The little community of Kihei Hawaii has experienced its ups and downs over the years. It once was called Kamaole, meaning barren in the Hawaiian language. The beaches of Kamaole Beach State Park continue to retain that name. Today, Kihei vacations are quite popular, and the many things to do in Kihei and the surrounding area offer a variety of activities and attractions. This region receives only a little more than ten inches of rain per year (thus, the barren moniker). Until the 1970s, few visitors came here, except for the excellent fishing. Beach lots were put up for sale and sat unsold. Today, there are numerous condominiums, Maui vacation rentals, and some small Kihei hotels. Because this area is more arid and less lush than the main resort areas, such as Kapalua, lodging here can be some of the least expensive on the island.
You won’t find a beach named Kihei Beach here, but a ten-mile long stretch containing numerous beaches runs from Kealia Pond, a wonderful National Wildlife Refuge and one of the few natural wetlands on the Hawaiian Islands, on the north to the famous Wailea Beach and Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, on the south. The Kihei beach area is just about midway between the two, and your Kihei vacations can take advantage of all of them in a short period of time. Each of these beaches is known for slightly different features and water activities, so ask around for suggestions on the best ones depending on the things to do that most interest you.
Downtown Kihei Maui
Kihei Hawaii is located on the central western coast. None of the Maui airports are located nearby, and travel to Kihei is possible pretty much only by rental cars driving across the width of the island from Kahului and Wailuku, or along the coast Highway 30 that rings the northwestern part of the island from Kapalua. To the east in the interior is Haleakala National Park, which contains the Haleakala Crater of the massive East Maui Volcano. This shield volcano forms more than 75 percent of the island of Maui, and its environs include the high-elevation summit, the wilderness mountain area, and lush Kipahulu coastal region full of sparkling waterfalls and dense vegetation. There are miles of pristine hiking trails here as well as beautiful camping spots and coastal caves.
A little closer to the Kihei beach area is another, smaller wilderness area that also boasts hiking and camping—the Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area. This is quite off the beaten path, and if you plan on visiting during your Kihei vacations you should secure a four-wheel drive vehicle as your rental car. A wonderful area for families is Kalama Beach Park, just south of the main commercial district with its great shopping and numerous dining establishments. It has 36 acres of oceanfront, with shady lawns and picnic areas, a skateboarding park, baseball fields and basketball courts, and a children’s playground. Because of rocky shoreline, the beach is fairly small, but the park is lovely. You will also find that Kihei Hawaii has an excellent and convenient golf course. You can also travel inland to visit the Tedeschi Winery on Ulupalakua Ranch.