An absolute gem on south Maui, Kihei makes for a fabulous vacation in Hawaii! Kihei is home to stunning beaches, plenty of water activities, a fun food scene, spectacular sunsets and so much more. Here are all the very best things to do in Kihei!
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Maui is home to incredible scenery and spectacular adventures. Although the world-famous Kaanapali Beach, Road to Hana (plus all the amazing things to do in Hana), and adventurous Kahekili Highway are spread across the island, South Maui has a lot to offer visitors!
From the golden sand beaches of Kamaole Beach Park to a dynamic food scene plus a ton of water activities, there’s so much to do in Kihei.
👉Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here’s the best cultural experience in Kihei – the Te Au Moana Luau! And this is the best tour from Kihei – watching the sunrise above Haleakala. A must-see if you’ve never done it!
Also get the complete Maui travel guide for everything you need to see and do on Maui!
Map of things to do in Kihei Maui
If you’re a visual person like I am, then this map will help you get familiar with the area and plan out your vacation to Kihei, Hawaii.
Kihei is located just a 20-minute drive south of the Kahului Airport, making it super convenient to get to. It’s also less than a 10 minute drive to the neighboring Wailea, so it’s common to see the towns as sister cities.
What you need to know about visiting Maui
Before diving into the guide about all the best things to do in Kihei Hawaii, let’s chat a moment about what you should know before visiting Maui – especially if it’s your first time!
While the Lahaina fire devastated the island, tourism is needed to sustain Maui’s economy. You can stay up to date with the needs of the community with this Facebook group. Remember to support local businesses and tip well to support the people of Maui.
Above all else, be respectful of the culture, nature and people.
As a guest on this island, it’s important to recognize this is not only someone else’s home, but a sacred land for native Hawaiians. Treat it with the ultimate respect.
Here are a few things visitors should or should not do when coming to Hawaii:
- Do NOT touch sea life. It’s against the law to disturb sea turtles (“Honu”) and the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. Keep your distance from them in the water or on the beach.
- Wear reef-safe sunscreen. Traditional sunblocks have bleached the reefs in Hawaii and around the world. Be sure to use mineral sunscreen when in Hawaii, like this one. Keep this in mind as you explore all the best things to do in Kihei Maui.
- Don’t step on or touch the coral. It’s easily damaged from skin oils, and stepping on it could kill entire colonies that have been living for hundreds of years!
- Preserve water. Maui often faces a fresh water shortage due to over tourism and overuse, especially during dry years. Use only what you need and nothing more.
- Reduce, refuse and reuse when possible. This small island is maxed out of resources. Bring reusable bottles for water instead of buying single use plastic. This is my favorite water bottle for traveling. Recycle what you can, when you can.
- Pick up after yourself and leave it better than how you found it. Absolutely do not litter and if you see trash, pick it up.
Accommodations in Kihei
If you’ve never stayed in Kihei before, you’re in for a real treat!
Very much a local’s vibe, you won’t find oversized swanky hotels here. Instead, you’ll find lots of smaller hotels and condos for rent. Just up the road in Wailea are more large ocean-front properties, if you prefer!
If you don’t have your accommodations booked yet, here are some suggestions for you…
- Maui Sunset. This beautiful property has apartment-style accommodations, allowing you to spread out a bit and it has space for kids, too.
- Aston at the Maui Banyan. With an excellent location across from Kamaole Beach Park II and a variety of bedroom options, this condo might be just what you’re looking for.
- Maui Beach Vacation Club. Perfect if you’re looking for more space and a pool. And bonus – the beach is across the street.
What to pack
Whether you’ve been to Maui before or not, here are some packing essentials you don’t want to forget!
- Ocean-safe mineral sunblock. Chemicals in traditional sunblocks kill our reefs and are harmful to marine life. Use mineral sunscreen when visiting the beaches in South Maui (or any other beach for that matter!) Oh yea, and it’s also the law in Hawaii.
- Sun hat or rash guard. Minimize how much sunscreen you use and the time it takes to apply it, cover your skin with a sun hat and/or rash guard. They even make rash guards with swimming suits that are super cute. A lot of the top things to do in Kihei Hawaii involve water, so be careful not to burn.
- Underwater camera. Capture photos of you and/or your loved ones in the water, plus all the underwater creatures! This is the GoPro I use every time I go to Maui, and so many other fun places, like these 40th birthday trip ideas. Don’t forget the float strap accessory!
- Dry bag. If you want to take your phone, a power bank or even extra GoPro batteries, use a dry bag! I have this dry bag in orange and it’s the perfect size to carry by itself or to place inside a beach bag.
- Beach towel. I love this quick drying beach towel with a hidden pocket for your cell phone, cash or keys.
- Cash for tips. Some spots on Maui still prefer cash, especially on the Road to Hana. But mostly, bring cash to tip your tour guides!
- Travel insurance. Literally anything can happen while you’re on vacation! Take travel insurance with you on your trip to Maui.
For a full packing checklist, be sure to read this guide on what to pack for Hawaii.
Things to do in Kihei Hawaii
If you’re wondering what to do in Kihei, this list is perfect for you!
1. Go swimming at Kamaole Beach Park (a favorite on this list of the best things to do in Kihei)
Fun fact: Kamaole Beach Park was so good, there’s two of them! If you’re up for swimming, Kamaole Beach Park I and Kamaole Beach Park II are both excellent options in Kihei.
Find soft sand and moderate waves on this part of Maui’s south shore. With decent waves for boogie boarding, swimmers should use caution with the surf. There’s a lifeguard on duty during daytime hours, which is a bonus if you’re traveling to Maui with kids!
You’re likely coming to Maui for some beach time, and these beaches are fabulous. Swimming and enjoying the waves is definitely one of the top things to do in Kihei!
2. Take a humpback whale tour
December through April is a magical season in Hawaii: whale season! The humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to mate and birth their babies.
The Au’au Channel, which is the body of water between Maui, Moloka’i and Lānaʻi is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world! Being on multiple whale watching tours over the years, I can say with certainty if you’re vacationing in Maui during whale season, you’ll definitely want take a whale watching tour.
Note: the best whale watching is late January through mid-March, when the whales are most active! It’s by far one of the absolute best things to do in Kihei Maui!
Since you’re vacationing in south Maui, you’ll want to take a tour that’s convenient to your location.
Here’s a great whale watching tour that leaves directly from Kihei. And if that one is full during your dates, you can try this whale watching tour that leaves from Ma’alaea Harbor, just about a 15 minute drive up the road.
Pro tip: if you opt for a smaller boat, you’ll get better views of the whales. I personally prefer the sturdy-bottom rafts, which typically hold up to 30 people. It’s a comfortable size and there’s not a bad seat for whale watching!
Note: this is a prime opportunity to use your underwater GoPro, in case a whale decides to get up close to the boat! Just use your float strap and attach it to your arm while under water or hanging off the side of the boat.
Also, bring layers with you for this – it can get chilly on the boat, especially if you have an early morning tour.
3. Shopping at Kihei Kalama Village
Kihei is a relatively small island town and you really can’t drive through it without noticing the Kalama Village. It offers a plethora of stores selling all kinds of clothing and souvenirs.
From mugs to house decor, children’s toys and luggage, you’ll find pretty much anything while shopping in Kihei. This little village packs a punch, too – with many stores and vendors selling enticing goods.
Pro tip: shop local if you can – ask if the items are locally made!
My favorite store in Kihei (and they have a few locations in addition to an online shop) is 808 Clothing Co Maui. They produce hats and shirts locally, so you know you’re making a direct impact to the island when you shop there. I’ve purchased and visited their locations several times throughout the years.
4. Get an acai bowl at Sweet Hula
Fresh fruit just tastes better in Hawaii! One of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy it is within an acai bowl. And while we loved the old place in Lahaina, our newest favorite spot is in Kihei Maui!
Sweet Hula is a fabulous food truck located in the Kihei food truck park. Their morning acai bowls are sure to provide a great start to your day!
5. Watch the sunset on the beach (absolute best Kihei things to do)
Alright you really cannot go to Hawaii without witnessing a magical sunset! The beaches in Kihei and Wailea face southwest so you’ll get some pretty great sunsets!
From Kamaole Beach Park to Keawakapu Beach and Wailea Beach up the road, they’re all pretty great places to enjoy the sunset.
My personal favorite to watch the sunset in Kihei is Lipoa Street Beach. It’s a hidden gem, with a public access right behind the Ace Hardware and Nalu’s South Shore Grill.
6. Go to a Luau (one of the top attractions in South Maui)
For memories to remember forever, enjoy the cultural experience of a Hawaiian luau. Enjoy traditional Hawaiian food, music and hula dancing.
You’ll learn the island’s history and heritage, which showcased by various storytellers on stage.
In South Maui, the Te Au Moana Luau is a great option. It’s located at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort, which is such a picturesque spot for an evening activity. There’s a variety of activities for all ages, tied in with ancient Polynesian culture.
Note: a luau can be seen as a tourist trap and it’s pricey, but it’s also very informative and entertaining. Plus, your food and drinks are included too. Going to a luau is definitely an area to splurge, as it’s by far one of the top things to do in Kihei Hawaii!
7. Grab a photo at the Aloha sign
If you go to the luau in Wailea, you’ll already be at the Marriott. So before or after the luau you can grab a photo of the Aloha sign!
This is a fun hang out area with oversized chair swings, outdoor games and a pond. If you want a photo with the sign, definitely go before the luau so it’s light out. The Aloha sign looks great at night, but you likely won’t be able to see yourself in the photo without some funky editing tricks.
8. Walk the Wailea Coastal Trail
Speaking of Wailea, and since it’s so close to Kihei, this is an easy activity before the luau or on a totally different day while you’re vacationing in South Maui.
This beautiful coastal walk reminds me of the one along Kaanapali Beach, as it’s intermixed within resorts and public beaches. The paved path is commonly used by joggers and runners, so if you’re just walking the trail be considerate for others.
Take a beautiful walk along the beaches and shorelines in Wailea, while enjoying the coastal views and getting some exercise. It’s a great way to explore the south coast and witness this ever-changing coastline in Hawaii.
Pro tip: if you wear comfy water shoes to walk the trail, you can even pop down and put your feet in the water to cool off when you come to a good spot!
Note: the full trail is 3.5 miles out-and-back, but you can hop on and off at any point in time.
9. Enjoy malasadas (one of the top things to do in Kihei Hawaii)
Alright when you visit Hawaii, there are certain foods you absolutely must try. The Hula Pie at Duke’s restaurants, Mahi-Mahi and Ono fish tacos found throughout the island, shave ice and malasadas.
Malasadas are a staple in Hawaii. Around since the 1950’s in Hawaii, the original shop, Leonard’s Bakery, is located in Honolulu.
Anyway, malasadas are a must-try for anyone looking for local flavor, or a sweet tooth in Kihei! My favorite place for malsadas in Kihei is the Sugar Beach Bake Shop.
Pro tip: make sure you plan time for it – there’s usually a line out the door and wrapped around the parking lot!
More fun things to do in Kihei Maui
Can you believe this list?! With so many amazing activities, you’ll never wonder what to do in Kihei again! It’s such a fun area on Maui.
10. Go snorkeling at Molokini Crater
Hit the water with a snorkeling tour at Molokini! This fun excursion allows you to see this sliver of an island off the coast of south Maui, and the marine life that calls it home.
Taking a snorkeling tour to Molokini from Kihei is a great activity for a day. Most tours start early in the morning and include a meal service (or 2), drinks and all the gear you’ll need to snorkel safely.
Enjoy the fish and reef at Molokini Crater, and then hop on over to snorkel at an area known as Turtle Town near South Maui. So fun!
This snorkeling tour leaves from Ma’alaea Harbor and includes a glass bottom, multiple decks for jumping and swimming, plus breakfast and lunch. Alternatively, this snorkeling tour leaves from Kihei and is a more intimate size, offering lots of food and beverage options plus great snorkeling!
Note: you can see the first-hand affects of traditional sunscreens in Hawaii as part of the reef is dying at the Molokini crater. It’s incredibly important to only use mineral sunscreen in Hawaii and elsewhere!
Book it now: Molokini Crater snorkeling tour
11. Check out the Farmer’s Market Maui in Kihei
This quaint farmer’s market is a fun spot to spend an hour or so. Grab some fresh fruits, veggies or even a smoothie. The fresh mango and papaya is spectacular here!
You can find plenty of other homemade goodies, like cream cheese spreads, guacamole, jam, butters, bread and more. Pick up some fresh cut flowers for your hotel or condo to brighten up the space, too.
You can also find homemade jewelry, which beautifully hand crafted right on the island. A fun souvenir, for sure!
Note: bring cash for the Farmer’s Market Maui in Kihei.
12. Visit the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Located just outside of Kihei on the way to Ma’alaea Bay is the underrated Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. You can visit the refuge to witness Hawaii’s endangered wetland birds and even some migratory birds over the winter.
The Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is a place where these birds have a safe place to nest, feed, breed and rest. It cover 700 acres, which is impressive for an island the size of Maui!
You can take the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk to see the refuge and see the birds. You’ll also see Haleakala and the west Maui mountains from the boardwalk. There’s a visitor center full of displays and learning opportunities for all ages.
As a bonus, this is a free activity, and one of the best things to do in Kihei.
13. Enjoy outdoor games and food at the Food Truck Park
If you’re looking for good, wholesome fun in Kihei, you’ve found the right spot!
In an area that otherwise shuts down early and has limited activities after dark, the Food Truck Park (aka Kihei Food Oasis) is a fun spot to enjoy some delightful cuisines while having fun playing games and listening to live music.
Enjoy a variety of foods from vegan specialties to burgers, Thai and Indian cuisine, there’s something for everyone here. And bonus – everyone can eat at a different restaurant if you choose to do so!
For games, you can enjoy oversized Jenga, corn hole, hook and ring toss and more. It’s truly fun for all ages.
14. Devour shave ice at Ululani’s
Note: devour is an essential word here! 🤣 Another must-do in Kihei and Maui is eat at Ululani’s!
This shave ice isn’t like the icee you get at home! It’s incredibly smooth, and you’ll think you’re eating something much richer than ice!
Pick a flavor of ice and you can even ask the staff how to compliment it with a scoop of ice cream! My family’s favorites are Sunset Beach (passion orange, mango, guava), Citrus Squeeze (lime, pink lemonade, lemon) and Tiger’s Blood.
If you want to add a scoop of ice cream in it, your shave ice will be at a whole new level! It might sound weird to eat shave ice and ice cream at the same time, but it’s really quite delightful.
Definitely one of the top things to do in Kihei!
15. Take surfing lessons (another must-do on this list of Kihei things to do)
Surfing is a unique and exhilarating water sport that allows individuals to challenge themselves and learn a new skill. Why not try it in Hawaii? Learning to surf can be a gratifying accomplishment.
While some of us love to watch surfers, you may want to join in on the action!
Whether you’ve never been on a surf board or you want to brush up on the basics, taking a surfing lesson is a great way to experience the ocean. These Kihei surfing lessons are 2 hours and you’ll learn how to get up on the board and catch your first wave – and hopefully many more!
16. Explore the Maui Ocean Center
Up the road in Maalaea, the Maui Ocean Center features a variety of interactive exhibits that allow visitors to get up close and personal with marine life. A highlight is the tunnel which allows you to walk under the sharks – so fun!
The interactive touch pools provide a hands-on experience with creatures like sea stars and sea cucumbers. Displays throughout the Maui Ocean Center focus on the marine life and the history of the Hawaiian islands.
This is a great activity for all ages, and can be done in rain or shine! It reminds me of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best things to do with kids in Monterey.
Be sure to check out the short film in 3D, featuring humpback whales – it’s spectacular!
17. Visit the South Maui Gardens (one of the most underrated things to do in Kihei)
One of the last stops (but certainly not least) on this list of things to do in Kihei is the South Maui Gardens. Connected to the Food Truck Oasis in downtown Kihei, these gardens are simply stunning!
For tropical plant lovers, this is an oasis. Walk through the gardens and let your stress melt away.
From lavish palm trees to unique alocasias, philodendrons and crotons only grown in Hawaii! The South Maui Gardens also has a coffee shop, gift shop and event center, too.
A true builder of the community, there’s a weekly artisan market, live music and movies and even a weekly hula show. There’s so much to see and do at the South Maui Gardens!
18. Take a day trip to upcountry
If you’e staying in Kihei, you’re in prime location to visit Maui upcountry. And there’s so many options for your Maui vacation!
If you’ve never visited Haleakala National Park, what are you waiting for?! Made famous in recent decades for it’s spectacular sunrise tours, you can also watch the sunset at Haleakala or simply visit during the day for hiking and great views!
Sitting at 10,023 feet above sea level, pack your layers and enjoy the spectacular view.
Things to do in Kihei
Well, that’s a wrap! Kihei is an underrated place in Maui, and one you’ll love exploring. It’s beautiful and inviting, with fun, food and activities for all ages. So whether you’re planning a week in Maui or are island-hopping, you’ll fill your time easily!
Let’s take a look at things to do in Kihei again, in a quick list…
What to do in Kihei Maui
- Go swimming at Kamaole Beach Park
- Take a humpback whale tour
- Shopping at Kihei Kalama Village
- Acai bowl at Sweet Hula
- Watch the sunset on the beach
- Go to a Luau
- Grab a photo at the Aloha sign
- Walk the Wailea Coastal Trail
- Enjoy malasadas
- Go snorkeling at Molokini Crater
- Check out the Farmer’s Market Maui in Kihei
- Visit the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
- Enjoy outdoor games and food at Kihei Food Oasis
- Devour shave ice at Ululani’s
- Take surfing lessons
- Explore the Maui Ocean Center
- Visit the South Maui Gardens
- Take a day trip to upcountry
Related content to read next:
Haleakala at Sunset: Ultimate Guide to Watching Pure Magic in Hawaii
36 Incredible Things to Do with Kids in Maui (Ideas for Never-ending Fun)
Things to do in Maui on a Budget: 20 Cheap or Free Activities that Don’t Suck
Stunning Waihee Ridge Trail: Maui Hike You Don’t Want to Miss
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