If you’ve visited Maui, the sunny south shore town of Kihei is one of the two areas where you most likely stayed. With miles of beautiful beaches and an average of only 10 inches of rain each year, it’s no wonder that this vibrant community attracts visitors from all over the world. But Kihei also boasts all the major features that make a community livable, including:
- A wide range of housing choices, from condos, to single-family homes, to large estates
- Restaurants, grocery stores, shops, medical offices, banks, gyms, and other essentials
- Quick access to the airport and large retail stores (in Kahului), as well as the hospital and government offices (in Wailuku)
Along with tennis and pickleball courts, places to rent stand-up paddleboards, and world-class golf and spas (nearby in Wailea), Kihei even has its own movie theater and its own brewery. If you’re visiting for the first time, thinking about moving here or living here as a new resident, you may be interested in a few of the other attractions in and around this lively beach town …
Insider Tip #1: Beaches
You may have already read my post highlighting one of the many gorgeous south Maui beaches, Po`olenalena. If you’re looking for another uncrowded option mostly frequented by in-the-know locals, try White Rock (Palauea Beach). Just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani and Polo Beach on Makena Road, walk through the kiawe trees to find soft sand and (typically) calm swimming conditions. Because of its crescent shape, White Rock can be less windy than many of the surrounding beaches, and it often offers good snorkeling around the rocks at each end.
If you’re looking for a nice long beach walk, Sugar Beach stretches from north Kihei all the way to Haycraft Park in Maalaea (a distance of over 2 miles). At the opposite end of Kihei, Keawakapu Beach provides a scenic 0.7-mile stroll. Park in the lot at the south end of South Kihei Road and walk left/south once you get onto the beach – just around the rocks, you’ll find a quiet, peaceful spot with few other beachgoers around.
Insider Tip #2: Restaurants
Nalu’s South Shore Grill has become a favorite with residents because of its fresh local menu, relaxed open-air vibe, and nightly live music. Tourists might miss it because of its location (it’s set back from South Kihei Road, by an Ace Hardware), but those who do stumble upon it are treated to a more authentic Maui experience than they’ll get at many of the better-known restaurants in the area. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all excellent at Nalu’s, and the homemade malasadas (essentially, a Portuguese-style donut) are to die for.
Sushi Paradise is a tiny, dinner-only restaurant in another out-of-the-way location that makes it easy to miss. With only a few tables and a reservations-only policy, it tends to stay pretty busy for dine-in meals. Thanks to the pandemic, though, it now offers incredibly fresh, incredibly delicious sushi and sashimi via takeout as well.
Insider Tip #3: Hiking
Most visitors and new residents have probably heard about the hiking experience at La Perouse Bay, where you can walk through lava fields with the ocean and spinner dolphins on one side, and the Haleakalā volcano and wild goats on the other. A lesser-known hike nearby, Pu`u Ola`i, also features some incredible views of Maui’s southwest shoreline, along with the Molokini crater and the islands of Kaho`olawe and Lāna`i. The pu`u (hill), believed to be a lava deposit from Haleakalā’s most recent eruption (around 1790), is also home to many Axis deer, and can provide a great vantage point for whale watching during the winter months.
Insider Tip #4: Farmers’ Market
If you’re a repeat visitor to my blog, you may have already run across a post that mentioned South Maui Gardens. This thriving Kihei business now also hosts a farmers’ market every Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm. Fair warning, though: you might stop in for fresh produce but find yourself going home with plants, pottery, or goodies from the on-site Blue Door Bread & Pizza Company.
For more info about Kihei or any of Maui’s many unique communities, contact me: Leslie Mackenzie Smith, REALTOR(S), RS-42147.