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Where to Stay in Maui: 7 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

Where to Stay in Maui: 7 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

If you’re looking for the best hotels in Maui, you’ve come to the right place! Maui is a wonderful island getaway if you’re looking for a perfect mix of luxury, nature, and relaxation. This tropical paradise offers visitors several lively and lovely areas to reset and unwind.

I’m from Oahu, and I love to go on “staycations” to different islands to have a quick escape from daily life. Maui is my favorite island for this because it’s much less built-up compared to Oahu but also offers more than a touch of luxury.

Many visitors planning their dream trip to Maui can be lost in the dozens of resorts, villas, beach towns, and mountaintop accommodations that are scattered around the island. While it may seem like a tiny piece of paradise on the map, Maui is a big place, with different types of beaches and nature throughout.

I won’t sugarcoat things – Maui is a relatively expensive place to vacation. But there are a few fantastic budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals, and you may also find better deals if you opt to stay in areas that don’t have direct beach access and smaller towns. Maui is an island, after all, so there’s never a place that is too far from the beach.

You’ll find a range of accommodations from cottages to bed & breakfasts all the way up to ultra-luxury hotels in Maui. Places like Wailea Beach and Kapalua Bay are known as ritzy resort areas, while places like Upcountry Maui and Hana give you a small-town feel away from the crowds and sprawling resorts.

Unsure what part of this beautiful island is right for your trip? We’ve got you covered below with the best areas and best hotels in Maui, Hawaii!

TL;DR Our Favorite Accommodations in Maui

Areas to Choose Within Maui

  • Best area for first-timers – Lahaina & Ka’anapali Beach
  • Best area for budget travelers – Kahului
  • Best area for luxury travelers – Kapalua Bay
  • Best area for safety – Kapalua Bay
  • Best area for families – Wailea Beach
  • Best areas for nature – Upcountry Maui and Hana

Where to Stay in Maui

We’ve narrowed it down to seven main areas that make for a great vacation, and you can sort through these neighborhoods when you’re looking for the best hotels in Maui. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about each, whether you’re looking for golden sand beaches, remote seaside villages, giant luxury resorts, or something else.

1. Lahaina & Kaanapali Beach

Lahaina & Kaanapali Beach

If it’s your first time in Maui and you’re looking for an area that has absolutely everything, check out Lahaina and Kaanapali. Lahaina is one of Maui’s largest towns and is home to amazing restaurants, art galleries, and a beautiful beachfront resort area.

The resort area of Lahaina lies on the shores of Kaanapali Beach in West Maui. The neighborhood is so large it’s often mistaken for being its own town. In addition to being great for first-timers to the island, it’s also a great option if you’re searching for an affordable, family-friendly resort area.

If you’re looking to spend some time away from the swimming pools and Pacific Ocean but don’t want to shell out money for spa treatments or a round of golf, head over to Whalers Village shopping center. Most of the nearby resorts offer a free shuttle to the shopping center as well as to old Lahaina town.

You could totally spend your entire vacation in the Kaanapali resort area, especially if you have plans to completely relax and unwind. The top things to do in Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach include:

  1. Souvenir shopping on Front Street
  2. Enjoying traditional Hawaiian cuisine at The Old Lahaina Luau
  3. Relaxing on Kaanapali Beach
  4. Playing a round of golf at Kaanapali Golf Course
  5. Discovering local boutiques at Whalers Village shopping center
  6. Go on a Butterfly Farm tour

Even if you don’t decide to make this area your destination of choice in Maui, I’d still recommend spending an evening in Lahaina for some ice cream on Front Street or a day on Kaanapali Beach.

It’s a beautiful part of the island with a ton to do. But, if you’ve settled on spending your trip here, these are some of the best accommodations in town:

  • Best Budget Hotel: Old Lahaina House – This lovely accommodation is located right next to historic Lahaina town. All guest rooms are decorated with island-inspired decor and have their own private bathrooms. All guests can enjoy the outdoor pool, but you’re also just a five-minute walk away from the beach.
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa – This is my pick for the best mid-range hotel in Maui. The hotel features five on-site restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, spacious rooms, and fun activities like hula classes. In the evening, you can enjoy a meal at the hotel’s Cliff Dive Grill during the nightly cliff diving ceremony.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa – If you’re searching for a luxury beach resort that the entire family can enjoy, check out the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. Amenities at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa include a full-service spa, private balconies, multiple restaurants, and a water park. The water park is like a mini theme park and features rope bridges and a lava tube slide.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Maui?

2. Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach is another fabulous resort community located in south Maui. The beachfront hotel properties in Wailea will set you back a pretty penny, but the views and top-notch service are worth it for a lifetime of memories.

Some of the most romantic Maui resorts can be found here, making it a great place for couples on a romantic getaway or honeymoon. Resorts in the area feature high-end qualities such as luxurious guest rooms, private plunge pools, oversized marble bathrooms, and deep soaking tubs.

You can spend your days at the most extra outdoor pools that will make you wish you could live that vacation life every day. Maui’s Wailea Coast is known for being pretty calm year-round. The beach is wide and sandy, allowing visitors to spread out and enjoy some fun in the sun.

Kids will love playing on the shore break, and you can also find fantastic spots to snorkel at each end of the beach. Wailea faces the west, so it’s an amazing place to watch the sunset every evening. In addition to some of the best resorts in Maui, Wailea is also home to several fun things to do on the island. Some great things to do in Wailea include:

  1. Stand-up paddle boarding on Makena Beach
  2. Laying out on Wailea Beach
  3. Snorkeling at Turtle Town
  4. Enjoying the sunset from the Ulupalakua Scenic Overlook
  5. Luxury shopping at The Shops at Wailea
  6. Immersing yourself in Hawaiian culture at the Te Au Moana Luau
  7. Enjoying fresh seafood and sushi at Morimoto Maui

Whether you choose to stay in Wailea or somewhere else, it’s certainly a lovely place to visit. You can spend the day walking the shores of Wailea Beach or shop ’til you drop at The Shops at Wailea. But if Wailea sounds like the place for you, here are our top accommodation picks:

  • Best Budget Hotel: Days Inn by Wyndham Maui Oceanfront – Hoping to stay in Wailea but don’t want to fork out a ton of money? The Days Inn by Wyndham Maui Oceanfront is one of the best hotels in Maui for budget-conscious travelers, and it might be just what you’re looking for!
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea – The AC Hotel in Wailea is probably one of the most stunning AC Hotels I’ve ever seen. This hotel is not on the beach, but it’s just a 15-minute walk til you hit the sandy shores of Ulua Beach and Wailea Beach. It’s also not far from Mokapu Beach.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – This is my pick for the best resort in Maui. The large central pool is great for the whole family and is surrounded by first-come, first-serve cabanas and comfortable beach chairs. The kids club allows parents to slip away to the full-service spa and salon.

See Related: Where to Stay in Oahu

3. Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay is a ritzy resort area anchored by The Montage Kapalua Bay. You won’t find too many Maui tourist attractions here, but you will find peace, tranquility, and calm – and some of the best hotels in Maui. This quiet part of the island will allow you to get the rest and relaxation you’ve been dreaming of during your island getaway.

The bay is located in northwest Maui, and on clear days you can see the nearby island of Molokai just across the horizon. Just to the north of Kapalua, you can find Nakalele Blowhole, a popular Maui attraction known for its heart-shaped rock formation.

As I mentioned earlier, Kapalua is an awesome option if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Maui that is quiet and perfect for relaxation. It’s a great place if you don’t intend to leave your resort for the majority of your Hawaiian vacation.

However, if you want to venture to places nearby, some things to do in Kapalua Bay include:

  1. Swim in Kapalua Bay
  2. Golf at the two Kapalua Golf Courses
  3. Enjoy a meal at the beachfront restaurant Sea House on Napili Bay
  4. Hike the Ironwood Cliffs trail

Next to Kapalua Bay, you’ll find Napili Bay. It’s still part of the Kapalua resort area, but you’ll be able to find much more affordable accommodation options. Here are our top picks for hotels in the Kapalua and Napili Bay area:

  • Best Budget Hotel: The Mauian Hotel – The Mauian is the best hidden gem in the Kapalua area. Located right on the shores of Napili Bay, The Mauian Hotel is one of the most affordable (and adorable!) beachfront hotels in Maui.
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: Napili Kai Beach Resort – The Napili Kai Beach Resort sits next to the Kapalua Golf Club Bay Course and the beach. It features four amazing pools, two shuffleboard courts, and a bocce ball court. The Sea House Restaurant is beachfront and is a great spot to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Montage Kapalua Bay – If you’re searching for one of the absolute best hotels in Maui on the beach for privacy, you must check out the Montage Kapalua Bay. It is hands down at the top of the list of best resorts in Maui, which is showcased in the luxury villas and superb service the hotel offers.

See Related: A Complete Maui Itinerary You’ll Want to Copy

4. Kahului

Kahului

Located in north central Maui, Kahului is one of the largest towns on the island. It’s more residential than Wailea and Kapalua, but you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck here. It’s also home to Kahului Airport, the main airport on the island, so it’s a convenient location to be in, especially if you plan to rent a car.

Kahului is the best area to stay in for budget-conscious travelers. If you’re okay with not being beachfront, you can find lovely accommodations here that won’t break the bank.

From Kahului, you can easily reach the rest of the island due to its central location. The town is located right between the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, so you can reach both landmarks with ease.

Hiking up to the viewpoint of the Iao Needle is the most popular thing to do in the West Maui Mountains, while watching the sunrise is the most popular thing to do at Haleakala National Park.

I definitely recommend exploring Kahului town as well. Some of the top attractions and things to do in and around Kahului include:

  1. Hit the links at The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course
  2. Stroll through Maui Nui Botanical Gardens
  3. Visit the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum
  4. Take an ATV tour of the West Maui mountains
  5. Enjoy a refreshing treat at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

Whether or not you plan to stay in Kahului, you will have to pass through it as it is where the island’s main airport is located. While there, you can stop by Ululani’s for a strawberry shave ice or quickly visit the sugar museum to learn about the island’s history. If Kahului is the best fit for you, here are our favorite accommodation options:

  • Best Budget Hotel: Maui Beach Hotel – The hotel provides a relaxing atmosphere just steps away from Hoaloha Beach Park. The hotel is also less than four miles from Kahului Airport, so you don’t have to rush when heading to your flight.
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott Maui Kahului Airport – The Courtyard by Marriott is located less than five minutes away from Kahului Airport and offers guests a clean and comfortable place to come back to at the end of the day. The outdoor pool and hot tub area makes for a wonderful place to relax after your day of island adventures.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Unfortunately, there are no luxury resorts or vacation rentals located in Kahului. However, there are many fantastic luxury hotels in Maui in areas like Wailea and Kapalua.

See Related: Best Things to do in Hawaii & Places to Visit

5. Maalaea

Maalaea

Maalaea is also located in central Maui but on the south shore, directly south of Kahului. It is most well known for its boat harbor, where many whale, dolphin, and snorkel tours depart from. Besides the boat harbor, Maalaea is also home to the Maui Ocean Center, one of Maui’s top attractions and the biggest aquarium in Hawaii.

While it may not be the resort metropolis that places like Kaanapali and Wailea are, this small town offers visitors affordable condominium rentals at beachfront properties. Staying in Maalaea is a great way to save your money on accommodations so you can splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences like seeing humpback whales up close during the winter months.

Another convenient part of basing yourself in Maalaea is its central location on Maui, close to both the island’s economic center in Kahului and the tourist resorts of the southern shores. It’s also on several Maui Bus routes, providing quick and inexpensive connections to most places on the island for those who don’t want to rent a car.

Some things to do and see in and around Maalaea include:

  1. Visit the Maui Ocean Center
  2. Spend a day at Haycraft Park Beach
  3. Check out McGregor Point and Lighthouse
  4. Go on a whale-watching tour (in the winter months)
  5. Snorkel at Molokini Crater
  6. Take an evening stroll on the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk

Even if you don’t plan to stay in Maalaea, you’ll certainly want to visit the Maui Ocean Center, especially if you have kids. I also think boat tours are a must when on Maui, especially to view Humpback whales as they migrate for the winter.

And if Maalaea sounds like a great fit for you, here are our top picks for accommodations:

  • Best Budget Vacation Rental: Gardenview Condo – This one-bedroom condo is located in a beachfront complex and can accommodate up to four guests.
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: Island Sands Resort – All guest rooms at this hotel feature private balconies with ocean views. The hotel also includes a beachfront swimming pool.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Unfortunately, there are no luxury hotels in Maalaea. However, it is not far from Wailea Beach, which is home to several stunning luxury resorts.

See Related: Best Snorkeling Spots in Hawaii

6. Upcountry Maui

Upcountry Maui

Upcountry Maui is the area of Maui located on the northwestern slopes of Haleakala. It stretches from the shores of Paia up to Makawao and Kula. This part of the island is full of lush forests, hiking trails, and farmland.

This is a great place to stay in Maui if you’re looking to escape the crowded resort areas, and if your idea of the best hotels in Maui involves being surrounded by nature. If you prefer to be surrounded by greenery and undisturbed natural beauty, you’ll love it here. Paia allows visitors to enjoy its golden sands and swaying palm trees.

As you go up the misty mountains towards Makawao and Kula, the temperatures cool and the crowds dissipate. Even back in the days of pre-historic Hawaii, Upcountry Maui was known as a farming area due to the rich, volcanic soil. Today, there are several farms that welcome visitors, such as Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui Alpaca, and Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary.

You won’t find big-name resorts and luxury hotels in Upcountry Maui. However, the surrounding natural beauty will certainly make up for that. Charming inns and vacation rentals can be found throughout the area, and of course, they’re much more affordable than the hotels you’ll find in Wailea or Kaanapali.

Take in the laidback vibes of this part of Maui and check out the unique attractions that can only be found in Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include:

  1. Enjoy a meal at Mama’s Fish House in Paia
  2. Visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
  3. Tour the Maui Alpaca farm
  4. Get your adrenaline pumping at the Skyline Hawaii – Haleakala adventure park
  5. Take a tour of Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery
  6. Hike the Waihou Spring Trail

Upcountry Maui is a wonderful hidden gem and somewhere worth visiting, even if you don’t intend to stay here. The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and Ocean Vodka are some of the best places to tour on the island. If Upcountry Maui has piqued your interest, these are our recommendations for accommodations:

  • Best Budget Hotel: God’s Peace of Maui Bed & Breakfast – This bed & breakfast is an excellent affordable option in beautiful Upcountry Maui. Accommodations here range from a queen bedroom to a full cottage.
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel: Paia Inn – This quaint boutique hotel is located on the shores of Paia and is within walking distance of some fabulous restaurants and shops.
  • Best Luxury Vacation Rental: Haleakala Princess Estate – This estate once belonged to Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, one of the last living descendants of the Hawaiian monarchy. The property features a stunning garden, a guest cottage, and a hot tub with a breathtaking view.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

7. Hana

Hana

Hana, Maui, is famous not so much as a destination but for the journey to it. The Road to Hana is among one of the most popular things to do on the island. The 64-mile long drive takes travelers from Kahului to Hana on winding roads and harrowing hairpin turns. Along the way, you’ll see tropical rainforests, countless waterfalls, and some of the most stunning scenery the state has to offer.

The drive takes approximately 10 to 12 hours round-trip, and even more if you plan to go on a hike or grab a bite to eat along the way. Because of this, many visitors build in at least one night of staying in Hana to break up the long journey.

But this beautiful town could be more than just a stopover. The gorgeous scenery of this place makes it one of the most relaxing and beautiful places to stay on the island. It is the most isolated town on Maui, making it the perfect place to escape and unplug from daily life.

Some fun things to do in and around Hana include:

  1. The famous Road to Hana, of course!
  2. Visit the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park
  3. Discover the Hana Lava Tube
  4. Stop at the 80-foot-tall Wailua Falls
  5. Visit the Waioka Pond natural pool
  6. Hike the picturesque Pipiwai Trail

Journeying down the Road to Hana is a must when visiting Maui, with so many scenic stops along the way. If you would like to stay in this piece of paradise, here are our top accommodation picks:

  • Best Budget Vacation Rental: Entabeni Cottage – This lovely cottage features an expansive deck where you can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The cottage sits on a family farm where guests can enjoy farm-fresh eggs and produce.
  • Best Mid-Range Vacation Rental: Oceanview Condo at Hana Kai – This beautiful studio is located just steps from the beach. It features a full kitchen and a private lanai to enjoy the sunrise.
  • Best Luxury Hotel: Hana-Maui Resort – The Hana-Maui Resort is a wellness resort that offers traditional hotel rooms and private oceanfront bungalows, making it one of the best hotels in Maui. Guests can enjoy wellness classes, cultural activities such as lei-making, and outdoor activities like horseback riding.

FAQ

What is the most luxurious hotel in Maui?

There are several ultra-luxury hotels in Maui. You will find these hotels in Wailea and Kapalua. Our top pick for the best luxury beach resort on Maui is Montage Kapalua Bay.

What is the nicest area to stay in Maui?

The top two nicest areas to stay in Maui are Kapalua Bay and Wailea Beach. Wailea is more family-friendly, while Kapalua would make for a romantic, secluded getaway.

What is the best area to stay in Maui with kids?

Wailea Beach is the best place to stay with kids. For example, The Four Seasons Resort Maui offers numerous activities for kids of all ages and all the amenities your family will need during your stay.

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