Why Choose Maui?
Choose Maui because it has everything you want and more: the most sunshine; a whole coastline of sandy-bottom beaches; shopping, from souvenir to upscale; a plethora of activities ranged for youth to senior citizens; food to delight a gourmet, from road side stands to 4* restaurants and enough historical sites to satisfy the historian.
What Part of Maui is Right for You?
I get many calls from people wanting to know which part of the island would be best for their condo vacation. Rentals can be found all over the island so this is not an easy answer for me, but once you know a bit about each part of the island, it should become an easier one for you.
Some prefer the sun & island feel of South Maui and others the simple life in a bit cooler climate of Up Country or that of rustic Hana and others the hustle & night life of the West side or wild waves of the North Shore. Let's take a trip around the island. I'll try to point out a few of the distinctions for each locale. We'll start the trip from our own South Maui. Remember the winter months are for the whales so no motor/speed boat activities.
Here are links to our Maui Vacation Rental Listings in relation to the water:
South Maui divides nicely into the areas of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Ma'alaea is technically central but we include it here. Think of Kihei as a beach town growing up; Wailea as the Country Club, Makena as wilderness being discovered and Ma'alaea as the boat harbor with a location convenient to everything. Among these areas you will find the condo perfectly suited to you. Choose an area, a condo, and take advantage of all South Maui has to offer. It's here for you; awaiting your arrival.
As the saying goes, if it's raining where you are, go a few miles south. The Sunny side of Maui is the South Shore. Here you'll generally find the sun shinning, and activities galore. The beaches are the best on the island and offer activities from, building sand castles to sunning to great walks or jogs. The ocean offers swimming, snorkeling, ocean kayaking, Boogie Boarding & Stand Up Paddle Boarding; and there is golf, including major tournaments and 6 courses within 10 minutes of one another.
Here too are the famous resort hotels including their restaurants, shops and the special events. Luckily there are also luxury condo resorts and in Kihei not only resorts but also some local color and nightlife. Beach/Ocean front accommodations are at a premium because most condos on the South Shore are low rise buildings with a few mid rise (4-7 stories). Often you can save money by choosing one of the condos a bit back from the beach and still get amazing views with only a 5 minute drive or 10-15 minute walk to the beach. Condos tend to get larger as you head south in this region.
Their surroundings vary from the colorful, lush tropical landscaping of Wailea, to the natural setting and indigenous plantings of Kihei on to the wilderness and historically punctuated areas of Makena. For upscale shopping there is The Shops of Wailea, an outdoor shopping center filled with necessary to extraordinary shops; and boutiques to outdoor kiosks in Kihei. So remember: South Shore equals Sunny and Active but still with the peaceful, tropical feel of an island. Plus easiest access to exploring Hana and Haleakala. 20-30 minutes from the airport "for sure".
Ma'alaea - a harbor town with some beach at the end of the isthmus road from the airport is the transition area between South Maui and West Maui. Midrise condos, the Maui Acquarium, The Pacific Whale Foundation and a small shoping area with several good restaurants and miniature golf are found here along with sugar cane and more wind than farther south. 5-20 minute drive from Kihei, Wailea & Makena; 20 minutes from the airport; 30-50 minutes from Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua.
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Following the signs to Lahaina and taking the beautiful drive around the south side of the West Maui Mountains, we discover the West Shore regions of Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Honokowai-Kahana-Napili and Kapalua. Lahaina is known as the old whaler's town and boasts street after street of storefront shopping from T-shirts to paintings to jewelry to scrimshaw. It also has the oldest of Banyan trees, under whose branches you'll find many vendors and festivals as well. The Lahaina harbor is one of the stops on Maui for cruise ships and offers many different boating trips - even a ferry to Lanai'i.
Continue up the coast to "resort row" with older hotel resorts including time-shares and the miles of beach in Kannapoli. Behind the Sheraton Hotel off Kaanapali Beach is Black Rock a famous snorkelling spot that everyone enjoys. This area has a lot of night life, action and people. There are condos here; 3 bedrooms are easier to find; accommodations tend to be a bit smaller than in South Maui but rooms in high rise resorts are right on the water - amazing views. The stretch of high rises and 4-lane roads at Ka'anapali remind me more of Miami Beach than a tropical island, but it is a widely popular resort and offers long strips of sandy beach. The action calls and many visitors prefer West Maui to the south side.
At the north end of Ka'anapali it is more peaceful yet offers easy access to night life if wanted. Honokowai, Kahana & Napili are well known and offer many different sizes and styles of resorts. We know folks who return to the same spot here year after year. Prices run lower in general because highrises mean greater density right on the water. It's windier here and rain showers occur at a moment's notice but the beaches are incomparable. Great golf is here too but afternoon play is definitely affected by the wind. There is a small airport here servicing private jets and helicopters. For shopping there is the long standing Whaler's Village with hundreds of shops. Plus the hotels have shopping as they do on the South Side.
Keep going north to Kapalua and you'll hit the Ritz Carlton recently renovated and the renovation/construction of more luxury properties that are being developed by the pineapple gang. You are now in the area of rocky shoreline and limited sandy beaches. Activities include snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. Water conditions can change rather dramatically in this Honolua Bay, West Shore area so at times the activities may be limited to experts only; especially surfing. To continue around the island to the east is dangerous as the roads get much narrower; all along the road now is local land and small town living. So, West Shore equals Historic Lahaina, filled with storefronts; beachy Ka'annapoli, and renovated Kapalua. 1 hour to the airport if there is not an accident on the two-lane road. Be careful not to miss your flight.
So we start again from the locals' cities of Wailuku & Kahalui and the airport and head to Paia to the North Shore. The Beach area just outside Paia is Baldwin Beach Park where the shorebreak surf attracts many bodysurfers and bodyboarders. This is a well known local area and is often crowded; one of the beaches is known as "Baby Beach". Lifeguards are present. Past Paia to Hookipa Beach and you've found the location of two major world-class competitions; one of the best places in the world to windsurf. Experts only; no public access. The view here is absolutely stunning and we love to come up from the South to watch and have dinner at Mama's, the Best of the Best on Maui. This area includes Haiku, Huelo, and Paia. North Shore equals Windiest; World Class Surfing.
Up Country is a whole area that is often missed by visitors because it is not on the shore. Offering spectacular views, local grown produce, cooler weather, arts and crafts plus miles of hiking, Up Country is unique. Here are the locals, the residents who in their past have moved up from the beaches and the hot weather to a whole different atmosphere. There's Makawao of Rodeo fame with lots of little art studios and there is Kulu of strawberry, produce, flowers and meat fame. Places to visit include: The Alii Kula Lavender Farm, Kula Botanical Garden, Kula Lodge and Marketplace, the Surfing Goat Dairy and Tedeschi Vineyards. Be sure to check scheduled events such as the Sunday Polo matches. Up Country is Rural, Cool, and Hip. A must visit or a for sure "get away from it all" area to stay in. It's inexpensive with several bed and breakfasts. Up Country can also include the Haleakala State Park with all its activities: hiking, sun rising events, horse back riding into the crater, etc.
Hana - East Maui
Hana is the northeastern most area on Maui and often is thought of as the wettest, but that actually is the West Maui Mountains, the Iao Valley region. Hana is often considered a road trip and can be accomplished in one or two days depending on how long you want to explore the many sights (amazing water falls, black sand beaches, great hikes, etc.). Often an overnight in Hana is preferable if you have the time. Hana is Rural, Wet, and Natural. The Hana Hotel is very expensive and about the only place to eat (other than road side stands). There are some legal bed and breakfast and vacation rentals here too. Many of the locals make their home here.
Well, there you have Maui: South Shore, West Shore, North Shore, Upcountry and Hana. All have something to share; decide where it is best for you to stay; then visit the rest.