Replies: 5 - Last Post: Apr 30, 2012 8:07 PM Last Post By: bluesun6868
Apr 28, 2012 3:52 PM
Apr 29, 2012 11:18 AM
1Hi irvinetim. I was in Maui recently (first time), and basically, your choices are south Maui or west Maui. You can relax anywhere, but these are the two main "tourist" areas. You can also stay in the Up Country region, Hana (east Maui)... This offers a good overview for your "first trip to Maui." Read it for what it's worth to get a lay of the island. I found it helpful.
South Maui includes Kihei and Wailea, which are VERY different from one another. Kihei has tons of condos, good beaches, and lots of plazas and strip mall-type places. Affordable but mediocre shopping (junk, IMHO), OK-to-good food. It's a short drive from Wailea, which also has nice beaches, has higher-end condos and hotels. Wailea is gorgeous, manicured, and has some shopping. I assume you are renting a car, so if your budget doesn't allow you to stay in Wailea, you can drive there easily, and likely will if you plan to check out some the last lava flow near La Perouse Bay where you can hike the King's Trail, Big Beach etc. Kihei is about 10 miles from the Kahului airport (Add about 5 more for Wailea, though the southern end of Kihei flows right into Wailea), and it's a good base for exploring places like Hana and Haleakala National Park.
West Maui covers main areas like Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach, which both have plenty of shopping. West Maui has a ton of lovely beaches, lots of posh resorts, and some quieter areas that are more affordable (Napili Bay, for example). It is farther from the sights I mentioned above, but there are lots of lovely bays and snorkelling spots to explore on this side of Maui. When we left Lahaina one afternoon around 4:30 to head back to south Maui, traffic heading back into Lahaina was totally backed up. A complete parking lot. That's something to keep in mind if you stay on this side when planning your day trips.
Lahaina is an old whaling village so it actually has some history, rather than being built as a tourist area. It IS very touristy, especially Front St., but there are lots of sights within the town, which is completely walkable. There are good medium-to-high end restaurants (plus some affordable local spots) and you're not hamstrung by being surrounded by posh hotels, and thus, eating/shopping/drinking at posh hotels, which is what you might experience in Kaanapali (and why I chose not to stay in Kaanapali, but I am making a few assumptions here. Lots of people LOVE it.). You can walk the beach, lounge under the massive banyan trees, browse some nice galleries and boutiques, and avoid all the t-shirt shops and places hawking garish plastic leis and such.
Lahaina is just few miles south of Kaanapali, which has lots of hotels, gorgeous beaches and shopping. I have friends who have stayed here time and again. They love the gorgeous beaches, large hotels and luxury. They also stay in Kahana further north. Keep in mind too, that the further north you stay in west Maui, the further you have to backtrack south to get to other sites. There IS a road that continues on around the topside of Maui (hwy 30 turns into 340), but it is narrow and windy (I haven't driven it, but it has a colorful rep) so you can't really consider it a shortcut even though it does go through.
Apr 29, 2012 12:11 PM
2I've been to Maui several times, and I really like Kihei -- it's the most reliably sunny area with lots of beaches, shopping, restaurants, etc.
West Maui (Lahaina) is nice but a little too "chic" for me -- my husband and I have stayed in both areas, as well as Paia, a small surf town on the north side, and we like Kihei best.
Apr 29, 2012 5:59 PM
Apr 29, 2012 7:58 PM
4Hi again irvinetime! In my last paragraph above, I meant to write that Kaanapali is NORTH of Lahaina and that I have a number of friends who choose to stay in Kaanapali and environs north of Lahaina. Anyway, you get the gist of what each region has to offer. Have a great time.
Apr 30, 2012 8:07 PM
5I love the Kaanapali beach. Lahaina is a nice walking town with some good food places and shops. Sunset cruises and snorkeling tours too on that side of the island. Paia is a great little town but it has a really busy road cutting through it, plus I don't think they have any lodging. If you bike down the volcano you will end up there.