Where You Should Stay on Maui


If you’re traveling to Maui for the first time, many people choose to stay in the more populated, tourist-friendly areas of the island. However, if you’re thinking about returning to The Valley Isle, consider staying in another part of the island to experience a new side of paradise.

Where You Should Stay on Maui:

South Maui (Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, Makena)

Wailea Maui Hawaii

Pros: Enjoy the sunshine and laid-back vibe of Kihei/Wailea before having a low-key meal at one of the many BYOB restaurants in the area. Kihei also has great budget condo rental and hotel options if you’re looking for something besides the massive five-star resort destinations, which you’ll find plenty of in Wailea. Great area for shopping, restaurants, and convenient for tours departing from Ma’alaea Harbor or South Kihei Boat Ramp. Makena also happens to have my very favorite beach on the island!

Alii Resorts

Cons: Once again, expect this side of the island to be fairly busy (including most beaches in Makena, Wailea and Kihei). Also, since south Maui is the driest part of the island, you’ll have pretty consistent sunshine and warm weather. If cool breezes and lush plant life are your thing, this might not be the place for you. It’s also a distance from Upcountry, the west side, and the Road to Hana, though it’s not that much of an issue since you can get to most spots on the island within an hour (except for Hana).

Major Events: World Whale Day (February), May Day is Lei Day (May), Maui Film Festival (June), Taste of Wailea (June), Wailea Wine & Food Festival (December)

The south region of Maui offers plenty of relaxation and stunning beaches. Kihei, Wailea, and Makena host luxurious resorts, sprawling golf courses, and the best sunsets in Hawaii. In Wailea and Kihei, you can sample local cuisine, visit art galleries, and explore boutiques. For families looking for adventure, there’s whale watching (in season) departing from Kihei Boat Ramp or snorkeling within Molokini Crater.

Recommended South Accommodation: Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay on the south side.


Upcountry Maui (Pukalani, Makawao, Kula)

Pros: For those looking for peace and serenity with botanical gardens, high-elevation views, and an artsy, country vibe, Upcountry Maui is right up your alley. Devoid of hotel chains and chain resorts, you can choose from private cottage/condo rentals and B&Bs that focus on relaxation and privacy. Great local restaurants, shops, art galleries, and a close proximity to the Road to Hana and Haleakala, with beaches as little as 15 minutes away.

Cons: If you’re looking forward to partying the night away on Maui, that will be nearly impossible while staying in Upcountry, as most everything shuts down fairly early. The weather is cooler, which many during the summer would consider a pro.

Major Events: Haiku Ho’olaule’a & Flower Festival (April), Upcountry Fair (June), Rodeo & Paniolo Parade (July), Fall Harvest Festival (October)

Recommended Accommodation: The North Shore Look Out is the nicest B&B we’ve found on Maui, thus far. They’re relatively new, having just completed renovations and permitting, so I’d look into booking with them before prices go up. Right now, they’re charging pretty low rates.

north shore lookout

Upcountry Maui is an area famous for its paniolo culture (Hawaiian cowboys). Here you can find mountains covered with wildflowers, lots of farms selling fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products like goat cheese, and even distilleries with a view. Visitors can also enjoy local art by visiting the nearby Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center.

Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay when Upcountry.


North Maui (Paia, Haiku)

Pros: Pay attention to nature lovers and surfers. If you like cool breezes, sprawling pastures, and lush, tropical scenery, you and north Maui will totally hit it off. While you’ll find no major resorts or chain hotels in this region, you can choose from private cottage/condo rentals and B&Bs that focus on beach life and traveling to Hana. The beaches are amazing, and it’s the last real stop before making the winding drive to east Maui. Great local restaurants (some of the best on the island, in our opinion), shops, art galleries, and close proximity to great surfing, windsurfing, and the Road to Hana. We especially enjoy the people-watching and diverse local community.

Cons: It might take a bit of driving to get to a beach that offers relaxed snorkeling and swimming, especially since this side of Maui gets its fair share of large waves and wind. Also, if you have lots of activities planned in west Maui (luau, snorkeling, whale watching), this is not a convenient area to get there quickly. That being said, there’s plenty on offer on this side of the island.

Major Events: Haiku Ho’olaule’a & Flower Festival (April), Upcountry Fair (June), Rodeo & Paniolo Parade (July), Fall Harvest Festival (October)

Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay on the Northside.

paia accommodations


East Maui (Keanae, Hana, Kipahulu)

Pros: If you’re looking to experience the remote beauty of Maui firsthand, a trip to Hana is a must. While most people spend no more than a few minutes here before driving on or turning around, consider staying here for at least a few days to really get the full effect. Relaxing, peaceful, and immersed in the best that Mother Nature has to offer, Hana offers great options for outdoor camping, rugged cabins, cozy B&Bs, and even one stunning resort, the Travaasa. Close proximity to red, black, and golden sand beaches, waterfalls, hiking, bamboo forests, and natural pools.

Cons: Once you’re here, you’re here. There is no running back to Costco because you forgot hot dog buns or sunscreen. There are relatively few options for eating out and most places close shortly after the sun goes down. Hana is a place that requires you to relax and entertain yourself outdoors, so if that’s not your cup of tea, we suggest staying elsewhere.

Major Events: East Maui Taro Festival (April), Aloha Festivals (October)

Travaasa Hana

Hana is the most remote part of the island with its rainforest landscape surrounded by rugged coastal cliffs and pristine beaches. This quiet town is most easily accessed via winding roads that lead to amazing sightseeing locations such as the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park (you now need a reservation ahead of time) or Koki Beach to watch the sunrise over the water. Hana also offers unique activities such as exploring bamboo forests or cooling off among lava tubes at the Hana Lava Tube Park.

Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay when in Hana.


Central Maui (Wailuku, Waiehu, Waihee, Waikapu, Kahului

Pros: If you can find a hotel, B&B, or condo rental near Iao Valley and the West Maui Mountains, this is a really beautiful area of the island to use as a home base. Because it rains often, the surroundings are lush and green. You’re also in a convenient spot to make trips to north, south, and Upcountry Maui. Wailuku in particular has a few quaint, charming areas of town that are perfect if you’re looking for a small-town feel with cozy cafes and mom-and-pop shops. If you’re on a budget and just want somewhere to sleep while you’re out exploring, this can be a good option since most of the hostels on the island are found in Wailuku.

Cons: Since this area is by far the most industrial part of the island, it may not be what you picture when you think of Hawaiian paradise. The beaches on this side aren’t great for swimming or relaxing due to rough winds, and there are very few options for accommodations outside of private rentals, hostels, and boutique hotels. For those of you who are looking for a true ‘island’ experience, central Maui probably isn’t your best bet.

Major Events: Art Maui (March), Maui County Agricultural Festival (April), Maui Brewers Festival (May), Maui Classical Music Festival (May), Slack Key Guitar Festival (June), Maui Fair (September), Ku Mai Ka Hula Competition (September), Maui ‘Ukulele Festival (October), First Light Academy Film Screenings (December), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (shows and concerts year-round)

The biggest draw here is definitely Iao Valley State Park – home to the breathtakingly beautiful Iao Valley Needle – an iconic landmark that makes this place a must-see destination on any visitor’s list. Other popular attractions include Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens.

Recommended West Accommodation: Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay in central Maui.

Central Maui accommodations


West Maui (Lahaina (temporarily closed), Kaanapali, Napili, Kahana, Kapalua)

Pros: No matter where you stay in West Maui, you are close to restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, nice beaches, and nightlife. If you like being in the mix of things, west Maui is a great option. Plus, some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, in my opinion, are in this area. Watch the surfers at Honolua Bay and visit Nakelele Blowhole for Maui day adventures that won’t put a dent in your gas tank.  Another plus is that you can find really good deals in spots like Kahana.

Cons: Since this side of the island is such a popular place for visitors, the streets can be fairly crowded. Expect the beaches and the restaurants to be full as well, especially in high season. Also, while driving the entire Road to Hana in a day is possible, it will add time to your day when starting from the west side. If you plan on seeing all parts of the island, this isn’t the most convenient area to stay, but nonetheless a popular choice because nearby beaches are gorgeous and there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to restaurants and activities.

Major Events: (Due to the Maui wildfires in August 2023, many events held in West Maui have been moved, changed, or canceled. For the most up-to-date activities, please check our Maui Events page.)

Favorites From The Past: Chinese New Year Celebration (February), Whale & Ocean Arts Festival (March), Banyan Tree Birthday (April), Maui Onion Festival (May), Festival of Canoes (May), King Kamehameha Day Parade (June), Kapalua Wine and Food Festival (June), 4th of July, Hula Festival (August), Lahaina Plantation Days (October), Aloha Festivals (October).

Enjoy fresh seafood while watching the sunset at one of the many oceanfront restaurants along Front Street or take a romantic stroll through historic Lahaina Town. If you’re looking for something more active, head to Kapalua for some hiking with breathtaking views.

Recommended West Accommodation: Share in the comments where you’d recommend visitors stay on the west side.

West Maui accommodations
We hope this information gives you some helpful options for your next trip to Maui!

Many of the photos were taken by Maui photographer Natalie Brown.

37 thoughts on “Where You Should Stay on Maui”

  1. The West Maui Events have mostly been cancelled. No more Festival of Canoes, more Lahaina food festival, no more Banyan tree craft fairs, no more plantation Days etc etc.

  2. Two trips to Maui and both times we chose to stay at the Kapalua Resort. Great accommodations, beautiful beaches and great golf. As an added bonus, the roadside pineapple stands just west of Kapalua are awesome.

  3. My wife and I just spent a week in Kehei and it was perfect. We love the local restaurants and the snorkel-friendly beaches. We were also able to see every other part of the island. We stayed at the Kamaole Sands, which I recommend. The condo was large, well equipped and comfortable. Our favorite snorkel spot is Ahihi Cove. It’s small, safe and secluded, with a huge variety of fish in a very compact area and great visibility due to the lack of sand. We also really enjoyed the Mile 14 beach on the Honoapiilani Highway. It does require getting out beyond about the 100-yard mark to get good visibility, but it still felt very safe. I do endorse spending the night in Hana. It’s costly, but it makes that trip much more relaxed and enjoyable.

  4. I personally would want to stay in a place upcountry. My second choice would be to stay in Hana but thats a far drive.

  5. I would lean toward South Maui as it’s close to beautiful beaches, shopping and entertainment and not too far from other island adventures like Haleakala and Iao valley. There are some great accommodation options in the area. Although, if I needed something a little bigger, 2 and 3 bedroom beachfront villas at Kahana Village are tempting! They even have a free Mai Tai Party on Wednesday’s and Lei Making class on the weekend. I wouldn’t want to leave often anyway.

  6. We love South Kihei! The sunny south always has better weather and awesome beaches! Kamaole Beach Royale is the tallest building at 7 stories so nice that’s its not all high rises. That building’s rooftop deck has amazing panoramic views and a perfect location for a rental within walking distance to everything!

  7. Kaanapali Royal above Whalers village is the perfect distance from the crowds but conveniently close to all the best parts of West Maui. These 2 bedroom condos (1650 sq feet) have wonderful sunset views of the bay between Lanai and Molakai. Great for families.

  8. I love the local feel of Kihei. It’s near all the best snorkeling beaches, a bus ride from Lahaina and has great comfort food locations!

  9. I’m looking for a place in Maui for my 15 year anniversary. I’ve never been to Maui. I love the sun and beaches! Not crowded beaches though… any suggestions for a romantic getaway?

    • Not crowded, I suggest exploring Makena or the north side of Maui. There are plenty of empty beaches, it just depends on the time of day, time of season, and the weather. An empty beach is within 20-30 minutes, you just have to look for it. Congrats!

    • We are going in December fir our 25. How was your 15th? Do you have any recommendations as this is our first trip. Thank you.

  10. Hi there! wich area do you recommend in Maui for 36 years old couple looking for hot, sun, no crowded and not touristic area and a lot of nature? We will be there 5 days in May and we will rent a car.
    I was thinking Lahaina but I am afraid that it will be full of people and we don’t like mega resorts and malls.
    Hahahahaha I know maybe we are complicated but I am sure someone knows or thinks like us
    Thanks you so much!


    • Hot, sun, no-crowd, not touristy. Tough combo. Hot and sun come with south and west Maui. no crowd and not touristy would be more of an Upcountry or Molokai or parts of Hana thing.

    • Kihei in South Maui has the sunniest, driest hottest weather on the island. It isn’t crowded here but it’s not devoid of people and traffic either. In my opinion, it is much less crowded than the Kannapali and Lahina area on the West side of the island and the traffic is much less congested.

  11. We are coming for a first visit to Maui and would like to explore the diversity of the island. What area would you suggest to stay in for a week?

    • Aloha! It really depends on what your interests are – beaches, jungle, peace and quiet, etc., but the most popular areas for first-timers are typically Kihei, Wailea, Lahaina and Ka’anapali. You can’t go wrong anywhere, to be honest!

  12. The most Hawaiian of resorts on the northwest side of Maui is Napili Kai Beach Resort. Napili Bay, north end, is great for kids since the surf is blocked by a reef which also provides tranquil snorkeling grounds. Lots of rooms with ocean or partial ocean views most with kitchenette facilities so you can do dinner at home on your own ocean balcony with a view of Molokai or Lani islands. The staff is mostly those with years at the resort and are very helpful no matter what you need. Several pools including a very large hot tub where you can meet other guests. The on site Sea House has a great bar, pupus and good food with a good variety. Watching the sunset from the outdoor patio while the kids frolic in the tiny waves just feet away from you will make any parent happy! It worked for us!

  13. Leinaala Condo in Kihei is a quiet 20 unit complex where all the units face the ocean. We used to have a unit there, but sold it a few years ago. Loved the complex….contact Maui Condo & Homes for pricing. You won’t be disappointed.

  14. Having stayed at the North Shore Lookout, I can agree easily with the recommendation in this article. A beautiful B&B, run by two wonderful folks, in a fantastic location. My wife and I plan on making our yearly vacation days stress free and passed in quiet comfort by always staying at the North Shore Lookout.

  15. We really like the area down South Kihei Road. With Kam 1-3 and great beaches, there’s a great mix of the local flavor along with the bustle of the tourista places. Lots of condos to stay in at any price range. Close enough to either side of the island. Our favorite spot in the Maui Universe.


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