Well… that is totally up to you! It really depends on what you are looking for. Maui has everything from ocean activities, wind sports, hiking, luxury and comfort or simply peace and quietness.
The Island offers an abundance of activities, vibes and climates for every traveler, all within a 45 minute drive! It is hard enough to choose your hotel / airbnb / vacation rental. This article is meant to help you figure out Where to stay in Maui. And narrow down your research.
Maui is the second largest Island of the Hawaiian Island chain. It is approximately 48 miles long and 26 miles wide totaling 728 square miles.
To help you figure out Where to stay in Maui it is better to know that the island can be divided in 6 parts:
Also known as Hana, this is the most isolated part of the island due to a very windy road. To get there from Kahului airport it takes about 3 hours, unless you take a small plane or a Helicopter and Land in Hana. This side of the island is known for its rainforest. Hana has an extremely humid and rainy climate, resulting in the most green and dense vegetation you will ever see!
The amount of rivers, waterfalls and hikes in Hana is mind blowing and no holiday is long enough to discover them all! You will find some beautiful beaches as well. Most of the visitors take a day trip to tour the area before getting back to their resorts. However, if you are looking for peace and quiet and wanting to avoid the crowd, then Hana is definitely the place to be!
Only 10 minutes away from Kahului airport, the north shore is where you will find the towns of Paia and Haiku. This part of the island is very exposed to the north-east trade winds and make it the ideal location for wind sports addicts! You will find spots for every level and every taste. You can go ride the giant waves of Ho’okipa with your windsurf (only recommend if you are experienced!). Or go learn and practice kite-surfing and windsurfing in the calmer waters of Kanaha!
Paia’s town is extremely quaint and colorful. We definitely recommend stopping there to or from Hana for a poke bowl or a delicious Shave Ice.
This part of the Island has many things to offer! This is where the stunning road to Hana starts and where you can find beautiful waterfalls without having to drive too deep into the rainforest.
You will also find one of the biggest waves of the world there – ‘Peahi’, also known as Jaws. If you are lucky enough to be on the island when a big swell hits the archipelago, this is a wave you will not want to miss!
If you cannot handle the hot tropical weather this is a place for you! In only twenty five minutes from Kahului you will be gaining altitude rapidly and in consequence the temperature will go down very fast.
What else happens when we gain altitude? Breathtaking views of course! Many points of views to observe not only Maui but also the neighboring islands of Lanai, Molokini, Molokai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island. I very much so recommend going up there for sunset.
There is plenty more to do upcountry than just sight seeing. You can go horseback riding, paragliding and hiking!
The temperature and fauna upcountry is so different you will almost forget that you are in Hawaii and may feel as though you are in a pine forest in North America.
If you keep going all the way up to the volcano of Mount Haleakala (10,023 feet) then you will experience “Walking on Mars”. Rarely is vegetation able to grow in the red volcanic rocks. Make sure to bring warm clothes for your adventure up to the volcano, as temperatures drop to nearly freezing!
This is where the biggest “cities” are found. In Kahului and Wailuku, you will find all that you may need here. Airport, hospital, big markets, shopping, etc.. Wailuku has more charm and is worth a look if you would like to simply walk around and do some shopping.
You can also find some nice hikes and waterfalls in this area of the Island. Iao Valley is a great place if you want a quick and easy dip in the river and small waterfalls! It is very lush and green here. The Waihee Ridge trail is a steep inclining trail up the ridge of the mountain with stunning views of the towns down below and the mountains.
Visitors looking for sunshine, beach relaxation and luxurious resorts can either stop in South or Sest Maui. This part of the Island is more protected from the trade winds and the big North swells. The water is usually very calm making it ideal for snorkeling and family to enjoy the beach safely.
The Southern most part of South Maui has the biggest beach of Maui, called “Big Beach” or “Makena Beach”. During the summer months this part of the Island is actually not so safe! The shore break can get extremely big and dangerous, so like we say here: “if in doubt, don’t go out!” Local surfers and skim boarders will definitely keep you entertained!
Last but not least! This part of Maui offers an inestimable treasure, Belle Surf Cafe of course! Just joking haha. On a more serious note, this part of the island has a lot to offer!
It is one of the sunniest and warmest areas, with beaches very well protected from the strong trade winds and big waves.
You will find a little bit of everything here. Good surf breaks for every level, the charming town of Lahaina with bars, restaurants, art galleries, luxurious resorts. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy: Whale Watching, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Horseback riding, Ziplining, hiking, golfing and more!
So did you figure out Where to stay in Maui?
In definitive we can’t be totally objective when talking about the place we live in. If you like surfing, are curious about whales, want to get a nice tan and have delicious meals we totally recommend the West side! Honestly, the only downside of this part of the Island is the lack of waterfalls.
Remember, within a 45 minute drive you can get almost anywhere, so do not stress too much about where you stay.
West South or North are the best options, but if you are looking for something different than just beach, sun, comfort and fun in the water maybe you will find your happiness Upcountry or in Hana!