The coast of South Maui from Maʻalaea to the ʻAhihi-Kinaʻu Natural Area Preserve is often referred to as the Kihei Coast. In fact, however, the most interesting areas of this coast are located south of Kihei.
From Maʻaleaea Harbor, traveling north on Highway 30, you need to bear right at the signs for Highway 31.
The initial stretch of roadway will take you past Maʻalaea Bay and Beach on your right and the Kealia Pond Bird Sanctuary and ponds on your left. If you stick to the coast, you will pass through the town of Kihei. Aside from hotels, condos and a few stores there is little to see in Kihei. There are much better views and beaches further south.
Leaving Kihei you enter the Wailea area which plays host to several outstanding resort hotels and spas including the world famous Grand Wailea Resort.
The grounds are huge and magnificently landscaped and decorated in every direction. Wailea Beach, recipient of Dr. Beach's 1999 Award for Best Beach in America, is the main beach of the Grand Wailea Resort.
Driving south from Wailea, you pass three excellent local beaches, Polo Beach - near the Kea Lani Resort, Palauea Beach and finally Poʻolenalena Beach which is located on the south side of Haloa Point. As you leave the Wailea area, heading south, you enter Makena. The Makena area of Maui offers an amazingly diverse geology.
At the northern end of Makena you will find several wonderful beaches including Makena's Big Beach. As you travel south from Big Beach in Makena you will begin to notice the topography changing. You are approaching the area of Maui where Haleakala last erupted, in 1790. The highway takes you into and through most of the ʻAhihi-Kinaʻu Natural Area Reserve.
You will see lava flows on both sides of the highway as well as along the slopes of Haleakalā on your left. When the paved roadway ends it is time to turn around and head back.
The drive on the Kihei Coast will take about a half day, depending on how long you spend at the various stops along the way.
For more information check out these related features:
Profile of Kihei, Maui - Maui's Sunny South Shore
Kihei Photo Gallery
Profile of Wailea - A Sanctuary of Beauty on Maui's South Shore
Wailea Photo Gallery
Profile of Makena - Maui Untamed and Wild
Makena Photo Gallery