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Kihei: Maui's Sunny South Shore

Sharing the sunniest, driest end of Maui with Wailea and Makena is the community of Kihei. The brilliant feature of this seaside town is its six-mile long stretch of sandy beach with views of Kaho‘olawe, Molokini, Lana’i and West Maui. From this vantage point, the West Maui Mountains appear to be a separate island, a mysterious Shangri La in the distance.

Kihei’s Kalama Beach Park has shady lawns and palm trees dotting its 36 oceanfront acres. A blink away are Kalepolepo, Waipu‘ilani, and the three beaches of Kama‘ole. One may be favored for swimming, another for body surfing or board surfing. Each one is wide, sandy and sunny - a perfect postcard, the quintessential tropical beach.

People come to Kihei for the beaches and stay for weeks at a time. Many stay a lifetime. Some of the best bargains in accommodations can be found among the condominiums, small hotels and cottages along Kihei’s beach road.

A string of sleepy Hawaiian villages with outrigger canoes once lined the shore. Kamehameha had an ancient fishpond at Kalepolepo restored for his use and enjoyment. According to Hawaiian lore, it took 10,000 men to complete the project.

Hawaiian royalty sojourned regularly at Kihei, basking regally on the breeze-swept shore. There’s nothing sleepy about this coast now, nor will it cost a king’s ransom to visit.

Small shopping malls, a bustling farmer’s market, activity centers, and a spate of restaurants and sundown mai tai spots enliven the Kihei scene. Everyday good things abound here, from health food stores to supermarkets and a pizza restaurant or two. Everyone eventually ends up at the modernized Azeka’s Shopping Center to buy old-fashioned Maui potato chips and Azeka’s famous barbecued ribs, or to shop for sunglasses, books and beach towels. There’s also a public golf course in Kihei, Elleair, where players of every handicap will find a challenge.

But the fun doesn’t stop with the setting sun. Kihei’s nightlife includes sports bars, karaoke spots, and dance clubs.

Birdwatchers and nature lovers have their own adventures, too. At the north end of Kihei is the national Wildlife Conservation District, Keälia Pond, where endangered Hawaiian stilts and coots thrive in a salt-water marsh that is easily visible from the road. Nearby, the harbor at Ma‘älaea is the launching site for an armada of pleasure boats taking visitors on charter fishing excursions, whale watching expeditions and snorkel trips to Molokini.

At this end of Maui, anyone on any budget can enjoy the sunshine, surf and sand that are ubiquitous in Kihei. The magical Maui nights are available to everyone, and anyone can feel like a king here. Those who listen carefully may hear the song of the whale - even while floating in the ocean - and see the great humpbacks frolicking in the waves.

Article Courtesy of the Maui Visitors Bureau

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