The Kihei Coast, in the shape of a southwest-opening fishhook, is partially protected from large ocean swell by Lanai and Kahoolawe. Winter season North Pacific swell does impact the southern portion of the coast while south swell strikes the entire coastline during summer months and can dramatically change the profile of the beach.
Kona storms are the largest single events to have influenced the shoreline, particularly the northern part of this coast. The passage of hurricanes has also been known to generate swell that influences the beach profile. Trade winds, which are strongest in summer months but present throughout the year, tend to blow offshore in the northern part of the study area. Thermal updrafts that develop during the day on the slopes of Haleakala tend to turn the winds onshore in the central and southern portions of the area.