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Best area of Maui to stay in??

North Bay, Canada
Level Contributor
25 posts
32 reviews
Best area of Maui to stay in??

Hi We are planning a month in Maui Jan/o8

First does anyone recommend 2 islands if so which ones. we are considering the big island, and the Kona area- any suggestions appreciated :)

We have been considering the Maalaea Bay area, in Maui however, I hear it is very windy, does anyone have any suggestions of which part of Maui has the best weather, I understand the Maalaea west coast is dryer.

We are looking for condo's since we like lots of room

and to prepare some light meals.

Any suggestions are appreciated

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
2,661 posts
26 reviews
1. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??


I am copying and pasting from a site called MauiHawaii.org. Also Maalea is not the place to stay. The best wather is in Wailea and or parts of Kihei.

Here is the link.

Which Part of Maui to Stay On

West Side Versus South Side

There are two major areas of Maui for you to pick from � West and South. And each of those two sides has two sections, one with mostly luxury hotels and the other with mostly less expensive condos.

I prefer the west (Kaanapali) side because it is more beautiful (lush green mountains), and is very close to Lahaina (fun historic tourist town with shopping, restaurants and boat harbor). In addition, the condo section of the west side (Kahana and Napili) has much less traffic than the condo section of the south side (Kihei), and most west side condos are right on the ocean while most south side condos are across the street from the ocean. However, the south side has the advantage of slightly less rain in the winter. And Wailea (the luxury area of the south side) is a quieter area than Kaanapali. A disadvantage of the west side is that it is only connected to the central part of Maui by a single main highway, which sometimes has very heavy traffic and occasionally is blocked by an accident.

The west side of Maui includes Kaanapali, Honokowai, Kahana, Napili, Kapalua and Lahaina.

Kaanapali Beach is my favorite area of Maui to stay on. This is the luxury part of the west side of Maui. There are several large hotels with elaborate pools, grounds and lobbies, plus a couple large luxury condos. All of these hotels and condos in Kaanapali are within walking distance of each other, and of restaurants, all beach activities, snorkeling, and the Whalers Village shopping center.

Honokowai, Kahana, and Napili are just north of Kaanapali Beach. They contain numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying right on Kaanapali Beach, but they are not within walking distance of the big resort hotels and shopping and restaurants, and some of them do not have air conditioning or daily maid service. Most of these condo buildings are right on the beach.

Kapalua is at the far north end of West Maui. It has a few luxury condos and one hotel. But Kapalua gets more rain and wind than any other part of West or South Maui, so I would not recommend this area.

Lahaina is a small tourist town with lots of shops, restaurants, and history. If you stay in town, you will feel like you are spending your Maui vacation in the city, not on a beach in a resort area. So Lahaina is a great place to visit, but I wouldn�t want to live there. But don�t be confused by the mailing address of a hotel or condo. All of the hotels and condos on the west side of Maui have Lahaina mailing addresses, but almost none of them are in Lahaina. That�s just the closest post office. Traffic through Lahaina is often very congested, especially at rush hour.

The south side of Maui includes Wailea and Kihei.

Wailea has luxury hotels and condos. They are spread out a little more than the luxury hotels and condos on Kaanapali Beach, so some people like the slightly quieter atmosphere, but others don�t like the fact that you can�t easily walk to all the big hotels and restaurants and shopping center like you can in Kaanapali.

Kihei is north of Wailea. It has numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying in Wailea. Many of these do not have air conditioning or daily maid service. And most Kihei condos (unlike most west side condos) are across the street from the beach, rather than right on the beach. Kihei tends to be congested with heavy traffic. Kihei does have many family restaurants.

Other parts of Maui:

Haiku, Kula and Upcountry are other parts of Maui you could stay in. They don�t have major hotels or condos, but they do have some B&B�s and other smaller places to stay. They are a long drive from the tourist areas that contain most beaches, restaurants and shopping.

Kahului is Maui�s big city and is the location of the airport where you will arrive on Maui. Kahului does have a couple small old hotels, but they are mostly for business travelers and are not well suited for vacationers who want to be on the beach in a resort atmosphere.

Level Contributor
119 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

Well I've been to maui, oahua , kauai, and lanai.

Maui is by far my favorite, i would stay away from oahua and the honolulu area, total tourist trap.

Kauai was ok, but i probably wouldn't return, we had bad weather there.

For a 2 island visit i would do maui, and molokai, i am interested in visiting the big island but only for the volcano, other than that it just too big for me. I like the relaxed small island feel.

For accommodation's in maui, its definitely wailea. For a condo, Check out the Grand Champions. Your walking distance from everything, and its reasonably priced for wailea.

One hint for renting at the grand champions, try to rent directly from an owner, since most units are privately owned, you get a much better deal that way.

Vienna, Austria
Level Contributor
2,397 posts
20 reviews
3. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

My favorite island is Kauai - in my opinion it is the most romantic, the most beautiful and the one which is exactly like you think Hawaii would be like.

The Na Pali coast is of breathtaking beauty, one of the most beautiful areas of this planet. i love the Poipu area.

Maui is very nice too, but much more commercialized and you will also see highrise buildings there (in Kauai you do not find any).

i personally very much prefer West Maui as it is much more beautiful than South Maui. Napili beach and the Kapalua area are my favorites!

Level Contributor
23,132 posts
4. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

I'd suggest you stay in South Maui in Janauary -- but not in Maalea. This is winter in Hawaii -- nothing like Toronto winter, but it will still be cooler, rainier and windier then. Maalea is a bay, with constant wind. If you look at the properties, you'll see that many have windbreaks on the balconies.

Good swimming and snorkeling beaches start from where the Kamaole Beach Parks begin in South Kihei and go on through Wailea and Makena. (The only exception would be Sugar Beach in North Kihei.) You can stay oceanfront 'on sand' in North Kihei and Maalea, but will need to drive to good beaches. Beachfront condos are going to be more expensive than those across the road from beaches.

How long will you visit? Big Island is HUGE; if you want to combine it with another island, you probably want at least two weeks. The best lodgings on Big Island are in the Waikoloa area. Kona Town itself is a honkey-tonk sort of place with concrete block condos obscuring the beautiful bay.

Level Contributor
1,784 posts
15 reviews
5. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

You don't indicated a price range for the condo. S Kihei is lots less $ than Wailea. I would stay beachfront or VERY close (like across the street). Grand Champions would not be on my list.

Level Contributor
48 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??


We love Maui. We stay in Kihei and rent a condo at Kamaole Sands, we also rent a car for the whole length of time we are there so we can travel the island. Kaanapli is also known for condo rentals but we have always found it more expensive and alot busier than Kihei area. Kihei is also known to have better weather, than Kaanapali area.

If you can get a copy of Maui revealed it is a wonderful guide book, and tells you things off the beaten path, and how to get to secluded and quiet beaches. We have used it on our last 2 visits.Also Costco is on the way from the Airport to either Kaanapli area or Kihei/Wailea area, great place to stock up for breakfast stuff, wine, for the condo.

Level Contributor
13,111 posts
16 reviews
7. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

^OMG I can't believe you just said that.... obviously you have not been on this forum in a while!

lost in Ohio
Level Contributor
2,303 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

THANKS -- I am looking forward to getting my new copy of MAUI REVEALED and using it for my trip. THANKS AGAIN for mentioning it.

North Bay, Canada
Level Contributor
25 posts
32 reviews
9. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

Thanks for all the great info, I am going to look up these areas on vrbo (vacation rental by owner)

We are not sure of the price range, I guess what ever is reasonable, not cheap and cheerful, nice

We work hard all year taking care of other people

at our Spa - Country Retreat Hummingbird Hill

so when we go away we want nice, I will get the book also.

The Great Northwest
2 posts
1 review
10. Re: Best area of Maui to stay in??

I don't know if you want the opinion of a student who has been looking at Trip Advisor, Guidebooks, and lots of websites for an economics essay on "how people make decisions about where to stay on vacations", but since I've been reading so much on this site, I thought I'd "give back". My family has been vacationing in the Hawaiian Islands since I was little-- we spend about 4-5 weeks a year in Hawaii, total, so I chose Hawaii as my "sample" of a vacation spot because I know it so much better than other destinations.

Everyone, including myself, has their biases about what they like and what they don't-- that is pretty obvious in these forums, and even in some of the guidebooks. (For instance, IMHO Maui Revealed encourages visitors to tromp through private property, or to venture into risky land or water conditions, etc., and a number of the author's descriptions differ quite a lot from what I've observed, and from the opinions of other extensive Hawaii travelers and natives we know. Yet everyone who reads it thinks they are getting the greatest inside scoop-- until they try one of the risky hikes and get hurt, or find out that a part of the island they read about is really quite different than seen through the author's biases. Many Maui natives (kamaaina) are pretty irate about the book because they feel it encourages intrusions across private property and endangers people, and on the other hand does not describe some places accurately.)

Bias noted, here are MY favorite spots: On Oahu, I love the North Shore for its sunsets and surfing, and the Polynesian Cultural Center, and I also love the beach in Kailua. For hotels on Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort is my pick for "best" because of the beautiful beach, golf course, horseback trail rides, and great restaurants. I don't like Waikiki-- too busy, dirty, drug stuff on the beaches (and a couple of people tried to sell me some drugs there). I am not a big Honolulu fan in general, but my Grandma and her friends like to stay closer to Honolulu because they have good hospitals there "in case". Maybe that will be one of my criteria for selecting a vacation spot when I'm their age also!

The Big Island is awesome, especially Volcanoes, and my little sister loved swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Quest at the Hilton over there-- but there aren't all that many good beaches on the Big Island, including in Kona. There are big ranches, and cowboys called Paniolos, on Hawaii, though! And coffee plantations. I don't remember Kauai, it was too long ago.

I know Maui best of the Islands. We have stayed many places in West and South Maui-- hotels when my parents have professional meetings to attend, and condos when we go for more family time. I like the Kaanapali Hyatt, although it is very hot there and the beach is very crowded, but there are lots of activities. There is also lots to do and see in Lahaina-- we have visited there quite a few times, but never stayed there. It is also crowded and very hot in Lahaina, and that was another place where I was offered drugs, twice.

The Grand Wailea is my favorite hotel on Maui (awesome swimming pools). The Maui Prince is also nice, and quieter-- and my little sister loves to feed the koi in the pond there). The condos we've tried in Wailea have been nice, but no more special than elsewhere (Palms and Grand Champions, if I am remembering the names right, are not on the Beach; there was a nicer one-- I think it was Akahi-- on the beach, so I liked it better. My Mom loves the Wailea shops. My Dad loves driving past them-- fast.

We have friends with a cute condo at Village by the Sea in Kihei, but my parents don't like the crowds and construction down in Kihei-- their bias, I guess, so we've never stayed there. Some other friends stayed at the Maui Kamaole and we visited them there, and it was nice, down at the southern end of the town, but seemed a little generic.

Maalaea (which MR disses unfairly IMHO) has actually become our family's favorite place to stay on the Island-- so I know it best of all. (My Mom also loves Makena, which has awesome snorkeling spots, but says it's harder to find condo rentals there.) We only had one bad experience renting in Maalaea, at Island Sands in an awful condo-- my Mom decided at the last minute that we could go over to Maui a week earlier than planned, and because she had no time she booked through AAA instead of her usual internet search for condos rented by owners. Big mistake. She tells me she's found most of our other rental condos on sites like Vacation Rentals by Owners, or Craigslist.

For nice condos in Maalaea: we had a very nice week two years ago at the Milowai condo in a gorgeous renovated condo with granite all over it. The Milowai is on the seawall with beautiful ocean views, but has no beach. It does have a five star restaurant, though. Some friends stayed at Hono Kai while we were at the next door complex called Kanai a Nalu one year. Hono Kai has a nice beach, but a fair number of the units there are not waterfront (our friends had one that was, and it was nice). Our favorite condo resort over there is Kanai a Nalu, which is on the beach, and we've rented several different beautiful condos, all recently renovated/upgraded there. All of Kanai a Nalu's condos look out at the water, but only some are really close to the ocean-- those are nicest.

The beach in Maalaea is awesome for boogie boarding and long walks; snorkeling is decent, and swimming is good (unless you are there when there is big surf-- then the surfing is great and the swimming isn't). The tradewinds are wonderful in the summer because they cool things down-- and I have never had to come in from the beach due to the wind. The Ocean Center and the Harbor, and the recreation center are all great Maalaea attractions and help make Maalaea a great place for a family to visit. When we've been there in the winter, the tradewinds have been pretty still, but it was okay because the weather was a little cooler. Maalaea has more of the tradewinds than other resort areas, but you also get thetradewinds blowing in Kihei, and down along the rest of South Maui (but not in West Maui until you turn north around Kapalua).

As far as Maui's climate goes, the articles I've read tell me that all of the leeward coast from South Maui and West Maui to Lahaina has low rainfall; it's rainier in northern West Maui from Kaanapali up, and very rainy on the Eastern side of the island. Maalaea north of the village contains some actual desert areas. Very varied climates on one island! (But if you want to see real variety in climate, practically between one mile and the next, try the Big Island!)

There are another couple of environmental issues I don't hear people ask about much in the forums, probably because the Hawaiian Islands are in the middle of the Pacific, and compared to most places, very pristine. However, local water quality is a worthwhile thing to consider-- there have been beach closures on rare occasions in Kihei, and Maui's newspaper reported that Kihei had a lot of mud on the beaches and out into the ocean in the December 2007 storm. Kihei fared better than West Maui, though, where actual sewage spilled onto the beaches and reefs. I guess the beaches are cleaned up okay now, but they are saying it will take years for the reefs on that part of the island to recover. Sad.

Just about wherever you go on Maui, you will encounter Sugar Cane fields. They are beautiful to fly over-- very green. However, when they are plowed there can be dust in that area, and when they are harvested, they sometimes burn the fields (the ash falls everywhere and is called "Maui snow"). Once we stood at the top of Haleakala and saw a cloud of brown dust over the entire leeward coastal valley. And we awakened one morning in Makena to find ash all over the lanai! Good thing they only harvest the stuff every two years-- oh, and they don't do it in high season, either!

Apparently agriculture is immune from the Clean Air standards, and the Sugar Cane company does not do a good job of announcing its activities widely beforehand, so if you have allergies, be sure you have an air conditioned car (for driving in case you happen to go through harvest areas) and a well air conditioned condo (so you can shut the doors and windows when you sleep in case they are harvesting near you-- the burns happen at night). Air conditioning seems slow to come to Maui. The hotel common areas often don't have it, and many condos don't-- so it's something to ask about before you commit to a rental.

As far as Maui activities go, there are great things to do all over the island. I can't imagine being on any of the Islands without a car, because our family always drives all over to do different things. (The beaches are all public in Hawaii, so it's fun to try different ones.) The entire island of Maui is beautiful to explore. Also, there is great Golf all over the island-- you can't drive for more than five minutes without finding another course.

Personally, I would recommend spending at least a week on Maui. If have two weeks, you can certainly visit two islands in that time. Either the Big Island (for the volcanoes, coffee plantations, and varied landscapes, not so much for the beaches) or Oahu (for different beaches and the Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor) are good choices.

Hmm.. this is almost like my essay. Getting too long. Bottom line: pick the place you think YOU will like based upon what YOU are looking for and don't worry about what someone else likes or doesn't. They aren't you! Camp out or go to the Grand Wailea, or rent a condo-- whatever you think will make you happiest. Good luck and have YOUR VERY OWN great vacation!