With scenery straight out of a painting, an inviting climate and a laid-back setting, Maui is one of the best places to stay in Hawai'i. But Maui is not one, uniform place, and boasts many must-see destinations. The island has four distinct regions, each offering something a little different. If you’re wondering where to stay in Maui, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide.
Below we’re breaking down the best areas to stay in Maui by region. Or, chat with a Fora Advisor to receive expert recommendations that’ll bring your Hawai'i vacation to the next level. And remember, when you book with a Fora Advisor, you can get free hotel upgrades and VIP perks, at no extra cost.
Here’s our guide on where to stay in Maui.
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The best area to stay in Maui by region
Maui is the best island to visit in Hawai'i for first-timers who want to prioritize relaxation, but that doesn’t mean it is devoid of excitement and adventure.
1. West Maui
West Maui is the island’s most developed region and easily one of the best places to visit in Hawai'i.
In fact, it’s probably Hawai'i’s most popular travel destination outside of Honolulu, Oahu (see our Honolulu travel guide, if you’re curious). That said, while West Maui is by far the most crowded part of Maui, it’s not even remotely as crowded as Ala Moana or Waikiki. So, even the most low-key travelers should still feel comfortable here.
Plus, nearly every day is picture-perfect, with the sun high in the sky and only occasional rain. In other words, every day is a beach day in West Maui.
Kaanapali Beach is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the entire United States, and for good reason. It’s busy, but it rarely gets so crowded that you can’t find a spot. Of course, if you want the most intimate experience possible, Napili Beach, a local favorite, is only a short drive north.
If you want to get the lowdown on the coolest spots to check out in Kaanapali, connect with a Fora Advisor for tips and booking perks.
To the south, you’ll find Lahaina, another top destination in West Maui. Lahaina has its share of four- and five-star resorts, but there’s also plenty here to do, like renting jet skis or kayaks, whale watching tours and more. And if you’re in the mood for a day trip, you can catch the ferry to Lanai (the most exclusive island in Hawai'i).
Lahaina’s Whalers Village is a great spot for cultural immersion too, with tons of local shops dedicated to exploring Hawaiian culture.
Sidenote: while we’d probably say Oahu is the best Hawaiian island for families because of its variety and convenience, West Maui is a close runner-up for similar reasons, making it by far one of the best areas to stay in Maui (read our 7 day family-friendly outdoor adventure in Maui).
2. South Maui
South Maui, to include Kihei and Wailea, is less built-up than West Maui and comparatively secluded. However, it’s a bit more affordable, and some may prefer the quieter atmosphere.
Wailea Beach is the premier destination for beachgoers, with scenic shores and crystal-clear cyan waters. However, the beaches at Kihei shouldn’t be discounted, especially since the rougher waters offer fantastic surfing opportunities.
Nevertheless, if you’re wondering where to stay in Maui for a balance between seclusion and things to do, the southern coast is one of the best areas in Maui to stay. And remember, one of Fora’s Hawai'i travel planners can help you narrow down your options and score awesome perks for you.
3. The Hana Highway & Upcountry (aka East Maui)
The eastern coast of Maui can be split into two parts, the “Road to Hana” and the Upcountry area. Even in Hana, the jewel of East Maui, there’s very little development outside of the resorts, making this an excellent area to stay in Maui for vacationers who want to get lost in nature.
Speaking of nature, the Upcountry area is best known for being the home of Haleakala National Park. Mountains, crags and sparse vegetation offer a stark contrast from the island’s otherwise lush terrain. It’s an amazing area for hiking and mountain biking, with several trails of varying difficulty levels. If you’re looking for an adventurous getaway to Maui, this is the best area to stay in Maui.
4. Central Maui
Finally, we have Central Maui. This is where to stay in Maui if you want affordable accommodations, but like East Maui, the options are fairly limited.
It rains here often and travelers tend to note that the region isn’t as scenic as the coastal areas; however, Central Maui does have a hidden talent. Since it’s central, all the best things to do in Maui are within an hour’s drive.
As always, a Fora Advisor can offer more on the pros and cons of staying in Central Maui, and help you book your trip.
Where to stay in Maui: FAQs
Which side of Maui is the best area to stay?
Whether you want a relaxing or adventurous vacation to Maui, the western and southern coasts of Maui are the best areas to stay. Both regions offer plenty of variety, in addition to Maui’s top resorts and hotels.
However, East and Central Maui are generally more affordable.
Where do most people stay in Maui?
Most people stay in either Lahaina or Kaanapali. Unlike the best area to stay in Oahu, though, these areas aren’t that crowded (you can check out our beginner’s guide to Oahu if you want to see what all the fuss is about).
How many days do you need to explore Maui?
You don’t need to spend a certain amount of days in Maui (like a week in Oahu or a six-day adventure on the Big Island), but you may find Maui’s relaxing shores and incredible vistas hard to leave.
If you need a concrete answer though, Fora Advisors say you can generally see the entire island in two or three days if you’re eager.
Still wondering where to stay in Maui? Let a Fora Advisor help
Ready to get your Maui trip started? Chat with a Fora Advisor to start planning with expert recommendations today. Insider tips, free hotel perks and more can all be yours (for the same price as booking directly).