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.
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. 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.
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.
Top activities in West Maui 🐳
Where to stay in West Maui
Best Places to Stay in Lahaina
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 Plantation Inn
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 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
The Royal Lahaina
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.
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 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
Napili Shores maui by outrigger
Napili Kai Beach Resort
Top Floor Oceanfront Condo
Best Places to stay in Kapalua
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.
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.
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.
Top activities in South Maui 🐠
Where to stay in South Maui
Best Places to stay in Ma’alaea
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
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.
Maui Coast Hotel
Best Places to stay in Wailea | Makena
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.
Fairmont Kea Lani
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
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.
Top activities Upcountry Maui 🌅
Where to stay Upcountry Maui
Best Places to Stay in Kula
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
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.
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.
Top activities in Central Maui 🌺
Where to stay Central Maui
Best Places to stay in Kahului | Wailuku | Waiehu | Waihee
The old Wailuku Inn
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.
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?
Top activities on the North shore Maui 🌊
Where to stay on the North Shore
Best Places to stay in Paia | Haiku
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.
Top activities in East Maui 🥭
Where to Stay in East Maui
Best Places to stay in Hana
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.