Planning a trip to Maui is always exciting — with its more than 80 beautiful beaches, idyllic waterfalls, amazing snorkeling, and nature-filled adventures scattered throughout the island — what’s not to love? With so many choices, the hardest part is choosing the best area to stay in Maui.
Although it’s easy to get around the island in a rental car, with Maui being such a popular tourist destination, securing a rental can be difficult unless you’ve planned way in advance. Whether you’ve done so or not, it’s important to find the best base in Maui that suits your wants and needs.
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- Best snorkel spots in Maui
- Ultimate 5 day Maui itinerary
- The best things to do in Maui
- 10 of the best beaches in Maui
Tips on saving money you need to know about
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Best Area To Stay in Maui
To help with your vacation planning, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide which is the best area to stay in Maui.
The guide is broken out by the four most popular areas to stay in Maui:
- West Maui
- South Maui
- North Shore
- East Maui
If you ask visitors that enjoy upscale, resort-style vacations where is the best place to stay in Maui, they’ll most likely say the area, West Maui. That’s because this part of the island is the most developed part where you’ll find Maui’s best resorts, high-end shopping, and fine dining. All these amenities also make West Maui the most touristy area of the island.
Kapalua is a favorite destination for couples because of its upscale, romantic resorts and breathtaking shoreline, lined with white sand beaches.
The star of this town is the 23,000-acre Kapalua Resort. There’s no shortage of posh spots in this master-planned resort area. It’s home to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, award-winning restaurants, over 20 boutique shops, and two world-famous golf courses — the Plantation Course and the Bay Course.
That said, there are plenty of unique properties to look at that won’t necessarily break the bank.
OCEAN VIEW VILLA
There are quite a few of B&Bs on VRBO that range from uber-expensive to others like this one that are quite affordable for what you get. This split-level villa at least has a decent view and you also get the bonus of getting access to the facilities such as pool, tennis courts, beach chairs/towels, and free local shuttle.
A recent guest said “Unbelievable beautiful property with incredible views from balcony and gorgeous decor, welcome champagne and fruit.”
This is located in the picturesque Kapalua Bay with spacious villas that has an array of facilities. Kapalua Golf Club Bay Course is also just a 7-minute walk away.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
Find out how you can plan an amazing 5 days in Maui with this detailed itinerary.
Kaanapali is best known for being the first planned resort area in Hawaii and one of Hawaii’s top honeymoon destinations.
Kaanapli Beach is a three-mile stretch of stunning golden sand beaches lined with top-rate hotels, resorts, and condo villages. It also tops many “best beaches in America” lists!
Kaanapali’s largest tourist draw is Whalers Village. This massive open-air shopping area offers visitors over 90 shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for kitschy Hawaiian souvenirs or brand-name Hawaiian-themed apparel, you’ll be sure to find it here!
This apartment studio is just north of Kaanapali proper but for the nightly price, you won’t believe the value you’re getting out of this unit. There are 2 beds and sleeps 4. The best part is the unbeatable panoramic views from 2nd floor unit.
Being part of The Maui Kai Resort means you also get access to pool, jacuzzi, BBQ grills, and onsite parking.
This is a beachfront resort that features an ocean-front pool, restaurants, free scuba lessons, spa, massage center, and more.
The key reason why you’d want to stay here is for the location as one guest said: “I liked the location. There was a great coffee shop across the street and there were a lot of food trucks for dinner options.”
Best part, you get Genius discounts here!
If you like all of the amenities available in West Maui but prefer to stay in a more chill location with fewer crowds, Napili is the best place to be.
When you look on the map, it’s literally one bay over from Kapalua but there’s enough of a difference to be called its own area. Napili has a much more chill vibe and is one of the best places to stay in Maui for couples/families.
Napili is made up of low-rise condominium villages with a rural feel. Here, you won’t find the big mega resorts. Instead, it’s made up of down-to-earth accommodations such as Napili Kai Beach Resort and Napili Surf Beach Resort.
While it’s less glamorous than its neighboring towns, the beaches and nature are just as stunning.
COZY BEACH RESORT
“The location was great, with access to the beach. We saw lots of turtles from the beach and fish too when snorkeling. Pool areas were also very nice. We appreciated the events put on, especially the morning yoga on Monday.”
You can’t beat location when it comes to this beach resort which is effectively a small oceanfront condo resort so you get a full kitchen as well.
This is the resort property that has a prime location and view of Napili Bay. It sits smack right in the middle and as a result, their oceanfront picnic area gives you exclusive access to lounge chairs, umbrellas, bbq facilities, and tiki torches just for guests.
Each suite and studio features a full kitchen.
Out of respect for the devastating fire in Lahaina, we’ve removed the accommodation recommendations. Our thoughts go out to the people that called Lahaina their home.
South Maui is up there with West Maui in terms of popularity but with less glitz and nightlife. Featuring more vacation condo rentals, many visitors who prefer a more private vacation over a behemoth resort-style one will tell you that South Maui is the best side of Maui to stay.
There are still plenty of shops and restaurants in South Maui and the weather is typically less rainy than in the west.
For ultimate luxury in the quieter area of South Maui, look no further than Wailea, best known as having some of Maui’s most luxurious resorts and grandiose celebrity homes that feature jaw-dropping ocean views.
For an immaculate, upscale vacation in paradise, it doesn’t get much better than Wailea. With its five pristine, crescent-shaped beaches, it’s a beach lover’s dream.
Speaking of dream spots, golf enthusiasts will be in heaven at the Wailea Golf Club, home to three championship, ocean view 18-hole golf courses.
This is a large resort property by Hyatt that feature spectacular modern rooms that have private balconies, coffee machine, complimentary nonalcoholic drinks and snacks in the minibar, and rain shower.
It’s also worth nothing that Iron Chef’s Masaharu Morimoto had his restaurant Morimoto Maui on property as well.
This is a peaceful and tranquil resort that has access to both Wailea Beach and Ulua Beach Park. The luxurious accommodations are modern and contemporary. The infinity pool is simply breathtaking in addition to the many other pools available for kids and scuba certification.
The photo of Wailea was taken from this property.
Read next: Best snorkeling spots in Maui you can’t miss
Just up the street from the posh and affluent Wailea is the much less touristy and more residential, Kihei.
If you’re wanting to be in South Maui, Kihei is the best town to stay in Maui for families with kids not wanting a mega-resort vacation. What you’ll find here though is that there aren’t many of those mega resort properties here. Instead, you have more vacation apartment rentals and modest stays. You wallet will thank you here as well.
There’s still plenty for the entire family to do with expansive, laid-back beaches and a variety of water sport activities—like surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more.
The rental unit #102 is an outstanding example of how cheap you can find a place to stay in Maui. We’ve seen prices as low as $125 USD/night. By renting here, you get a comfortable condo unit with the amenities of Kuahale Maka.
This property is part of the Ascend Hotel Collection and is one of the few in Kihei that features a rooftop deck, an outdoor swimming pool, and 2 outdoor hot tubs.
A recent reviewer said “Pleasant stay. Clean and comfortable suite. Great location with beach across street and others nearby. Great sunset views from our front porch. Clean laundry facilities, as well as pool and hot tub.”
Rugged and natural, North Shore is the best area to stay in Maui for visitors that want to experience the more raw, less-developed side of the island. You won’t find many resorts in this area and fewer amenities overall, which means this is where you’ll find some of Maui’s most isolated, immaculate beaches.
Paia is North Shore’s laidback, surf town gem. It has a warm, friendly, hippy community vibe that you won’t find anywhere else. Not only does it have amazing restaurants, but if you’re on the lookout for the best organic foods and markets on Maui, Paia is where you’ll find it.
If you’re into water sports, Paia is a place you should highly consider making your Maui vacation base — especially if you’re a surfer or windsurfer. Paia is recognized as one of the best places in the world, attracting surfers from near and far.
You won’t believe how much value you can get from this cottage rental on VRBO with its spacious indoors and outdoor living yard where the kids can play and you have views of the green sugar cane fields.
Location wise, you’re also close to town with its cafes, restaurants, galleries, and market.
As for the beach, you’re a short walk away.
BOUTIQUE BEACH INN
Paia Inn is a small boutique property that offers a variety of suites located in the heart of town next to Paia Fish Market and Maui Crafts Guild. Free parking is provided for all guests.
It’s a chic spot that’s quite unique for the area.
You won’t want to miss this ultimate guide to beaches in Maui
The main reason to go to East Maui is the Hana Highway — which is a must when visiting Maui! The famous 64.4-mile Road to Hana drive takes you through some of Maui’s most breathtaking scenery and to over 15 waterfalls, some of which are visible from the road.
There are very limited options to stay in East Maui. Hana is one of the few places and well-worth booking accommodations here, especially if you’re looking for one of the most secluded places to stay in Maui away from the crowds.
For many of you that will be pursuing the Road to Hana, make sure not to miss the 5 day Maui itinerary to see the full details on how you can do it in a day. If you plan on staying in Hana, you could easily split the road trip in two so you can take your time.
Final Words on the Best Area to Stay in Maui
As you can see, narrowing down your options to find the best area to stay in Maui isn’t easy! Every part of the island has its own unique offerings, so it’s important to decide what a dream vacation is for you. No matter what that is, or which area you decide to choose, the good news is that you’re sure to enjoy an amazing time in paradise!
Frequently Asked Questions
Unless you plan on staying in your one area in Maui and near your hotel/resort/rental unit, you are definitely better off renting a car on the island to be able to explore everything there is to offer. If you do, make sure to not miss this way to save money.
Maui doesn’t have any traditional all-inclusive resorts as you’d expect to find in say the Caribbean. Instead, some resorts offer breakfast packages or one that includes daily food and beverage credits.
Everyone has their favourite spot in Maui but West Maui is a crowd favourite with Kapalua being a great spot.
West Maui is the best spot in Maui because you have access to a variety of towns along the coast that varies from beaches that are occupied with big resorts to smaller ones that are more laid back and quiet.
The cheapest area to live is Kihei if you look at apartment rentals in the area on VRBO.
Ka’anapali Beach is always a favourite for most travelers to Maui. For the full breakdown, make sure to read the best beaches in Maui.
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