Paradise, for many, is the lapping of turquoise water against a white sand beach with a row of swaying palm trees hovering above. Maui is this and more, with stunning landscapes from volcanic-burned deserts to lush rainforests. You’ll have the chance to choose the sun and sand, surf along Maui’s North Shore, or venture inland to climb volcanoes and capture panoramic views.
We’ve broken down the island into five major sections, each presenting travelers with something different to consider. You’ll find a range of luxury resorts, mid-range boutique hotels along with vacation rentals packed with handy amenities. Maui may not be the most budget-friendly destination, but we’ve also compiled some inviting budget options and explained how you can save.
Ready to plan your next vacation to the Valley Isle? Find your perfect home away from home in our guide to where to stay in Maui.
The Best Places To Stay On Maui
Got no time to waste and want to know where to stay in Maui? These are the best hotels and vacation rentals to suit every budget.
First time to Maui? First-timers will love staying in West Maui with the perfect mix of relaxation, history, and activities. Go directly to West Maui for details.
Each region in Maui has something different to offer. When weighing the pros and cons of each, it’s important to know what type of vacation you enjoy the most. South Maui is the go-to spot thanks to the range of resorts, while East Maui is more remote, with few hotels but is a calming getaway.
Best Luxury Hotel in Maui: Grand Wailea Resort
A member of Waldorf Astoria Resorts, Grand Wailea is the ultimate luxury resort in Maui. Those after an unforgettable vacation, whether you’re a family or on your honeymoon, can enjoy over 40 acres of tropical gardens with private access to the stunning Wailea Beach.
From the moment you walk into the enchanting lobby, you’ll embark on a luxurious experience as memorable as the Maui sunset. Your accommodations will feature a private and furnished terrace, with the bathroom enveloped by Italian marble and the chance to soak in the inviting bath.
There are several on-site restaurants to choose from, but for date night don’t pass up an evening at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Set above a romantic oceanfront you can sample local cuisine as the stars glisten and the water sparkles.
Grand Wailea Resort also comes with a full-service spa. Offering a wide range of calming treatments, Spa Grande also features a hydrotherapy bath circuit. For families, head to the Wailea Canyon water park with 9 outdoor pools, a lazy river, caves, and a water slide.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Maui: Napili Shores
Perfectly straddling the line between affordable and a luxury resort, Napili Shores offers amazing comfort and views at a more accessible price. Along the northwest coast of Maui, Napili Shores brings small-town Maui to life. Have easy access to the beautiful Napili Bay and expansive views from your private balcony.
Along with amazing vistas, guest’s hotel rooms will also come with a fully equipped kitchen great for saving on the restaurant bills. While you’ll also be able to relax in your seating area after a big day exploring.
Beyond your room, the resort is comprised of two large swimming pools and a hot tub. Take your pick from a day on the ocean or simply kick back by the pool on your sun lounge. If you don’t feel like cooking, you won’t have to go far for a meal thanks to the oceanfront Gazebo restaurant. Come for breakfast and lunch before embarking on the seaside walking path through the tropical landscapes.
Best Budget Hotel in Maui: Penthouse in Kihei
True budget hotels are hard to find in Maui. Condos are your best bet for finding quality accommodation at a cheap price, especially if you want to stay in the popular spot, South Maui.
Right across from Kamaole Beach II, in the cute town of Kihei, enjoy impressive views from your top-floor condo out into the turquoise Pacific Ocean. Open the windows and let the breeze sweep through your home away from home.
Aside from the views, the best part of this experience is that you’re in a resort. Have built-in amenities at your disposal while easily being able to escape from it all and cook up your own feast in your full kitchen. Your condo also has an activity closet with beach chairs, coolers, and towels, so you’ll be ready for that first beach day.
The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Maui
Maui is an easy island to navigate. It is broken up into 6 main areas which we will highlight and let you know where we think are the best places to stay.
Regardless of which neighborhood you choose to stay in Maui, there is no shortage of amazing views. Although not a big island, Maui is best explored when you rent a car. It allows you to cover more of the island and gives you the freedom to enjoy the Maui culture.
Offering a fantastic range of luxury resorts and upscale condos, West Maui is the perfect location for couples and those searching for a layer of extravagance. But if you like your days to continue into the evening, then you won’t have a shortage of nightlife to enjoy once the sun goes down.
Developed in the 1960s to help show off the gorgeous beaches and the West Maui Mountains to tourists, you’ll find several well-planned resort communities. On the leeward side of the island, West Maui sees less rain than other regions and can appear to be dryer. But it doesn’t take much away from the spectacular scenery.
There are different parts of West Maui to consider, especially if you’re deciding between a luxurious resort or something a little more adventurous. One of the first planned resort communities is Ka’anapali. Where you’ll find an array of hotels, condos, and resorts enveloping the golden sand beaches.
Kapalua is an upscale resort area where you can stay in the Ritz Carlton, with a variety of vacation rentals placed on top of the stunning bluffs with access to exceptional golf courses.
If you’re searching for something with a little more local culture and the chance to experience the natural world, then check out Lahaina and Napili. The former is a historic whaling village packed with scrumptious local restaurants along Front Street. Lahaina is the departure point for many underwater adventures, such as scuba diving, and is a perfect launch point for whale watching.
Just north of Lahaina, you’ll find the famous Kaanapali Beach. The expansive white sands stretch around the coastline, offering plenty of room to find your own slice of heaven. When you aren’t trading the turquoise ocean for the soft sand, head to the north end, where you’ll discover Black Rock. On arrival, you may spot people jumping off the cliff-face into the deep water below. Feel free to join or embark on some fantastic snorkeling.
As for Napili, home to the enchanting Napili Bay, you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere among a collection of small resorts and condos that don’t overtake the skyline. The community wraps around Napili Bay, offering guests the chance to snorkel or dive in the turquoise waters.
It’s easy to see why West Maui is one of the best places to stay in Maui. Although it’s not the cheapest region on the island, you’ll find several budget-friendly options with the overall average room rate far below that found in South Maui.
After West Maui, South Maui is the most popular destination on the island for travelers. Just 20 minutes from the airport, it’s easily accessible with the beach, restaurants, and shops right on your doorstep. Those that arrive at this end of Maui will usually choose between either Kihei or the famed Wailea.
Like the western region, South Maui also faces the leeward side, with a lower chance the weather will keep you inside. Or at least lessen the likelihood of dancing in the rain. Travelers flock to South Maui in great numbers thanks to the amazing array of white sand beaches, none more renowned than Kamehameha, in Kihei. Technically a trio of beaches known as Kame I, II, III, this delightful stretch of sand leads to electric blue water perfect for laying on your back and basking in paradise.
Kihei isn’t just about the beaches however, the town on the southwest coast has a larger amount of condos and vacation rentals than Wailea while being a cheaper option in South Maui for those on a budget. Kihei has some similarities with Lahaina, minus the adorable downtown. You’ll find a wide selection of activities on and off the water, from surfing and SUP lessons to adventures in the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. On every fourth Friday of the month, you can experience the Kihei 4th Friday Town Party for a fun nightlife experience that’s also family-friendly.
Wailea has the biggest concentration of luxury resorts. With a wonderful mix of amenities, Wailea resorts cater to couples, honeymooners, and even families. Wailea is also home to the only adults-only resort on Maui. Enjoy a relaxing vacation, some with waterfront infinity-edge pools, private beach access, and plenty of upscale restaurants within walking distance. However, unlike Kihei, you’ll find few off-site food options and shopping to embark on.
Such beautiful beaches and major resorts don’t come cheap. The major drawback for South Maui is the price point, although you may find a budget-friendly vacation rental in Kihei. Vacationers should also be aware that many of their chosen water adventures, such as whale watching boat tours, will depart from Maalaea Harbor, about a 20-minute drive away.
Maui’s North Shore
With the two most popular regions of Maui covered, let’s look at the island’s North Shore, which offers a greater insight into one of the most spectacular Hawaiian islands. Closer to the natural wonders of Maui, but a little further from some of the better swimming beaches, the North Shore is all about shutting off from the world and breathing in the serenity.
West and South Maui is a large resort area, with handy amenities on site. But if your crew isn’t a big fan of that type of travel, then the North Shore is also a great alternative. Away from the crowds and the pesky tourist traps, enjoy a local experience. Explore the rainforests and the boho vibe in towns like Pa’ia and Ha’iku. Once a hippie surfer town, Pa’ia has kept its vibe throughout its development.
Families can enjoy a number of family-friendly hotels and laid-back dining in Pa’ia with plenty of hearty fare on offer. The main exception to the rule is arguably the best restaurant on Maui, Mama’s Fish House.
There are kid-friendly beaches such as the aptly named Baby Beach and Baldwin Cove. If your young one is a bit of an intrepid explorer, then make your way to Ho’okipa Beach for the nature on offer. There is an abundance of tide pools to discover while the off-shore snorkeling is a delight to the senses. At night, gather as a family and watch the sea turtles come together right before sunset.
I mentioned that the North Shore isn’t renowned for its relaxing swimming beaches, but it is home to world-class waters for adventurous souls. All along the North Shore, you’ll find some exceptional surfing experiences for those that know their way around some gnarly breaks. There’s a reason the North Shore is home to several pro tour events. When exploring the tide pools at Ho’okipa Beach, you may see a group of windsurfers taking advantage of the coastal winds. They must have heard that the beach is also considered the windsurfing capital of the world.
As for couples who want their own romantic escape, the North Shore is home to a handful of upscale boutique hotels where you can bask in the splendid views away from the crowds. Hand-in-hand, roam the cozy town of Pa’ia and along the beaches where the waves tumble down alongside the evening sun.
From the crest of the North Shore region, the Road to Hana begins its illustrious journey along the rugged coast of East Maui. The famous drive is a must-do regardless of where you choose to base yourself on the island. But having it on your doorstep is one of the main selling points for this part of Maui.
East Maui is a collection of waterfalls flanked by rainbows and hiking trails through rainforests and towering mountains. On the windward side of the island, you’ll discover an undeveloped paradise, lush and vibrant from the recent rain. This is despite volcanic activity creating a collection of stunning black sand beaches.
Away from the pristine white sand beaches and the array of beach resorts, East Maui feels remote. Its main town, Hana, can only be accessed along the aforementioned iconic highway. Tucked between the coast and the Hana Forest Reserve, Hana has but a few local restaurants, some delicious food trucks, and one major hotel. You’ll also have your choice of some vacation rentals, but essentially the pickings are slim. For many, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
East Maui is packed with things to do, so much so that all itineraries inevitably include the local action. Near to Hana is the Kahanu Garden home to a lava rock temple called Pi’ilanihale Heiau. After exploring the amazing botanic garden, head to Waianapanapa State Park for lava tubes, sea caves with immense blowholes, and an incredible black sand beach. Speaking of incredible beaches, East Maui is also home to Kaihalulu Beach. A red sand beach that sparkles under the Hawaiian sun while the clear blue water laps the edge.
For the trekkers among us, some of the best hikes in Maui can be found in the eastern region. These include the incredible Pipiwai Trail and the trek to Wailua Falls. It isn’t hard to see why East Maui is the ideal destination for those that want to get out and about. Trade the nightlife and resort experience for hiking boots and remote beaches to see a rugged but equally stunning part of Maui.
From one adventure paradise to another, depart the coast and head to the mountains for rural Maui. As the name Upcountry suggests, heading inland brings a big elevation gain as you ascend towards the sky to be among the ranches, farms, and small villages.
Split by Haleakala, the imposing dormant volcano, the leeward or west side of the Upcountry is sparse desert. However, to the east, it quickly turns to lush rainforests teeming with exotic waterfalls and muddy yet brilliant hikes. The stark contrasts are just one aspect that makes the local scenery so spectacular.
Upcountry Maui is the traditional home to the Paniolo. You could argue that the Paniolo were the original cowboys, whose ranching customs and traditions date back long before the famed cowboys of the Wild West. Central Maui may not have an abundance of towns, but one worth visiting in Makawao. The largest town in the region is a fantastic place to shop at local boutiques or enjoy art galleries and workshops all within the original country-style architecture of the Paniolo. If you’re in Maui on July 4th, trade the boozy beach day for a customary rodeo show in Makawao.
Another town in Upcountry Maui is Kula. Surrounded by fertile farmland, you can find some of the best farm-to-table restaurants on the island. Naturally, Kula is also home to a wonderful farmers market, held every Saturday from 7 am to 11 am. If you’re up for a culinary adventure, head to the market before taking a tour on one of the local farms, such as Surfing Goat Dairy or the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.
One of the best things to do, and a major reason travelers base themselves in Upcountry Maui, is to hike to the summit of Haleakala. From anywhere on the island you can see the giant volcano looming overhead. It checks out that such a peak would be home to the best view on Maui. The experience requires trekkers to wake up long before dawn and make the journey to the base of Haleakala. From there, hikers head up the mountain to capture an unforgettable panoramic sunrise. Hot tip, the sunset is just as mesmerizing, as long as you can handle the hike down in the dark.
Where to Stay in Maui for the First Time:
For first timers to Maui, pack your bags and head to the west side. This is the perfect spot for those exploring the island for the first time, as it has a little bit of everything. Not purely adventurous and not just mega-resorts. Some West Maui highlights include Lahaina, the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Explore rows of shops, restaurants, history, and great nightlife.
Have access to powder sand beaches, calmer waters, and less rainfall. From West Maui, South Maui is within reach along with a one-hour journey to the enormous waves along the North Shore.
Best Place to Stay in Maui for Nightlife:
While not famous for its nightlife compared to Oahu, you’ll still find plenty to keep you entertained on Maui once the sun has gone down. In West Maui, you’ll find the best selection of late-night establishments, especially in the historic town of Lahaina. You’ll have your choice of pumping bars, beachside patios with live music, and a few dance clubs that can carry your crew into the early hours.
South Maui is tamer with just a few bars along the main road in Kihei. Some resorts, however, will have nightly entertainment but you can expect it to be more low-key.
Where to Stay in Maui for Families:
There are several parts of Maui that are great for families. In the end, it boils down to what your family wants to get out of the experience. If you wish to enjoy some nature and be away from the touristy spots, then you can’t go wrong with the North Shore. A more budget-friendly destination, your family can make the most of the quieter way of life and casual local dining along with a selection of beaches that can keep everyone entertained for hours on end.
If you’re after a resort experience, then west and South Maui will have you covered. Most hotels and resorts will have family-sized rooms along with plenty of on-site amenities, so you’ll have it all within reach.
Where to Stay in Maui for Shopping:
With the bulk of the local community, north and West Maui are the best spots to base yourself to do some shopping. Lahaina has some great nightlife, but during the day, Front Street is home to an abundance of local shops where you can get your fix of retail therapy. Go between boutique stores with the odd art gallery along the way.
The sleepy town of Pa’ia also has some shopping options for you, including a local farmers market. You’ll also have access to the old pineapple canneries in Ha’iku, which have been repurposed into a shopping center.
Where to Stay in Maui for Sightseeing:
If your aim is to do as much sightseeing as possible, then it will be handy to base yourself along the North Shore. Although it’s not centrally located from a geographical perspective, the North Shore is well connected to the best action throughout Maui. Think of North Shore like an observation tower from which you can see it all.
Have a relatively short and scenic drive to Lahaina, Haleakala, and Hana. Giving you easy access to beautiful beaches (white, black, and red), along with several trailheads that take you to the many stunning vistas around the island.
The other choice would be to stay with the epic scenery on your doorstep. For example, in the Upcountry on the crest of the Haleakala Crater or in Hana, where the fabulous Road to Hana begins and ends.
Our Money Saving Tips for Maui
We all know that Hawaii isn’t exactly a haven for budget travelers. But there are ways for you to save money without sacrificing your experience in paradise.
One of the best ways to save money in Maui is to stay in a condo. Many condos are a part of local resorts granting access to surrounding restaurants, pools, and beaches. They are cheaper than hotel rooms and come with full kitchens so you can save on eating out.
Off-season travel comes with lower room rates and cheaper flights. Arrive between February and May for solid weather and whale watching season without the crowds and peak prices.
Getting Around Maui
After arriving at Kahului Airport, you’ll have a variety of choices for getting around Maui. You can base yourself in a certain location and embark on day tours. Many hotels will have shuttles to local places such as shops and attractions. These are more prevalent in West and South Maui.
There are 14 bus routes around the island, with the area around Hana being serviced the least. A one-way fare for all routes will cost $2 with a day pass going for $4.
However, if you want to see as much of Maui as possible, then you will need to hire a car. This will be the best way to drive the Road to Hana and see the more remote regions in Maui’s Upcountry.