Most Convenient Maui Stays
Maui is a small island- relatively speaking. But at 727 square miles, there is a lot of ground to cover. Book a stay in a rural area, and you could find yourself driving over 20 minutes to get to the beach! So, where are the most convenient places to stay on Maui? We’ve narrowed down the most favorable accommodation locations based on walkability and proximity to beaches, restaurants, and activities.
Kaʻanapali is one of Maui’s largest, most walkable tourism hubs. A collection of hotels and resorts are perched directly on the golden sand at Kaʻanapali Beach. Here, restaurants, shops, and activities abound. Within steps of your resort, you can just as easily climb aboard a snorkel tour as you can play a round of golf, learn to surf, or go ziplining.
Kaʻanapali resorts and hotels are connected by a paved walkway, making it easy to restaurant hop or visit a neighboring hotel luau. Smack dab in the middle of the hamlet is the Whalers Village shopping center, where you’ll find shops, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and live entertainment.
Things To Know About Kaʻanapali
● Puʻu Kekaʻa (Black Rock) divides Kaʻanapali Beach into halves. If walkability is important to you, opt to stay on the south end of Kaʻanapali Beach. The resorts on the south end of Kaʻanapali Beach are near Whalers Village, home to many shops, restaurants, snorkel tours, and activities. Meanwhile, the resorts on the northern side of Kaʻanapali Beach are a bit further from the action and not as walkable.
● Kaʻanapali is less than a 10-minute drive from Lahaina Town and 10-15 minutes from beaches and snorkeling spots near Napili and Kapalua.
● This West Maui resort community is one of the best places to stay without a rental car. Kaʻanapali is very walkable and boasts many transportation alternatives- such as rideshare, the Maui Bus, and tour group pick-ups.
● One of the only significant cons about staying in Kaʻanapali is its distance from Kahului Airport. The area is about a 45-minute drive from OGG on Honoapiʻilani Highway, which can often be backed up. Alternatively, visitors can skip the traffic by taking a small plane from Oahu to Kapalua Airport, less than 10 minutes from Kaʻanapali resorts.
Wailea is also an ultra-convenient location on Maui. This upscale community is home to a bevy of five-star resorts and luxury condos. In addition, there are dozens of dining opportunities, golf courses, and a range of shops within a three-mile radius, with the sprawling Shops of Wailea complex at the center.
Wailea’s beachfront resorts are connected by the Wailea Beach Path, a 1.2-mile paved pedestrian walkway. The trail skirts three hotel luaus, a range of eateries, and four beaches- Mokapu Beach, Ulua Beach, Wailea Beach, and Polo Beach. Various ocean activities are offered here, like snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddling, and outrigger canoe paddling.
Things to Know About Wailea
● Wailea is quieter than the lively Kaʻanapali Beach. While some ocean activities are offered at Wailea Beach (like those mentioned above), there is no one hub to hop on a snorkel tour or take a surf lesson. Some activities require at least a short drive.
● The Shops of Wailea and the area’s beachfront resorts are very walkable. However, some renowned restaurants, hotels, and golf courses are situated uphill of the ocean and require a car- or a long walk- to access.
● Some hotels offer guests complimentary car services around Wailea. Rideshares are also abundant, and many tour companies can also provide hotel pick up from Wailea.
● Wailea scores points for its proximity to the airport. The area is only about a 30-minute drive from OGG, and the route is relatively straight.
Lahaina is one of the most historic towns on Maui. The enclave was once a whaling village and the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Today the town is famous for its walkable Front Street, dotted with an electric blend of art galleries, bars, t-shirt shops, and eateries. Lahaina is also home to a small boat harbor, where dozens of ocean activities like fishing trips, sunset cruises, whale watches, and snorkel tours are on offer.
Things to Know About Lahaina
● There are very few hotels near Front Street and even fewer with beach access. Lahaina Shores is the only hotel in the area on the beach and just a few minutes’ walk from the heart of Front Street.
● Some of the best nightlife on the island is on Front Street, with bars like the Dirty Monkey and Down the Hatch staying open past midnight.
● Lahaina is a surf destination on Maui. Various surf schools in town offer lessons at Lahaina Breakwall, located near the harbor and Banyan Tree.
● Lahaina Harbor is an ultra-convenient place to hop on a snorkel tour, fishing charter, whale watch tour, or ferry to Lanai.
● Lahaina is about a 35-minute drive from Kahului Airport.
● Although Front Street is very walkable, renting a car is recommended for those staying in Lahaina. There are few beaches and snorkeling opportunities within walking distance. However, some of the best coral reefs and beaches are just a short drive from Lahaina Town.
4. South Kihei
Kihei is one of the largest areas on Maui. This south Maui village is dotted with an abundance of beachfront condos, and savvy travelers can find more budget-friendly accommodations here than in Wailea or Ka’anapali. North Kihei is quiet, but a stay in South Kihei near any of the three Kamaole Beaches puts you amid the action. You’ll be near swimmable beaches, countless bars and restaurants, grocery stores, and activities like surf lessons and snorkeling.
Things to Know About Kihei
● While Kaʻanapali and Wailea were designed with tourism in mind, Kihei is a residential community, therefore, not as walkable. Renting a car is recommended if you’re staying in Kihei. However, you’ll likely be a short walk from at least one restaurant and beach, depending on where you stay.
● Kihei is centrally located, about 20 minutes from Kahului Airport, 30 minutes from Paia, and 40 minutes to Lahaina. South Kihei is an excellent jumping-off point for all Maui adventures.
● The Kalama Park area of Kihei is home to a smattering of activities, like surf lessons, volleyball, and a rollerskating rink. The area also boasts an assemblage of restaurants, shops, great nightlife, and live music.
Maʻalaea is often overlooked as an accommodation destination on Maui. This sleepy seaside village is perched over Maʻalaea Harbor, one of the island’s main snorkel tour and whale watching ports. This settlement is one of the quietest places to stay on Maui, with a diminutive collection of condos and small resorts. Maʻalaea is within walking distance to Haycraft Beach Park, the Maui Ocean Center, Da Playground live music venue, and great restaurants like Tante’s and Seascape.
Things to Know About Maʻalaea
● Maʻalaea is one of the most central places to stay on the island. The village is only 15 minutes from Kahului Airport, 30 minutes from Lahaina, 10 minutes from Kihei, and about 20 minutes to Paia.
● Crowds here are virtually zero.
● The Maui Ocean Center, Maʻalaea Harbor, several restaurants, delis, a live music venue, and a mini-golf sports park are within walking distance.
● Haycraft Beach is the only sandy beach within walking distance but offers soft sand, plenty of shade, great views of Molokini, and decent snorkeling opportunities.
● Rideshares are less abundant here, and hailing one might yield longer wait times.
● Maʻalaea is located in Maui’s ‘wind tunnel’ between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains. Some afternoons can be very windy.
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