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Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
11 posts
37 reviews
Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

We are traveling to Maui, August 12-21, family of 5, including two 15 year old girls and 11 year old boy. We'd like to be on or very near the beach, and we are especially interested in snorkeling. We've been to the Big Island but never to Maui. It seems that West Maui may be best for us, but trying to narrow locations, acknowledging that we're fairly late in planning this trip and many locations are booked. I've reviewed the Top Questions good rental agencies thread, looked at most of those agencies as well as AirBnB and VRBO. Our budget can go up to about $500 per night if necessary (given late planning and our priorities). We'd prefer not to be in too large a high rise if possible.

It seems that the Kaanapali area might be best suited to our needs, but limited availability. Puamana seems to have some nice options, but we need to know more about the area. Many areas above Kaanapali seem lovely but seem to have little or no actual beach, though lovely surf and view.

I've tried to provide as much info as possible, but no doubt I've omitted something. Please don't limit advice to areas mentioned, I don't know much, that's why I'm asking, and I'd welcome the advice of the experienced experts who kindly monitor these forums. Thanks!

14 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
72,023 posts
18 reviews
1. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

In August, Puamana may have rougher surf. Have you looked at Maui Kaanapali Villas, Maui Eldorado, and Honua Kai yet?

My personal favorite would be Kapalua.

Level Contributor
439 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

There are a lot of suitable rentals in addition to the mere handful that are repeatedly recommended on this forum. Do some research and don't unduly limit yourself.

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
11 posts
37 reviews
3. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Raphael, my apologies, perhaps I was not clear or you did not read my request in detail.

While specific facility recommendations are certainly welcome, I'm also trying to understand the difference between locations on the West Maui coast and which might be best for our needs. I'm trying to compare and understand the differences in locations like Puamana, Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kapalua, etc.

I've done a great deal of research, but I haven't been there, and there's no substitute for actual experience. For example, many of the units up the coast seem to be right on the water, beautiful, but it appears there may be no actual sand beach-perhaps a concern to the younger members of my family or the more advanced who like to take walks on the beach. Other spots might have lots of sand but be a long way from amenities (or be too rough to snorkel in August, a concern raised by the kind responder above.)

I realize there's almost always a trade off, but I'm looking for advice from those on this forum, many of whom have probably stayed up and down this coast or live in the area.

I hope this helps explain my question. I find the forums to be a very useful research tool.

Level Contributor
163 posts
18 reviews
4. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

We always stay in Kapalua, and absolutely love it there!!

Level Contributor
14,209 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Hi PDShack,

You’re right, it’s hard to understand the difference between the various areas until you stay there. But I will say that even if you don’t find the ultimate perfect location on your first Maui trip, I bet you’ll still love it.

I’ve stayed in most parts of West Maui from Puamana to Lahaina Shores on Front Street, to Ka’anapali’s happenin’ main area, to the quieter north Ka’anapali, to Honokowai and Kahana, to Kapalua. I haven’t stayed in Napili, but we walk there from Kapalua.

I could write a whole lot about each place if I was writing a book. Sometimes it feels like I am! Maybe instead you could ask some specific questions about properties that look like possible locations for this trip?

Since you asked about Puamana I’ll give you my impressions. We’ve stayed with family including teens. They liked it, but would have like being somewhere with a wider variety of things to do on their own in close proximity. It is a nice quiet gated community. We enjoyed our stays there, especially when we stayed in an oceanfront unit right above the little beach. The beach is very narrow & comes and goes, but we did enjoy it. It would not be a walking beach. And as SW pointed out, it can get rough in summer. It’s a favorite surf spot. Generally you would pack up the family and drive to the beach, anywhere from 10 - 15 minutes away. We did enjoy walking to Front Street a couple of times. But it’s not a great walk after dark, being a bit of hike and lacking sidewalks in places. It might work for your family, but now that we know Maui better it isn’t our first choice. Your teens will probably appreciate a few more place to walk.

North side of Ka’anapali is great, and I think offers the most for your family. Take a good look at the places mentioned by SW. There will so many more options there for everyone. Ka’anapali is a 3 mile long strip with great beaches, snorkeling, lots of other ocean sports, Catamaran tours that board beachside, lots of oceanfront restaurants, many with live entertainment, less expensive take out joints, all of Whalers Village, and much more. North Ka’anapali is quieter than south of Black Rock, yet an easy walk or shuttle ride over to that end where lots of the action is.

We do love Kapalua. We love the beaches & snorkeling, the Coastal Trail, the stunning views, the quiet at Kapalua Villas. It’s our favorite part of the island. Napili could also work for you. A friend loves Napili Point. There are good restaurants in the area and plenty of activities to do.

Honokowai and Kahana can be great places to stay in winter for awesome whale watching, you’re so close to the water. An dsome places do have a bit of beach that comes and goes, even some decent snorkeling, with plenty of turtles. These are mostly bargain condos, and you do need to drive to a bigger beach, or possibly to any beach. Also, many don’t have AC. You WILL need it in August. I recommend this area more for adults and return visitors, but you could still have a great time here if it fits your budget best.

If you have specific questions about specific places, go ahead and ask. It seems like I went ahead and described each area for you, anyway. But...I have so much more I could tell you, lol!

Happy planning!

Kapaa, Hawaii
Level Contributor
52,719 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Kaanapali is a planned resort community. Lahaina itself is a small old whaling town. Naplili and Kapalua are right next to each other, further up the coast and both are planned resort communities. You can get from Lahaina to Kapalua in about 15-20 minutes of driving.

In the summer, I recommend staying north of Puu Kekaa (aka Black rock) which is the north side of Kaanapali.

I love Kapalua, it's a large bay as is Napili Bay. With very few exceptions you will be walking, taking a shuttle or driving to these beaches.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
4,055 posts
7. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

In west Maui have you looked at Honua Kai

There is Wailea in south Maui with a resort/condo set up along a long beach strech and some of the condos are right on the beach. We have stayed all along the coast from Kapalua on down and we have favored south as we like taking beach walks

Pricing varies by complex

San Diego...
Level Contributor
33 posts
11 reviews
8. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

I just posted information about condos we have stayed in on the forum "Going to Maui this summer, need accommodations...". Let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to share more information about our experience staying at condos in Maui.

Level Contributor
1,865 posts
33 reviews
9. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Our multi-generational family stayed at Honua Kai in a 3-bedroom oceanfront unit in 2016 and loved it. I would say the beach out front was not the best beach but worked fine for us. The beach "next door" in front of the Westin was wider and we could swim/snorkel over there.. We also drive to many other beaches.

The resort and its amenities made up for the narrower beach. For us, the resort/condo was perfect. We had a full kitchen, yet Duke's restaurant was right there on the property for easy dinners or pool service.

There are various buildings in the resort and some are taller than others. Our particular building was only 6 floors and we were on the 2nd floor and close enough to the water we could hear the ocean.

There are definitely places available there in your price range for a 2-bedroom unit. I would go through VRBO to know exactly which unit you are getting.

Level Contributor
23,025 posts
10. Re: Condo rental, location advice, West Maui

Do you have no interest in South Kihei, Wailea, or Makena? South Maui is a more convenient base for first-time visitors to Maui who want to tour the island -- and who do not have more than your nine nights.

OGG is in Kahului. This is also where you pick up Road to Hana and Haleakala Highway. Iao Valley is in neighboring Wailuku. We own in South Kihei (not the large condo you will want) and drive to Kahului in 25 minutes on 4-lane divided highway. Wailea is immediately south of us -- another 5 - 10 minutes. It's 45 minutes to Lahaina and an hour to Kapalua -- provided there is not a traffic jam on the 2-lane road between Maalaea and Lahaina. Kapalua to Kahului is at least 60 minutes. (Ignore driving times if you are not interested in sightseeing across the island. We have a lot of visitors who are happy to enjoy one property, the beach 'out front' and nearby restaurants and shops.)

Maui has many more easy-access beaches with good snorkeling than you are probably used to on Big Island's Kohala Coast. They extend from Makena in the south to Kapalua in the north.

Kaanapali is Maui's first destination development. Wailea came later. Kapalua, later still. Kihei is not a development, but a small beach town with many residents -- and a scattering of vacation rental condos -- mostly in South Kihei.

I hope your family will enjoy discovering Maui. (Although Big Island is my favorite, when we bought in 2001, Maui offered more of the conveniences a property owner needs.)

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