Kihei means a cape, shawl or blanket. Like American children grew up with their blankies, ancient Hawaiian children grew up with a kihei. Getting less than 13 inches of rain a year, Kihei is on the sunny dry side of the island. With six miles of beaches offering clear views of Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lanai, and West Maui. Swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking are some of the water activities available. Birdwatchers and nature lovers will enjoy the National Wildlife Conservation District at Kealia Pond. Situated at the north end of Kihei, the area protects endangered Hawaiian stilts and coots.
In the early 1900’s an effort was made to create a sugar plantation, but that failed. Other than Kiawe trees and good fishing spots, there wasn’t much to draw attention to Kihei. In 1932 the government placed 11 beach lots up for sale, but only 6 were sold. In 1950 residential property was as cheap as a nickel per square foot. Everything changed in the late 1960’s when water was piped into Kihei from Central and West Maui. Development took off, and offered a more affordable alternative to the West Maui area.