Wednesday, September 27, 2023

What Part Of Maui To Stay In

Staying In Central Maui

Where to Stay on Maui, Hawaii | we make choosing the place to stay easy

Including Kahului and Wailuku

Seeking the real Hawaii feel? Want to live like the locals of Hawaii? Look no further at Central Maui. Central Maui offers a cultural experience without a remote ambiance, similar to Hana or East Maui. Near the Kahului Airport , there are various places as options.

Why Should You Stay in Central Maui?

Since this location is central, popular attractions like Iao Valley, driving the Hana Highway, or exploring the summit of Haleakala are equally distant from you.

The Drawbacks of Staying Central Maui

As with East Maui, youll find limited options for activities. Most activities will require some long drives.

Our Recommended Lodgings to Stay in Central Maui

For the best options in this area, look for the retreats and small inns .

The Pros and Cons of Staying in Central Maui
  • Great proximity to most of the island, including the Hana Highway
  • Limited accommodations are present in these areas
  • Wailuku can experience a good bit of rain
  • Not very scenic in most of central Maui
  • Limited selection of beaches

Kihei Where To Stay In Maui If Youre On A Budget

Kihei is situated in South Maui, this beachfront town has many budget-friendly options for visitors. A great town for your visit if you dont wanna stay put and like exploring the nearby areas, Kihei provides easy access to explore other attractions of the North Shore, Upcountry, Iao Valley, and Maalaea.

This is also the best place to eat the Huli Huli chicken, plus this part of the island offers a great variety of dining options. Although it is a busy town, Kihei its not a resort community so if youre dying to get that local vibe, this is the place for you!

Kihei is a great location for surfers because of the Cove spot which is a beach park with other facilities like tennis, baseball, and beach volleyball. Birds and nature lovers can go to Kealia Pond, located in the northern part of the area, which is a lovely spot. If youre looking for more condos and bungalows in Maui, check out this handy post.

Paki Maui

Where To Stay On Maui

For many travelers to Maui, choosing an accommodation is simply about finding a place to sleep at night. They assume they will spend most of their vacation outdoors, exploring beaches and volcanoes, and that where they stay wont make much of a difference. They book with whoever has the lowest price, and move on to planning other parts of the trip.

While we agree that most of your Maui vacation will be spent outdoors, we urge you to think twice about where you stay. In fact, we consider it one of the most important things, because most people overlook the amount of time theyll spend at their accommodation. Price and convenience are important, but you shouldnt underestimate how much the location and atmosphere can impact a trip not to mention how a beautiful, beachside resort or a spacious, local vacation rental can set the tone for your holiday.

Being smart about where you stay will help you get the most of out your experience, and choosing the right type of lodging with the appropriate amenities will help you do everything you want to do.

What to expect

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Inn At Mamas Fish House

North Shore

Most visitors are well informed about Mamas Fish House Restaurant in Kuau, Maui. It is hands down, the BEST restaurant on Maui. But, most people dont even know that Mamas also offers amazing vacation accommodations.

Located just steps away from one of Mauis most beautiful white sandy beaches, the Inn at Mamas is a dream. It is a perfectly exclusive, and conveniently located private vacation destination.

Just like their restaurant, the Inn is charming and warm all about the guest experience. The Neo-Polynesian decor is inviting, and the accommodations are definitely a casual luxury. Guests have an option to choose from their Deluxe Beachfront Cottages, Garden Cottages, Luxury Junior Suites, and studios. They are all more than reasonably priced, and an excellent value for those that desire a vacation rental style privacy with expert services and a multitude of amenities like daily housekeeping, complimentary WIFI, beach towels, beach chairs and a business center with computers.

The Inn at Mamas Fish House is near Paia, one of Mauis trendiest towns. Visitors love to meander through Paia Town while enjoying its diversity of restaurants, shopping, art galleries, coffee shops, and night-life. Also, wed never forget to tell you about Mana Foods, Mauis most amazing organic grocery store.

Where To Stay In Central Maui

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Youll likely crisscross Central Maui on your way to the airport and back from beaches in West and South Maui at a minimum. This is the middle of the island between the famous west coast and Hana Highway. Close to the airport with easy access everywhere.

But be sure to visit lush Iao Valley State Park here as well. The state park, just at the base of the West Maui Mountains, offers 400 acres of lush valley for hiking and the opportunity to ogle the famous Iao Needle, a particularly striking and thin mountain peak rising out of the valley here.

Cute little Wailuku is where Mauis county government is based. Youll fall in love with the adorable boutiques and mom and pop establishments that have been here for generations. Kahului is, of course, home to Mauis main airport, but also hosts a swap meet, the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, and the Maui Sunday market.

Pros and cons: If you can stay near the Iao Valley, this is an idyllic location for a base on Maui. You can conveniently access just about anywhere on island. Wailuku feels cozy. And budget travelers will enjoy the hostel scene here.

While Kahului is not a popular base for most visitors to Maui, it does make a great spot if youre looking to minimize drive time to spend more time on the Road to Hana or Mount Haleakala or need to be close to the airport for a flight.

On the other hand, this is not near any swimming beaches. Its more of an industrial area.

Here are my picks for Central Maui:

1. Hawaiian Dream Temple

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Along The Hana Highway

Fewer tourists choose lodging along this bucket list drive on the east side of the island. The bonus, of course, is that youll enjoy the epic views and waterfalls galore here without the crowds when the day-trippers go home. Best for those who love active adventures with fewer crowds.

Read more on west coast hotels and vacation rentals:Amazing Joshua Tree vacation rentals

If You Want The Best Family Beach Experience: South Maui

For the sandiest most protected beaches, head to South Maui and make your home base in the Kihei area.

Geographically, South Maui is more like south-central Maui, but lets just go with it.

This area was a hot n heavy resort town in the 70s and 80s, and now has something for everyone: 6 miles of beach, bars and nightlife, the Maui Brewery Company , hotels, restaurants, snorkeling , and a great central location for exploring the rest of the island.

Leeward side bliss! Kihei is known to be one of the hottest places to stay on Maui. Hottest literally and figuratively, as it doesnt get the breezes that other parts of the island get , and many Maui locals come from other areas on the island to Kihei to party.

Kihei has everything you need, all in one place. And if you decide you need a big screen TV or a $2 slice of pizza, the Costco in Kahului is only a short 20-minute drive away.

South of Kihei is the immaculately landscaped grounds of Wailea, a golfers dream come true. Driving through Wailea feels a bit like being in California or Florida beautifully landscaped with massive hotel resorts lining the beaches, but no real personality.

Want sand and sun and hiking fun? Youve got it. And well throw in some snorkeling with sea turtles.

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The Best Areas To Stay In Maui

Year after year Maui remains one of the worlds best island destinations. Of course, Mauis long white sand beaches and clear skies are the main draws, but the island is also home to a waterfall-studded rainforest in the east and a parched, mountainous desert in the west. At the heart of the island is Haleakala, the worlds largest dormant volcano with panoramic sunrise and sunset views and a crater larger than Manhattan. Known as the House of the Sun, Haleakala is the point from which the demigod Maui lassoed the sun to lengthen the day. Travelers to Maui can enjoy its tropical ecosystem with big wave surfing, coral reef snorkeling, volcano hiking, waterfall swimming, and winter whale watching. The gastronomic scene here focuses on fresh, locally sourced fish and produce with a mix of Hawaiian, Polynesian, and pan-Asian flavors served up in roadside shacks, down-home diners, and haute-cuisine restaurants. Large, luxury resorts are the predominant beachfront accommodation type here, though boutique hotels, cozy B& Bs, affordable hotels, and youth hostels are scattered around the island to suit any budget.

How They Compareand The Best Of Both Worlds

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Hotels vs Vacation Rentals (What is best in Hawaii?)

Mauis iconic leeward coast is what Hawaiian postcards are made of: Buttery-sanded beaches, leggy palm trees, glitzy resorts, humpback whales breaching from the waterand heaps and heaps of sunshine.

And while the leeward edge presents several similarities across its stretchfrom Makena to the south and Kapalua to the westthere are distinct differences between its southern and western ends.

Whether youre struggling to decide between staying in Kihei or Kaanapali, or are simply scheduling a fun-packed Maui day, heres how the two sides compare so that youll know what to expect. You should also listen to The Aloha 360 Podcast, where John and Leslie have done their takes on perfect day itineraries for each region of Maui.

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For A Swanky More Private Beach Experience You Never Need To Leave: Kaanapali

A little farther north along the coastal highway, youll reach Kaanapali. This area is a popular go-to tourist hub featuring resorts, eateries, shopping, plus a scenic beachwalk between resorts, not to mention the sandy beaches for swimming & snorkeling. It reminds me of a northwestern Wailea with its golf courses and fancy resorts.

While all visitors should get out and explore all that Maui has to offer, there is enough to do in Kaanapali to keep you occupied for the entirety of your stay.

With convenient resorts located just steps from Kaanapali Beach, you can comfortably lounge or play in the water all day. Some of the islands best snorkel spots are located near Kaanapali, as well as the famous Black Rock, a favorite cliff jumping site thats popular with everybody. Kaanapali Beach is also a launch point for several catamaran tours.

Whale-Watching, Anyone?

From November to April, hundreds of humpback whales flock to the shallow waters around Kaanapali, making the area one of the best places on the island to whale watch. So definitely book an ocean view room if youre in the area during these months you are guaranteed dozens of whale sightings from your patio during this time of year.

Our Favorite Maui Hotels For Nightlife

  • Luxury: Puunoa Beach Estates

    If you want to feel at home while on Maui then this apartment-style hotel by Hyatt Residence will be the perfect home away from home. Located in the heart of Lahaina, its an easy walk to the bars and restaurants. Each spacious apartment comes with a fully-equipped kitchen in case you want to whip up a late-night bite after the restaurants have closed. Its steps away from the beach and has a pool and hot tub if you feel like relaxing after an eventful night.

  • Mid-Range: Lahaina Shores Beach Resort

    Lahaina Shores Beach Resort has everything you need to be comfortable during your stay on Maui. The studio-style rooms come with a full kitchen and dining area, perfect for when you feel like eating in or craving a late-night snack. Its walking distance from all of the action in Lahaina and a stones throw away from the beach. Its a great spot for couples that want to relax by the water during the day and go out to a bar or restaurant in town in the evening. Lahaina has some of the best food on the island.

  • Budget: Best Western Pioneer Inn

    This adorable two-story historic hotel brings the charm to the heart of Lahaina. Youll find all of the amenities you would want, like an outdoor pool, restaurant, and even a bar so you can sip cocktails in paradise without having to leave the comfort of your hotel. When its time to venture out, youre just steps away from Lahainas famous nightlife and a cheers! away from a good time.

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    Summary Map Of All Places Recommended In Our Guide

    We list all hotels mentioned in this guide on the map below , as well as some of the highest-rated vacation rentals , on the map below. Fill in your trip date on the map to find which places are available during your stay and at what cost.

    Affiliate disclosure: This overview contains affiliate links to accommodation aggregator websites such as and VRBO. Clicking on those links may earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only include affiliate links when they offer good value to our readers, read more about the use of those links on the Love Big Island website.

    How Many Days To Stay On Maui

    What is the Best Part of Maui to Stay?  Maui Resources

    If you have not yet booked flights and are wondering how many days to stay in Maui, 5-7 days is typically recommended. Five days is enough time to see all of the highlights of Maui. However, one week is the perfect amount of time for allowing downtime and beach days as well.

    As it is a rather small island, most people choose to stay at the same accommodation for the duration of their stay. This increases overall driving distances, but is still better than time lost re-packing and checking into multiple rooms. This is especially true for vacationers who plan on spending all of their time at the resort.

    For the adventurous readers determined to see it all, you may want to consider dividing your time between 2-3 different locations. This will help to reduce commutes and allow you to experience more.

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    Summary Of Main Maui Places

    Central Maui:

    Kahului, Wailuku, etc. This is the town youll pass through when you land, if you reach Maui by plane and touch down in Kahului . Kahului is more of a business spot, and a bit of a visible homeless population hanging out in vehicles by the harbour. The beaches here arent that great and wind is mighty, as you may have noticed while landing.

    East Maui:

    Hana is beautiful yet remote and rainforest-y and doesnt cater to tourists so much. My favorite place to recharge .

    South Maui:

    Kihei has everything you need for a smooth family vacation, and is right on the beach , and fairly central.

    Wailea is expensive and swanky, with manicured golf courses and huge hotels lining the beach.

    Makena Beach is great for sand, people-watching, and snorkeling with the sea turtles .

    West Maui:

    Kaanapali is a rightfully popular resort area located on the west coast of Maui, north of Lahaina. I prefer Lahaina, but Im not a resort kind of person. Lahaina town is busy yet feels authentic and situated in the middle of an actual town where people live and play, despite having an obvious tourist strip full of shops. North of Kaanapali is another small town of Napili Napili feels like all the locals commute there not a lot of grocery stores nearby.

    Paia The Coolest Place To Stay In Maui

    Due east of Kahului and situated along the northern coast of Maui is the eclectic town of Paia. Ranked as one of Americas Best Small Towns by Fodors, Paia is a beach town that bears the personality of its residents on its sleeve.

    There are enough art galleries and curio shops to keep visitors occupied for at least a weekend, and the residents of Paia have a reputation for being hippies and surfers through and through.

    What Paia isnt known for is their beaches. While the people of Paia are among the charming youll meet in Hawaii, the only real beach of note is Baldwin Beach.

    Its a popular sight for both locals and tourists, and Baldwin Beach is large and diverse enough to offer waters appropriate for kids as well as stretches of tide that are quite good for swimming and surfing.

    Instead, Paias claim to fame mostly comes from the fact that its right on the way from the airport to the popular Hana Road. Traffic is bad both on the roads and on foot, as the city is largely treated as a simple filling up point on the way to elsewhere.

    That means that most visitors dont see anything more than the tourist restaurants, souvenir shops, and roadside stops.

    If your goal is to melt into the culture and rub shoulders with the locals, Paia is the way to do it and its often not hard to find a cool place tucked within Paia for a very reasonable price.

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    Where To Stay On West Maui

    West Maui was developed in the 60s as the prime tourist destination on Maui. And when you visit, its easy to see why. The West Maui Mountains offer a beautiful view from the white-sand beaches. The water is crystal blue and there are plenty of easy places to swim for people of every ability.

    West Maui is on the leeward side of the island, meaning youll get less rain, but things will also look a little drier. There are four main areas to stay on West Maui:

    • Kaanapali: A master-planned resort community, Kaanapali first opened in the 1960s. Hotels, condos, and resorts are built along the white sand beach with shopping and restaurants in the center in Whalers Village.
    • Lahaina: An old historic whaling village, Lahaina is now a bustling center with lively stores and restaurants lining Front Street. Its also a launching pad for many of the ocean excursions like snorkeling and whale watching. There are few hotels, no large resorts, and a handful of vacation rentals.
    • Napili: Picturesque Napili Bay offers a laid back vibe, with low-rise condo buildings and small beachside resorts. Napili itself is a small community centered around a beautiful bay, great for snorkeling and swimming.
    • Kapalua: A luxury resort area in Northwest Maui, theres the main resort and vacation rentals that line the bluffs and the world-class golf courses. Kapalua gets a little more rain and wind, but its also more lush and green.

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