Ahhhh…You’re planning a dream trip to Maui. 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 put a post together with the key differences between West vs South Maui making it easier for you to decide where to stay on Maui. I.e. 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, the best accommodations in Maui for each area for every budget and a top pick to stay in other areas of Maui if you’re looking to get a bit off-the-beaten path. Let’s get started on where to stay in Maui: South vs West Maui.
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.
Most travelers stay on the leeward side of the island in West Maui or South Maui. These areas 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.
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
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.
- Lahaina and Ka’anapali offer many whale watching, snorkeling trips, and sunset cruises directly from Kaanapali beach or Lahaina Harbor.
- Kaanapali Beach is a great place for families.
- Kapalua contains several honeymoon resorts.
- Views of Lanai and Molokai.
- Close to lots of beginner surf spots.
- Lots of great hiking close by.
- 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.
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.
- Molokini snorkel tours are more accessible
- Prices are slightly less for beach accommodations in compared to the West side.
- A bigger selection of cheaper places to stay on Maui are here.
- Closer to explore other parts of the island like Hana, the North shore, Upcountry or atop Haleakala.
- Wailea is the ultimate honeymoon destination.
- Closer to the airport.
- Less of a small Hawaii town feel.
- Kihei gets hot in the summer and is also very dry.
West Maui Hotels
The Lahaina Shores Beach Resort is a beachfront accommodation in Lahaina that offers unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui Mountains. Staying here you not only get to enjoy the beach but there’s also a pool, hot tub and BBQ facilities on site.
This is a great place to stay in Lahaina if you plan on cooking a few meals in as each air conditioned studio features a lanai and a full kitchen complete with an oven, a stove top, a toaster, a microwave, a refrigerator, a coffee machine, and kitchenware, as well as a dining area.
This is also an excellent place to stay in Maui if you don’t plan on renting a car. The hotel is 5 minutes’ walk from the historic Banyan Tree and there is a beginner surf break right out front which is one of the best things to do in Lahaina. Since the harbor is a short distance away, the hotel is also within walking distance of para sailing, fishing, snorkeling and sunset cruises.
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 water activities, restaurants and beaches.
Westin 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.
Hyatt Regency Maui
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
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
The Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort is a great place to stay in Maui on a budget and directly on the beach. Located on one of Maui’s best beaches on 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.
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.
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. This is also walkable to the Mahana Ridge Trail.
South Maui Hotels
The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa is a huge resort located on the shores of South Maui. This is one of the best Maui 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. 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.
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 feel right at home at this resort.
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.
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
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. Koa’s has a great happy hour and is located at the adult pool.
Each luxurious cabana-style suite is very spacious and has a separate living area. This resort is walkable to the beach and a free shuttle to the shops at Wailea.
If you want a beach front 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. Close to the best beaches on Maui and high end shopping. This is where to stay in Wailea for luxury, relaxation and rejuvenation.
Where to Stay in Maui Upcountry
Where to Stay in East Maui
Hana Maui Resort
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.
Where to Stay in Maui on the North Shore
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, Paia 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.