I somehow landed an internship in Maui so will be spending the summer in Kihei. I've been reading guidebooks like crazy but I'm wondering if those who have been there could tell me what the must see/do things on the island are.
Of course, I'd also love to know what the horse options (if any) are like.
I've been to Maui twice - a third third this summer with a wedding -and it really is a wonderful place. Food in particular is expensive (be it a store or eatery) and rental housing for residents is both tight and costly.
Aside from just swimming and getting a tan I've done a lot of activity there and it was all fun. None of it was outlandishly expensive and you can certainly see and do lot of things for little money. I've enjoyed a couple different eco-hikes (sensational), the bike down Haleakala (after seeing the dormant volcanao's crater) which is wild as you are literally up in the clouds and its freezing cold, went to the Nakalele Blowhole on the north end, did an extended zip line at the Plantation (amazing!), scuba dove a wreck, disappointingly did a dude-ranch type horse ride on a former pineapple farm, and just by chance sitting out at a condo watched and heard migrating wales.
I've never had any interest to do "the road to Hanna" which sounds miserable with being effectively stuck in traffic. I'd like to take a boat or plane to the nearby former Dole owned "The Pineapple Island" of Lanai (bought by Larry Ellison last year) which has a hotel, bar, and you can rent a jeep to do some rugged exploration.
It's a very friendly island and State so its hard to think you won't enjoy it.
Tip on visiting Haleakala Crater: Go before 10am. If you do not, it will get socked in with clouds and you won't see a thing. Go early, bring warmer clothing, cuz it gets quite chilly (we saw ice crystals along the trails). Enjoy the sunrise and then go back down via your preferred method of choice. We skipped the WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE bike ride down
Get yourself your own snorkeling gear and carry it always. You can pull over anywhere along the coast that looks good to you and go out.
Re: The Road to Hana. If you do it, drive yourself. I have a strong constitution, but as a passenger, I was green and ready to hurl.
Have fun and, if you get the chance, take a hopper plane over to Kaui. My favorite island.
<>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- "When they try to tell you these are your Golden years, don't believe 'em.... It's rust."
Maui is such a fun place. I have been there several times and while you will be limited by the size of the island there is so very much to do in that small space. The Road to Hana is a pretty amazing experience. It was a bit tough traffic situation, but still well worth it for some of the scenery and hiking. We have done hiking up in the crater area and towards Hana and it is all great. lots of good little food joints on the island too.
I recommend the "Ultimate (insert Hawaiian Island here) Guidebook" and second the recommendation to visit not only Kauai but all the islands.
Go hiking at Iao Valley State Park - bring a jacket and slicker because it is chilly and damp.
Go to Haleakala - also bring a jacket because it is cold and windy up there! I'm pretty sure there's a trekking ride that you can take there, as I've seen a "horse trailer" (read big truck with a cage on the back that hauls horses) up there.
Go to Haiku - cute little town that used to be a pineapple plantation
Go to Paia and eat at the Flatbread restaurant .... mmmmmm, mmmm good!
Go to the beach in Paia and watch the windsurfers
If you're there from October - March, go to Kalama Park (S. Kihei Road) and enjoy the whale watching! They have a whale festival day in February.
Go to Lahaina for touristy stuff
Go to Hana and stop and the place on the side of the road that has a couple different food vendors - I had a yuuuummmmyyyyy Thai stirfy there and Mr. PoPo had some pulled pork tacos that he loved
Go to the blowhole past Kaanapali
Go to Makena beach and swim with turtles
Go to Wailea and if you have a lot of money, go to the spa at the Grand Wailea - fancy and $$$
Go to the lavendar farm
Go to Surfing Goat Dairy
There are tons of beaches to explore so go to a different beach every weekend
Some favorite places to eat: Flatbread in Paia, Mama's Fish House, Haile Maile, Maui Tacos, Lahaina Grill, Cheeseburger (in Paradise), Ono Gelato (YUM!!!), Sansei (sushi in Kihei, very popular and always crowded), plus lots more!!!
Enjoy - Maui is a nice island and Kihei is a good location - close enough to the airport, to Wailea, and "upcountry" stuff. Nice sunset side of the island, "local" town with grocery stores, apartments, Starbucks, restaurants, etc.