Deciding where to stay in Maui and the best part of Maui to stay on is an important factor when planning your Hawaiian vacation.  I’ve lived on Maui for 10 years now and typical Jess, have lived all over the island.

I wanted to write a post that gave you the pros and cons of each area making it easy so you can decide the best area of Maui to stay based on your personal preferences.

West Maui vs South Maui | Where to Stay

For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase.  As always, I would never recommend a product or service that I didn't truely believe in.  All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling and coffee ☕️.  I thank you in advance.

What is the best area to stay in Maui?  Most travelers stay in the leeward side of the island in West Maui or South Maui.  These are the best areas of Maui to stay if you want to be close to lots of activities, beaches and restaurants.

I always recommend staying in all parts of the island throughout your Maui vacation.  This lets you experience more of Maui and spend less time in the car.

In this guide I explain the pros and cons of each area of Maui and then list the best places to stay in Maui for that area with all budgets in mind.  

Where to stay in Maui

Maui is divided into 6 areas: West Maui, South Maui, Upcountry, Central Maui, North Shore & East Maui. 

Napili Bay with a palm tree hanging over the beach

West Maui

Pros: If the main objective of your Maui vacation is to lounge on the beach, snorkel, try your luck at surfing or go on an epic sunset cruise then West Maui is where you’ll want to stay.

Ka’anapali has a row on top notch resorts situated on a beautiful long white sand beach.  At the end of Ka’anapali beach is black rock where you can shimmy up the rocks and dive off into the water below.  This is also a great place to snorkel and see sea turtles.  There are lots of things to do in Ka’anapali to keep you busy and Kaanapali restaurants to indulge at.

As you continue up West Maui towards Napili, Kahana, and Kapalua, Moloka’i becomes more dramatic and viewable.  There are several on the beach front resorts as well great snorkeling at the bays in this area.  This is where you can find some of Maui’s top honeymoon resorts.

Lahaina and Ka’anapali offer many whale watching, snorkeling trips, and sunset cruises so its a great part of Maui to stay if you plan on doing lots of boat excursions.  Lahaina is a charming Maui town and a great place to stay if you don’t rent your own wheels.

Cons:  Maui in general has expensive accommodation but West Maui has some higher prices with the exception of staying in Olowalu.  In the areas of Kahana, Napili, and Kapalua expect more rain in the winter months.  Lahaina gets very hot in the summer!

West Maui is a farther drive when trying to explore other parts of the island.  For example it will take you a couple hours to drive to the top of Haleakala Crater compared to one hour from South Maui.

View Kapalua Bay Beach on Maui
Girl standing on rocks near the ocean at Olivine Pools
Hiking the Lahaina L Trail Maui Hawaii
Sunset on West Maui
Camp Olowalu cabins on Maui Hawaii

Top activities in West Maui 🐳

Pacific Humpback whale in the ocean in Maui

Where to stay in West Maui

Stay in Lahaina if you want restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, surf spots, and boat tours all with walking distance.  There are plenty of things to do and it’s almost always sunny!

Best Places to Stay in Lahaina

Where to stay in Lahaina, Maui

Aina Nalu

Aina Nalu is a beautiful oasis tucked away on a side street in Lahaina.  The resort itself is lovely and staying here you have access to 2 beautiful pools and a jacuzzi.  Aina Nalu has some of the best amenities for airbnb’s in Lahaina, Maui.

This Airbnb is walking distance to all activities, must eat restaurants, nightlife and shops.  The condo is modern and a great place to hang your hat at the end of the night after a day of exploring Maui.

Old Lahaina House

The Old Lahaina House is located a block away from the beach and walking distance to many bars, restaurants, and an easy beginners surf break.  Where to stay in Lahaina to be in the center of everything and stick to your budget…at least for Hawaii standards.

The Plantation Inn

The Plantation Inn is tucked away on a side street in the center of town.  Walking distance to everything including surf spots, swimming beach, historic sights, the harbor, bars and restaurants.

Gerard’s is an excellent French restaurant  apart of the Plantation Inn and has been around for over 30 years.

Best Western Pioneer inn

The Best Western Pioneer Inn is located in the heart of Lahaina Town and one of the oldest hotels in Lahaina.  This hotel is a stones throw away from the harbor and several surf breaks. 

The Papa’aina restaurant below the Best Western Hotel serves awesome breakfast so be sure to grab a bite before you start your days adventure. 

Lahaina Shores

Lahaina Shores is located on the South end of Front Street on the beach.  This property offers great views of the West Maui Mountains and the island of Lana’i.  This condo is mountain facing and within a 10 minute walk you’re in the center of Lahaina town. 

Located on a beautiful long stretch of beach and by a beginners surf spot called Breakwall.  Staying here also gives you access to the swimming pool and hot tub.

Best Places to stay in Kaanapali

Stay in Ka’anapali for resorts, sea turtles, family friendly beaches, high end shopping and close to all the must eat Ka’anapali restaurants.

Places to stay in Kaanapali, Maui

The Royal Lahaina

This is where to stay in Ka’anapali if you’re ballin on a budget.  I love the stretch of beach that this resort sits on.  The Roayal Lahaina has a small pool and bar on sight but you come here to lounge on the beach which is never busy.

This is one of the oldest resorts on Maui.  If you are looking on where to stay in Maui with family this is one of the best places to stay in Ka’anapali, Maui.  And it’s budget friendlier.

The Mahana

Perched on the water’s edge is The Mahana.  As soon as you step foot into this Airbnb in Kaanapali you are greeted with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  Floor-to-ceiling stretch along the entire ocean-facing front of the unit. 

Located on another one of Maui’s premier beaches, swimming, snorkeling, cliff jumping, shopping, eating and drinking opportunities are right at your door step.  

If you want a stay at a luxurious stay close to all the best things to do in Kaanapali then the Mahana is the stay for you. 

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Located on a beautiful beach the Westin Resort and Spa have excellent snorkeling and lots of sea turtles.  Not in the mood for the beach?  No problem lounge at 1 of the 3 pools on property.  Plus there’s a hot tub, sauna, fitness center, massages and much more.  For added luxury check out the villas.

This is where to stay in Ka’anapali for a world class resort feel and the best area to stay on Maui when you’re traveling with your family.

The Whaler

The Whaler is a luxury ground floor condominium where the ocean and the sand are steps away. The condo has a full kitchen and in the middle of all the action in Ka’anapali.  The condo is open and perfect a small family or 2 couples traveling together.  Black rock is steps away as well as the best restaurants and shopping. 

Best Places to stay in Napili | Kahana

Stay in Napili or Kahana for enclosed bays, great snorkeling and views of Moloka’i.
Where to stay in Kahana

Napili Shores maui by outrigger

The Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger is an excellent family friendly resort located on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Napili Bay.  The mid range resort caters to families and the beach and ocean are footsteps away.  Amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub and BBQ facilities.  

Napili Kai Beach Resort

Located on the beautiful Napili Bay which has world class snorkeling and the beach is easy to get in and out of.  The Sea House Restaurant has one of the best happy hours on the island and is apart of the Napili Kai Beach Resort.

Top Floor Oceanfront Condo

If you’re looking for a luxurious Airbnb with striking views and all the amenities you could need then this top floor ocean front condo would be an excellent option.  The best part about the stay in the lanai, waking up and drinking coffee on the porch with amazing views is the best way to start your day.

Best Places to stay in Kapalua

Stay in Kapalua for lava rock you can explore on and luxurious resorts.
Where to stay in Kahana, Maui

The Montage

Luxury, Luxury, Luxury.  Perched above Ironwoods beach you’ll find this picture perfect resort.  World class golfing located 5 minutes away.  You won’t be disappointed.  This is the best place to stay in Maui Hawaii and where to stay in Kapalua, at the Montage.

The Ritz-Carlton

You can’t get better grounds, service or location than the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua.  Sitting above a the beautiful beach of D.T. Flemings is this luxurious resort.  What’s not to love, the large, open pool area, hot tubs, or decadent spa. 

You won’t be disappointed staying here.  This is one of the best honeymoon resorts on the island.  This is also walkable to the Mahana Ridge Trail.  

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    Big beach in Maui Hi, an incredible place in Maui

    South Maui

    Pros: South Maui has some my favorite beaches including Kam III, Big Beach, and Secrets.  In Wailea you’ll find a string of high end resorts that if you stay at you’ll never want to leave.

    Kihei is full of restaurants and bars that will sooth your taste buds.  From South Maui you get views of the inhibited island Kahoolawe and the submerged volcanic crater Molokini.  The sun sets over the water on this part of the island compared to over Lana’i on West Maui.

    This is a popular part of Maui where you can always count on it being sunny.   There are lots of things to do in Kihei and things to do in Wailea including whale watches, surfing and golf.

    Prices are slightly less for beach accommodations compared to the West side.  A bigger selection of cheaper places to stay on Maui are here.

    Cons: Less of a small Hawaii town feel.  Kihei gets hot in the summer and is also very dry.

    Rocks on the sand with the waves flowing over them
    Surfing in Maui a budget friendly adventure
    A pile of coconut shells on Maui

    Top activities in South Maui 🐠

    Molokini in Maui view from above

    Where to stay in South Maui

    Stay in Ma’alaea for a central location to the west and central Maui.  The Maui Ocean Center is located here but it tends to get windy.

    Best Places to stay in Ma’alaea

    where to stay in Maalaea, Maui

    Ocean Front Condo at Ma’alaea

    This Ocean front condo in Ma’alaea comes with the views.  If you are visiting during whale season you’ll be able to see whales breaching from your balcony.  Even better you are within a 5 minute walk to the Ma’alaea harbor where you can jump on a boat to enjoy a snorkel, sunset cruise or whale watch tour.

    This is a great central location between the west side and the south side of Maui.

    Best Places to stay in Kihei

    Stay in Kihei for a bigger selection of cheaper airbnb’s and condos.  Close to great swimming beaches, restaurants and activities.
    Best area to stay in Maui, Kihei

    Kihei Akahi Resort

    This is a great budget friendly option that has a full kitchen, swimming pool, BBQ facilities and a few blocks away from the beach.  This condo is also a 5 minute drive to Wailea which boasts some of Maui’s best beaches.

    Kihei Vacation Rental

    This condo is located in the heart of Kihei.  With a beginner surf beach out front, you can take surf lessons, snorkel with turtles or just perfect your tan. 

    This is a great area to stay in Maui for families.  It’s walkable to anything you could need, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, shops, dive operators and more.  This condo is an affordable place to stay on Maui.

    Condo at Luana Kai 

    Another cheap stay in Maui is this Kihei condo.  Walking distance to several world class beaches, restaurants and shops, you’ll love the location.  It has all the amenities you need to have a perfect Maui vacation.

    For a bigger selection of Vacation Rentals in the area click here.

    Maui Coast Hotel

    The Maui Coast Hotel has been renovated and is in a great location in the middle of Kihei.  Directly across from Kam Beach Park, the property has an outdoor pool and hot tubs.  This is walkable to the beach and is a great value.  This is a budget friendly, resort style option.

    Best Places to stay in Wailea | Makena

    Stay in Wailea for luxury resorts, award winning beaches and high end shopping near by.
    Stay in Makena for seclusion, lava rocks to explore on, and dolphins.
    Where to stay in Wailea Maui

    Andaz Resort

    If you want a beach front resort that you’ll never want to leave.  The Andaz has 4 outdoor infinity pools, a couple on-site bars and restaurants, and top notch service.

    Spend your days relaxing pool side with a lava flow (a Pina colada with strawberry).  Close to the best beaches on Maui and high end shopping.  This is where to stay in Wailea.

    Hotel Wailea

    On you’re honeymoon?  This is the best place to stay in Maui for couples.  The Hotel Wailea Relais & Châteaux is an adults only resort with the finest views, luxury and facilities.

    Fairmont Kea Lani

    The Fairmont Kea Lani is one of the best family resorts in Maui.  Located on Polo beach, the Fairmont has several pools, hot tubs, restaurants and bars on sight.

    Koa’s has a great happy hour and is located at the adult pool.  Walkable to the beach and a free shuttle to the shops at Wailea.

    Four Seasons Resort Maui

    The Four Seasons is the best Maui resort for couples due to its location, service and ambiance. Located on a beautiful Wailea Beach with access to 3 separate pools, hot tubs, lounges, restaurants and bars you’ll never want to leave this world class resort.  Come here to rejuvenate, reconnect with your loved one and let your stress melt away.
    Sunrise over Haleakala National Park

    Upcountry Maui

    Pros:  If spending as much time at the beach isn’t your main priority then Upcountry Maui would be a great option.  Upcountry are the small towns of Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula that are nestled on the slopes of Haleakala.

    Spend your days taking unique tours like the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm and the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.  This area is also in close proximity with Haleakala Crater making it easy to hike through the crater and catch an early sunrise.

    Budget friendlier accomodations.

    Cons: You must drive to spend the day at the beach.  Temperatures get cool especially in the winter, it snowed on Haleakala several days last winter.

    Farmers Market Upcountry
    Upcountry Maui_ Pau Vodka Distillery
    Lavender farm on Maui

    Top activities Upcountry Maui 🌅

    I'm Jess Traveling at the Lumeria pool upcountry Maui

    Where to stay Upcountry Maui

    Stay in Pukalani, Makawao, or Kula if you enjoy hiking and for close proximity to the top of Haleakala Crater.

    Best Places to Stay in Kula

    Where to stay in Kula, Maui

    Kula Lodge

    Rustic, lush lodging close to Haleakala.  If you are visiting in the winter it gets koola, get it?  The Kula Lodge has a great restaurant and comfortable bedding.

    Kula Star Dome

    This is one of the most unique places to stay on Maui.  The Kula Star Dome takes glamping to another level.  This luxury tent lets you sleep under the stars with unobstructed views.

    The stay comes with many amenities like breakfast and showers.  This place is perfect if you love star gazing and for an easy wake up call for sunrise on top of Haleakala

    Best Places to stay in Makawao

    Where to stay in Makawao

    Lumeria Maui

    ⭐️ Top pick for this area of Maui.  Lumeria is a healthy oasis tucked in the heart of Paniolo country.  Yoga and meditation classes held daily.

    Close to the summit of Haleakala and Pai’a town.  This is one of the best places to stay on Maui.  The picture above is at the pool.

    Road to I'ao Valley State Park near Wailuku, HI

    Central Maui

    Pros: Kahului is the town that you fly into when you are arriving on island.  This is also where the inner island Norwegian Cruise Line docks.  I’ao Valley is in your back yard and there’s some great hiking trails nearby if you stay in this area.  Central Maui would be perfect if you won’t be on island for very long or if you’re ballin on a budget.

    Wailuku town has cheaper accomodations and you’ll experience old Hawaii.

    Cons: Industrial region filled with factories and warehouses.  You have to drive if you want to get to a nice beach.  Traffic.

    Girl hiking the Waihee Ridge in Maui, HI

    Top activities in Central Maui 🌺

    The Waihee Ridge Trail on Maui HI

    Where to stay Central Maui

    Stay in Kahului if you have a layover or on Maui only for a couple days because its a central jumping off point to see all you can see.
    Stay in Wailuku for a walkable town with budget prices.  Close to I’ao Vally State Park.
    Stay in Waiehu or Waihee for some great hikes nearby.  The Waihee Ridge hike, 13 Crossings, Swinging Bridges just to name a few.

    Best Places to stay in Kahului | Wailuku | Waiehu | Waihee

    Where to stay in Central Maui on a budget

    The old Wailuku Inn

    The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono is a delightful bed and breakfast in Wailuku.  Close to the airport and a central location to exploring all of the island.

    Artist Villa

    This airbnb is as beautiful they come and is hosted by a friend of mine!  In this area you’ll get the best of both worlds, views of I’ao Valley and the ocean.  Plus it is centrally located to explore all parts of the islands.  The pool is amazing and you’ll feel right at home in this wonderful guesthouse.

    Baldwin Beach in Paia Maui

    The North shore

    Pros: If you came for the extreme water sports like wind surfing, kite boarding, or just plain ol’ surfing then head to the north shore as soon as you land.  Experience small town life as you rove Pai’a and head to Ho’okipa to get your adrenalin fix.

    As you head east on the road to Hana the area will become more green and lush.  This is also a great jumping off point for day trips to Hana.  Stay on this side if disconnecting and taking life in the slow lane is what you’re after.

    Cons: There’s less variety of beaches on the north shore compared to its counterparts on the west and south.  Since the north shore is smaller there are less restaurants to choose from.  But is this really a con?

    Best stops on the road to Hana
    Twin Falls a popular stop on the road to Hana

    Top activities on the North shore Maui 🌊

    A beautiful outlook on the road to Hana

    Where to stay on the North Shore

    Stay in Pai’a for a town close to beaches, surfing, and necessities.
    Stay in Haiku if you want to be surrounded by exotic plants, flowers and fruit.

    Best Places to stay in Paia | Haiku

    Where to stay in Paia, Maui

    Paia Inn

    Nestled right on the beach, this boutique property has an excellent location to shops and restaurants.  The Paia Inn is relaxation without the hustle and bustle.

    For a bigger selection of Vacation Rentals in the area click here.

    Black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa

    East Maui

    Pros: The Eastern part of the island is filled with roaring waterfalls, exotic flora and plants tucked deep in the lush, wet rainforest.  If you’re looking for a Hawaiian vacation based on the film ‘Moana’ then carve out a few days to spend here.

    Most people visit Hana on a day trip but to get a real feel firsthand plan on staying a few nights.  There are plenty of camping, airbnbs,  and jungle bungalows.  Beautiful, unique beaches are on this side and some jaw dropping hiking.

    Cons: Far away from the rest of the island.  The road to Hana is the only road that connects the eastern part of the island with the rest.  Restaurants are limited and there’s only a couple stores that sell basics.  Stock up and don’t forget anything as you won’t have many options once you’re there.

    Waimoku Falls with I'm Jess Traveling-2
    Beach chairs on a beach with a palm tree on Maui

    Top activities in East Maui 🥭

    I'm Jess Traveling at Wai'anapanapa State Park on the road to Hana

    Where to Stay in East Maui

    Stay in Hana if you’re looking for seclusion, exotic flora, black and red sand beaches, and waterfalls.  This is also a good area to camp and get your nature fix.
    For a longer and more detailed list check out this where to stay in Hana post.

    Best Places to stay in Hana

    Where to stay in Hana, Maui

    Travaasa Hana

    ⭐️ Top Pick

    The Travaasa is the best hotels in maui for honeymoon.  Seclusion in a jungle oasis, adventure right outside your doorstop and world class service at a top notch resort is the perfect honeymoon destination.  There is an infinity pool overlooks the ocean along with a hot tub.  Plus you’ll enjoy the restaurant on site which is hard to come by in Hana.  

    Aina Kupuna

    The Aina Kupuna has a great location in the middle of a jungle oasis.  Equipped with amenities for the beach this one bedroom place has a kitchen and parking.  Walking distance to Koki and Hamoa Beaches.  Perfect for a night or 2 while you explore the Hana area.

    Hana Cottage

    This fully equipped 1 bedroom cottage comes with a full kitchen, living room, dining area, washer/dryer, outdoor shower, and a covered deck with views of the ocean and mountain.  Great location to get an early start to hiking the Pipiwai Trail inside Haleakala National Park.

    For a bigger selection of Vacation Rentals in the area check here.

    Camping in Hana

    Where to stay in Maui on a budget

    Wai’anapanapa State Park

    Staying at the Waiannapanapa State Cabins are a budget friendly way to stay in Hana and be around natural beauty.  

    Haleakala National Park

    Now that you’ve choosen which part of the island to stay on and where to stay on Maui, it is now time to start planning how you’ll be spending your days.

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