While Kihei is blessed with golden beaches, sunny weather, and fantastic snorkeling, it’s the town’s unremitting local vibe that makes Kihei so special. While a wave of luxury development has overtaken nearby Wailea and Makena, the laid-back nature that Maui is known for seems to have cemented itself in Kihei. Local businesses and community take center stage in this South Maui region, manifesting in farmers’ markets, canoe clubs, and- believe it or not- hockey associations.
Kihei is only a 10-15 minute drive from Maʻalaea- read on to discover the TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN KIHEI.
1. Take a snorkel tour to Molokini.
South Maui is renowned for its abundance of coral reefs, but few places offer better snorkeling than Molokini Crater. The seafloor at this offshore crater is blanketed with corals, forming a habitat for hundreds of species of tropical fish. And thanks to the islet’s remote location and crescent shape, the waters within the crater are usually calm. It’s not uncommon for visibility to top 100 feet.
Located two miles off the south Maui coast, the only way to visit Molokini is with a tour. Most tours depart from Ma’alaea Harbor, but Redline Rafting departs from Kihei Boat Ramp- located significantly closer to Molokini.
2. Take a tour of Hawaii’s largest craft brewery – Maui Brewing Company
There are several factors that make Maui Brewing Company stand out. In addition to curating a slew of award-winning beers, MBC is Hawaii’s largest craft brewery, America’s first off-grid brewery, and is headed by a female brewmaster. MBC’s delightful tropical ales are brewed and canned at the Kihei facility.
The brewery’s whopping 85,000 square foot space houses a restaurant, taproom, 5,800 square foot cold room, and 12 fermentation tanks- which is equivalent to about 940 barrels of beef. An hour tour will afford you the chance to see where the beer-making magic happens- and even a taste of fresh beer out of the Brite Tank.
3. Create a masterpiece at Island Art Party
A splash of paint here, a sip there- the fun at Island Art Party rivals any South Maui bar. Regardless of your painting abilities, Island Art Party transforms each and every person that steps foot in their colorful studio into a painting virtuoso.
Creating a masterpiece is made easy thanks to the step-by-step instructions from your party artist and the full bar at your disposal. Your end result also serves as a memorable souvenir of your creative abilities stoked by Island Art Party, and your time spent on Maui.
4. Go for a sunset skate at Kihei Roller Rink
It’s no secret that the Kihei coast produces fantastic sunsets. Spice up your sunset routine and hit the rink at Kalama Park, Maui’s only public roller rink. The rink is managed by Maui Inline Hockey Association, which generously opens the rink to the public every Friday and Saturday night. No skates? No problem. MIHA volunteers open a well-stocked rental booth on public skate nights.
5. Browse the Kihei Farmers Market
Want to support local? Look no further than the Kihei Farmers Market, where a veritable cornucopia of local produce is on offer Monday-Saturday. Located on the edge of North Kihei, this beachside outdoor market is stocked with fresh local produce, baked goods, and other goodies.
What’s more, this tropical market is situated alongside several other reputable locally owned businesses- Sugar Beach Bake Shop, Ululani’s Shave Ice, and ABC Store (believe it or not, ABC store is locally owned!). Between the market, the bakery, and the conveniences at ABC, you’ll hardly need a reason to visit a grocery store.
6. Walk the boardwalk at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Kiawe, salt-marshes, and sand dunes: Kealia Pond offers a glimpse into Kihei’s past when the area was largely made up of wetlands. Today, most of the wetlands have been paved over, but Kelia Pond, a national wildlife refuge, will forever remain untouched.
The 700-acre refuge provides a protected habitat for some of Hawaii’s most endangered waterbirds, including the Hawaiian coot (ʻalae keʻokeʻo) and the Hawaiian stilt (aeʻo). The Kealia Coastal Boardwalk is the reserve’s main attraction, running between the coast and the marsh for about a third of a mile. There are multiple viewpoints to spot native birds, as well as informative panels along the way.
7. Go paddling with Kihei Canoe Club
Kihei’s calm morning conditions are ideal for paddlers of all types, from kayakers to SUPs. The most eye-catching craft in South Maui waters, however, are Kihei Canoe Club’s red and gold waʻas- outrigger canoes. Kihei Canoe Club invites visitors to learn about the ancient Polynesian practice of paddling through their visitor paddling program. The experience grants visitors a peek into Hawaiian cultural customs, as well as paddling instruction and a discussion about local marine life.
8. Visit the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary visitor center.
The waters surrounding the state of Hawaii are a National Marine Sanctuary for humpback whales. Roughly two-thirds of the North Pacific humpback whale population migrate to Hawaii each winter to breed and give birth. Maui is home to one of only two sanctuary visitor centers in the state.
Situated on the waterfront at Kalepolepo beach, the Kihei visitor center houses interactive displays and exhibits, and even acts as a great whale watching spot in itself. The visitor center also offers information on the Kalepolepo fishpond, which is one of the oldest remaining fish ponds in Hawaii- estimated to have been built between 1400 and 1500 AD.
9. Take a surf lesson at The Cove
The mellow surf and shallow waters at “The Cove” at Kalama Park are ideal for first-time surfers. What’s more, there are seemingly countless surf instructors on hand in Kihei to show newbies the ropes.
Maui Waveriders is one of the most reputable surf schools on the Valley Isle, and they just happen to be located directly across the street from the Cove. Maui surf lessons will kick off with a thorough land-based instruction, guiding novice surfers through proper surf etiquette, ocean safety, and technique. Then, get ready to hit the waves!
10. Shop, eat and drink at Kihei Kalama Village
Situated in the heart of Kihei, the open-air market at the Kihei Kalama Village is a hub for dining, shopping, and entertainment. Here, you can browse souvenir kiosks, a collection of bars and restaurants, coffee shops, and even get a tattoo. At night, the Kihei Kalama Village transforms into a party hub and hosts entertainment nightly.