Moving to Maui: South Maui
Congratulations! You’ve decided to move to Maui.
Maui has been ranked one of the best islands in the world for years. With plentiful sunshine, waterfalls, stunning beaches and valleys, Maui is a wonderful place to call home.
Maui has many different neighborhoods that fit each individual’s needs. With so many diverse areas, there is plenty to consider before buying a home on Maui.
From quiet and chilly Kula to hot and busy Kīhei, there is a neighborhood for everyone.
- Maui is the second largest island in Hawaiʻi. It is 48 miles long and 26 miles wide, with an area of 728 square miles.
- The population was estimated at 164,726 in 2015-16.
- Maui is home to white, black and red sand beaches. There are about 80 beaches on Maui providing 120 miles of accessible beaches—more than any other Hawaiian Island.
- There are two major industries on Maui: agriculture and tourism.
- Maui’s capital is Wailuku.
- Maui is home to some of the best whale watching, wind surfing, surfing, snorkeling and waterfalls.
- Haleakalā is a volcano that sits 10,023 feet above sea level. It is the largest dormant volcano in the world.
- Maui is nicknamed the “Valley Isle” for its stunning valleys that have been created by Haleakalā and Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui mountains).
- The major airport is located in Kahului and there are two smaller commuter airports in Kapalua and Hāna.
- Kahului is the largest census-designated place on the island, with a population of 26,337 as of 2010. Kīhei is the second most populated CDP.
- Maui can get very windy. Tradewinds blow about 80% of the year. “Kona” winds, which blow out of the south or southwest, are lighter but also carry the sulfur dioxide “vog.” The air can be hazy for a few days until the tradewinds come back; however, “voggy” days make for some of the best red sunsets you’ll ever see.
Wailea-Mākena, Kīhei, Mā‘alaea, Maui Meadows
If sunshine and ocean activities are selling points for you when moving to Maui, then South Maui could be an ideal location.
South Maui can be much warmer than other areas on the island. The average temperature throughout winter is in the low to mid-80s. In the summertime, temperatures can average between the high 80s to low 90s.
Keep in mind that the tradewinds pick up almost every afternoon and last until about sunset, which can limit some ocean activities.
Although the majority of South Maui is located next to the beach, there are plenty of restaurants, shopping and other non-ocean activities available in South Maui.
Let’s start with one of the areas that has become one of the fastest growing towns in the U.S.
Located on the southwest coast of Maui, Kīhei has 10 miles of beaches and plenty of activities to enjoy.
The local residents are mixed, with Caucasians making up the majority of Kīhei’s 22,000 residents.
Kīhei is also the busiest town in South Maui and it provides plenty of shopping, dining, nightlife, beaches and activities.
With tourism being one of the major industries on Maui, Wailea, located right next to Kīhei, is home to some of Maui’s most luxurious hotels.
Many Kīhei residents work at these resorts, so living nearby provides a fast and convenient work commute.
Every fourth Friday, Kīhei town hosts a big party. Residents and guests can enjoy local food, art, shopping, live music and much more at Kīhei Fourth Friday Town Parties.
There is plenty of shopping in Kīhei, from the Kīhei Town Shopping Center to Azeka Shopping Center. There are thrift stores, souvenir shops, local boutique stores, surf shops; almost every type of store can be found in Kīhei.
Kīhei is also home to many restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for a night out on the town, then the “Triangle” is the place to be. Bars are open late and they’re all within walking distance of one another.
There are also many restaurants to choose from in Kīhei, with all types of food to choose from.
Activities in the area include an excursion to The Humpback Whale Sanctuary, surf and SUP lessons, batting cages, touring the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, surfing, snorkeling and a roller skating.
If you don’t have a car, the bus system runs throughout the day up and down South and North Kīhei Road.
Wherever you live in Kīhei, there will be a grocery store nearby— Foodland, Times, Safeway or Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods.
If you’re relocating to Maui with keiki, there are a several schools in Kīhei—Kīhei Elementary School, Kamali‘i Elementary School, Kīhei Public Charter School and Lokelani Intermediate School.
Kīhei is similar to a small city on the mainland. There is nightlife, restaurants, activities, gas stations, ocean activities, shopping centers, grocery stores and great people watching.
Last year, the average rainfall in Kīhei was 14.22 inches with an average of 276 sunny days a year.
According to the 2015 Maui Data Book, the single family home and condo average sale price in Kīhei was $865,772 with a median price of $600,000.
Wailea boasts some of the most expensive properties on the island.
Wailea is a luxurious resort community and the houses and condos show it.
However, if luxury, privacy, sunshine and beaches are what you are looking for when moving to Maui, then Wailea is an area worth looking at.
Wailea provides low-rise condo villages and luxurious private homes in gated communities.
Wailea also has shopping, dining, beaches and golf.
In fact, Wailea has some of the best golf courses on Maui. The Wailea Blue, Wailea Gold and Wailea Emerald courses make up the 54 holes of championship golf.
The Shops at Wailea provides a mix of affordable and luxury stores from Louis Vuitton to local boutique store Mahina, there is shopping for just about everyone at The Shops.
The Shops also provides excellent dining options—from Longhi’s and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to the new Pint and Cork restaurant, where you can grab excellent craft cocktails.
If you’re dining in Wailea, expect to pay significantly more for dinner and drinks as most of the worldclass restaurants are in the high-end resorts.
Wailea also provides some of the best spas on the island, although they will be located in the high-end resorts, check the resorts websites for kama‘āina rates.
Keep your eyes on the ocean during the winter months. Humpback whales may be seen from your lānai while sipping your morning coffee.
Mākena means abundance in Hawaiian and is a bit like “old Hawai‘i.” It has plenty of space on wild and rugged land.
Mākena is about a 15 to20-minutee drive from Kīhei and about 10 minutes from the start of Wailea.
As you’re passing the last resort in Wailea, you’ll start to notice the rugged terrain that makes up Mākena.
Mākena is home to two of the best beaches on Maui—Big Beach and Little Beach.
Snorkeling, beach combing, whale watching and dolphin sightings are best off Mākena’s coast.
Although Mākena won’t have many dining options, there are a few food trucks along the road that have made a great name for themselves.
Homes will cost substantially more than Kīhei and Wailea, but will provides plenty of privacy. House lots in Mākena average at least an acre.
Prices for single family homes average around $8 million and about $2 million for condos.
At nighttime, Mākena can be dark and quiet with beautiful stargazing opportunities.
The average rainfall in Mākena is about 15 inches per year.
The closest shopping and dining options would be located at The Shops at Wailea. The nearest grocery store is Island Grocery Depot, located at The Shops at Wailea, or any of the grocery stores in Kīhei.
According to the 2015 Maui Data Book, the average single family home and condo price in Wailea-Mākena was $3,930,833 with a median price of $1.9 million.
Maui Meadows is ideal if you’re looking for a little bit cooler weather in South Maui.
Located above Wailea, Maui Meadows boasts some beautiful homes with gorgeous ocean views.
Each Maui Meadows lot is allowed one single-family home and one detached (or attached) ‘ohana 700 square feet in size.
Some Maui Meadow homes have pools and tennis courts. It is great if you’re working at any of the high-end resorts in Wailea, as it’s less than a five-minute drive to work.
It is also conveniently located less than 10 minutes from Kīhei, and about 10 minutes from Mākena.
According to the 2015 Maui Data Book, the average single home and condo price for Maui Meadows was $1,187,471 with a median price of $1,025,000.
If you’re planning on moving to Maui part-time and convenience is what you’re looking for, then living in Mā‘alaea is as convenient as you can get.
Mā‘alaea is located on the northwest side of South Maui. It is a fairly central location between Lahaina and the rest of South Maui. It is actually faster to travel to Lahaina than Mākena. It is about 15 miles to Lahaina and about a 25-minute drive to Mākena.
Mā‘alaea is also close to Kahului, where most of the big box stores are located.
It is a very small area with only about 350 residents. Many of the residents live in condos that stretch down the beach toward Kīhei.
The boat harbor at Mā‘alaea is where many ocean tour activities launch from so expect plenty of tourists in the early morning hours.
Mā‘alaea Bay is home to nine condominium buildings all located along Hau‘oli Road.
There is also dining, shopping and beaches near the Mā‘alaea Harbor including the Maui Ocean Center, which is always perfect for a rainy day.
South Maui Pros:
- Plenty of beaches and ocean activities
- World-class Golf
- Fast commute if working anywhere on South Maui
- Almost every ocean activity is in your backyard
- Plentiful sunshine
South Maui Cons:
- Traffic on North/South Kīhei Road
- Flooding can occur being at the bottom of the mountain
- Can be very hot during the summer months
- Tradewinds pick up in the afternoon, limiting ocean activities
In a Nutshell
Living on the South Shore of Maui offers spectacular views of Kaho‘olawe, Molokini, Lāna‘i and West Maui. The sunsets are beautiful and there are plenty of beaches to enjoy. If being in and around the ocean is what draws you to Maui, this could be a good location for you. If you’re moving to the island and renting, Kīhei has plenty of affordable options. It is also an area with younger residents.
If planning to buy in South Maui, Kīhei, Maui Meadows and Mā‘alaea will be some of the most affordable options.
Wailea and Mākena will have some of the most expensive properties on Maui, where you will be paying for plenty of privacy.
Whichever location you decide on, you are sure to enjoy Maui’s beautiful beaches, wonderful weather and aloha spirit. Maui nō ka ʻoi!
*This is part one of a series of articles that will be published about moving to Maui. Other areas on Maui will be highlighted in future articles.