The first chapter of my Maui Vacation Book is here!  I probably will add a bit more and will refine it but for now, I am very happy I got the first chapter done! Mahalo to Yvonne Kucher, editor extraordinaire, for her “eagle eyes” (sharp eye for details) and mad editing skills. My draft had many errors and typos but she found them all and made this final copy so much better!  There won’t be videos in the book but I thought it’s fun to add a couple of videos to this blog edition.   OK, here it is. … enjoy reading and let me know what you think 🙂  P.S. The photo above was taken at Wailea Beach, Photo Credit: Jim Mullhaupt  

Where to Stay on Maui?

Step 1 – Decide which region meets your desires.

Deciding on where to stay on Maui depends on your budget, what you want to do and what type of weather you enjoy.  Let’s start with understanding the lay of the land, how regions are divided, where the towns are, the general weather on these towns and the amenities each town offers.

Additional information about weather is in Chapter 2. In Chapters 5 to 8, I frequently refer to the regions and towns as I discuss things to do and places to eat so make sure you familiarize yourself with Maui’s regions and towns.

Maui is composed of two half-islands (East and West) joined by a wide valley.  There are two major resort areas on Maui – one the Westside and the other one on the Southside.  Most likely, when you are planning a vacation (especially if it is your first time) you choose to stay on one of these two areas so we will start with those.


West Maui includes the town of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Honokawai, Napili, Kahana and Kapalua.  The west side is the “most touristy” side of Maui.  There is nothing wrong with that, though some visitors prefer the less touristy side of Maui to avoid the crowd.

My friend Jon, who writes for prefers the west side (Kaanapali). According to him, it is more beautiful (lush green mountains) and it is very close to Lahaina (fun historic tourist town and boat harbor).  Lahaina is a place for boat tours, shopping and luaus.  West Maui also has the most beautiful Gold Courses.

The Hyatt Regency, Westin, Sheraton, Montage, Kaanapali Beach, Royal Lahaina and Ritz Carlton are some of the big hotels here.  Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Royal Lahaina are less expensive (and less luxurious) but they are famous for their “Hawaiiana” atmosphere.

Kaanapali was the first planned destination resort on Maui.  Just a few miles up the road from Lahaina, this resort has a beautiful pristine beach, some great spots for snorkeling, a shopping center (Whaler’s Village) and in the center of the resort lies the green expanse of Kaanapali Golf Course.  The Hyatt Regency, Westin, Sheraton and Kaanapali Beach are major hotels in this area. Pu’u Keka’a, commonly known as Black Rock is a famous landmark. There are also many beachfront condominiums for rent, and remember if you are visiting Maui for the first time, staying in the Kaanapali area is very convenient because of all the activities.

Napili is the gateway to Kapalua, located 9 miles north of Lahaina. There are timeshares and condos available.  It is a popular place in the Westside to walk and jog, and also for snorkeling and scuba diving in Napili Bay.

Kapalua is situated on a nature preserve. This world-class resort has pristine beaches and three world-class championship golf courses. My friend Sheila Beal, the owner of the famous website, said that Kapalua is among her favorite places to stay on Maui. The luxury hotel Ritz Carlton is in Kapalua.


South Maui is the Sunshine Town. The towns included on South Maui are Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea and Makena.  Major resort area is in Wailea. Though it may be the hottest and driest, it is also the most popular coastline on Maui for “sun lovers”.  This part of the island has the least rain throughout the year.  This region is not as touristy as the resort area on West Maui but it still can get crowded on “high season” (November to March) and some still consider it too touristy.

Wailea contains the major luxury hotels such as Grand Wailea, Four Seasons and Andaz, Fairmont Kea Lani and Marriott Wailea. All these hotels are top notch in the industry and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

There are also many luxury condos and villas to choose from such as the oceanfront condos Wailea Beach Villas and Wailea Elua.

Kihei is less expensive and has a wide selection of budget condo rentals. Kihei condos are still walking distance from the beach and many are oceanfront. Paul Brodie, the author of “Maui – Ten Ways to Enjoy the Best Food, Beaches and Location While on Vacation” says Kihei is his favorite town.

Makena is the least crowded least developed part of South Maui.  There used to be a hotel called “Makena Beach and Golf Resort” but it closed down and will be replaced by a more luxurious and exclusive Makena Beach Club (completion date to be determined).  There are however some luxury condos available for rent. Check out Makena Surf condos on VRBO and Airbnb. Makena is where the pristine “Makena Beach” commonly known as “Big Beach” is located.

Maalaea is the oceanfront village close to the West Maui Border. It is windy in this part of the region.  All the wind from the Pacific funnel between the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala and come out in Maalaea. Here you can rent many oceanfront condos at affordable prices. Some boat tours leave from here so you don’t need to go to Lahaina for all boat activities.


Now that we’ve discussed the two regions where the major resort areas are, let us take a look at the other regions: Central, Upcountry, North Shore and East Maui. 

Central Maui towns include Kahului, Waikapu and Wailuku.   The airport where you will land on, OGG, is located in Kahului.  Kahului is the commercial town of Maui.  This is where you will find Costco, Walmart and Target. It is also where Queen Kaahumanu Mall is located.  Aside from the commercial centers, there are also many residential neighborhoods in this town. This was the “Dream City” to thousands of former sugar-cane workers.

The Courtyard by Marriott is a relatively new hotel in Kahului near the airport. If your flight is arriving late or if you are leaving very early on the morning, this is a good option. Ideal for a short business trip but not for a family vacation.

Don’t miss a local favorite restaurant called “Da Kitchen”. There is a new restaurant that recently took over the former Denny’s Restaurant. The name of this new place to eat is Poi by the Pound.  Something to try to experience dining Hawaiian Style.

Wailuku is the “Historic Town” and also the where most of the State and County Offices are.  On Main Street, Wailuku is many local shops such as Maui Thing and Native Intelligence. A popular (and historical) place to stay is Wailuku Inn. The famous landmark, the Iao Valley, is located in Wailuku.

Waikapu is where the Maui Tropical Plantation and Kumu Farms is.  Another famous landmark on Waikapu is the King Kamehameha Golf Club. Also where the now famous Sunflowers on Maui first happened. Waikapu is a residential area – there are no hotels or inns to stay although there might be some random room for rent in Airbnb.


Upcountry towns Pukalani, Haliimaile, Makawao and Kula are away from the beach, up on the Mountains, with cooler temperatures and green fields. Upcountry is the part of Maui on the valley side of Haleakala.

Makawao is a small paniolo town (Hawaiian Cowboy). My mother-in-law loves visiting this small town. You can stroll through shops and small galleries highlighting Maui’s talented local artists.

Pukalani, Haliimaile, and Kula –  I lumped these towns together – mostly residential but for those who desire a colder climate and do not care if they are far from the beach, these towns are great.  Again, you will be able to find Bed and Breakfast places via Airbnb and VRBO.


North Shore

Paia has become a destination in its own right. Paia is a small town with a big “character and personality”. So far it has managed to avoid becoming touristy or gentrified, and it is still largely populated by a diverse mix of colorful and eccentric people – lovers of art, surfers, vegans, many are drawn to the independent bohemian vibe. The town is filled with quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.  Paia Bay and Baldwin Beach are also close is Hookipa Beach.  A popular place to stay is Paia Inn but there are other Bed and Breakfast in the area as well. Mana Food is a “go to place” for healthy food in this part of town.

Haiku and Huelo –  Mostly residential. Like Paia, these towns also have an eclectic vibe.  Sometimes known as the Hippie Town, with inexpensive places to rent via Airbnb and VRBO.  You can also stay at a more luxurious Mama’s Fish House Inn near Hookipa Beach.  Mama’s Fish House is the best restaurant on Maui. It is expensive but worth the high cost.  Haiku Marketplace at the Haiku Cannery is the hub of Haiku Community.  In addition, there is also the Pauwela Cannery.


East Maui  

Keanae, Hana, Kipahulu  –  When talking about places to stay on the East Side of Maui, Travaasa Hana is on top of my mind.  Yes, you can find various Bed and Breakfast places to rent if you are on a budget, but for honeymooners and for individuals who want to experience convenience and serenity, I recommended spending extra bucks and stay at Travaasa Hana. I have stayed at Travaasa Hana 4 times already and enjoyed each and every “staycation” there.

The Road to Hana is busy because driving or taking a tour of “The Road To Hana” is very popular and highly recommended. (More about Road to Hana on Chapter __)

GOOD VIDEO TO WATCH on the different regions on Maui: