Idyllic beaches, countless waterfalls, farm-to-table cuisine, and humpback whales are all reasons why travelers choose Maui for their Hawaiian vacation. Once you've decided that Maui is the best island for your Hawaii vacation, now it's time to figure out what to do and where to stay. From honeymoons to families with small kids, Maui has a lot to offer. We're here to show you some highlights of this incredible Hawaiian island and the best places to lay your head at night after a day of adventures.
What kind of traveler would enjoy Maui?
Romantic vacationers (honeymoons, anniversaries, destination weddings)
Families- we think it's the most family-friendly island
Travelers looking to relax on beautiful beaches effortlessly
Those who aren't looking for nightlife, an urban environment, or the hustle and bustle.
To understand what there is to do and where you should stay, you'll want a brief overview of the geography of Maui.
An abundance of activities, resorts, shops, restaurants, the famous Ka'anapali beach, and the idyllic Kapalua beach make up Maui's vibrant west side. Many people choose to stay on the west side of Maui when they're on vacation for the quality of the beaches and the variety of things to do. Also located on the westside is Lahaina, a historic whaling town made up of charming shops, art galleries, and popular local restaurants.
If you're not staying on the West side of Maui, chances are you're staying on the south side. Much like the westside, south Maui also has incredible beaches perfect for exploring, walking, picnicking, and sitting to contemplate the beauty of your current location. South Maui is sunnier, drier, and has miles of sandy beaches with views of Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe- Maui's neighbors.
Upcountry Maui refers to the higher elevations surrounding Mt. Haleakala. Here you'll find farms like Surfing Goat Dairy, where you can learn about how goat cheese is made and meet the goats (a fun place for the kids)! While you're there, you'll also want to check out Ali'i Kula lavender farm and sample some Maui-made wines at MauiWine. Upcountry is a beautiful place to explore and change up your scenery a bit. Hike trails at Haleakala National Park, wander through Makawao- a charming town where you can learn about paniolo culture (Hawaiian cowboy) as well as meander through eclectic art shops and galleries.
If there's one thing that defines the Eastside, it's the Road to Hana. If you come to Maui and miss the Road to Hana, well… you're due for another trip to Maui! Check out our article: Can't-Miss Stops on the Road to Hana!
Where to stay on Maui
Your accommodations are the most significant expense you'll have during your Hawaiian vacation, and we do not take that decision lightly. We pour into reviews and recent feedback, get to know people and experience for ourselves to ensure our clients make the best decisions for their vacation investments. There are a TON of choices when coming to Maui, here are just a few that stand out. Most people stay in just two areas of the island- Ka'anapali on the westside or Wailea on the southside.
Resorts on Ka'anapali Beach
Our two favorite resorts on Ka'anapali Beach are the Westin and the Hyatt Regency. We like each one for different reasons (and different clients).
We love the Westin for its proximity to Whaler's Village- a complex full of upscale shopping and dining options right next door. It's like an extension of the resort, which makes staying here very convenient. If you're going to stay here, splurge for the Hokupa'a Tower rooms. These rooms come with exclusive benefits like access to a private club with breakfast and afternoon pupu's, a private infinity pool, cultural activities, and more. The rooms are recently renovated and feel fresh and modern.
Who it's good for: The Westin Ka'anapali is suitable for just about everyone. Families love it because there is a lot to do nearby. Couples love it because the Hokupa'a Tower rooms feel exclusive.
This newly renovated resort checks a lot of our boxes for our clients on a tighter budget. (We get it, Maui is expensive! In fact, it's the most expensive Hawaiian island. And you'd rather spend your money on some fancy meals!) The rooms are fresh and updated, the grounds are beautiful, and it's right on the beach with gorgeous sunset views! The biggest ding is that the beach in front of the Hyatt is not as expansive as other areas of Ka'anapali Beach, but if you put your walking legs on, you'll find a lovely stretch of beach to unwind on.
Who it's good for: Visitors who are looking to save a little on accommodations!
Benefits of staying in the Ka'anapali area:
More budget-friendly than Wailea- With more three and 4-star resorts on the west side of the island, you'll find more accommodations if you're on a budget and want to spend more of your vacation dollars on activities and food.
Beautiful beach with calmer waters- Generally, Ka'anapali beach has better swimming and snorkeling conditions than other areas of the island. You'll find good snorkeling at Black Rock, the large volcanic cliff at the north end of the beach.
Close to Lahaina and Whalers Village (open-air shopping village)- there is no shortage of things to do on this side of the island. Perfect for exploring the shops and supporting local businesses.
Resorts in Wailea
Oh boy, where do we begin?! The resorts in and near Wailea are the best on the island, and you'll have several to choose from. Each one is unique, so let's dive in…
With spacious rooms, pools, lush grounds, and steps from a gorgeous sandy beach, we love this resort for families while not sacrificing luxury. All of the rooms are either suites or villas, and if you're traveling with a kid, you know how important that can be. Nobody wants to go to bed at the same time as their kids when they're on vacation! Separate bedrooms make that possible. They also have great dining options and an on-site spa.
Who it's good for families with kids, more to do for them and bigger rooms than the other resorts
Grand Wailea Grand Wailea Maui Resort
Expansive and luxurious, with many shops and restaurants, a beautiful wedding chapel, and nine interconnected pools you could get lost in! The Grand Wailea is located on Wailea Beach. It's definitely a beach to write home about. It's one of those idyllic sandy beaches we mentioned Maui is famous for. There is endless fun to be had on the beach, from kitesurfing, surfing, snorkeling, boogie boarding.
Who it's good for if you don't mind a HUGE lavish resort that is humming with activity and people but still want to be pampered and live luxuriously on your vacation, this might be for you. This resort really shines if you are traveling with older (teenage) kids. They'll love the pools and the teen center, called "the Spot."
For a luxurious anniversary or honeymoon, the Andaz Maui tops the list. While this is a family-friendly resort, it's not teeming with kids, and the resort feels quieter than the other resorts on the island. Their sushi restaurant, Morimoto's, is one of the best on the island. The resort fee here is more than most resorts, but they do offer a lot with it. Outrigger canoe rides, snorkel equipment, hula lessons, SUP lessons, mixology classes are some of the offerings that come with the resort fee.
Who it's good for honeymoon and anniversary
Last but certainly not least, The Four Seasons at Wailea might be the best one yet. If you're looking to be cared for and pampered, you'll want to check in here as the Spirit of Aloha is alive and well at this place. The service is excellent, and the rooms are effortlessly luxurious. We love this resort because there is no resort fee, and there is a lot included in your stay- including many activities and pool and beachside cabanas. (neighboring resorts will charge hundreds/day for cabana use). You will not have a single care in the world when you stay at the Four Seasons Wailea Resort.
Who it's good for anybody looking for a luxury travel experience- families or romance travel.
Benefits of staying in Wailea
More luxurious resort options
What to do on Maui
Here is a shortlist of the must-do Maui activities. When we plan itineraries for our clients, we dig into what they want to feel and experience on their vacation. We love crafting unique experiences and itineraries for our clients to perfectly fit what they want from their vacation. Remember that it is essential to have a balance of activities and downtime in your itinerary!
Sunrise on Haleakala
One of the best sunrise views in the world is what you will get when you make an effort to experience a sunrise on Haleakala. And it is definitely an effort. You'll have to make advanced reservations (tickets are very limited) and get up very early to make the drive up the very dark Haleakala slopes. But you will be rewarded handsomely with a sunrise that you'll remember forever. Just remember to bring warm clothes- or you'll only remember how freezing cold you were!
Drive the road to Hana
Countless waterfalls, breathtaking ocean views, dramatic seaside cliffs, exotic flora; It's the best road trip in America, and it'll take you all day, but it's worth every minute of your vacation time. You won't find views like this back on the mainland. Check out our can't miss stops on the road to Hana article.
Attend a luau
A luau is an iconic Hawaiian activity for a reason. Not only are they a blast and a great way to spend the evening, but you also learn a lot about the Hawaiian culture through a good luau experience. Hula is very important to the Polynesian culture. The good luau's we've attended will transport you through Polynesian culture, giving you a taste of the different styles of music and hula on each island. Plus, you'll experience Hawaiian cuisine- and what could be more tied to culture than food?!
This historic whaling village has a lot of history and many shops and restaurants for you to explore. Wander through surf shops, art and jewelry boutiques, and pick up a few souvenirs at the ABC store. Lahaina has the closest thing to a nightlife you'll find on the island, so if you're more of a night owl, save Lahaina for the later hours.
Snorkel at Molokini
One of the most fun things to do in Hawaii is experience life under the water! One of the best places to snorkel (due to exceptional visibility) is the Molokini crater. It's a small half-moon crater that lies right off the Maui shoreline. If you've got sea legs (meaning you don't barf easily), it's worth experiencing.
The humpback whales love the warm channels around Maui. Whale season is December through March. You can see them from the shore or book a whale-watching boat tour. (just don't book a boat whale tour if you're also snorkeling at Molokini- you'll most likely see the whales from your boat on your way to Molokini…2 for 1!)
Eat at local restaurants
Maui is becoming a foodie destination for a good reason. Fresh fish and locally grown fruits and veg are artfully crafted into beautiful cuisine. World-class chefs call Maui their home, one of our favorites is Merrimans (as a bonus, it's a fantastic place to watch the sunset!)
This list is just a sampling of what a vacation to Maui has to offer. To us, each vacation is as unique as each traveler. We like to get to know our clients and what they envision and the feelings they want to capture on their vacation so we can craft the ultimate vacation just for them. We make sure they're armed with all the knowledge they need to have a beautiful Hawaiian vacation. If you'd like to ensure you get the best of the best for your Maui vacation, fill out our Plan My Trip form, and we'll create something special just for you!
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