What is the best area to stay in Maui Hawaii?
There are two major areas of Maui for you to pick from – West and South. And each of those two sides has two sections, one with mostly luxury hotels and the other with mostly less expensive condos. Details about each section are below the map on this page.
I like the west (Kaanapali) side because it has beautiful lush green mountains, and is very close to Lahaina (a fun historic tourist town with shopping, restaurants, and boat harbor). In addition, the condo section of the west side (Kahana and Napili) has much less traffic than the condo section of the south side (Kihei). And most west Maui condos are right on the ocean, while most south Maui condos are across the street from the ocean. So some people feel that the west side is the best area to stay in Maui.
However, the south side has the advantage of slightly less rain in the winter. Kihei (the condo area of the south side) has more family restaurants than the condo area of the west side. And Wailea (the luxury area of the south side) is a quieter area than Kaanapali (the luxury area of the west side). Kihei on the south side is a little closer to the sights of the other areas of Maui than you would be if you stay on the west side. So some people feel that the south side is the best area to stay in Maui.
Is the Best Area of Maui the West Side or South Side?
The details below will help you decide which is best for you.
The map below shows the area of Maui that is called the “West Side” and the area of Maui that is called the “South Side.” It takes about one hour to drive between the west side and the south side.
Details about both sides of Maui are below this map.
The west side of Maui includes Kaanapali, Honokowai, Kahana, Napili, Kapalua and Lahaina
Kaanapali Beach is my favorite area of Maui to stay on. This is the luxury part of the west side of Maui. There are several large hotels with elaborate pools, grounds, and lobbies, plus a couple of large luxury condos. All of these hotels and condos in Kaanapali are within walking distance of each other, and of restaurants, all beach activities, Luaus, snorkeling, and the Whalers Village shopping center.
Honokowai, Kahana, and Napili are just north of Kaanapali Beach. They contain numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying right on Kaanapali Beach, but they are not within walking distance of the big resort hotels and shopping and restaurants, and some of them do not have air conditioning or daily maid service. Most of these condo buildings are right on the beach.
Kapalua is at the far north end of West Maui. It has a few condos and one hotel. But Kapalua gets more rain and wind than any other part of West or South Maui, so I would not recommend this area. Although some people disagree, in my opinion, this is not the best area to stay in Maui.
Lahaina is a small tourist town with lots of shops, restaurants, and history. If you stay in town, you will feel like you are spending your Maui vacation in the city, not on a beach in a resort area. So Lahaina is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. But don’t be confused by the mailing address of a hotel or condo. All of the hotels and condos on the west side of Maui have Lahaina mailing addresses, but almost none of them are in Lahaina. That’s just the closest post office. Traffic through Lahaina is sometimes congested.
The south side of Maui includes Wailea and Kihei
Wailea has luxury hotels and condos. They are spread out a little more than the luxury hotels and condos on Kaanapali Beach, so some people like the slightly quieter atmosphere, but others don’t like the fact that you can’t easily walk to all the big hotels and restaurants and shopping centers like you can in Kaanapali. Though, this isn’t true of all Wailea resorts. The Grand Wailea, Four Seasons, Andaz, Marriott Wailea, and many high-end condos are all next to each other (and next to the Shops at Wailea.) There are 3 different luaus all within a few minute’s walking distance, but the most popular is the Grand Wailea Luau.
Kihei is north of Wailea. It has numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying in Wailea. Many of these do not have air conditioning or daily maid service. And most Kihei condos (unlike most west side condos) are across the street from the beach, rather than right on the beach. Kihei tends to be congested with heavy traffic. Kihei does have many family restaurants. But due to the fact that many condos here are less expensive than some in other areas, many people do think that Kihei is the best area to stay in Maui.
- South Maui Hotels
- South Maui Condos
- South Maui Restaurants
- Map of Maui with links to maps of each area
Other parts of Maui
Haiku, Kula, and Upcountry are other parts of Maui you could stay in. They don’t have major hotels or condos, but they do have some B&B’s and other smaller places to stay. They are a long drive from the tourist areas that contain most beaches, restaurants, and shopping.
Kahului is Maui’s big city and is the location of the airport where you will arrive on Maui. Kahului does have a couple of small old hotels, but they are mostly for business travelers and are not well suited for vacationers who want to be on the beach in a resort atmosphere.
The islands of Lanai and Molokai are technically part of Maui County, though they are separate from the island of Maui.
Best Area To Stay In Maui
So what is the best area to stay in Maui? Every part of Maui is wonderful, so you can’t go wrong whatever your choice. If you want a luxury hotel or resort, choose Wailea on the south side of Kaanapali on the west side. If you want a condo, choose Kihei on the south side or Honokowai-Kahana-Napili on the west side. Then choose your specific hotel or condo from the reviews and photos at Where to Stay in Maui, which has links to reviews of each individual hotel and condo.
What part of Maui has the best weather? The least rain is in Wailea or the south part of Kihei. On the west side, the farther south you stay, the less rain you get, so Kaanapali has less rain and Kapalua has more rain. There is much less rain everywhere on Maui in the summer than in the winter. For details of rain and temperature in each month, see Maui Weather.
It is about an hour’s drive between West Maui and South Maui (more or less depending on what part of the west or south side you are going to and from). And no matter where you stay, you’ll need to get all around Maui to see the sights. So once you have decided on your hotel or condo, make sure to reserve your Maui car rental.
Now that you’ve decided whether to stay in a hotel or a condo and have picked which part of Maui you’d like to stay on, you are ready to move on to these next two steps:
- Choose how to reserve your hotel or condo room
- For an alphabetical list of links to each specific Maui hotel and condo, visit: Maui Hotels and Maui Condos alphabetical list
- Or visit the four steps to help you select Maui Hotels and Maui Condos that fit your needs and budget.