Chapter 21 – Joe Kaniaupio
To Kihei from Haiku
How long have you lived in Kihei?
I’ve lived here for seven years in my single family home.
Where is Kihei, and what’s it like as a community?
I live in upper Kihei, on the mountain side. The area is called Maui Meadows and it’s a high-end area of Kihei, which means there are more custom homes up this way.
Did you have your heart set on Kihei or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Maui?
As far as Kihei goes, this would be the best part of Kihei. The area I’d like to be is in Kula, which is up higher and has a better view. There you can have a lot more acreage where you can farm and stuff like that.
Is Kihei more of an urban or suburban environment?
The homes around here are on about an acre a lot. Each house has a bit of space. You do have some home that are next to each other, but in general the area out here is mostly spread out.
Do you worry about crime in Kihei?
There have been a few up here. It’d be a small percentage in Maui Meadows. It’s mostly mailbox stealing or small thefts. This year I haven’t heard anything about any crimes.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Kihei?
My next door neighbor is a block away, so we don’t see each other much. My neighbors are nice, but we don’t see each other around because we are so spread out.
What’s your commute like?
I do construction– concrete work. I’ve worked on every corner of the whole island. It takes about 45 minutes to get from my area to the west side. The commute is pretty smooth.
Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Kihei and Maui?
Driving is like any other place. You as the driver need to be respectful to the next driver. You have double lanes on main highways and single lanes on interior roads, and traffic just flows. The worst traffic would be like 20 cars in a row. It’s never going to be bad. When everybody goes to work in the morning, the worst traffic will be like a line of 30 cars.
How has the real estate market changed in the time since you’ve been on the island?
When I first got to this island, it was slow. Since then construction has been booming off and on for years. From then to now the real estate has really gone up. We had the recession but things seem to be back now.
Do you like the quality of life in Kihei?
Oh yeah. Compared to Oahu, Maui is a slower pace. Business-wise the area where I’m at is laid back. There’s no pressure unless you put pressure upon your own self.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Kihei?
I’m a fisherman by hobby, and I like fishing and Maui has lots of good spots to go fishing. That was one of the best surprises for me. I do mostly shoreline fishing, but I do sometimes go out on charters.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Kihei and Maui should be sure to experience?
Maui has several things that you have to do. You have to go to Hana, that’s for sure. It’s more like a laid back area. You have to go to ponds, waterfalls, hikes, rainforests. The beaches are great. The scenery is nice. The other place would be Haleakala (House of the Rising Sun). The sunrise is beautiful there.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
This island has built itself up for tourism business, so I’m not sure where you can go. There’s so many businesses here—tour guides, tour vans; they overrule everything around here. They take people to private spots and if you don’t want to see tourists you just go to your backyard.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Kihei or living in Hawaii?
It is expensive. I wish the wages would go up with the cost of what you buy. It is expensive to buy groceries here.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Maui and especially in Kihei?
I would say check out your neighbors. Try driving around midday when everyone is out working so you can travel more quickly. Everyone wants a good view, so go higher for better views. In Maui everyone wants it to be private.
How’s the weather?
Maui is supposed to be the friendly island, but to me it’s more like the windy island. There is a lot of wind. We have some beautiful weather, even when it’s windy. You prepare yourself for where you are going. Lahaina is always hotter, but then some areas are wetter. Mostly it’s always sunny, of course.
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