The area in and around Kihei has a fascinating cultural heritage, complete with tales of warring gods, fierce battles, and royal fish ponds that were kept faithfully by the local residents.  Although the area has become increasingly more industrialized, Kihei continues to maintain much of the charm of a sleepy little fishing village. Many tourists are unaware that KIHEI also includes Wailea and Makena. Wailea and Makena are NOT TOWNS, nor are they cities, they are neighborhoods. Pretty much the entire southern coastal area of the island is Kihei, FYI.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the culture of Kihei is to take a walking tour of the area. To see most of Kihei, you definitely will want to have either a car, or if you prefer, at least a bicycle or Moped. Otherwise, you miss so much. Check out some books from the Kihei library, and read up on the history of area. or better yet, do some research before your trip, so you will know what and where you would like to go. Stop by the Open-Air Church that was built in 1853 as a memorial to David Malo, a renowned scholar and historian.   It is now called the Trinity-by-the-Sea Chapel, but services are still conducted there and it's worth a visit to see.

Another great way to soak up some local culture is to try the local food. Go to the little hole in the places too; they are the best! Hawaiian fare is really a mix of many different cultures. One main staple served with just about every meal is steamed rice- eggs, spam and steamed rice is a very popular local breakfast. Try lau lau, chicken katsu, chicken long rice, and mahi mahi and ono. Fresh fish can't be beat in the islands!   Make sure to go to the local farmer's markets. There is one every Saturday morning from about 7-11 am outside the Long's drugstore in Azeka center. Wonderfully fresh produce locally grown, much better than anything you will find at any store there. Maui grown oranges, Maui onions, etc.

One best-kept secret, is that  the Long's store on S. Kihei Rd, is the only retail store on the island that has the hook-up to the Maui cattle beef ranch on the island. You can buy tasty, tender steaks from Long's that will literally melt in your mouth, and not at over-the-top prices either! Nothing added to the meat. Check it out, they are in the back of the store, to the right of the Roselani Ice Cream rack, another great thing you must try, or else you haven't been to Maui!  And it must be Haupia Flavor. Haupia is a coconut pudding that is served at many Hawaiian dinners, especially luaus.

Best thing to do anywhere though, is ask questions. Talk to people in the stores, restaurants, on the beach, etc.