Where to Stay in Maui: 10 Gorgeous Spots for a Dream Vacay

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Hawaii is home to many beautiful islands, but we’re partial to the state’s second largest one, Maui. Natural beauty abounds on “the Valley Isle” with Haleakala—the world's largest dormant volcano—to the east and the West Maui mountains to the west. Here you’ll also find crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, picture-perfect beaches and a striking bamboo forest. One of the most popular activities on Maui is driving the Road to Hana, a scenic highway that showcases the island’s lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls and stunning coastline views. In other words, there's plenty to do on Maui, depending on what your vibe is and where you stay.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Maui?

The best time to visit Maui is April through May or September through November, when temperatures are ideal and the island is less crowded. Maui gets the most precipitation from November through March, but the rain is typically short showers and the upside is you’ll likely see a rainbow when the rain ends. The summer months and holiday season tend to be the busiest and most expensive times to visit.

Where to Stay in Maui

From luxury resorts to affordable and unique vacation rentals, there is no shortage of accommodation options on Maui. While each area has its own unique vibe, the entire island can be accessible if you choose to rent a car. Whether exploring the historic fishing village of Lahaina (which also offers the best nightlife in the region), the beach-hugging town of Kihei (don’t miss grabbing a a shaved ice—or ‘shave’ ice as they call it in Hawaii—at Local Boys) or the lush valleys of the Hana Highway, there is a distinct feel to each section of the island.

The two most popular areas for tourists, and the most resort-heavy, are in South and West Maui. This is where you’ll find Instagram-worthy resorts filled with so many activities and world-class dining options that you may just opt to never leave the property. And that’s OK! Maui allows you to choose your own adventure (or lack thereof) and any visitor can create their perfect getaway.

If you’ve never been to Maui (or actually, even if you have), this is a trip worth taking. And because Hawaii is a part of the U.S., traveling is that much simpler (no passport required!). Read on to find out which area of the island works best for you and your travel needs. With our handy guide, you'll be saying aloha to vacation bliss in no time.

Where to stay in Maui Ka’anapali
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali

Best for Families

1. Ka’anapali

Trip Advisor

This resort area on the western side of Maui stretches along the gorgeous coastline and has several large family-friendly accommodations. The hotels vary in price with multiple options to choose from, depending on your budget and interests. One of our favorite hotels, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, offers a newly designed family area which includes an interactive splash zone and a 270-foot waterfall that your kids will love. There are also many kid-friendly restaurants in the area including Duke’s Beach House that has great cocktails for the adults and slushies for the kids, plus amazing sunsets for family pictures, and Monkeypod, a casual spot known for its live music and cream pie. The lively shopping center Whaler’s Village is also a popular place to visit. Aside from shopping, the center also offers family-friendly activities like lei making and ukulele lessons.

Where to stay in Maui Lahaina
Jon Hicks/Getty Images

Best for History Lovers

2. Lahaina

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This charming small town is a popular tourist destination, and it’s not hard to see why. Lahaina is on the National Register of Historic Places, thanks to its history as a whaling village during the whaling boom of the mid-1800s. Today, visitors can set sail from the harbor to experience whale tours in the winter months and dinner cruise and snorkeling adventures year-round. After a boat trip, enjoy strolling along Front Street and popping into the many shops and art galleries. There are also several excellent restaurants in the area (we’re fans of Lahaina Grill for a splurge-worthy meal). The Old Lahaina Courthouse which houses the Lahaina Arts Council and the Lahaina Historic Society is worth a visit for history buffs, while those who wish to experience an authentic Hawaiian luau can do so at Old Lahaina Luau, a beachside eatery where traditional Hawaiian cuisine, music and cultural dance is on display.

Don’t leave Lahaina without snapping a photo under the Banyan Tree, Maui’s oldest living tree. It’s particularly striking after sunset when the tree’s many tea lights twinkle against the beach backdrop.

Where to stay in Maui Napili Bay
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Best for Snorkeling

3. Napili Bay

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This area, also on the west side of the island, is less touristy than nearby Ka’anapali given its lack of larger resorts. However, Napili is still located very close to Lahaina Town and the other bustling spots on the west side of the island, making it an excellent choice for travelers who want proximity to activities and restaurants but also a more laid-back vibe. The beach here is stunning with gentle waves for swimming and crystal clear views for snorkeling. Keep your eyes open for Hawaiian green sea turtles that often glide by here. The sunsets aren’t too shabby either! For dining, visit Gazebo Restaurant for a you’ll-be-full-for-hours brunch and The Sea House Restaurant for one of the best happy hours on the island (a Mai Tai with a side of coconut shrimp is never a bad idea). Stay in Napili Bay if you prefer condos and smaller inns to larger resorts.

Where to stay in Maui Kapalua
The Plantation Course at Kapalua Bay

Best for Golfing

4. Kapalua

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This section of Western Maui boasts the same beautiful beaches and sunny weather as the areas above, with the added bonus of having the number one  golf course in Hawaii. The Plantation Course at Kapalua Bay is surrounded by the lush slopes of the West Maui Mountains, and boasts ocean views from almost every hole. No wonder so many of the greats have played this course—do the names Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson mean anything to you? There are also a wide range of resorts on this part of the island that cater towards romantic getaways as well as family vacations. Foodies may also enjoy visiting in June, when the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival takes place, a “celebration of epicurean excellence” that just so happens to be the longest running food and wine event in the US (it was established in 1981).

Where to stay in Maui Wailea
Four Seasons Resort Maui

Best for Luxury Travelers

5. Wailea

Trip Advisors

With its beautiful beaches, serene environment and selection of top-notch resorts, luxury travelers will love Wailea, located in Southern Maui. The area has fewer restaurants and shopping centers than Ka’anapali, but if you’re looking to really take advantage of all your breathtaking resort has to offer, this is the place to be. Our favorite spot, the Four Seasons Resort Maui (which you may recognize from season one of HBO’s White Lotus) has recently expanded its white glove wellness offering with Next/Health, a next-level spa experience, that offers advanced therapies including Ozone Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy and IV Drips. When you’re not unwinding at one of the opulent spas in the area, check out the golf courses or the high end shops at Wailea.

Where to stay in Maui Kihei
Lance Ehrecke / EyeEm

Best for Sun Seekers

6. Kihei

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Once a destination for Hawaiian royals, Kihei is located on the southern shore of Maui and is the sunniest and driest part of the island. This means less rain and more shine! The town has a handful of affordable condos and rentals to stay at, as well as smaller hotels. Soak up the sun at Kalama Beach Park and watch surfers crush it at “The Cove” surf spot, or picnic along one of the lush lawns. For a more secluded experience, nearby Keawakapu Beach offers white sand and calm waves. The town has some shopping centers and restaurants as well as a pretty impressive selection of clubs and bars (including Maui’s oldest dive bar) for the small area.

Where to stay in Maui Hana
Andre Distel Photography/Getty Images

Best for Nature Lovers

7. Hana

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The famed “Road to Hana” is a picturesque 64-mile long journey along the Hana Highway. Depending on where you stay on the island, it may be challenging to make it all the way there in a day (and we recommend doing the trip in the daytime, as the roads are extremely windy and, in many areas, not well-lit). However, if you choose to stay in Hana, located on the eastern side of the island, you are closer to some of the most popular natural wonders along the route. You’ll want to visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park to see the Black Sand Beaches and Hana Lava Tube, both incredible sites created by volcanic materials. FYI: The park now requires reservations and entry fees to be arranged in advance. There are also several nearby waterfalls to hike to such as Wailua Falls, a double-tiered waterfall that was featured in the opening scene of the long-running TV show Fantasy Island. As for the town itself, it has a small, local feel and restaurants are low-key (think roadside stands and Hawaiian homestyle cooking).

Where to stay in Maui Paia
Peter Unger/Getty Images

Best for Artsy Travelers

8. Paia

Trip Advisor

For a more laid-back vibe, stay in Paia—a small, artistic community located on Maui’s north shore. The town has a bohemian, retro feel to it with lots of  small shops and local businesses you can wander into. If you enjoy sipping coffee in a cafe with a good book, head to Paia Bay Coffee Bar. Mama’s Fish House, the spot that brings many tourists to the area, is also located here and we highly recommend making advance reservations for this on-the-beach restaurant with fresh seafood and Insta-worthy sunsets. Hoʻokipa Beach, the "windsurfing capital of the world,” is also located here and a fun site to take in kite and wind surfers (or join in yourself if you have that skill set).

Where to stay in Maui Kula
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Best for Backpackers

9. Kula

Trip Advisor

This area is known as the Upcountry in Central Maui, and it will give you a very different feel than the more resort, tourist beachside spots. The area offers close access to Haleakala National Park with its many hiking trails, sub-tropical rain forest and stark volcanic landscapes. Head to the summit of Haleakala Crater for epic stargazing as well as the most majestic sunrise (sunrise reservations are required in advance). Visitors can also take a bike tour down from the summit. Since this is outside of the tourist zone, there are less dining and accommodation options available. If you like to camp, that is also available within the park. Outside of the park, you can tour Surfing Goat Dairy Farm (and taste goat cheese like you’ve never had before)  and Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm (to smell like you’ve never smelt before).

Where to stay in Maui Makawao
Lumeria Maui

Best for Spiritual Junkies

10. Makawao

Trip Advisor

We’re recommending Makawao, also located in Upcountry, specifically for Luminera, an “educational retreat” and a “sanctuary for authentic travel.” The isolated but stunning resort gives Nine Perfect Strangers vibes… in a less creepy way. The lineup of programs is impressive, from yoga classes to detox cleanses to dance and movement therapy. There is an on-site restaurant, The Wooden Crate, serving farm to table meals, as well as a spa, with a myriad of unique massage offerings (who couldn’t use a massage with a side of sage cleansing?). Additionally, the town of Makawao itself is worth a visit, as it’s quite unlike anywhere else on the island. The old cowboy town still has cowboys, or as they’re called in Hawaii, paniolo, riding horses through town. There are also local artists with shops featuring glassblowers, wood sculptors and painters. Stay here to come home completely revitalized (and with an authentic souvenir in your luggage).

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