Where to Stay in Maui: 6 Awesome Towns to Consider

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The island of Maui is, in a word, paradise, offering lush jungles, enormous volcanoes, and, of course, stunning beaches. It’s also, however, quite massive, clocking in as the second largest Hawaiian island at a whopping 735 square miles. So if you’re scratching your head on exactly where to stay in Maui to provide the best base camp for your adventure’s on the island, we’ve rounded up the 6 best towns—and hotels—to make the most of your time in paradise. 

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Surfboards in Paia, Maui
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Maui’s landscape is incredibly diverse, from black sand beaches and tropical rainforests to barren volcanic landscapes over 10,000 feet in elevation. Due, in part, to its dynamic landscape, it can take quite a while to get from one end of the island to the other—some of the roads you’ll find here are one-way or require four-wheel drive and a high clearance vehicle. 

All that is to say, where you decide to stay can have a HUGE impact on how easy it is to access the places you want to explore on the island. For example, if you’re staying in Lahaina on the northwestern side of the island, it would take over two and a half hours—one-way!-to reach the teeny town of Hana on the southern coastline. So, unless you want to spend a LOT of time in the car, choosing the right place to stay on the island is going to be important for making the most of your Maui itinerary.

Colorful cinder cone in Haleakala National Park in Maui

Luckily, there are a ton of options to choose from when you’re picking where to stay in Maui, ranging from budget stays in touristy cities and boutique hotels in surfer villages to ultra bougie resorts in secluded beach towns. So regardless of what kind of traveler you are or what kind of adventures you’re looking to have on the island, you’ll find the perfect place to stay!

But where might that be for you? Let’s dive in!

Psst…. One last note—Maui is expensive. 

Like, make-your-eyes-water-and-question-whether-you’re-reading-pricing-information-correctly kind of expensive. And, on top of the nightly price, many hotels charge an additional “resort fee” that ranges up to $65 per night per room and is allegedly to compensate the hotel for your access to its pool, lounge chairs, hot tub, and whatnot (I agree—it’s so stupid). 

All that is to say, while I’ve hunted down some of the best bang-for-your-buck hotels in Maui in this article, my use of the term “budget” is relative—unfortunately, visiting the island may be out of reach for some travelers on a really tight, shoestring budget. And buckle up—the pricier hotels are, like, REALLY, REALLY pricey. 

If you’re trying to visit Hawaii on a tighter budget, I’d suggest visiting Oahu, which has more affordable lodging options, or alternatively, trying to snag a spot at one of the limited campgrounds on Maui. 

Where to Stay in Maui at a Glance

1. Lahaina

Best for families that are traveling on a budget or first time visitors of Maui

2. Ka’anapali

Best for families with a slightly higher budget, beach lovers, and first time travelers to Maui

3. Kihei

Best for beach bums, travelers in search of more authentic vibes, and boutique hotel lovers

4. Wailea

Best for honeymooners or travelers that are looking for luxury (or just to splurge!)

5. Paia

Best for travelers who prefer chill vibes or exploring off-the-beaten path

6. Hana

Best for travelers who want to get off the beaten path or who want to take their time along the Road to Hana

Woman standing along the Waihee Ridge trail in Maui

1. Lahaina

August 2023 Update: Certain areas of Maui, including Lahaina, are currently devastated by wildfires. Please be sure to double check whether places are open and accessible and be even more kind, respectful, and patient with the land and the locals than you generally would be.

Location:

Northwestern coastline of the island

Good for:

Families that are traveling on a budget and first time visitors of Maui

Surfer coming in to the downtown area of Lahaina in Maui

Lahaina is an old port city from the 1800s, along the dry and sunny northwestern coastline of Maui. Its downtown is full of bustling restaurants, cute shops, and tour agencies, all housed in colorful plantation buildings. 

In a word, I’d say that Lahaina is touristy—but that’s definitely not a bad thing. In fact, I’ve been to Maui four times and I’ve stayed in Maui at least part of the time, every single time I’ve visited. There’s plenty of infrastructure, like the aforementioned tour agencies and restaurants, that make staying in Lahaina easier than some of the other more secluded places on the island, especially if it’s your first time. 

Things to do Near Lahaina

  • Go on a whale watching tour. If you’re visiting Maui in the wintertime, you’re in luck—it just so happens to be an incredible place to see humpback whales, which come here to breed and raise their calves in the shallow lagoons during the colder months. 

    Most of the best whale watching tours in Maui depart from Lahaina Harbor, given that the whales tend to hang out in the Auau Channel, right off the island’s northwestern coast. During my husband, Justin’s and my recent trip to Maui, we went on a tour from Lahaina Harbor and I can confirm that Maui whale watching is absolutely a bucket-list experience—we even saw a mama humpback whale teaching her baby how to breach!
Whale breaching near Lahaina, Maui
  • Go on a Lahaina Historic Walking Tour: As mentioned above, Lahaina is one of the most important historical towns in Maui, serving as the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and a plantation hub and bustling whaling port in the 1800s. You can enjoy a free self-guided tour of 62 of the town’s historical sites, ranging from an old prison for rowdy 19th-century sailors to a heiau, an ancient Hawaiian shrine. 

    Alternatively, you can just walk around Front Street, which is about six blocks of art galleries, stores, and restaurants in old plantation buildings, with plenty of historical sites sprinkled throughout—including the Banyan Court Park, which is home to the state of Hawaii’s largest banyan tree.
  • Head out on a sunset cruise: Two awesome perks of staying in Lahaina—incredible sunsets and easy access to the Lahaina Harbor. Make use of BOTH of these things on a sunset cruise, where you can take in the turquoise water and stunning landscapes of Maui and its neighboring islands in the golden light of the setting sun. Consider this tour with all of the snacks and premium alcoholic (and non-alcoholic!) beverages that your heart desires and this dinner cruise, with delicious food, drinks, and an incredible staff.
Sunrise over the island of Maui from the water

Where to stay in Lahaina:

  • Best Western Pioneer Inn: Listen, this is the coolest Best Western you’ll ever see, located in a plantation-style building with a beautiful courtyard in the heart of Lahaina. With rooms with beautiful lanais, friendly staff, free parking, and a pool to relax at, this is an excellent home base for your time on Maui.
  • Makai Sunset Inn: If you’d prefer a quieter location, the Makai Sunset Inn is tucked a few blocks away from Front Street, but is located right on the waterfront and still within walking distance to Lahaina’s shops and restaurants. The rooms have thoughtful touches, like a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker, and the friendly staff will help answer any of your questions about exploring the island.
  • Hotel Lahaina: If you’re planning a romantic getaway, this adults-only boutique hotel is perfect, with just ten comfy rooms and a killer location in downtown Lahaina. Each room comes with cozy touches that make it feel like home, like a spacious lanai with rocking chairs to enjoy the ocean breeze and fluffy robes (guys, I’m a SUCKER for a good fluffy robe). 
Downtown of Lahaina, Maui from offshore
Photo by twildlife at Deposit Photos

2. Ka’anapali

Location:

Northwestern coastline of the island

Good for:

Bes

Aerial view of resort in Ka'anapali, Maui

Ka’anapali is located just up the road from Lahaina—as in, like, four minutes up the road. But I’m including it as a separate place to stay in Maui because it has a bit more of a resort-y, upscale vibe than Lahaina.

Its biggest attraction is Ka’anapali Beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand that offers some of the best snorkeling in Maui. Many mid-range resorts have sprung up along this waterfront, as well as a boardwalk with plenty of food and shopping options. Like Lahaina, Ka’anapali may not be the most authentic town to make your homebase during your stay, but it does offer tons of amenities that will make your trip a breeze.

Things to do in Ka’anapali:

  • Enjoy the beach. One of the best things to do in Ka’anapali is, well, hang out at the Ka’anapali Beach. The northern end of the beach has an outcropping of volcanic rock, called “Black Rock”, which offers incredible snorkeling and cliff jumping (as always, jump off tall, scary things at your own risk!). When the waves are a bit more intense, this is also a great place to learn how to surf.

    If the shores of Ka’anapali are a bit too crowded for you, Kahekili Beach Park is directly north of Ka’anapali and is generally a quieter place to enjoy the excellent snorkeling and beautiful sunsets. 
  • Walk the Ka’anapali Beach Walk. This 5.5-mile trail stretches along the waterfront and passes upscale resorts, restaurants, and shops. Be sure to pop into Whalers Village, the crown jewel of shopping and dining along the western shore of the island. This complex offers a variety of stores, ranging from local surf shops to bougie household names, like Louis Vuitton.
Walking path overlooking Black Rock Beach in Ka'anapali Beach in Maui
  • Go to a luau. Luaus can be a great way to get to know a little bit more about Polynesian culture, by being immersed in traditional Hawaiian food, live music, and hula for a few hours.

    Consider checking out the Maui Nui luau, right on Ka’anapali Beach, which features story-telling of Polynesian culture and history through song and dance, a three-course tableside meal, and an absolutely stunning backdrop of the western coastline and the surrounding islands.
Fire dancer eating fire at Maui luau

Where to stay in Ka’anapali:

  • Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach: This hotel is an excellent option for families or those who simply prefer to have a home away from home, given its rooms offer fully-equipped kitchens, floor-to-ceiling windows (with some rooms with jaw-dropping views of the ocean!), and up to two bedrooms per suite. You’ll also love being literally steps away from Whalers Village and the ocean.
  • Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: If you’re looking for more of a resort experience, the Hyatt Regency definitely delivers, with a fantastic system of pools that stretch on for half an acre and offer beautiful waterfalls and waterslides; immaculately clean rooms with private lanais; and fun activities, like star tours from the rooftop. The location is also incredible—you’re tucked a bit away from the bustle of Whalers Village, but are still just a few minutes walk from a beautiful beach, shops, and restaurants.
Pool at the Hyatt Regency in Ka'anapali, Maui
  • The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas: The Westin is a good choice for families or those traveling in a group, with up to two bedrooms per villa; thoughtful extras, like iced coffees for the adults and snow cones for the kids (or big kids at heart—I love me a snow cone!) in the afternoons; and access to Ka’anapali Beach (and all of its adorable sea turtles), several pools, and hot tubs.

3. Kihei

Location:

Southwestern coastline of the island

Good for:

Beach bums, travelers in search of more authentic vibes, and boutique hotel lovers

Beach at sunset in Kihei, Maui

Kihei is a small community along the island’s southwestern shore, with six miles of beautiful beaches and some of the driest and sunniest weather in Maui. Kihei is a touch less touristy than Lahaina and Ka’anapali—instead of finding flashy resorts here, it caters more to visitors looking for boutique hotels or rental homes. And yet, it still has awesome amenities for visitors, like a bustling farmers market, a variety of restaurants to choose from (don’t miss Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade!), and even a handful of nightlife spots.

Things to Do in Kihei:

  • Snorkel in the Molokini Crater: One of the most popular things to do in Maui is snorkeling in the Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic crater that boasts 39 species of coral, 250 species of fish, and lots of cute sea turtle friends. Given the crater is located off the southwestern coastline, many of the Molokini tours leave from or very close to Kihei.

    Check out this tour, whose early morning start time means you’ll be one of the very first groups snorkeling in the crater, or this awesome adventure, which combines a zodiac boat tour with stops to both Molokini and a hotspot to see a TON of turtles!
Sea turtle swimming underwater in Hawaii
  • Visit Maui Brewing Company: Fun fact—Kihei is home to the state’s largest craft brewery! You can enjoy their beers during their happy hour (Monday through Friday, from 3:30-4:30); stop in for the daily live music in their restaurant; or even sign up for a VIP tour of their brewing facility.
  • Hit the beach: If you like finding hidden gems, there are some really lovely beaches here, without all of the crowds you’ll find along the rest of the western shore. For example, Kaipukaihina has soft white sand and one of the best sunsets on the island. Additionally, Kalepolepo Beach Park is an awesome place to see sea turtles and has all of the amenities you’d need for a day at the beach, like barbecues, picnic tables, and showers.
Secret Cove Beach in Kihei, Maui at sunset

Where to stay in Kihei:

  • The Hale Pau Hana: If you’re looking for a spacious unit to call your home, this beachside resort may just be perfect. Each unit comes with either a private lanai or balcony with a view of the waterfront and a fully-equipped kitchen (including my one true love, a dishwasher). Additionally, the location is right across from a beach and less than a ten minute drive from Kihei’s shops and restaurants. 
  • Kohea Kai Maui:  While this property is a little older, it offers clean and comfortable rooms and nice perks, like a hot tub to unwind in, a rooftop patio with a stellar view, and snacks in the lobby (we love free snacks!). Plus, the friendly staff is quick to answer any and all of your questions and seems legitimately passionate about ensuring you have the best time on the island!
  • Maui Coast Hotel: This hotel provides resort-like amenities, like a pool, fitness center, tennis court, and on-demand shuttle bus within a three-mile radius, at a fraction of the price of most of the resorts on the island. You’re right across from the beach and, once you return from having fun in the sun, you’ll be greeted by the incredibly welcoming and helpful staff. I also personally really like their focus on sustainability—like their use of solar power, bicycle rental program for guests, and use of environmentally-friendly cleaners.
Kamaole Beach Park in Maui

4. Wailea

Location:

Southwestern coastline of the island (just south of Kihei)

Good for:

Honeymooners or travelers that are looking for luxury (or just to splurge!)

Beach with resorts in the background in Wailea, Maui

Wailea is kind of like the creme brulee of Maui—bougie and expensive, but worth it. 

And there’s no question why this is where Maui’s most luxurious resorts are located—it’s home to Wailea Beach, which has previously been voted as the best beach in the entire country, as well as Polo Beach, a hidden gem with some of the best snorkeling on the island. 

The glitzy resorts and the neighboring beaches are the star of the show in Wailea, so while you’ll certainly have access to everything you need at the properties themselves, there’s not a whole lot of “authentic” shops and restaurants outside of their manicured lawns. Not to worry, though—if you want to experience more local vibes and can tear yourself away from your resort’s amazing infinity pool, Wailea is just a short drive from cute towns, like Kihei or the historic plantation town of Wailuku.

Infinity pool overlooking a fountain and palm trees in Maui

Things to do in Wailea:

  • Walk along Le Perouse Bay. Le Perouse Bay has stunning turquoise water, lined with a rugged and volcanic coastline—in fact, its cliffs were formed by Haleakala’s last eruption in 1790. The bay is basically as far south as you can go on the western side of the island and offers all kinds of activities, from hiking along a trail of ancient Hawaiian cultural sites, called the King’s Highway, to snorkeling through its stunning water with some MASSIVE fish.

    And, if you’re an early riser, this is easily one of the best places on the island to watch spinner dolphins, especially around sunrise.
Two spinner dolphins in Hawaii
  • See some sea turtles. Honu (or sea turtles) love to hang out on the southern side of Maui. There’s lots of tours where you can learn more about these magnificent creatures (like, did you know they can live up to 80 years old? Crazy!) and go to some of the best spots in the island to snorkel with them.

    Check out this awesome tour, where you’ll head out in a small group to kayak to a spot, affectionately called “Turtle Town” or this small-group tour that’s run by a locally-owned and operated company, which uses premium equipment and takes stellar underwater photos of the plethora of turtles most tours encounter.
  • Hang out at your resort. Dude, if you’re paying top-dollar to stay at a swanky resort, make use of its amenities! If you’re not one to just lay by the pool (*raises hand*), most of the resorts in the area have fun activities, like hula, surf, or lei-making lessons. Alternatively, you can peruse The Shops at Wailea for luxury goods or indulge at your resort’s spa in a lomi lomi massage, which is a traditional Hawaiian massage technique.
Pool overlooking the ocean at a resort in Maui

Where to stay in Wailea:

  • Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea: Okay, we’re starting out with the big guns with this one, but that’s just because this hotel is INCREDIBLE. It’s like they’ve anticipated your every possible need or desire, from attendants offering you sunscreen and popsicles while you’re at the pool to having cold towels and fruit waiting for you outside of the fitness center.

    Another element that sets the Four Seasons apart is that it’s perfect for a wide variety of travelers. Unlike some of Wailea’s luxury resorts, Four Seasons welcomes kiddos and has specifically designed aspects of the resort for families, like a kids club or its waterfall pool. On the other hand, if you’re a honeymooner or want a romantic getaway, you won’t have a problem finding an adults-only space—in fact, the adults-only infinity pool, overlooking the Pacific, is probably the most beautiful on the island!
Paddleboarders on a beach on Wailea, Maui
  • Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui: The Fairmont is another good option for all kinds of travelers—both families and those looking for some quiet adult time. Families will love one of the property’s pools with a waterslide and a complimentary morning ride in an outrigger canoe. Child-free folks, on the other hand, will love the adults-only pool with a swim-up bar and plenty of cabanas and the incredible onsite dining experiences.
  • Hotel Wailea: If you’d prefer one of those adults-only resorts in Wailea, here you go! Everything about this experience screams luxury—from the fresh leis and champagne provided to you at check in and the spacious ocean view lanai that each of the rooms boasts to an on-demand car-service that will whisk you around the Wailea area. Grab a cabana and a poolside cocktail (they’re SO good here!) and soak up that Hawaiian sunshine!
Pool in Maui overlooking the ocean

5. Paia

Location:

Northeastern side of the island

Good for:

Travelers who prefer chill vibes or exploring off-the-beaten path

Surfboard fence in Paia, Maui

Paia is a teeny surfer town that has some real crunchy hippie vibes and is considered the official start of the iconic Road to Hana. This town is soooo cute (actually, my favorite on Maui!), with colorful murals, quirky art galleries, and shops selling kombucha and kava. 

While most travelers just breeze past Paia to the rest of the Road to Hana, this is a HUGE oversight—this town is the perfect mix of authentic Hawaiian chill-ness, with plenty of stores and restaurants to keep you busy.

Pssst.... wanna explore the Road to Hana, but a bit too nervous to take on its windy roads and over 50 one-way bridges? Check out some of the best Road to Hana tours on Maui, where you can let someone else take the steering wheel (quite literally!) and just worry about soaking in the incredible scenery!

Things to do in Paia:

  • Watch surfers at Ho’okipa Beach. While the North Shore of Oahu gets all the Big Wave surfing love, Ho’okipa Beach, right by Paia, seriously gives it a run for its money, with swells reaching up to 25 feet tall. Surfers from all over the world flock here to take on these waves and it’s QUITE the show to watch—Justin and I spent an entire morning just watching some really hardcore surfers ride the waves. Definitely recommend!
Woman surfing in Paia, Maui
  • Take a yoga class. I mean, would it be a hippie town without a plethora of yoga studios? Maha Yoga & Wellness Center is the best place to take a drop-in class.
  • Hike to Twin Falls. Just south of Paia is one of the first stops along the Road to Hana and one of the best hikes in Maui, the Twin Falls. Along this 1.8 mile easy trail, you’ll get to see two waterfalls. The trail’s Caveman Falls is absolutely stunning, with the water cascading over a fern-covered cliffside and into a turquoise pool below. Bring your bathing suit! 
Woman standing in Caveman Falls near Paia, Maui along the Road to Hana

Where to Stay In Paia:

  • Paia Inn: If I personally was going to pick where to stay in Maui for myself, I’d 100% choose the Paia Inn, which feels like the perfect mix of modern, cozy and laidback with a hint of bougie-ness. The rooms feel homey, with 500-thread count sheets and spacious lanais (keep the doors open at night to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean). During the day, you can sit in the courtyard, in the comfy lounge chairs and watch surfers or walk literally just a few steps from the property down to the beach. Pure bliss, my friend.
  • Aloha Surf Hostel: If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t mind sharing a dorm in a hostel, this is undoubtedly one of the best deals on the island. This place really is perfect for travelers that are trying to go easy on the wallet—they offer free tours AND free breakfast, in addition to more amenities than most hostels have, like a hot tub and communal barbecues. 
Large waves at Ho’okipa Beach near Paia, Maui

6. Hana

Location: Southern coastline of the island

Good for: Travelers who want to get off the beaten path or who want to take their time along the Road to Hana

Rocky cliffs along Hana in Maui

If you’re looking to get off-the-beaten-path for a couple of days, the quiet town of Hana is a good place to do it.

To reach the town, you’ll either need to drive along the iconic Road to Hana, touted by many as the most scenic drive on the planet, or Highway 37, a winding, unpaved, and bumpy road that’s not advisable to drive in a rental car.

All that is to say, regardless of where you’re coming from on the island, you should expect it to take you at least two hours to get to Hana. Accordingly, given how challenging it can be to get to and from Hana, I wouldn’t recommend making this your home base for your entire stay on the island (unless you plan on hanging out at your resort the whole time), but I think it’s absolutely worth tacking a night or two on to your Road to Hana itinerary to stay in this jaw-droppingly beautiful town.

Road to Hana, winding through a dense jungle, in Maui

While you might assume that the endpoint of the famed Road to Hana would be bursting with tourist traps and mega resorts, you’d be sorely mistaken—this teeny town of less than 800 residents has just a handful of food trucks, art galleries, and lots and lots of sleepy vibes.

What the town lacks in nightlife and restaurants, though, it makes up for with incredibly stunning scenery. From black sand beaches to epic waterfalls and rugged cliffs, Hana is one of the best places on Maui to just disconnect (perhaps quite literally—our cell phone service was quite spotty here!) and immerse yourself in a beautiful paradise.

Surfboards along the Road to Hana in Maui

Things to do in Hana:

  • Hit up Waiʻānapanapa State Park: One of the most popular Road to Hana stops is this popular state park, which is home to the most famous black sand beach on Maui, Honokalani Beach. There’s plenty of activities to keep you busy here, like boogie boarding in the waves, exploring lava tubes, or hiking along trails with ancient Hawaiian artifacts.
Honokalani Beach on Maui
  • Hike the Pipiwai Trail: Located in the coastal portion of Haleakala National Park, this moderately-challenging, 3.8 mile hike will take you through a magical-looking bamboo forest and to five stunning waterfalls, including an enormous one that’s 185-feet tall.
  • Go on an adventure to the Red Sand Beach: Kaihalulu Beach is inarguably one of the most gorgeous beaches on Maui, with a stretch of bright red sand, tucked away in a lush cove.

    But, to access the beach, you’ll need to hike along a 0.5-mile STEEP hike that’s pretty darn sketchy. In fact, reviews on both AllTrails and TripAdvisor are riddled with people who had members of their group or saw other people fall up to 20 feet off a crumbly cliffside while hiking this trail. So hike at your own risk and avoid this trail at all costs if it’s raining or the trail is wet—it can go from sketchy to downright dangerous REAL quick.
Red Sand Beach along the Road to Hana in Maui

Where to Stay in Hana

  • Hana Maui Resort: There aren’t too many places to stay in Hana, but thankfully, the luxurious Hana Maui Resort is at your rescue. The rooms themselves are spacious and well-appointed and the property is STUNNING, with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a hot tub to relax in after your day’s adventures.

    They’ve really thought of ways to make every aspect of staying here feel that much more comfortable and special, from a welcome drink of POG juice (a popular Hawaiian combination of passionfruit, orange, and guava) to tons of activities you can partake in, like stand-up paddleboarding or lei making classes.
Aerial view of beach in Hana, Maui

Phew, I hope you have a bit better idea of where to stay in Maui—you have some real solid options out there! Let me know if you have any questions about these towns or accommodations—I love to talk all things Hawaii!

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