Ahhhh…you’re planning a dream trip to the Hawaiian Islands. One of your biggest choices will be where to stay on Maui. More specifically it will come down to West Maui vs South Maui as those are the two major resort areas on Maui where most visitors stay.

Hi, I’m Jess and I’ve been living on Maui for more than a decade writing about the Valley Isle and all of her glory. Finding the best accommodations on Maui will only amplify your experience as you explore all that Maui has to offer.

That’s why I decided to write a post with the key differences between West vs South Maui making it easier for you to decide where to stay on Maui. For example, are you traveling to Maui for a family vacation or are you on your honeymoon? 

In this guide, I’ll go the positives and negatives on each side, list the best accommodations in Maui for each area and add a top pick to stay in other areas of Maui if you’re looking to get a bit off-the-beaten path.

Also, at the end of the post, I’ll add any useful tips an d guides that will aid you in a trip to Maui. Let’s get started on where to stay in Maui: South Maui vs West Maui.

Where to Stay in Maui

For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post which 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. If you find this post useful, you can also treat Jess to a cup coffee by clicking the icon on the bottom of the page. This will allow me to continue to create more content for you to enjoy ☕️. 

👇 But first, are you in a hurry?  If you are trying to book a room tonight or don’t have time or the patience to read the whole article, below I listed a quick list of where to stay on Maui for easy booking.

Map of Maui

Best Part of Maui to Stay

📍 I know you’re wondering what the best part of Maui to stay on is. Don’t worry, I’ll get to all the juicy details soon enough. Most travelers stay on the leeward side of the island in West Maui or South Maui.

These areas of Maui contain most of the resorts and is where to stay in Maui if you want to be close to lots of activities, beaches and restaurants. Upcountry is a bit farther from the beach but closer to Haleakala Summit for sunrise

The North shore is where to stay on Maui for waves and stay in Central Maui if you are only visiting for a few days as it’s a central location to explore Maui.

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

West Maui vs South Maui

West Maui versus South Maui has been the debate for decades. Each part of Maui has its own charm and character. I guess this is a good section to briefly touch on the horrific Lahaina fires of 2023.

The fires have changed a lot of things, people, and businesses. Of course, it is still possible to stay on West Maui, just know that West Maui is still healing.

Where to stay in West Maui
Fleetwoods Happy Hour on Maui

West Maui

There are lots places to stay in West Maui.  Stay in Lahaina if you want restaurants, bars, boutique shops, art galleries, surf spots, and boat tours all with walking distance.  There are tons of things to do in Lahaina, it’s almost always sunny and is where to stay in maui without a car

Ka’anapali has a row on top notch resorts situated on a beautiful long white sand beach.  This is also a great place to snorkel and swim with sea turtles.  There are lots of things to do in Ka’anapali to keep you busy and Kaanapali restaurants to indulge at.  This a great area on Maui to stay for families.

As you continue up West Maui towards Napili, Kahana, and Kapalua, there are several beach front resorts as well great snorkeling in the area.

🔥 Attention: Due to the August 2023 fires, it is no longer possible to stay in Lahaina.

Pros

Cons

  • Expect more rain in the winter months in in Kaanapali, Kahana, Napili, and Kapalua.
  • Lahaina gets very hot in the summer.
  • West Maui is a farther drive when trying to explore other parts of the island.
    Where to stay in South Maui
    Big Beach places in Maui Hawaii

    South Maui

    South Maui contains some of the best beaches on the island.   In Wailea you’ll find a string of high end resorts that are perfect if you are spending your honeymoon in Hawaii.

    Kihei is full of restaurants and bars and is better for your budget.  The sun sets over the water on this part of the island compared to over Lana’i on West Maui.

    There are lots of things to do in Kihei  and things to do in Wailea including surfing, golfing and snorkeling Molokini.

    Pros

    Cons

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

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      West Maui Hotels

      West Maui hotels
      Napili Bay with a palm tree hanging over the beach

      Royal Lahaina

      • Location: Kaanapali
      • Highlights: Airport Beach, Myths of Maui Luau

      The Royal Lahaina is one of the oldest resorts on Maui. This is a great resort to stay in Maui if you are traveling Maui on a budget. The resort sits on a beautiful stretch of beach that is much less crowded than its next door neighbor, Kaanapali Beach.

      There is a small pool, bar and restaurant on site. This is a perfect West Maui hotel if you are traveling with your family. It’s close to activities, restaurants, and beaches.

      Westin Resort & Spa

      • Location: Kaanapali Beach
      • Highlights: Family Friendly Maui Resort, Kaanapali Beach

      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.

      Hyatt Regency Maui

      • Location: Kaanapali Beach
      • Highlights: Great Sushi Restaurant, Beach

      The Hyatt Regency Maui is a family friendly West Maui Hotel located on the South end of Kaanapali Beach. The resort sits on Maui’s west coast on 40 acres of lush gardens.

      This Ka’anapali resort offers a full-service spa, 5 on-site restaurants and a water park which kids and adults can enjoy. The outdoor water park includes pools with a rope bridge and a lava tube waterslide.

      Sip on a pina colada as you enjoy an infinity-edge relaxation pool or hang at the family pool for a memorable day. However you choose to spend your Maui holiday, you won’t be disappointed at the Hyatt.

      Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

      • Location: Kaanapali Beach
      • Highlights: Cliff Diving Ceremony

      The Sheraton Maui Resort is located at the foot of historic black rock overlooking Ka’anapali Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Black Rock is fun for the whole family and one of the best places for cliff jumping on Maui.

      Staying here on Maui comes with lots of perks including an outdoor pool, 3 tennis courts, gym and shuttle service. Plus have your choice of dining at 5 different restaurants and bars on site.  

      Don’t miss dining at the Cliff Dove Grill which offers a nightly cliff diving ceremony which is one of the best things to see in Kaanapali.

      Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort

      • Location: Napili
      • Highlights: Napili Bay, Seahouse Restaurant Happy Hour

      The Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort is a great place to stay in Maui on a budget and on the beach. Located on one of Maui’s best beaches, Napili Bay, the Napili Sunset Resort is a self-catered apartment complete with a kitchenette, living area and patio.

      This mid range resort caters to families and the beach and ocean are footsteps away. Amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub and BBQ facilities.

      • Location: Kapalua
      • Highlights: Beautiful Grounds, Cliff House for Cliff Jumping

      Perched above Ironwoods beach you’ll find this picture perfect resort, the Montage. The grounds are beautiful and well kept. Between the luxurious rooms, relaxing pool area and lush grounds you’ll never want to leave.  

      Here you can find romance and adventure all wrapped into one. Stroll along the Kapalua Coastal trail hand in hand with your loved one or if you’re looking for a Maui adventure, 5 minutes away is Cliff House (another excellent place to go cliff diving).   

      World class golfing is also 5 minutes away.  Paradise is waiting.

      Ritz-Carlton

      • Location: Kapalua
      • Highlights: Romance, Luxury, Dragon’s Teeth

      The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua sits on 54 stunning acres and features direct access to D.T. Fleming Beach. The 5-star hotel offers ocean views, 2 golf courses, a world class spa, fitness center, 2 tennis courts and a 3-level outdoor pool.

      Style out in luxury as you can’t get better grounds, service or location than the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua. This is one of the best honeymoon resorts in Hawaii and walking distance to the Mahana Ridge Trailhead.

      South Maui Hotels

      South Maui hotels
      Wailea Beach in South Maui

      Grand Wailea

      • Location: Wailea
      • Highlights: Facilites, Amenties and Lobby Bar

      The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa is a huge resort located on the shores of South Maui. This is one of the best honeymoon resorts as you’ll never have to leave the resort.  

      It has everything you could want, a world class spa, yoga on the beach, scuba lessons, water excursions, golf and more. Start your morning in a positive head space with yoga on the beach.  

      Then, treat yourself to the spa and let your worries melt away as you lounge at one of the many pools inside the Grand Wailea. With 7 different restaurants/food options you can spend your days exploring all that Maui has to offer knowing that you’ll have lots of dinner options when you return.

      Four Seasons

      • Location: Wailea
      • Highlights: Spago Restaurant, Grounds

      The Four Seasons is the best Maui resort for couples due to its location, service and ambiance. Located on the beautiful Wailea Beach, you’ll have access to 3 separate pools, hot tubs, lounges, restaurants, and bars. 

      Dine at a Chef Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago that features a fusion of Hawaiian and California cuisine with ocean views or taste Italian at Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante. Come here to rejuvenate, reconnect with your loved one and let your stress melt away.

      Hotel Wailea

      • Location: Wailea
      • Highlights: Best place to stay in Maui for your Honeymoon

      Traveling to Hawaii for your 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.

      Nestled on a cliff overlooking Maui’s southern coastline on 15 landscaped acres, the Hotel Wailea, Relais & Chateaux – Adults Only features luxurious facilities and spacious suites.  Each suite at Hotel Wailea features a private, furnished deck with a view of the ocean or of the garden.

      Another intimate way to enjoy your stay is at the Restaurant at Hotel Wailea. The inspired island-to-table cuisine has two intimate settings at,The Lanai offers sunset ocean views, and the Garden offers romantic al fresco dining amid sculpted gardens.  

      Take it up a notch with a unique private dining experience in The Treehouse, where guests are treated by a personal chef in an ocean view outdoor setting amid a canopy of mangoes and avocados.

      Fairmont Kea Lani

      • Location: Wailea
      • Highlights: Family Friendly Resort in South Maui

      The Fairmont Kea Lani is one of the best family resorts in Maui. Located on Polo beach, the Fairmont has 3 pools (including an adult pool and kids pool), hot tubs, restaurants and bars on sight.

      Each luxurious cabana-style suite is very spacious and has a separate living area. This resort is walkable to the beach and offers a free shuttle to the shops at Wailea.

      🍹 Travel Tip: Koa’s restaurant has a great happy hour and is located at the adult pool.

      • Location: Wailea
      • Highlights: Infinity Pools, Villas

      If you want a beachfront resort that you’ll never want to leave stay at the Andaz. This South Maui Resort 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 or pina colada. Located close to some of the best beaches on Maui and high end shopping. This is where to stay in Wailea for luxury, relaxation and rejuvenation.

      I'm Jess Traveling at the Lumeria pool upcountry Maui

      Where to Stay in Maui Upcountry

      Where to Stay in Maui Upcountry
      • Location: Makawao
      • Highlights: Pool (pictured above), Yoga area, Breakfast

      The Lumeria is a healthy oasis tucked in the heart of Paniolo country.  Yoga and meditation classes held daily.  The Lumeria (pictured above) offers a tranquil and peaceful environment perfect if you are traveling to Maui looking to destress and compress.

      Rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay.  The spacious grounds provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like swimming in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub or strolling around the gardens.

      Kula Lodge

      • Location: Kula
      • Highlights: Location, Rustic Feel

      The Kula Lodge is my top pick of places to stay in Maui upcountry. This stay is rustic, lush lodging close to Haleakala.

      This will put you in close proximity to Haleakalā National Park perfect if you plan on catching Sunrise at the Summit. There is a great restaurant on site and has great views.

      Hana Hotel in Hana Maui

      Where to Stay in East Maui

      Where to stay in East Maui

      Hana Maui Resort

      • Location: Hana
      • Highlights: Romance, Luxury, Jungle Vibes, Seclusion

      Hands down one of the best places to stay in Maui is the Hana Maui Resort. Here you’ll enjoy seclusion in a jungle oasis, adventure right outside your doorstep and world class service.

      Spend your days exploring all that Hana has to offer. Watch sunrise on a black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park or hike to a 400 foot waterfall on the Pīpīwai Trail. Spending at least a few nights in Hana is a must on anyone’s Maui itinerary.

      Back at the resort, 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.

      Baldwin Beach in Paia Maui

      Where to Stay in Maui on the North Shore

      Where to Stay in Maui on the North Shore
      • Location: Paia
      • Highlights: On the Beach, Walkable to Paia Town

      The Paia Inn is relaxation without the hustle and bustle. Nestled right on the beach, this boutique hotel on Maui has an excellent location to shops, restaurants and all the things to do in Paia town.  

      Staying here puts you at the start of the road to Hana and it close proximity to world class, big waves surf spot Jaws.

      Iao Valley State Park, Maui Hawaii

      Where to Stay in Central Maui

      Where to Stay in Central Maui

      Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono

      • Location: Wailuku
      • Highlights: Quaint Bed & Breakfast

      The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono is a delightful bed and breakfast in Wailuku. Close to the airport and a central location to exploring Iao Valley State Park which is one of the best things to see on Maui.

      Maui Travel Vlogs

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      Check out the vlogs after you read this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free and useful content for you to enjoy 🙂.

      I'm Jess Traveling on a black sand beach in Maui

      More Maui Accommodation Guides

      Didn’t quite find what you were looking for? Check out more Maui accommodation guides.

      Best Area to Stay in Maui – A break down of each area and the reason to stay.

      Where to Stay in Maui on a Budget – Maui’s still pretty expensive but these are the best places to stay on a budget.

      Best VRBO’s & Airbnbs in Maui to Splurge on – These are the best vacation rentals on Maui worth the splurge.

      Where to Stay in Hana, HI – Hana is a remote area on Maui. These are the best places to stay.

      The Coolest Airbnbs in Hawaii – These are the coolest airbnbs in all of Hawaii.

      10 Best Honeymoon Resorts on Maui The most romantic resorts in Maui for your honeymoon.

      Camping Inside the World’s Largest Dormant Volcano – My adventure sleeping inside the Haleakala Cabins inside Haleakala National Park.

      Best things to do in Lahaina

      Final Thoughts on Where to Stay on Maui

      Those are the best places to stay on Maui that provide comfort, luxury, and exceptional service. I would like to take a moment to say that if you decide to stay on West Maui, know that many people and families are still trying to pick up the pieces and find stable housing. Mahalo for your kindness 🙏.

      If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments below 👇.

      Maui Travel Guides ↓

      👙 Now that you’ve found a place to stay, check out the guides below to help with packing, which activities to reserve in advance, the best places to eat and more.

      The Ultimate Travel Guide to Maui

      What to Pack to Maui

      Best Things to Do on Maui

      10 Maui Insider Tips to Know Before you Go

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      Best Places to Stay in Maui with I'm Jess Traveling
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      Where to stay on Maui
      Where to Stay on Maui | West Maui vs South MauiWhere to Stay on Maui | West Maui vs South MauiWhere to Stay on Maui | West Maui vs South Maui
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