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Three Questions To Ask When Deciding Where To Stay On Maui

a group of people on a beach near a body of water

There is a wide range of accommodation options available on Maui.  If this is your first time on the island you may need help deciding where to stay.  You might be wondering, “Where are the most popular areas on Maui for visitors?  What’s the difference between a hotel and a resort, or a condo and a villa?  Is “oceanfront” and a “beachfront” the same thing?”

Here are some tips to help you select the perfect place to suit your personal taste based on three key questions.

1. What Region Do You Want To Stay In?

The two largest and most popular visitor destinations with the most accommodation options are South Maui and West Maui. There are also accommodation options in Central Maui, East Maui, Upcountry, and on the North Shore and a lot of visitors prefer these areas to enjoy Maui a little more “off the beaten path”.  Within each region there is then the choice of type of accommodation and how close to the water do you want to be.  (You can learn more about the different regions of the island on our blog post about Which Side Of Maui Is The Best.)

2. What Type Of Accommodation Do You Want?

  • Hotels and Resorts are the most traditional type of tourist accommodation.  While everyone knows what a hotel is, a resort is really just an elaborate hotel with upgraded facilities and amenities such as restaurants, pools, golf courses, gift shops, and spas.  There are numerous options on Maui for hotels and resorts ranging from small and simple hotels to extravagant luxury resorts.   The primary resort areas are South Maui and West Maui.
  • Condominiums and Villas: Condo rentals on Maui are extremely popular with visitors because they offer in-room kitchens — which for some is the biggest advantage to getting a condo over a hotel room (which do not generally include kitchens). A kitchen facility provides convenient, cost-saving options for dining.  Villas differ from condos in that they are usually more upscale — spacious residences (with kitchens), impeccably furnished and providing a higher level of guest services and amenities. The primary condo and villa areas are South Maui and West Maui with a couple of options in Central Maui and East Maui.
  • Vacation Homes and Cottages – A Maui vacation home rental can be a particularly comfortable and economical choice, particularly for longer stays (such as for a week or longer).   These can be a great option for friends and families traveling together or large families who need that extra living space as a home provides multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and the option to hang out and/or dine “at home” in your own private setting. Maui vacation home rentals can range from small, charming beach cottages to exquisite, ultra-luxurious estates with private pools and hot tubs.   The majority of vacation homes and cottages are in South Maui and West Maui however you will find these as options in all regions of the island.
  • Bed and Breakfast (B&B’s)Maui B&Bs are a truly unique experience for travelers who want to enjoy a more grass-roots and authentic slice of island life.  Cozy B&Bs offer a personalized experience that is not possible at large resorts as they are often family-owned and operated.   On Maui, the legal definition of a B&B is a property that offers short-term rental of rooms – or the entire dwelling – where the owner lives on site. At a B&B, you are renting a private room in someone’s home (or even renting the entire home) or possibly staying at a very small inn.  There might be other guests present when you are there, or there might not. Breakfast is sometimes included (possibly with fresh fruit picked that morning from the backyard, like their mango, banana, and/or papaya tree).  The majority of B&B’s are in South Maui and West Maui however you will also find these as options in all regions of the island.

Note:  By law, vacation rentals and B&B’s are required to have a permit from the County; however there are some illegal operations on the island, so be cautious and for your protection check they are operating legally and have legal permit numbers.

3.  How Close To The Water Do You Want To Be?

In researching where to stay on Maui, you will come across the following terminology to describe properties and room categories over and over again:

  • Beachfront means it is located right on the beach.
  • Oceanfront means it is directly facing the ocean, but may or may not be on a beach.
  • Ocean View means it offers a view of the ocean but is probably not directly oceanfront or beachfront–it might be located near the ocean (like across the street), provide a side view to the ocean, or offer a more distant view to the sea.
  • Partial Ocean View means there is a view of the ocean, but it is a side view or obstructed view, so you will not have a full-on panoramic ocean view.
  • Mountain View, Garden View, Pool View, and Golf Course View means it offers those views, rather than a view of the ocean.

Typically prices for most accommodations are based on the location of the property in proximity to the ocean or beach and by the view from each individual room.  Beachfront, oceanfront, and ocean view accommodations tend to be more expensive than those that are not directly on the beach or that have views of mountains, gardens, pools, or golf courses (which also can be very lovely). 

Is it worth the additional cost for a prime beachfront location and view?   For some people an ocean view is essential; for others, it’s not important at all.  Some people want to stay in the resorts not only for the ocean views but also to have restaurant dining and be within walking distance to the beach.  While others prefer to stay in a condo, have kitchen access to make some of their own meals, and walk or drive to the beach.   So, make your choice according to your own personal preference.

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