Maui locations decoded.
There are two main areas of Maui, the West and the South. Each side offers both luxury hotels and less expensive condo rentals.
The West Side
The West side of Maui includes Kaanapali, Honokowai, Kahana, Napili, Kapalua and Lahaina. We particularly love the West (Kaanapali) side because it is truly beautiful with lush tropical flowers and lots of greenery. It also is close to Lahaina, a fun historic town with shopping, restaurants and boat harbor. In addition, the condo section of the West side (Kahana and Napili) has much less traffic than the condo section of the South side (Kihei), and most West side condos are right on the ocean while most South side condos are across the street from the ocean.
Kaanapali Beach is a great area of Maui to stay on. This is the luxury part of the West side of Maui. There are several large hotels with beautiful pools, grounds and lobbies, plus a couple large luxury condos. All of the hotels and condos in Kaanapali are within walking distance of each other, and of restaurants, all beach activities, snorkeling, and the Whalers Village shopping center.
Honokowai, Kahana, and Napili are just North of Kaanapali Beach. They contain numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying right on Kaanapali Beach, but they are not within walking distance of the big resort hotels and shopping and restaurants, and some of them might not have air conditioning or daily maid service. Many of these condo buildings are right on the beach.
A disadvantage of the West side is that it is only connected to the central part of Maui by a single main highway, which sometimes has traffic and is occasionally blocked by an accident.
The South Side
The South side of Maui includes Wailea and Kihei.
The South side has the advantage of slightly less rain in the winter. And Wailea (the luxury area of the South side) is a quieter area than Kaanapali.
Wailea has luxury hotels and condos. They are spread out a little more than the luxury hotels and condos on Kaanapali Beach, so some people like the slightly quieter atmosphere, but others don’t like the fact that you can’t easily walk to all the big hotels and restaurants and shopping center like you can in Kaanapali.
Kihei is north of Wailea. It has numerous large and small condo complexes that are less expensive than staying in Wailea. Many of these do not have air conditioning or daily maid service. And most Kihei condos (unlike most west side condos) are across the street from the beach, rather than right on the beach. Kihei tends to have heavier traffic but does have many family friendly restaurants.
Other parts of Maui
Haiku, Kula and Upcountry are other parts of Maui you could stay in. They don’t have major hotels or condos, but they do have some B&B’s and other smaller places to stay. They are a long drive from the tourist areas that contain most beaches, restaurants and shopping.
Kahului is Maui’s big city and is the location of the airport where you will arrive on Maui. Kahului does have a couple small old hotels, but they are mostly for business travelers and are not well suited for vacationers who want to be on the beach in a resort atmosphere.