Southern Hospitality: Kīhei Day Trip + VIDEO

Follow your local guide and make the most of Kihei, Maui.

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Story by Lehia Apana

south maui day trip mapSouth Maui’s coastal culture means that, whatever your plans, sun and sand are always within reach. Pristine beaches offer a front-row seat to marine life and Technicolor skies, while a vibrant nightlife keeps the fun rolling well past sunset.

8–10 a.m. Bird’s the word at the Keālia Coastal Boardwalk, where you can spot the area’s feathered residents, including two of Hawai‘i’s endangered waterbirds: the Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt. Spanning an easy .4 miles, the boardwalk is dotted with interpretive signs that share the area’s history and explain which birds to look for. It’s also adjacent to one of the island’s best seaside walks: Sugar Beach, which spans from Mā‘alaea to Kīhei’s north end.

sugar beach

10:15 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Explore the ocean depths from the comfort of dry land at Maui Ocean Center. This harbor-front aquarium celebrates our underwater neighbors and is home to one of the largest collections of live Pacific corals in the world. Marine experts share their mana‘o (knowledge) during daily interactive talks, including the popular Ocean Exhibit dive, when a mic-equipped diver answers questions from inside the 750,000-gallon tank. Steps away is the “Insta-worthy” fifty-four-foot tunnel through waters that teem with charismatic sharks, stingrays and tropical fish.

Maui Ocean Center

The in-house Seascape Restaurant lives up to its name with expansive harbor views and an island-inspired menu. It’s a savory repast, and aquarium admission isn’t required to dine here. Bonus: The Surfrider Foundation has added the eatery to its exclusive list of Ocean Friendly Restaurants that reduce plastic waste, and implement practices such as using compostable or recyclable takeout containers. Aquarium hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last admission 4:30 p.m.). Seascape is open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; 5 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. 192 Mā‘alaea Road, Mā‘alaea; 808-270-7000; MauiOceanCenter.com

2 p.m. Time for an intermission? Relax at the beach — my pick is Oneloa at Mākena State Park, a.k.a. “Big Beach” — or head home to rest before the evening activities.   

Kihei Skate Park6–7:30 p.m. It’s easy to feel like a kid again. Simply lace up a pair of skates or rollerblades and make the rounds at Maui’s only public skating rink, located at Kalama Park. What the rink lacks in size and frills, it more than makes up for with its oceanfront setting and sunset views. Maui Inline Hockey Association volunteers run the rental station and concessions; monies raised help with rink upkeep. Public skating is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays. Rental skates are $5/pair. 1900 S. Kīhei Road, Kīhei; MauiHockey.com

8 p.m. Keep it sporty and head to The Pint and Cork at The Shops at Wailea, where you can catch the latest televised game, cold brew in hand. Sports bars aren’t known for dishing up gourmet fare, but this spot breaks the mold, serving up favorites like warm mushroom salad with truffle oil, daily fish specials, and a decadent mac and cheese. Feel free to linger — food is served until midnight and the bar stays open until 2 a.m. 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea; 808-727-2038; ThePintAndCork.com

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