Due to a high concentration of budget-friendly hotel and condo options, Kihei enjoys a more relaxed beach vibe than other areas of the island, such as the luxurious, resort-filled neighboring town of Wailea. While South Kihei is known for its array of great swimming beaches, bars and restaurants, North Kihei is home to attractions such as the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary Visitor Center, and Sugar Beach, an uncrowded alternative for morning walks or sunset gazing.
We highly recommend visiting Kihei during your next trip to Maui, as it remains one of the best areas of the island for whale watching, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, cultural events and unique attractions.
The Hawaiian legend of Kihei begins with the story of two cloud warriors, one from the north and the other from the south, battling along the edges of Haleakala Volcano.
After battling for quite some time, a truce was formed, and the resulting clear space of sky became known as Alanui o Lani, or the Highway to Heaven. Today, we know this area as Kihei.
Due to its dry climate, it was originally called Kama’ole, meaning barren, which you’ll recognize today as the names of Kihei’s three most prominent beaches.
Early on, Kihei was home to a population of fishermen, enticed by the area’s fish ponds, which were often dedicated to Hawaiian royalty, known as Ali’i.
In 1790, Kamehameha landed on the shores of Kihei in an effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. When met by resistance from nearby inhabitants, Kamehameha burned the canoes of his fleet, forcing his army to forge on and march to Wailuku, where the Battle of Kepaniwai would result in the defeat of Maui’s army in Iao Valley.
Up until the 1950’s, Kihei was home to a small population of fishermen and Kiawe harvesters. In 1932, in an effort to encourage population growth in the area, the government opened 11 beach lots for sale, only 6 of which were actually sold.
As more and more tourists began traveling to Maui, Kihei became one of the most popular areas to visit, thanks in large part to its array of gorgeous beaches, warm weather and low-key island lifestyle. Today, it is the second most populated town on Maui, after Kahului, and one of the most popular visitor destinations on the island.
Grocery Stores: There are several options to stock up on necessities during your stay, including Safeway, Times Supermarket, Foodland, and Hawaiian Moons.
Budget Condos: Our favorite recommendation for beautiful budget accommodations are Tracy’s Tropical Treasures (3 condos available for up to 2 people each) in North Kihei.
Medical Facilities: For health emergencies, head to Urgent Care Maui at 1325 S. Kihei Rd. #103. Their phone number is 808.879.7781.
Post Office: For all post office needs, head to the U.S. Post Office in Kihei at 1254 S. Kihei Rd.
Spa Services: We love Maui’s Best Massage specifically because they come to your house, hotel or condo. Enjoy a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage without leaving the comfort of your vacation rental.
Yoga: There are several great yoga studios in Kihei Town, including Kihei Community Yoga Center, Maui Hot Yoga & Kickboxing, Maui Yoga Path, and more.
Stay Safe in the Sun! All too often, we see people returning home with painful sunburns. Choose reef-safe sunscreen and remember to apply often, drink lots of water, and move to the shade if you feel like you’re burning. We offer reef-safe sunscreen for purchase on each of our private tours. In the event of a sunburn, apply plenty of aloe vera, stay hydrated and keep the affected areas out of the sun!
There are a number of Kihei attractions that will make your Maui vacation a truly memorable experience. Some of our favorite south Maui activities are listed below.
Explore the Beaches: Relax on the shores of Charley Young Beach, take a leisurely morning stroll along Sugar Beach, or grab a beach chair and watch the sunset from Kama’ole III Beach Park. If you’ve come to Maui to enjoy a lot of beaches, you’re in the right place!