered a few times a year, so check the HILT website for dates.
- Volunteer: remove invasive plant species to help restore the native wildlife habitat and connect with nature. Volunteer opportunities are open every Friday from 8am until noon, and every third Saturday of the month from 8am until 11am.
How to get to the refuge:
From Kahekili Highway, take Halewaiu Road which leads to the Waiehu Golf Course.
There are signs at the turnoff for the refuge to the left. The road ends after 0.2 miles and you’ll notice the refuge entrance on the left.
You can park either on the grass next to the entrance or in the beach parking lot on the right.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail
One of the most popular hikes on Maui, the Waihee Ridge trail is a must do! The four mile trail will take you through the forest and along the ridge with sweeping views of Iao Valley and Makamakaole Falls in the background.
Make sure to pack enough water and wear good walking shoes. The terrain can get muddy after rainy days, so sandals are not a good option for this trail.
Hawaii has a rich cowboy tradition and ranching is big on the islands. A family owned and operated business, Mendes Ranch is the largest horseback riding enterprise on Maui.
The ranch offers two tours: a morning ride at 9am or an afternoon ride at 12:30pm.
There is also an option to do a horseback-helicopter combination tour but you need to call the helicopter company for rates and booking.
Prior to riding, your friendly paniolo (“cowboy” in Hawaiian) will give you a quick training session. Both rides depart from the corral and take you through the 3,000 acre working ranch, down the bluff into the scenic Waihe’e Valley, all the way to the ocean and then back up.
This is a fantastic adventure for couples and families with children over the age of 7 (unfortunately keikis under 7 cannot ride). You’ll experience breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline throughout the ride and the tour guides will take photos of you with the ocean in the background for frame-worthy pictures.
If you plan on hiking the Waihe’e Ridge on the same day, the afternoon tour is ideal after finishing the hike.
Mendes Ranch is located on Kahekili Highway, right across from the entrance for the Waihe’e Ridge trail, about a ten minute drive from Waiehu.
- Duration: 1.5 hours (up to 2 hours depending on the speed and size of the group)
Cost: $135 per person (plus tax)
Book your ride online on the Mendes Ranch website or call (808) 871-5222
Long pants and closed toe shoes are mandatory!
If you didn’t plan ahead and find yourself starving, the Ula’Ula Cafe will save you.
The food truck serves fresh Hawaiian food as well as fresh fruits and smoothies, perfect for hungry hikers and golfers. Take it to go or enjoy your meal at their picnic tables under the shade. Great stop before or after hiking the Ridge trail, or the refuge.
Open 9am until 3pm Monday through Saturday.