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Where to stay on Maui: Best areas plus 26 great hotels + condos

Aloha! Are you trying to decide where to stay on Maui?

You’ve certainly picked one of our favorite Hawaiian islands. Dubbed “the Valley Isle,” Maui is much loved for its beautiful beaches (more than 80!), whale watching, waterfalls, snorkeling with sea turtles – and gorgeous resorts.

We’ve visited Maui more than a dozen times over the years, staying in all the main areas of the island. And we’ve just returned from another delightful Maui trip.

As Maui is so popular now, it’s harder to score a rental car (and it’s more expensive). So when planning your Hawaii vacation, it’s important to choose your holiday base in Maui wisely.

If you don’t have a car, you want to be in an area where you’re walking distance to beaches, restaurants and activities.

Here’s our definitive guide to the best areas to stay on Maui – together with detailed recommendations for the best Maui hotels, condos and resorts in each area (26 resorts in total).

We’ve personally bedded down at most of these resorts and Maui vacation rentals. We share the pros and cons, plus tips on the best units in each.

Where to stay on Maui, Hawaii? The Wailea area is pretty glam.

Contents: Best places to stay in Maui, Hawaii

Four geographical regions

West Maui

South Maui

North Shore

East Maui/Hana

Popular resort areas of Maui (plus best hotels + condos)

Ka’anapali

  • Hyatt Regency Maui, The Whaler, Ho’olio House, Westin Maui Resort, Royal Lahaina Resort, Sheraton Maui Resort, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Honua Kai Resort

Kapalua

  • Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Montage Kapalua Bay

Napili

  • Napili Kai Beach Resort, Napili Shores Maui

Lahaina

  • Plantation Inn, Lahaina Shores Beach Resort

Kihei

  • Kamaole Sands, Mana Kai Maui

Wailea

  • Grand Wailea, Wailea Ekahi Village, Andaz Maui, Four Seasons Wailea, Fairmont Kea Lani, Hotel Wailea, Wailea Beach Resort (Marriott Maui)

Paia

  • Paia Inn, Inn at Mama’s Fish House

Hana

  • Hana-Maui Resort

The Wailea vs Ka’anapali (and Kapalua) debate

West Maui vs South Maui

Where to stay on Maui

Because of its diverse terrain, different parts of the island offer different vacation experiences.

One of the interesting facts about Hawaii that might surprise you is that while Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island, it isn’t huge (48 miles long and 27 miles wide).

But its landscape is so varied with different micro-climates – from the dry beachcombing territory of Kihei to lush Hana – that it feels bigger than it is.

Families gravitate to Kihei, golfers like Wailea and Kapalua, and nature lovers prefer to get away from it all in Hana.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

Most visitors to Maui stay in the following four main regions:

  • West Maui
  • South Maui
  • North Shore
  • East Maui/Hana

Within the four main regions in Maui, there are eight major resort areas to choose from when deciding on the best place to stay on Maui for you:

  • Kapalua
  • Napili
  • Ka’anapali
  • Lahaina
  • Kihea
  • Wailea
  • Paia
  • Hana

If you look at the map of Maui below, you’ll see these eight resort areas.

(Wailuku, which is Maui’s capital town, was once a tourist center, but Ka’anapali and Wailea are now more popular.)

Yellow map of Maui on blue background
Map of Maui

Vacationing as a couple? Maybe you’re on your honeymoon? Check out our post on the most romantic things do on Maui

Maui regions

West Maui

If you’re looking for the most posh and developed part of the island, West Maui is by far one of the best areas in Maui to stay.

World-famous Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Kapalua and the stunning West Maui mountains are some of the area’s major highlights.

West Maui is also the most touristy and crowded part of the island. Visitors flock here to vacation at the best Maui resorts, enjoy fine dining and indulge in high-end shopping.

South Maui

After West Maui, South Maui is the most popular part of the island.

Kihei and Wailea are the two largest towns here. They offer the best range of condo vacation rentals in Maui, making it a favorite area if you prefer a private condo rather than a resort-style vacation.

Wailea is more glam than Kihei. Along with Kapalua in West Maui, it’s the swankiest area of Maui to stay.

There’s plenty of shopping in South Maui too. The Shops at Wailea, for example, are home to 70 luxury and lifestyle stores (Tommy Bahama, Gucci, Maui Jim Sunglasses, etc.), as well as several restaurants.

The south is also hotter and less rainy than other parts of Maui, which usually translates into more beach weather days.

North Shore

Rugged and less developed, Maui’s North Shore is where visitors go to experience the more raw and natural side of Maui. The small beach town of Paia offers a cool hippy vibe that’s hard not to love.

There aren’t many hotels and resorts in the north. In fact, there are fewer amenities overall, so that means you’ll find some of Maui’s most pristine and isolated beaches in this area.

If laid-back and off-the-tourist-path is your style, the North Shore is the best location in Maui for you.

East Maui/Hana

There’s really only one reason to go to East Maui – the Hana Highway. Not that this makes it any less worthwhile. As one of the most scenic drives in the world, it’s a must-do!

Since it’s so remote, you’ll need to rent a car to get to East Maui and enjoy the popular Road to Hana excursion. Doing the Hana drive and experiencing the best waterfalls in Maui easily takes up a full day, so an early start is advised.

Several tour companies (e.g., Hike Maui) offer tours in East Maui if you prefer not to drive.

If you choose to stay on the east coast of Maui, there aren’t many accommodation options, so you’ll have to plan in advance.

Hmmm… Wondering what to throw in your suitcase? See our list of what to pack for Maui (be sure to pack water shoes if you’re going to chase waterfalls!)

8 Popular Maui resort areas (and best places to stay)

1) Ka’anapali: Where to stay in Maui for honeymoon, romance and buzz

The gold sand beach of Kaanapali
Kaanapali Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui

On the west shore of Maui (about a 50-minute drive from Kahului Airport), Ka’anapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort area.

A strip of first-class hotels and condominium villages line a beautiful three-mile-long stretch of gold sand beach – Ka’anapali Beach.

It’s won all sorts of awards over the years for being the best beach in America. In fact, we think it’s one of the top beaches in the world!

A blue and red outrigger canoe sits on the golden sand of Ka'anapali Beach
An outrigger canoe sits on the golden sand of Ka’anapali Beach

Ka’anapali is also home to Whalers Village.

This attractive open-air shopping and dining complex features more than 90 different shops and restaurants. Aloha shirts? Island-inspired pearl jewelry? Macadamia nut gelato? Hawaiian carvings and other authentic Hawaiian souvenirs? Bring out your wallet!

A beach boardwalk (about 2¼ miles long) stretches in front of the Ka’anapali hotels and restaurants – we love it for a walk at sunset or in the morning before the sun gets too strong.

It’s easy to get around without a car if you stay in Ka’anapali. Apart from using the boardwalk, the free open-air Ka’anapali Trolley trundles back and forth between the hotels, Ka’anapali Golf Courses and Whalers Village.

While the Ka’anapali area is family-friendly, it’s also a favorite honeymoon destination.

It’s not uncommon for couples to get stuck choosing between Ka’anapali and Wailea – never fear, both are excellent picks.

Wailea is better known for being glitzier and more expensive, but the reality is that Ka’anapali still has some of the best honeymoon hotels in Maui.

With everything it offers, Kaanapali is also a great location to base yourself if this is your first time visiting Maui. It’s got lots of buzz, and there’s lots going on.

Here’s a more in-depth look at where to stay in Ka’anapali.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa:

With remodeled rooms and lots of pools, the Hyatt is easily one of the best resorts on Maui (Credit: Hyatt Regency Maui)

Newly renovated and more grandiose than ever, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort earns its spot as one of Maui’s best luxury resorts.

Situated on 40 acres of Ka’anapali Beach, it offers guests 24/7 access to an oceanfront tropical paradise.

No matter which of the 779 rooms or 31 available suites you choose, you’ll be treated to fabulous views.

Sit and admire the ocean, majestic mountains, pristine golf course or lush gardens from your own private lanai and glass balcony.

For true royal Hawaiian treatment, live it up in the 2,300 sq. ft. Presidential Suite, complete with a living room with wet bar and seven lanais.

You won’t lack for amenities.

Families will have a blast at the outdoor water park that includes pools with a lava tube water slide and rope bridge. There’s also a separate family pool, an infinity-edge relaxation pool and an adults-only pool to enjoy.

The cave-like grotto pool even has a swim-up grotto bar for sipping pina coladas and Mai Tais.

You won’t go hungry either.

Start your day with breakfast in the open-air Swan Court, where swans float by in a waterfall-splashed lagoon. (The resort is also home to penguins, African cranes and flamingos.)

For dinner, choose from a fine dining Japanese resto, poolside eatery and a steakhouse.

And what Maui vacation would be complete without a luau? You won’t have to go very far, as the Hyatt Regency hosts its very own traditional Hawaiian luau every night.

The only real downside is that the beach in front of the Hyatt is eroded.

There’s barely any beach now, and what’s there is currently sand-banked. But while there’s no sand to lie out on, you can still get in the ocean water to swim.

For better ocean swimming (and snorkeling), walk next door to Hanakao’o Beach Park (Canoe Beach), where turtles like to hang out.

Booking options:

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

The Whaler:

The Whaler is a luxury Maui vacation condo rental on Ka’anapali Beach (Credit: Aston at The Whaler)

This classy condominium is one of our favorite places to stay in Maui.

Its location can’t be beat.

The Whaler sits smack-dab on Ka’anapali Beach, just a hop away from the Whalers Village’ shops and restaurants. And the broad expanse of beach in front is one of the nicest stretches of Ka’anapali Beach.

Two 12-story concrete (soundproof) towers rise up on either side of a lush tropical garden.

Choose from studios to two-bedroom condos, all with full kitchens and extra-large lanais. As they’re privately owned, they’re individually decorated. Most are fully renovated with custom kitchens, granite countertops and tasteful furnishings.

We book-ended our recent trip with two stays at The Whaler.

Concrete tower of The Whaler with lawns and the pool in front
You can’t go wrong at The Whaler!

To begin with, we splashed out in a beachy-feeling 905 sq. ft. corner unit with a huge wrap-around lanai and two bathrooms.

At the end of our Maui stay, we checked into a 621 sq. ft. studio, also with a king-size bed, washer/dryer, solid carved wood furniture and a fabulous ocean view.

To catch the sunset, book a south-facing unit. Just know the lanais get hot during the day.

As we wanted to sit out on our lanai during the day in the shade, we booked both units on the north side.

Other niceties include an oceanfront pool, two tennis courts, beach activity shack (with towel service and complimentary mini beach chairs) and small fitness center.

Our favorite pastime while there? Walking along the beach to Black Rock (so close!) to snorkel and swim with Hawaiian Green sea turtles each morning.

Booking options:

There are several ways to book The Whaler. Different companies manage different units within the property.

We used Vrbo (the “host” was Vacation Maui) as well as The Whaler rental program through Monte Fitts. Aqua Aston (a Marriott Vacations hotel branch) also manages units through the Aston at The Whaler.

Aston at The Whaler: Book here

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

The Whaler on Vrbo: Check rates and availability

Vacation Maui: Book here

The Whaler Vacation Rental Program by Monte Fitts: Book here

Ho’oilo House:

Green plant pots and orange lounge chairs in front of the common lounge area of Ho'oilo House
Ho’oilo House is a deluxe bed-and-breakfast in Maui (Credit: Ho’oilo House)

You won’t find any water parks with twisting slides (or mega-sized anything!) at this secluded bed-and-breakfast for adults.

Offering just six rooms, the Ho’oilo House is where to stay in West Maui if you’re looking for the antithesis of a colossal Ka’anapali resort. It’s actually the only upscale B&B you’ll find in this area.

Other things you won’t find at the Ho’oilo House are shops or restaurants within walking distance, walk-on access to a beach, pre-planned nightly events, an active pool scene – or any type of “action” at all.

So what will you find?

An upscale haven that caters perfectly to guests who want to relax away from the hustle and bustle. The expansive unobstructed views of the ocean below, Balinese-style decor and intimate setting set the stage for a peaceful romantic stay.

Individually decorated rooms have doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl and a king or queen bed. Some also have views overlooking the Pacific and a private lanai.

Ensuite bathrooms feature pebbled floors and private outdoor showers.

Ho'olio House's Kohala room has a bathroom with an ivory stone tub with a bamboo spout.
The Kohala room has a bathroom with an ivory stone tub with a bamboo spout (Credit: Ho’oila House

Amenities are limited but enough for independent-minded couples. A comfortable common lounge area overlooks a smallish but beautiful outdoor pool, surrounded by immaculate green lawn with sun beds.

The continental breakfast (included in your stay) is simple but divine! Start your day with a spread of fresh Hawaiian fruit, toast, local jams and cereals.

At sunset, it’s heaven to sit out on your lanai, breathing in the plumeria-scented air and watching the many birds and little iguanas, as the sun paints the sky pink and orange.

Ho’oilo House is very popular with couples seeking a tropical romantic getaway, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to reserve one of their rooms. Note you’ll need a car if you stay here.

Booking options:

Ho’oilo House: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali:

Waves lap the golden sand beach in front of the Westin Maui Resort
Boasting a beautiful stretch of beach, cool shady places to hide from the sun, a recent renovation and six pools, the Westin Maui in Ka’anapali is one of the best hotels in West Maui (Credit: Westin Maui Resort)

It’s big – but impressive! With 771 rooms, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is one of the largest luxury properties with direct access to Ka’anapali Beach.

After undergoing a recent $120 million renovation, it sparkles like new.

Ocean Tower rooms are more earthy in décor, while spiffed up hotel rooms in the Hokupa’a Tower feature a sleek ocean-inspired design in soft blue and silver colors. Book a one-bedroom Premier Suite (Hokupa’a Tower) for dreamy ocean views and a free-standing tub in the bathroom.

Hokupa’a Tower guests also get exclusive access to The Lanai. This upscale gathering place offers complimentary breakfast, dinner pupus, cocktail bar and a warm pool.

There are tons of family-friendly frills at the Westin.

Kids can have a blast at the kids’ club – lots of games keep them entertained. Or they can splash about in five pools, where they’ll find a 270-foot water slide, waterfalls and a swim-through grotto.

Westin Maui water park with water slides
The water park is catnip for kids (Credit: Westin Maui Resort)

Other family-friendly activities include hula dancing and lei-making classes, plus a nightly Polynesian luau.

For some kid-free time, adults can retreat to the serene adults-only pool deck. Maybe reserve one of the new “dew-drop” shaped cabanas made of bamboo and dark wood?

Or how about indulging in a pampering session at the award-winning full-service spa?

As for dining options, find everything from Hawaiian fare to a burger bar.

Don’t miss the breezy new Waicoco, a seafood-driven restaurant. (Try the warm Hawaiian rolls with honey butter and the pan-seared Ahi tuna with Molokai sweet potatoes, beans and ginger cream.)

Eat, drink and enjoy ocean views at the new Waicoco restaurant! (Credit: Westin Maui Resort)

All of the happenings of Whalers Village are also within walking distance from the Westin.

Of course, because the Westin is smack-dab in the thick of things, you might find it livelier than you’d like.

Booking options:

Westin Maui Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Royal Lahaina Resort:

A woman pushes a baby stroller on a path through the gardens at the Royal Lahaina Resort
The Royal Lahaina Resort is one of the best mid-range hotels in Maui

A few minutes’ drive north of Whalers Village is the Royal Lahaina Resort, also on the list of the best hotels in Ka’anapali.

It’s situated on 2,400 feet of oceanfront property, just north of Black Rock, on North Ka’anapali Beach (also called Kahekili Beach). Kahekili Beach is quieter than Ka’anapali Beach, which is south of Black Rock.

Originally built in 1962, the Royal Lahaina is known as a solid mid-range resort. It’s not fancy, but it offers good value with comparable amenities to its luxurious neighbor resorts.

There are several types of rooms to choose from. The 12-story Lahaina Kai Tower has 441 rooms and suites ranging from standard, partial oceanview, full oceanview and deluxe oceanview.

We stayed in one of their cute beach cottage buildings, nestled within the resort’s tropical garden and sweeping lawns.

Our basic “run of the house” cottage room was very retro in feel, with louvered windows and a huge tub from the 60s tiled all in white. Sure, it could do with an update – but it was spickety clean, and we actually loved its “old Hawaii” vibe.

Each cottage room also comes with a private lanai and patio furniture.

To really get that beach house vacation feel, book one of the cottages that include a kitchenette.

You get plenty of lounging options both on and off the beach. There are two large oceanview pools, two hot tubs and a pool bar that serves up some tasty tropical drinks.

Play a round of tennis on one of 11 courts and enjoy a macadamia-nut waffle cone afterward at the resort’s ice-cream parlor. Not a bad way to spend the day!

The Royal Lahaina also hosts a nightly oceanfront luau (Myths of Maui). The longest-running Hawaiian luau on Maui, it consistently gets high reviews.

Another added bonus: No resort fees!

Booking options:

Royal Lahaina Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali:

Lobby lanai of Sheraton Maui Resort
The Sheraton has a marvelous location on Ka’anapali Beach, right by Black Rock (Credit: Sheraton Maui Resort)

Also high on the list of best West Maui resorts, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is another family-friendly, action-packed, expansive resort – chock-full of creature comforts and right on Ka’anapali Beach.

Families, especially, love the big lazy-river pool and other activities that are always on-hand, like hula and scuba diving lessons.

Find your happy place by the pool!

Other luxury features include three tennis courts, oceanfront massages and a contemporary fitness center.

The Hawaiian-themed guest rooms include a cozy lanai, some with marvelous beach and ocean views.

Perhaps the main reason to stay here, though, is its proximity to Black Rock.

This rocky peninsula jutting out from Ka’anapali Beach is famous for snorkeling with green sea turtles – you’re pretty well guaranteed to see turtles at Black Rock.

The turtles are so used to humans that they even swim around in shallow water that’s only waist deep. If something bumps your thigh while you’re standing in the sea, it’s likely a turtle checking you out!

Snorkeling with a green sea turtle at Black Rock, Maui
Snorkeling with sea turtles at Black Rock (Credit: Sheraton Maui Resort)

Where the water is deeper, thrill-seeking kids and teens love to jump off the cliffs at Black Rock.

At sunset, a young diver lights tiki torches along Black Rock, blows a conch and dives into the water in a cliff diving ceremony that’s taken place every night since the Sheraton opened in 1963.

Bottom line?

The 4-star Sheraton is an older hotel with a superb location. All 508 rooms and suites were renovated in a $26.5 million makeover in 2018. But overall, it still feels a little vintage.

It’s less expensive than its sister property, the Westin (reviewed above), which is more modern and trendier.

How to choose between the Sheraton Maui and the Westin Ka’anapali?

Stay at the Sheraton for bigger rooms, turtle snorkeling at your doorstep and better value. Stay at the Westin (or Hyatt) if your tastes skew toward luxury.

Booking options:

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Another great spot for snorkeling is Molokini Crater: See what it’s like to go on a snorkeling tour of Molokini and Turtle Town

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel:

A newly renovated Premium Room at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel
A newly renovated Premium Room (Credit: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel)

Recognized as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel” by the Waiaha Foundation, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel now offers even more Hawaiian goodness with their upgraded, newly renovated Premium Rooms.

Nestled among vibrant tropical gardens between The Whaler and the Sheraton, this unpretentious resort also fronts the same beautiful beach. And you can get to Whalers Village with a three-minute walk from the hotel grounds.

It’s a warm and welcoming 3-star resort with a 5-star location!

The daily complimentary cultural classes are a highlight.

Want to learn how to make a lei? There’s a lei-making class every afternoon.

Or how about giving it go and trying to dance the hula? Or learning some Hawaiian words or mastering a few chords on the ukulele? There are classes for that too – plus lots more!

You can learn how cloth was made in Hawaii in the 'Ohe Kapala class at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
You can learn how cloth was made in Hawaii in the ‘Ohe Kapala class (Credit: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel)

The resort’s outrigger canoe paddling tours are awesome.

There’s a maximum of 5 guests per tour.

Your Hawaiian guide will teach you how to paddle and explain the culture and beliefs of the local Maui people. (Reserve your spot early!)

A Hawaiian pulls a yellow outrigger canoe on the beach
Want to paddle in an outrigger canoe? (Credit: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel)

Onsite amenities include a large swimming pool.

Huihui is the resort’s newly remodeled beachfront restaurant. Serving Hawaiian cuisine, it offers live music and hula shows in the evening. The lobster dumplings and pineapple bread pudding are popular hits.

Like the Royal Lahaina and Sheraton, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers good value for the price.

Booking options:

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Honua Kai Resort:

A family swims in a pool surrounded by red umbrellas at Honua Kai Resort, Maui.
Families love the three acres of pools at Honua Kai Resort (Credit: Honua Kai)

You find Honua Kai Resort & Spa at the quiet north end of Kahekili Beach.

It offers an alternative to a typical hotel stay with individually owned condos in an upscale complex – while still giving you resort-style conveniences, like a spa, concierge and poolside food-and-drink service.

All condos come with full gourmet kitchens and large lanais.

Families, in particular, find the huge three-bedroom condos (1,750 sq. ft.) appealing.

But you can also book studios, one-bedroom suites, 900 sq. ft. one-bedroom suites (with a den) and two-bedroom suites.

As well, there are three-bedroom/three-bathroom garden villas with hot tubs, fire pits and access to a private swimming pool.

Kids are drawn to the network of connecting swimming pools with waterfalls, waterslide and play area with water fountains.

Adults aren’t forgotten – you can reserve a cabana to relax by the adult pool. And if a Hawaiian lomi lomi couples massage is on your vacation wishlist, the resort’s Ho’ola Spa has got you covered.

The popular Duke’s beachfront restaurant is also located within the Honua Kai Resort. We drool thinking about their famous hula pie’s chocolate and macadamia nut ice-cream deliciousness!

The downside to staying here?

While the grounds are beautiful, some guests complain the pool area gets crowded with lots of children, and there aren’t enough pool chairs for everyone when the resort is full.

If visiting as a couple and you’d prefer more adult-oriented digs, Honua Kai may not be right for you.

Booking options:

You can book through the resort’s management company (Outrigger Hotels and Resorts), Vrbo, Airbnb, etc.

Honua Kai Resort: Book through the hotel

Honua Kai Resort on Vrbo: Check rates and availability

2) Kapalua: Best place to stay in Maui for couples seeking a serene deluxe escape

Manicured golf course in front of villas in Kapalua
Manicured golf course lawns slope down to the sea in front of deluxe villas in Kapalua

Kapalua is one of Maui’s most deluxe resort areas (rivaling Wailea, #6 below). It has an idyllic shoreline, lined with some of Hawaii’s most spectacular beaches, and five picture-perfect bays.

Kapalua was once known as the Honolua Ranch back in the 1800’s. Today, it’s where the 23,000-acre Kapalua Resort area is located.

This master-planned area is home to one of Maui’s best award-winning restaurant (Merriman’s), 20+ boutique shops, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua (discussed next), luxury mansions and two prestigious, world-renowned golf courses – the Plantation Course and Bay Course at Kapalua Golf.

If having luxury hotels and resort options is high on your travel priority list, places like Kapalua could seal the deal in favor of Maui when comparing Maui vs Kauai – you’ll find many more super deluxe resorts in Maui than in Kauai.

Kapalua tends to be windier than other parts of Maui though. It’s surprising what a difference a few miles can make! It can be calm in Ka’anapali but windy in Kapalua.

Kapalua also gets more rain than South Maui.

But Kapalua is also greener, lusher and arguably more beautiful.

A woman jogs on the Kapalua Coastal Trail by the ocean
The ocean views from the Kapalua Coastal Trail are gawk-worthy!

There are several walking and hiking trails in Kapalua.

Indeed, one of our favorite walks in Maui is the scenic Kapalua Coastal Trail.

It winds past luxurious condos and hotels and across fields of lava before ending at D.T. Fleming Beach Park, famous for its big waves and surfing.

Two women reading books at D.T. Fleming Beach
A quiet day at D.T. Fleming Beach – even the waves are quiet!

Less built-up than other areas, Kapalua is also the best area in Maui to stay on the west or south coasts for peace and serenity.

If you want a respite from the tourists in Maui, Kapalua is your happy place.

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua:

Pink bougainvillea gardens and the pool at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
These pools are pretty as a picture, don’t you agree? (Credit: Ritz-Carlton Kapalua)

You can always count on the Ritz-Carlton to deliver 5-star luxury, and the Ritz in Kapalua is no exception. Situated on 54 tropical acres within the Kapalua Resort area, this 466-room Kapalua resort is its own corner of bliss.

The property boasts a magnificent three-level pool with cascading waterfalls (plus a nearby kids’ pool), along with several top-notch restaurants – like the AAA Four Diamond Banyan Tree – that use locally-sourced ingredients.

You’ll find only elegant contemporary rooms, with rich dark wood floors, furnished balconies, marble bathrooms and 65-inch Smart TVs.

Housekeeping drops by twice a day to spruce up your space.

Stay in a club-level room or suite for access to an exclusive lounge with free breakfast, hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

For an ocean dip, walk down the lawns to D.T. Fleming Beach. And if the waves are too big for swimming, watch the surfers carve the waves.

With very fond memories of our stay at the Ritz-Carlton, we have no hesitation in recommending it highly.

Booking options:

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Montage Kapalua Bay:

Beautiful pool surrounded by palm trees and thatch umbrellas at the Montage Kapalua Bay
It’s a beautiful day for a pool day! (Credit: Montage Kapalua Bay)

One- to four-bedroom deluxe villa residences with their own gourmet kitchens and private lanais, 24 acres of luxurious oceanfront property, a multi-level outdoor pool complex, a five-acre world-class spa with hydrotherapy treatment rooms and infinity pool, three top restaurants and two bars – what’s not to love about the Montage Kapalua Bay?

Formerly the Ritz-Carlton Residences before they were taken over by Montage and rebranded, these vacation residences are clustered in several buildings on the grounds.

Ranging from 1,250 to a whopping 4,055 sq. ft. in size, they feature polished hardwood flooring, along with washers and dryers. The kitchens are fully kitted out with everything you need to cook, including wine fridges.

Twice-daily housekeeping is de rigueur.

Besides the top-notch facilities, Montage guests can take advantage of a picture-perfect, crescent-shaped beach – Kapalua Bay Beach – located down the hill.

Golfers will be keen to tee off on the Kapalua Golf Club Bay Course, a short seven-minute walk away.

So how does it compare to the Ritz?

The Montage Kapalua Bay is on par with the Ritz-Carlton in terms of luxury.

But the Montage’s super spacious accommodations, where you can spread out and feel at home, are an added indulgence. For this reason, you might prefer the Montage.

It’s top-rated and considered one of the finest of luxury Maui resorts.

Just be prepared for sticker shock.

Rates start at well over $1,000 USD night for a one-bedroom unit (not to mention taxes). And more bedrooms equate to many more dollars.

You pay an additional resort fee of $65 a day as well.

Booking options:

Montage Kapalua Bay: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

3) Napili: Best area to stay in Maui for an affordable and chilled condo vacation

Waves lap the palm-fringed golden sands of Napili Bay
Tucked into the west coast just south of Kapalua, Napili has a great beach for swimming, snorkeling and watching turtles

For a quieter, less crowded option in West Maui – compared to the upscale Ka’anapali resorts – look no further than Napili. Think low-rise condos with a more low-key rural feel.

The vibe is less glitzy than both Ka’anapali and Kapalua. The condos are less fancy and less expensive.

But there’s nothing generic about the nature and gorgeous beaches in Napili. This part of the west side is greener and lusher than Ka’anapali, with small scattered beaches separated by dramatic cliffs, making for a striking coastline.

You’ll want a car if staying in Napili.

Napili Kai Beach Resort:

Napili Beach with sun-seekers sitting on the golden sand
Stay at the Napili Kai Beach Resort, and beautiful Napili Beach is at your fingertips

Napili Kai Beach Resort is a mellow resort situated on pristine Napili Bay. It’s comprised entirely of ocean-view, two-story condos.

It exudes an authentic Hawaiian holiday vibe that you won’t get at any of Maui’s luxury mega-resorts. And you won’t be nickle-and-dimed with any extra resort fees.

The décor and furnishings are a bit dated though. And you might find a friendly gecko wandering into your unit.

Mind you, the repeat guests who are loyal to Napili Kai don’t mind. Many couples and families have been coming here for years and years, so there’s a strong Ohana (family) feel.

The amenities aren’t grandiose, but they’re just fine for a casual beachside vacation. There are four small pools, two hot tubs, two putting greens (one for kids) and two shuffleboard courts.

For us, the real star is Napili Bay Beach – simply one of the absolute best beaches in Maui. The sand is incredibly soft, and the water is often glassy calm and ideal for swimming. Sea turtles are often seen when snorkeling.

Another plus is the resort’s Sea House restaurant, which is really close to the water. (Go for the crab-crusted monchong with lobster cognac sauce.)

Just be sure you’re seated in the open-air, front dining area with the ocean view; the back area is not that inviting.

Tables at the Sea House restaurant overlooking Napili Bay
Overlooking Napili Bay, the Sea House restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Napili Kai also offers several family-friendly perks like a “Keiki Eat Free” program for kids under 10, a seasonal kids’ club and a weekly golf putting party.

Booking options:

Napili Kai Beach Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger:

On the south end of Napili Bay Beach, Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger is another laid-back condo property, made up of 152 individually owned condos.

Its informal and unassuming atmosphere attracts families looking for an easy-going holiday with the comforts of home (i.e., a full kitchen and patio).

If you’re checking out affordable places to stay in Maui – that have a kitchen and are right on a beach – the Napili Shores Maui is a good option. It’s one of the least expensive in this category.

Some one-bedroom units have parking lot noise (as the bedrooms are at the back), so ask for a good location.

The property features two small oceanview outdoor pools, and the beach is a short 50-yard stroll away. A friendly game of giant checkers, croquet or shuffleboard are other fun ways to spend a sunny afternoon outdoors with the family.

The only crowds you may encounter are at the onsite Gazebo Restaurant, where even locals line up for their famous macadamia nut pancakes!

Booking options:

Napili Shores Maui: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

4) Lahaina: Best part of Maui to stay for good value and great restaurants

Picturesque Lahaina is the main tourist town in Maui.
Picturesque Lahaina is the main tourist town in Maui

Formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the early 19th century, Lahaina is a quaint historic town that’s been revamped into a top Maui tourist destination.

The town’s main highlight is strolling along Front Street.

Check out historic attractions like the Baldwin Home Museum, fun shops, art galleries, many of Maui’s best restaurants and the wonder of the town – Maui’s oldest living banyan tree.

Plantation Inn:

A woman walks through open French doors at the Plantation Inn
Get the best of both worlds – a peaceful B&B in Lahaina that’s close to shops and restaurants (Credit: Plantation Inn)

The 18-room Plantation Inn is an adorable bed-and-breakfast.

It’s a short five-minute walk from downtown Lahaina, yet a world away. It’s peaceful, quiet and an oasis amid the vibrant town.

The hibiscus-print decor and Hawaiian artwork evoke a classic old-school Hawaii feel that adds to its charm.

Each room is different.

We recommend the Luna Suite on the second floor. It has a king-size bed, mini-fridge, doors inset with stained glass windows and a lanai overlooking Lahaina town.

Some rooms have only queen-size beds.

Most rooms have balconies or lanais, however. It’s very pleasant to sit out on your balcony and sip your morning coffee or evening glass of wine.

A generous hot breakfast on the front porch is included in your stay – perhaps bagels with salmon or fruit, French toast and bacon.

French toast with bacon and fruit
Mmmm, what’s for breakfast? (Credit: Plantation Inn)

As well, the Plantation Inn has a small outdoor pool and hot tub.

You’re also welcome to spend the day at their sister property, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel (covered above in #1) about four miles away, and use the beach, pool and towel service there.

Rates are very affordable.

Booking options:

Plantation Inn: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Lahaina Shores Beach Resort:

The red-roofed Lahaina Shores Beach Resort
You can stay right in Lahaina in condo-style accommodations (Credit: Lahaina Shores Beach Resort)

Lahaina Shores Beach Resort’s condo-style Maui accommodations are ideal if you want a kitchen, while being within walking distance to downtown Lahaina.

Rooms are clean and comfortable. Stay in an oceanfront room and you can drift off to sleep to the sound of the waves.

Amenities are minimal with only a small pool, and there’s no restaurant or bar. But with grocery stores and restaurants so close by, you won’t miss them.

Booking options:

Lahaina Shores Beach Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

5) Kihei: Best place to stay in Maui with family

A woman reads a book in a beach chair on a Kihei beach
Hanging out and reading a book on a Kihei beach

Kihei is a laid-back tourist hotspot mixed in with a residential town where many locals live and work.

It lays claim to some six miles of coastline, with about a dozen beautiful beaches offering great swimming and boogie boarding.

Located in the sunny and dry pocket of southwest Maui, it’s one of the best areas to stay in Maui for good weather. In winter, the rain can dampen your hopes of getting a tan up north in Kapalua – but the sun can be shining in Kihei.

It also has more wallet-friendly accommodations – making Kihei a top choice for budget-conscious families wondering where to stay in Maui with kids.

Kamaole Sands:

Kamaole Sands on the south side of Kihei offers a comfortable stay with one- to three-bedroom condo rentals (privately owned), each with a full kitchen.

Guests may use the outdoor swimming pool, kids’ pool and tennis courts. You can also join the weekly Mai Tai party.

Across the road is Kihei’s popular Kamaole Beach Park III.

Booking options:

Kamaole Sands: Book through the Castle Resorts & Hotels management company

Kamaole Sands on Vrbo: Check rates and availability

Mana Kai Maui:

Kitchen in a Mana Kai condo
Kitchen in a Mana Kai condo (Credit: Mana Kai Maui)

What makes Mana Kai one of the best places to stay in Kihei is that you get a choice of condo or hotel accommodations.

Either way – whether you stay in a spacious one- or two-bedroom condo with a full kitchen, or a comfortable hotel room – you get amazing ocean views.

And the property has a good location at the north end of Keawakapu Beach.

Booking options:

Mana Kai: Book through the resort

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

6) Wailea: One of the best places to stay in Maui for luxury

Wailea Beach in front of the Four Seasons, with the Grand Wailea in the background
Wailea Beach in front of the Four Seasons, with the Grand Wailea in the background

We love Wailea.

When it comes to having an upscale, immaculate, grand experience in paradise, there’s nothing like it.

Wailea is renowned for its luxurious mega-resorts, cool South Maui hotels, first-class condos and celebrity homes. (Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler has a multimillion-dollar mansion in Wailea.)

And the Instagram-perfect ocean views in Wailea are some of the most breathtaking in the world.

It has five crescent-shaped beaches, each one as seductive as the next.

Walk the roughly two-mile-long Wailea Beach Path that winds along the beaches and lava rock shoreline – and you’ll catch sight of snorkelers, outrigger canoes and maybe even a turtle or two.

An outrigger canoe and snorkelers in the water off the Wailea coastline
An outrigger canoe and snorkelers in the water off the Wailea coastline

And if you’re in the mood for retail therapy, The Shops at Wailea will happily clean out your credit card. (Lineage, by the way, serves up some tasty Asian-American cuisine there. And its handcrafted cocktails definitely hit the mark!)

Wailea is island luxury at its finest.

Grand Wailea:

Fountains and a dolphin sculpture decorate this pool (not made for swimming) at the opulent Grand Wailea Resort
Fountains and a dolphin sculpture decorate this pool (not made for swimming) at the opulent Grand Wailea Resort

We’ve already mentioned that condo-central Kihei is one of the best places to stay in Maui for families.

But if you want to amp up the luxury for kid-friendly accommodations, the Grand Wailea is a winner.

A Waldorf Astoria property, the Grand Wailea is ginormous – with 780 generously-sized rooms and a mega list of impressive activities for both couples and families.

For one, the 9-pool complex, connected by a lazy river (2,000 feet long), is a wonderland for water babes of all ages. It includes waterfalls, a rope swing, white water rapids, waterslides, sandy bottom lagoon and even a water elevator.

Then there’s the 20,000 sq. ft. Camp Grande kids’ club, complete with a small movie theater and video game arcade. From scavenger hunts and ukulele lessons to lei making, the younger set are entertained so mom and dad can happily sip Mai Tais undisturbed as they lounge around the adults pool.

Free scuba introductory classes in the pool? Check.

The largest spa in Hawaii? Yes, with 40 treatment rooms – and the hydrotherapy circuit, with aromatherapy baths that precede your massage, is pure heaven.

Art tours to gape at mermaid sculptures, Marc Chagall lithographs, Dale Chihuly glass pieces and paintings in the resort’s private $35 million art collection? Of course!

Light-filled marble spa at the Grand Wailea Resort
With sculptures, water slides and an amazing spa, the Grand Wailea is indeed grand! (Credit: Grand Wailea)

It’s no contest.

The Grand Wailea is hands down the best family resort on Maui for a deluxe stay – with something for everyone in the family. Just be aware that its size and energy may feel overwhelming for some.

Booking options:

Grand Wailea: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Wailea Ekahi Village:

Emerald lawns with condos, and the Pacific Ocean in the background
Beautiful grounds, beautiful view! (Credit: Wailea Ekahi Village Pauli Family)

Sprawling across 34 acres of colorful gardens, the Wailea Ekahi Village is a well-kept, low-rise condominium community.

It houses individually owned studios and one- and two-bedroom vacation residences in 50 or so two-story buildings. All have full kitchens.

Units on the ground floor have spacious walk-out lanais that open onto the manicured lawns and gardens blooming with bougainvillea and papaya, lime and banana trees.

Through Vrbo, we rented a 970 sq. ft. one-bedroom/two-bath unit on the second (top) floor – all second floor units have soaring vaulted ceilings in the living room.

Ocean view from the balcony, with a rainbow over the sky
View from our condo’s balcony

Several quiet pools are scattered about the property. There’s also a large main pool, surrounded by loungers on the grass. The grounds of Ekahi wind down to this main pool area.

Beside the pool, a luxurious new pavilion with a gourmet kitchen is available for guests to barbecue and eat.

Each afternoon just before sunset, Ekahi residents and guests gather informally by the main pool – bring your own beverages and snacks if you’d like to meet and mingle outside!

Best of all, the pool area has its own private beach entrance opening directly onto lovely Keawakapu Beach.

Joggers and early morning risers enjoy Keawakapu Beach before the rest of the world gets up.
Joggers and early morning risers enjoy Keawakapu Beach before the rest of the world gets up

Quieter than some other Wailea beaches, this beach cove has ankle-deep golden sand, and the swimming is safe and calm (at least it was for us in November). Sea turtles also came face-to-face with us when we snorkeled by the rocks at the left side of the beach (as you’re facing the water).

As for the individual units, we were careful to choose a condo close to the beach (in Building 27).

Even then, it was still a bit of an effort (and a 5-minute walk) – carrying our Tommy Bahama backpack beach chairs on our backs and lugging an umbrella, towels and other beach stuff – to reach the beach.

Units further back (e.g., in Building 42, 43, 44 and 46) have a 10- to 15-minute walk to the beach.

Mind you, once you’re set up on the beach, it’s a sand-and-sea Shangri-La!  

Map of the buildings in Wailea Ekahi Village
Map of Wailea Ekahi Village (Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty)

In short, the Wailea Ekahi Village has some of the best Maui condos for an upscale and restful holiday – we loved our stay! (It’s less pricey than neighboring Wailea Elua Village, which is also top-rated.)

Booking options:

You can book a condo at the Wailea Ekahi Village various ways.

The Pauli family, for example, live at Ekahi several months of the year and manage more than 20 units. We used Vrbo and booked with a “premier host” who lives on the island.

Wailea Ekahi Village on Vrbo: Check rates and availability

Pauli Family Properties: See available units

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort:

Infinity pool at sunset at the Andaz Maui
The Andaz attracts mostly younger, discriminating adults (Credit: Andaz Maui at Wailea)

Where to stay on Maui that’s modern, trendy, deluxe – and on a spectacular beach? Meet the 5-star Andaz in Wailea!

Though kids are welcome, this resort caters more to adult tastes and romance, making it one of the best hotels in Maui for couples.

Its access to Mokapu Beach (with great reef snorkeling); multi-tiered infinity pools with ocean views; cocktail service at the poolside Bumbye Beach Bar and posh Lehua Lounge; delicious Japanese food at the Morimoto restaurant; and luxury treatment at the ‘Āwili Spa and Salon draw couples and honeymooners from far and wide.

Rooms are minimalist in décor with private balconies and minibars, while villas offer a kitchen and option for a private plunge pool or hot tub.

Booking options:

Andaz Maui: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Hotel Wailea:

Beautiful blue pool at the Hotel Wailea
For a romantic escape, get thee to this adults-only boutique hotel (Credit: Hotel Wailea)

The fact that Conde Nast Traveler rates Hotel Wailea among the “top 21 most romantic hotels in the world” says it all. Set among lush gardens and ponds with water lilies and koi, this adults-only resort is a tranquil retreat.

All of Hotel Wailea’s rooms are one-bedroom suites, offering the ultimate in good taste.

They feature white oak floors, Hawaiian Ohia wood furniture, kitchenettes with Sub-Zero appliances and their own private outdoor spaces. A deep soaking tub, Nespresso machine and Molton Brown bath products make every room a personal paradise.

For unmatched romantic dining, enjoy a private chef’s dinner in the Treehouse. Another attraction is the hotel’s poolside bar, The Cabanas, revered for its artisan cocktails.

The difficulty is deciding whether to hang by the pool or go to the beach.

Nestled up on a hill, Hotel Wailea isn’t located right on the beach. But a Mercedes-Benz limo can promptly shuttle you to Wailea Beach (the same beach nuzzling the Four Seasons), where you’ll find free beach chairs, towels and bottled water.

Oh, we also hear that rates at the Hotel Wailea are less than at the Four Seasons (covered below).

So if a luxe kid-free sanctuary appeals to you, the lower rates may tip the scales in favor of this Relais & Chateaux hotel.

Booking options:

Hotel Wailea: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Four Seasons Wailea:

When nothing but the best will do, consider the Four Seasons (Credit: Four Seasons Wailea)

If you’re wondering where to stay in South Maui that nails it for both well-heeled couples and families, the Four Seasons Wailea is a top contender.

This 383-room resort fronts beautiful Wailea Beach and features all the luxurious comforts that every type of traveler will appreciate.

Modern rooms sport marble bathrooms, Nespresso machines and spacious private balconies.

More than 2,000 original artworks by Hawaii-influenced artists grace the property, which even has an art director on staff.

There are also two kid-friendly pools, a secluded adults-only pool for couples looking for quiet time, a kids’ club, game room and a full-service spa.

As is to be expected at a Four Seasons, the hotel is staffed to the gills.

Pool butlers bring you Evian spritzers, sunglass cleaner and chilled towels, and they serve iced fruit popsicles and other chilled treats every hour too. (Note that some guests report service isn’t yet at pre-pandemic levels though.)

We especially like that the white-curtain poolside cabanas are free (unlike the $500+ charge at nearby properties). And there are no resort fees.

Not in the mood to wander off the enchanting grounds for a meal? You have plenty of choices among three onsite restaurants, including one of Maui’s most-acclaimed restaurants, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago.

Simply put, the Four Seasons is the best luxury hotel in South Maui with direct beach access.

Booking options:

Four Seasons Wailea: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Fairmont Kea Lani:

White turrets and white balconies of the Fairmont Kea Lani
The architect drew inspiration from the Middle East when desiging this luxury Maui hotel (Credit: Fairmont Kea Lani)

Its white turrets and arched breezeways might make you think you’ve arrived at a Moorish palace.

But the local Hawaiian artwork, “Alohas” from the staff, lush tropical landscaping and outrigger canoe experiences definitely remind you that you’re firmly in Maui.

The name Kea Lani means “white heaven” – and the Fairmont Kea Lani is heavenly indeed!

Hugging 22 acres of beachfront property, the Kea Lani prides itself on being Maui’s only all-suite and villa luxury resort, with 450 units overall.

It features three outdoor pools, including one with a water slide for the kiddos and an adults-only pool.

Pool with white bridges at the Fairmont Kea Lani
It’s hard not to have fun in the sun here (Credit: Fairmont Kea Lani)

Suites start at 860 sq. ft. and come with marble bathrooms, private balconies and kitchenettes with microwaves and fridges. (The microwave allowed us to heat up deli items from the hotel’s market, so we could have a simple meal when we didn’t want to venture out.)

To go all the way, book one of the beach-facing villas which have private plunge pools (as well as kitchens and dining rooms).

This 5-star Maui resort has a somewhat secluded feel, being the only hotel on Wailea’s Polo Beach, which is flanked by lava rock walls on both sides.

If comparing it to the Four Seasons, most agree that the Four Seasons is a touch more deluxe.

But the Kea Lani is planning a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2022 and 2023.

Booking options:

Fairmont Kea Lani: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Love the idea of a private pool? Check out our post on 25+ romantic hotels in the USA with private pools

Wailea Beach Resort, Marriott Maui:

A man and woman hang out by a pool at the Wailea Beach Resort, looking out at the sea.
Just hanging out and enjoying the views… (Credit: Wailea Beach Resort)

The 4-star Wailea Beach Resort offers 547 upgraded guest rooms, stocked with flat-screen TVs and Nespresso machines.

Four outdoor pools and a water park attract couples, families and friends vacationing together.

Other amenities include a small movie theater, a family game room, spa and gym.

Note that while the Wailea Beach Resort is an oceanfront property, it doesn’t have a beach. To get your toes in the sand, you need to walk five minutes to Wailea Beach in front of the neighboring Grand Wailea.

Booking options:

Wailea Beach Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

7) Paia: Best area to stay on Maui for cool-hunters and surfer types

Waves roll up on the beach at Paia Bay
The unspoiled beach at Paia Bay is right in the town of Paia

Ahhh, there’s so much to love about Paia!

We think this small surf town on Maui’s North Shore is one of the best areas in Maui – to visit and to stay.

Paia itself has a hippy vibe, warm earth-friendly community, funky boutique shops and excellent restaurants.

Paia boutique shop with jewelry and gifts on display
Oooh, this Paia boutique has some cute stuff to browse

Don’t miss waiting in line for freshly-caught fish at the Paia Fish Market. And, sorry, there’s no getting around it – you will have to wait in line, as it’s really popular.

Paia is also the place to hit for high-quality organic and vegan food.

Shop at Mana Foods for organic groceries, deli items and snacks (Jalapeno seaweed chips, anyone?).

Order acai bowls and green smoothies made with water from hand-cracked coconuts at Choice Health Bar.

And chow down on house-made burgers (from grass-fed Maui cows), all-day Eggs Benedict and banana bread French Toast (whipped up from local bananas and served with organic maple syrup) at the charmingly rustic Island Fresh Café, housed in Paia’s former train depot.

And then there’s Ho’okipa Beach Park, which is epic!

Watch the surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers ride wicked waves.

And see all the turtles, many three feet long, that rest in the sunshine at the right side of the beach (as you’re facing the water).

A man watches a surfer walk up Ho'okipa Beach.
Surfers and sea turtles – see both at Ho’okipa Beach Park

No doubt about it, Paia is well worth considering for where to stay in Maui! A car is essential to get you there and around.

(Next visit, we’d like to tack on a few days in Paia to place us closer to all the things to do on the Road to Hana, covered below under #8.)

Paia Inn:

Suite with king bed and furnished porch at the Paia Inn
The Paia Inn is a sweet place to stay on the beach – if you get a suite (Credit: Paia Inn)

With private access to three miles of white sand beach, the Paia Inn’s shabby-chic Bali-inspired rooms and suites beckon you to unwind.

Playtime in the water is easy too with the snorkel gear and boogie boards provided to you.

An added bonus is the hotel’s Japanese-inspired VANA Paia restaurant. It serves up tempting dishes made with locally grown ingredients, locally sourced sushi and delicious cocktails.

Just don’t book a smaller room. The standard room is teensy at 143 sq. ft.

You need a suite to get 400 sq. ft. of room space plus a patio. The One-Bedroom Partial Oceanview Suite gives you 900 sq. ft., a travertine bathroom, private covered outdoor patio plus a kitchen.

Also, don’t expect the same kind of luxury that cocoons you in Wailea or Ka’anapali, or you’ll be disappointed.

The Paia Inn has a boho aesthetic that’s completely different from most of the West and South Maui resorts.

Reclining chairs covered with towels in a garden at the Paia Inn
This cozy garden at the Paia Inn offers a quiet respite from the world

Booking options:

Paia Inn: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

Inn at Mama’s Fish House:

Mama’s Fish House is a household name in Maui – a fine dining establishment famous for its oh-so-fresh seafood. It’s so popular, it’s booked months in advance!

The restaurant also has a few private cottages and suites on their property. And the experience you get at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House is just as exceptional.

The sweet cottages welcome you with fresh flowers, traditional Polynesian décor and kitchens or kitchenettes. Beach chairs and towels are provided.

The beach is right in front… (Credit: Inn at Mama’s Fish House)

From the oceanfront cottages, just step out on the lawn – and the beach (where sea turtles rest) and blue Pacific is right in front.

Booking options:

Inn at Mama’s Fish House: Book through the hotel

8) Hana: Best location to stay in Maui to escape the crowds

Hana Bay has large black sand beach.
Hana Bay has a large black sand beach, where swimming is usually good

East Maui is synonymous with Hana and the famous Road to Hana drive – which is high on the list of top things to do in Hawaii.

Hana is lush, picturesque and remote, with very little in the way of accommodations. It’s hands down the best location to stay in Maui for escaping the tourist crowds and immersing yourself in nature.

Be sure to hike the Pipiwai Trail (about four miles roundtrip). Probably the most jaw-droppingly beautiful hike in Maui, it winds through a bamboo forest to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls.

And don’t miss dozing on the velvety soft, salt-and-pepper sands of Hamoa Beach, backed by a thick grove of Hala trees – it’s our favorite beach in Maui.

Hana-Maui Resort:

Horses graze behind cottages at the Hana-Maui Resort.
Can you say bucolic?

The end of the Hana Highway is about as private as you can get. And surrounded by 70 acres of stunning tropical gardens, the Hana-Maui Resort is a private tropical Eden.

If you want to unplug and unwind, the Hana-Maui Resort fits the bill. (There are no TVs.)

The resort offers 75 rooms, suites and family residences with private lanais and full or partial ocean views. A lovely pool and restaurant round out the amenities.

While well-maintained and very clean, some accommodations aren’t modern in décor, and you might feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the 80s. But that kind of adds to the away-from-it-all atmosphere.

We like the cottages best, some with hot tubs on the balconies.

They don’t have A/C, but fans and cool ocean breezes this side of the island keep the temperature pleasant.

When you open the sliding glass walls to your porch, you’ll be struck by the most stupendous ocean views.

Rolling lawns surround the Hana-Maui Resort cottages.
The Hana-Maui Resort has a beautiful oceanfront setting in Hana (Credit: Hana-Maui Resort)

The resort will also shuttle you (free) to Hamoa Beach.

Be sure to book for at least two nights (three is better).

The tropical forests, waterfalls, beaches, rock pools and idyllic natural environment around Hana are magical – and you’ll want to explore it all.

Booking options:

Hana-Maui Resort: Book through the hotel

Booking.com: Check rates and availability

West Maui vs South Maui

When asking the question “Where is the best place to stay in Maui?” the Wailea vs Ka’anapali (and Kapalua) debate pops up frequently.

You should know both are great areas. We love both, each for different reasons.

Here’s our take, and then you can decide for yourself!

West Maui is one of the best areas to stay in Maui.
It’s tough figuring out where to stay on Maui – there are too many good choices!

First, Wailea in South Maui.

Wailea is chic and deluxe. In the winter months, Wailea has calmer water compared to Ka’anapali and Kapalua in the west, making it a better choice for ocean activities.

There’s less nightlife in Wailea than Ka’anapali, which can either be a pro or con, depending on the type of vacation you’re looking for.

It’s also more spread out than Ka’anapali, so it feels less crowded. While you could get by without a car, you’d really want one in Wailea (whereas you don’t need one in Ka’anapali, except for day trips).

Next, Ka’anapali in West Maui. A pro is its proximity to Lahaina for shopping and restaurants.

As for the weather, Ka’anapali and Kapalua are better in the summer months.

Also, Ka’anapali is less of a splurge than uber-luxe Wailea. (Kapalua, however, competes neck-to-neck with Wailea in the luxury department.)

Final words on where to stay on Maui

As you can see, there’s no shortage of great places to stay on Maui.

When you ask “Where should I stay in Maui?” we know there’s no easy answer. We’ve seen it all and still have a hard time narrowing down our choices every time we plan a trip!

If you’re staying for more than a week in Maui, you might want to split your time between two different parts of the island.

Adding two or three nights in Hana to a stay in Wailea is a good mix. So is a combination of Ka’anapali and Wailea. (This last trip, we split our time between Ka’anapali and Wailea.)

The good news is that no matter where you decide to stay, Maui will wow you.

Every time we’ve gone, this Hawaiian island has always been worth every penny we spend. (And you’ll spend many a pretty penny in Maui – it’s an expensive island!)

We’d go back tomorrow in a heartbeat if we could…


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Photo credits: 1, 3, 4, 9, 17, 21, 27 to 31, 45, 46, 52, 53, 61 to 63, 67, 70 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase 


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!