People relaxing on a wide sandy beach with clear skies and an island seen in the distance - beaches and water activities are some of the best things to do in Kihei

21 Best Things to Do in Kihei, Hawaii (2024)

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Kihei is the main residential hub on Maui’s leeward side. A small, slow-paced town, it’s the perfect home base for anyone who wants to enjoy a chill beach town. 

I love going to Hawaii every chance I get. Living in California, Hawaii is just a short flight away and our go-to place during winter breaks. I have been to Oahu (twice), Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

On my family trip to Maui, we explored the entire island and spent a lot of time exploring Kihei. It had a really cool local vibe and felt less touristy. Being in Kihei, I felt like I belonged there. It was very welcoming.

There are plenty of beach parks in Kihei, and the town’s central location makes it a great launching pad for adventures on other sides of the island.

There’s more to do here than just the beach, though— let’s talk about the best attractions, activities, and things to do in Kihei.

In a hurry? Below are my top recommendations for things to do in Kihei:

21 Best Things to Do in Kihei, Maui

Whether you want an adventurous holiday on the beach or hope to relax with some good food, there’s plenty to do in Kihei. Let’s get into my top recommendations below. 

1. Surf Lessons at the Cove

With its origins in Hawaiian culture, surfing is a must-do activity for anyone traveling to Hawaii! The Cove, a popular surf break in Kihei, is perfect for everyone, including beginners.

colorful surfboard resting on grass against a railing in Hawaii

If this is your first time going out, taking a surf lesson is great. Plenty of surf schools are in the area, or you could rent a board and go out on your own.

Lessons typically have a portion on land, where you’ll learn basic water safety and the mechanics of surfing before heading out into the ocean to try it out yourself.

For a surf day, choose to head out early in the morning. There’s less wind, and the surf tends to be better. 

Choose from one of these surf lesson options:
Group Surf Lesson: Two Hours of Beginners Instruction in Kihei – max 6 group size, highly rated
Semi-Private Surf Lesson at Kalama Park in Kihei – private for your group, Minimum 2 people, great for families or couples

 2. Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

I loved visiting the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. This protected wetland is home to the Hawaiian stilt (aero) and the Hawaiian coot (‘alae ke’oke’o).

In the winter, the sanctuary sees over 30 species of different birds! A self-guided tour on a short boardwalk passes over the wetlands.

Long wooden boardwalk at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Kealia Coastal Boardwalk

This is a really great spot to stop at for sunset. Walk along the boardwalk, read the signs, watch the birds, and hear the ocean gently lapping the shore beside you.

Plus, you get a fantastic view of the windmills on the West Maui’s ahead and Haleakala behind you.

You can easily spend an hour here, and its location between North Kihei and Maalaea makes it a perfect spot to add to another adventure.

3. Shop at Kihei Kalama Village

An open-air shopping area is located on South Kihei Road, right across from Kalama Park. This quaint spot is a great place to look for souvenirs to take home.

outdoor Shopping mall entrance with the name Kihei Kalama Village at the front in a circular sign
Kihei Kalama Village – shopping mall in Kihei

Meander among the kiosks and see a variety of artwork, jewelry, hats, clothing, and more. You’ll even find a shave ice shop and a few restaurants if you have an appetite. 

Alley with sovenier shops on both sides at Kihei Kalama Village, Maui
Shops in Kihei Kalama Village

I recommend checking out all the shops before making a purchase. Some of the shops sell very similar items— so you’ll be able to get the best possible price.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Not all the sellers will be willing to haggle with you, but some will. 

4. Snorkel at Molokini Crater with Redline Rafting Co.

For a super fun and unique snorkeling trip, look no further than Redline Rafting Co. 

You’ll go out for a spin in a 35ft customizable raft that fits 24 people. This small, agile boat can escape crowds and get you to the best snorkel spots faster. 

These snorkel tours start at the Kihei Boat Ramp in South Kihei, making it super convenient. Especially for the early morning start times!

The five-hour Molokini and South Maui snorkel tour is their most popular— for a good reason. Few companies take you to the back wall of Molokini, but Redline Rafting Co. does!

the back wall of the crescent shaped Molokini crater seen from the beach
The back wall of the crescent-shaped Molokini crater seen from the beach

Here, you’ll jump into 100 feet deep blue water and see the reef on the backside of the crater descend into the depths. It’s an incredible thing to see with your own eyes.

You can also snorkel with Hawaiian Green sea turtles and stop at La Perouse Bay to search for Hawaiian spinner dolphins.

During the winter months of December to April, you might also spot some whales on this tour. Or you can take this Maui Whale-Watching Tour by Raft from Kihei, which is mainly for whale watching.

It’s truly a fantastic experience, and the raft gives you an up close and personal perspective that you miss on the bigger tours. 

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated
Molokini Crater and South Maui Coast Adventure from Kihei

5. Kayak with Maui Kayaks

Kayaking is a fantastic half-day activity on the ocean. Head out from Makena Landing with Maui Kayaks and explore the calm waters along South Maui’s shore.

You’re guaranteed to see a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle during the Makena Turtle Town Eco Adventure. Of course, you might also get to see other marine animals. 

If you’re visiting during winter, you’ll probably see humpback whales. You may see manta and eagle rays, octopuses, and eels throughout the year. 

Two snorkel sites are included, so you can hop out of your kayak and explore the underwater world yourself. 

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated
Makena Turtle Town Eco Adventure in Maui

6. Get vegan donuts at Maui Ono

Maui Ono is a delicious food truck in Kihei that sells vegan donuts. 

If you’re in town for a Saturday morning, stop by the Farmer’s Market in Kukui Mall and get a fresh donut while you stroll!

You can feel good about your snack— this local spot is committed to giving back to the ʻāina (land). 

Choose from a variety of made-to-order old-fashioned cake donuts. Start with a delicious frosting, and then add a topping of your choice. 

My personal favorite is maple frosting with crushed Oreos. 

7. Drink coffee at Akamai Coffee Co.

Akamai Coffee Co. is a great spot whether you want a cup of Joe to help power you through your next adventure or spend a quiet morning hanging out before hitting the beach.

This local business has had locations in Maui for 14+ years, and its commitment to quality is evident in every cup.

breakfast in Kihei - several breakfast dishes on a table with coffee
Breakfast at Akamai Coffee Co. Their delicious coffee is all gone before breakfast!

The coffee shop is a cute (air-conditioned) escape from the hot Kihei sun. This is also a great spot to grab breakfast in Kihei before heading out for excursions.

You can take pictures in their iconic swinging chairs, play a board game with your friends, or just people-watch. 

Try their iconic Hawaiian Honeybee latte! It’s a lightly sweetened latte with honey, vanilla, and coconut flavor. 

8. Boogie board at Charley Young

The south shore of Maui consists of beach after beach that’s perfect for families. Charley Young is one of my favorite beaches in Kihei.

Not only does Charley Young have a spacious parking lot, shower, and porta-potties, but it’s also got conditions that are great for various activities.

People relaxing on a wide sandy beach with clear skies and an island seen in the distance

The soft sandy bottom of this beach and the gentle waves make it a fun place to try your hand at boogie boarding!

Plus, there are pine trees that offer great shade, making it easy to spend an entire day at this beach. 

9. Snorkel at Keawekapu Beach

Keawekapu is a .7-mile-long sandy beach that runs to the end of Kihei. It’s a really popular spot— and with reason. 

There’s a grassy area perfect for picnic lunches and watching the sunset. Plus, the sand is soft, and the beach is ideal for swimming. 

The Mana Kai hotel rents stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkel gear on the northern end. 

The northern end is also a fantastic spot to snorkel! There’s an artificial reef a little ways offshore, and there are many fish and coral to see.

10. Paddleboard at Kamaole Beach Park I

Kamaole Beach Park I is a small beach park and a great launching point for a paddle-boarding adventure. There’s a close beach parking lot with easy access to the beach.

Rent Paddle Boards across the street at Boss Frog’s Snorkel and head out for an idyllic morning on the water.

A lifeguard’s also on duty at this location, perfect for added peace of mind. 

If you are new to paddle boarding, you can take beginner SUP lessons in a semi-private class right on Kamaole Beach Park I.

Anu’s Pro Tip: Bring your phone in a dry bag to get pictures from the water!

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated
Semi-Private Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Class at Kalama Beach – only your group will participate, great for families or friends

11. Swim at Kamaole Beach Park II

Kamaole Beach Park II is my favorite swimming beach of the Kam’s. It’s got a nice long sandy stretch to enjoy and a grassy area where you can hang out if it’s windy.

Lifeguards are on duty until the late afternoon, and there are many places to park. 

Plus, if you work up an appetite after swimming, Maui Fish and Chips is just across the street. 

The trade winds in Kihei typically pick up between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM and go until the late afternoon. For the best beach conditions, head out in the early morning. 

12. Take a picnic/ Grill out at Kamaole Beach Park III

A few things set Kamaole Beach Park III apart from its two sister beaches. 

The first is an impressively large grassy area with grills, picnic tables, shade from trees, and a playground.

This is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. With 22 picnic tables and eight barbecue grills, you don’t have to worry about not having space! 

Bring a hammock between the trees, or enjoy listening to the birds sing in the branches.

The second thing that sets Kim III apart is the reefy outcroppings in the water itself. They are incredibly photogenic, and they also make for great snorkeling options in calm weather. 

13. Head to Haleakala for Sunset

Over 75% of the island of Maui is made up of the volcano Haleakala! When choosing between Haleakala sunrise vs sunset, we chose the latter for a more relaxed experience.

sun setting over the horizon over the clouds with orange colored skies
Sunset at Haleakala Summitlook at the clouds below!

Watching the sunset from the summit is guaranteed to be one of your most memorable moments in Maui. I was amazed to see a sunset at such a high altitude! The blanket of clouds below us felt unreal!

While the summit isn’t in Kihei, it’s worth doing. Plan half a day away from the South Shore and see it up high.

It’ll take about 2.5 hours from Kihei to drive to the summit, over 10,000 feet of elevation.

You must purchase a national park pass, but it’s well worth it. Drive above the clouds and watch the sun descend over the magical island of Maui. 

On your way to the summit, make sure to stop at the cute little town of Makawao to get some snacks and coffee. I enjoyed exploring the stores in Makawao, like the Maui Cookie Lady and Sherri Reeve Gallery & Gifts.

14. Get Brunch at Nalu’s SouthShore Grill

What are vacations for other than eating and drinking delicious food? There’s no better place to go than Nalu’s South Shore Grill. 

You’ll order at the front counter and sit in the open-air restaurant. 

Waffles topped with chicken and bacon and served with syrup. The chicken and bacon are arranged to look like a volcano
Fried Chicken and Waffles at Nalu’s

They serve various foods, including waffles with fried chicken, eggs Benedict, and local favorites like loco moco. 

Nalu’s is more than just a brunch spot. In the evenings, there’s live music to enjoy, too! 

15. Enjoy Ululani’s famous shave ice

No trip to Hawaii is complete without trying shave ice. The soft texture of the ice melts in your mouth, and it’s the perfect cool treat for a hot afternoon.

Ululani’s is one of the best shave ice companies on the island. They have several locations in Maui, one in North Kihei, across from Sugar Beach.

What sets Ululani’s apart is their specialty syrups, high-quality ice, and terrific toppings. You can even get Rosalani’s ice cream in the center of your shaved ice for an extra treat. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Rainbow colored shave ice in a bowl
They made me a rainbow-colored shave ice bowl!

We tried several flavors and toppings. I asked them to make me the most vibrant bowl, and they made me one that looked like a rainbow. Ululani’s also has a location in Kona on Big Island.

16. Watch the sunset from Sugar Beach

While Sugar Beach isn’t my top beach for swimming, it is a fantastic spot to stroll.  

Stretching between North Kihei and Maalaea, there are plenty of access points, rock formations, and palm trees for shade. 

The soft white sand resembles sugar, which is how the beach got its name. It’s one of my favorite spots to watch the sunset. 

This is a great spot to walk and see the humpback whales in winter. 

17. Hawaii Mermaid Adventures

Learn to be a mermaid for a truly unique and magical Maui adventure! Learn from your mer-instructor how to swim and flip like a real sea creature.

This Mermaid Ocean Swimming Lesson occurs in the calm waters of Makena Bay, so you won’t have to worry about waves or other swimmers. 

Put on the provided mermaid tail and mono fin, then frolic in the ocean. 

You’ll also get an included digital photo package. What better way to explore the underwater world than to become a part of it? 

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated
Mermaid Ocean Swimming Lesson in Maui

18. Te Au Moana Luau 

If you’ve always dreamed of experiencing a Hawaiian luau, The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort puts on a fantastic Te Au Moana Luau show. 

You’ll get to watch a group of talented dancers portraying the stories of fishing, gathering, and voyaging. You’ll even see a fire knife show.  

Group of female dancers wearing yellow and black Hawaiian hula dance costumes are doing hula dancing in a circle on a circular open air stage

Feast upon traditional Hawaiian fare during the three-course meal. Drinks and a lei are included with your admission ticket.

It’s truly an epic evening of storytelling and delicious dining under the clear Maui skies against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. 

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated
Te Au Moana Luau at The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort on Maui

Another epic luau in Maui that we love is the Old Lahaina Luau. (Note: It’s temporarily closed after the Lahaina fires in August 2023).

19. Tutu’s Pantry

If you’re looking for souvenirs made with aloha, look at Tutu’s Pantry in Central Kihei. 

There’s a wide variety of locally made items that anyone at home will be pleased to receive. These include lilikoi jelly, hot sauces, coffee, honey, and more. 

Best of all? You get unlimited samples of each product, so you know that what you’re taking home is delicious. 

It’s a great spot to go if you’re looking for a unique (and not hoaky) gift to give. Its location makes it a great addition to a beach day at one of the Kamaole Beach Parks. 

20. Go to the Upcountry Farmer’s Market

Open only on Saturday mornings from 7–11 AM, the Upcountry Farmer’s Market is a pleasant 40-minute drive from Kihei.

You’ll find plenty of locally grown produce and freshly made goodies. If you go at the beginning of your trip, you can stock up on grocery items to enjoy during your stay.

Maui Gold pineapples arranged on a rack on a produce stand

See a fun fruit or vegetable? Feel free to ask the producers what it is. They’re happy to share their knowledge (and might even let you try some).

Even if you can only make it at the end of your stay, it’s still worth a stop. There’s fine jewelry, locally made ceramics, and more. 

21. Drive the Road to Hana

Exploring the Road to Hana Drive is one of the top day trips from Kihei. It takes a full day to explore the Road to Hana if you want to cover all the main stops in your Road to Hana itinerary.

➡ You can drive yourself or take this Road to Hana small group tour and leave the driving to someone else. That way, you can just enjoy the scenery and stops and not worry about logistics or parking.

Make sure to go past Hana to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park. The Pools of Oheo and the Pipiwai trail that leads to Waimoku Falls via an amazing bamboo forest are worth the drive.

Pipiwai Trail Hike to Bamboo Forest and Waimoku Falls
Pipiwai Trail hike passes through a dense bamboo forest before reaching Waimoku Falls

Anu’s Pro-tip: If you purchased the National Park entrance permit for the Haleakala Summit, it is valid for 3 consecutive days, and you can visit the Kipahulu District within that time. We first visited the Kipahulu District on the Road to Hana and then visited the Summit the day after using the same pass.

Where to stay in Kihei

Check out my top three options for where to stay in Kihei below.

Wailea Beach with resort buildings in the background

Andaz Maui (luxury) – If you’re looking for a luxurious Maui vacation, look no further than the Andaz Maui. With 15 beachfront acres, farm-to-table dining, and direct access to Mokapu Beach, you’ll want to stay. 

Kohea Kai Maui (Mid-range) – This cute hotel is a great mid-range option located only steps away from the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool hotels, and take advantage of the 24-hour concierge service. 

Condos/Vacation rentals in Kihei (budget) – There are plenty of great condos in the Kihei area, many with full kitchens and multiple rooms. You can even find ones with ocean views. Condos are great for families and budget travelers as you can save money on food by fixing your own meals.  

How to get to Kihei

There are lots of nonstop flights to Maui from the US Mainland. The main airport on Maui is Kahului Airport (OGG), 12 miles from Kihei.

Approximately a 25-minute drive, you can rent a car from a rental company (8 onsite at the airport) or take a taxi. 

Alternatively, you can take the Maui Bus. Take Route 40 or 35 and then connect to Route 10 to get to Kihei. 

How to get around Kihei

If you plan to stay in Kihei, you can get by by walking or biking.

I still recommend renting a car for your stay.

This will let you go further afield and enjoy more of what the island of Maui has to offer, but you’ll also have somewhere to store your things during long adventure days. 

Conclusion: Attractions and Activities in Kihei, Hawaii

Kihei is a quaint beach town with six miles of beaches and fun Hawaiian adventures. 

It’s truly the epitome of a Hawaiian paradise. Remember to pack your sunscreen! You’ll need it. 

With so many unique attractions, activities, and things to do in Kihei, it can take time to choose which to prioritize. The good news is that you’re guaranteed to have fun! 

Make sure to venture out and explore the rest of Maui, too. As most of the island cannot be explored by road, the best way to see epic views is by air. Check out these highly-rated Maui helicopter rides and be amazed at the views from the sky.

If visiting Maui during winter, take one of these recommended Maui whale-watching tours with guaranteed whale sightings.