Choosing which part of the island to stay on is an important factor when planning your Hawaiian vacation. I’ve been on Maui for almost 10 years and 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 for you to decide the best part of Maui to stay based on your personal preferences.
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best part of maui to stay on
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 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. As you continue up West Maui towards Napili, Kahana, and Kapalua, Moloka’i becomes more dramatic and viewable. There are several on the beach bungalows as well great snorkeling at the bays in this area.
Lahaina and Ka’anapali offer many whale watching, snorkeling, and sunset boat tours 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. 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.
Where to Stay in West Maui
Old Lahaina House
The Plantation Inn
The Royal Lahaina
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
Napili Kai Beach Resort
Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort
Montage Kapalua Bay
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 if 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. Prices are slightly cheaper for beach accommodations compared to the west side.
Cons: Less of a small Hawaii town feel. Kihei gets hot in the summer and is also very dry.
Where to Stay in South Maui
Stay in Kihei for cheaper airbnb’s and condos. Close to great swimming beaches and restaurants.
Maui Coast Hotel
Fairmont Kea Lani
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.
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.
Where to Stay Upcountry Maui
Kula Star Dome
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.
Where to Stay Central Maui
Courtyard by Marriott Maui Kahului Airport
The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono
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?
Where to Stay on the North Shore
Puu Koa Palms
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.
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.
Wai'napanapa State Park
Haleakala National Park
Now that you’ve choose which part of the island to stay on and where to stay, it is now time to start planning how you’ll be spending your days.