Just returned from the Big Island, have been to Oahu, and Kauai. After such a wonderful time on this last trip can't wait to plan our trip to Maui - probably Spring Break 2014. May combine with a 1-2 day trip to Lanai or Molokai.
Anyway, after reading about the general areas I'm struggling with where to focus my search, and hoping someone can help after seeing what we like to do and what we liked/did not like about the other islands (although we just love Hawaii in general!).
It will be myself, husband, and 10 year-old son.
We love to snorkel and hike, and drive around to different sites. We usually will do a couple of tours of some kind but typically do quite a bit of exploring on our own, so a central location is good.
We loved the beauty and hiking opportunities of Kauai the best so far. We did not like Oahu as much (stayed on Waikiki Beach and was a bit too touristy for us). On the Big Island we enjoyed the Volcano for 2 days and then a week on the west side in Kailua-Kona for snorkelling, beaches, exploring, etc. We loved the location we stayed on Alli Drive in Kona/Big Island. It did not feel crowded yet was easy to walk to restuarants, shops, etc. in the afternoons and evenings. Liked going down to the pier, etc. We drove to the beaches in the North Kohala coast area and loved the beaches there (didn't mind driving to them) but knew the resort areas there were not the kind of place we would have liked to stay - they were nice but seemed more for the type that like to just "sit on the beach" all day and not do much exploring. We tend to hit one beach for an hour or two and then go on and explore other areas. That said we do like staying somewhere that is on the ocean but not a requirement (we weren't directly on the ocean in Kauai on the North Shore but still loved it).
We liked the "small towns" on Kauai as well - didn't seem like there was as much of that kind of thing to drive around and see on the Big Island.
From what I've read the only thing I've really been able to rule out is Wailea, as it appears this is more upscale resort areas and not our style.
Kihei area seems like a place we would like to stay but I'm not sure how centrally located it is if we want to explore other areas of the island?
Lahaina or Kaanapali appear to be possibilities as well and maybe more centrally located but not sure if these would have too much of an upscale resort feel or Waikiki beach feel to them for us? Also I'm a bit confused as the difference (I see where they are located on the map but on TripAdvisor reviews it seems that Kaanapali Beach hotels and condos are considered to be in Lahaina?).
The only real requirement we have is a condo/place with a kitchen and washer dryer as we rely on the convenience of that kinds of setup. In terms of price range we are still pretty open - we have a timeshare we could exchange although exchanging onto Maui in the past has been tough so we are open to renting something directly also. I guess if I had to name a price we would like to stay under $250-$300/night.
Help please and thank you!