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Home to some of the top beaches in Maui, including Big Beach and Little Beach, South Maui boasts a relaxed vibe and some of Maui’s most incredible natural beauty.
Whether you’re departing on a snorkeling tour of world-famous Molokini Crater from Maalaea Harbor, wandering through the Maui Ocean Center, or just kicking back with a shave-ice, Kihei, Wailea, and Makena a universe of fun in the sun.
Kihei is more than just a great place to visit, which is why many locals, or “kama‘ainas,” make it their home.
In addition to miles of golden sand beaches, Kihei also offers affordable accommodations and loads of great shopping and dining options that cater to locals and visitors alike.
In Kihei you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to live on Maui, without all the “touristy” bars and theme restaurants that typify Front Street in Lahaina.
With a slightly drier climate, the air temperature in South Maui is warmer, making its beaches desirable to swimmers and sunbathers alike.
Here’s a short list of some of the best Kihei beaches:
If a family beach day in Kihei is on your agenda, be sure to highlight one of the three Kamaole Beach Parks on your map.
Equipped with restrooms, showers, BBQs, and grassy lawns, these popular Kihei beaches are perfect for family fun.
While visiting Kihei, why not try out Hawaii’s favorite pastime? Surfing! A Maui surfing lesson is an exhilarating way to experience Hawaii’s warm, tropical waters.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding or “SUP” has become wildly popular in Maui as of late because it’s fun and super easy to learn.
Lessons are available for both of these popular activities, and both surf and SUP companies guarantee that you’ll be standing up on your first lesson.
You can also have your stand up paddle board rental delivered to you with a roof rack for your rental car. Now you can easily explore from Makena Beach to Napili Bay on your own!
South Maui is known for all the awesome ocean and beach activities that are available in the region. After playing all day you’re bound to work up an appetite.
Thankfully, there are countless eateries to choose from, where fresh, island fish and sushi are plentiful. A couple of local favorites are Coconut’s Fish Café and Kihei Caffe.
Here’s a list of our favorite places to dine for locals and visitors alike:
For getting around in South Maui, hit Kihei Rent-A-Car for a great value on a smooth ride.
Not all rental car places are the same. Rent your rig from the locals who will treat you like Ohana every time.
If relaxed shopping is your idea of “downtime” on your vacation itinerary, Kihei is your place.
Many funky little malls and marketplaces are scattered through this mellow beach town.
Seek out Rainbow Mall, Kihei Kalama Village, Kamaole Shopping Center, and Kihei Town Center to start your journey. If “chic” happens to be your cup of tea, The Shops at Wailea is only a short drive away.
Unlike Kihei, which is known for its laid-back, local feel, Wailea is known has a reputation for ultra-ritzy hotels, immaculate, white sand beaches, expensive boutiques, and world-class golf courses.
It’s essentially the “Beverly Hills” of Maui.
Even if “lifestyles of the rich and famous” isn’t quite your bag, it’s still fun to have a peek around the neighborhood.
The Shops at Wailea is a perfect place to grab an iced coffee before enjoying a relaxing stroll through Waldorf Astoria’s opulent Grand Wailea Resort.
Housing the largest art collection in the State of Hawaii, The Grand Wailea is arguably the most spectacular resort on Maui.
Since The Grand Wailea is conveniently nestled on one of the best beaches in Maui, Wailea Beach, this resort is worth a visit for that reason alone.
If you’re visiting Kihei and Wailea, you absolutely need to hang out at Makena, or “Big Beach.” The long, wide expanse of golden-white sand on Makena Beach is one of Maui’s top beaches.
Big Beach has a notoriously strong shore break, so please exercise caution.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can hike over the rocks on the north end of Big Beach to access Little Beach, where clothing is optional and rarely worn.
Don’t forget to bring high SPF sunscreen!
Just north of Kihei is the quaint, harbor village of Maalaea.
Not only is Maalaea home to the Maui Aquarium, or Maui Ocean Center, it’s also home to one of the most active harbors in Maui.
Maalaea Harbor offers a myriad of exciting boat tours, including whale watching, sport fishing, scuba diving, sunset cruises, and snorkel excursions to famous Molokini Crater.
On your visit to Maalaea, you’ll find one of the most memorable things to do in Maui: Visiting the spectacular Maui Aquarium, or Maui Ocean Center.
The Maui Ocean Center, the largest tropical aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, offers a cornucopia of brilliantly colored corals and tropical fish, sharks, octopi, and sea turtles in over 60 exhibits.
Here are a few highlights of the Maui Ocean Center:
A snorkel tour to the volcanic crater, Molokini is an absolute must-do adventure for any Maui vacationer. What makes Molokini Crater so special? Its crescent-shaped crater, of course!
Not only does the crater provide a calm sanctuary for marine life, but it also houses a thriving reef, teeming with a diversity of coral.
Here are a few reasons why Molokini snorkel, SNUBA, and scuba-diving excursions often rank as a major highlight for Maui visitors:
A diversity of shopping from fancy to easy-going, some of Maui’s best and largest beaches, and ocean adventures that will leave you exhilarated, make Kihei, Makena, and Wailea a vacationer’s paradise.
Here’s a list of popular Maui activities and destinations that are within arm’s reach of South Maui:
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