Best Side of Maui To Stay On? (West vs. South)

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Maui is one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands. However, knowing precisely where to stay during your visit to The Valley Isle is essential. So, is it better to stay on the west or south portion of the island?

The best side of Maui to stay on is the West side because it’s more heavily developed, and most tourist activities are within walking distance or a short drive. The island’s West side also houses more beachfront resorts, restaurants, and other entertainment. 

In the rest of this article, I will discuss the differences between the two most popular vacationing sides of the island and which will best fit your needs. So if you want to learn more about the west and south side of Maui, read on. 

Staying on the West Side of Maui

It’s no secret that the west side of Maui is the most popular for tourists. Part of this is that when Maui started to become more developed in the 1960s, many resorts and tourist attractions popped up on this side of the island. This side of the island is also where most vacation rentals and condos are found. 

Additionally, the west side of Maui is home to stunning stretches of beaches, 5-star resorts, and exquisite fine dining. The west side is perfectly cultivated for hosting vacationers, and everything is relatively close together for optimal exploration. Plus, it’s only about 40 minutes from the main airport

The weather on the west side is generally fair, though a little warm in the summer. The warm temperatures make the west side ideal for those who enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or other water activities. Also, this side of the island receives less rainfall than other parts of Maui. 

What the West Side of Maui Has to Offer

As I previously stated, the west side of Maui has a lot to offer, especially for those simply visiting the island. In addition, the west portion of the island has lots to offer in terms of resorts, shopping, and even nature. 

Ka’anapali Beach and the village of Lahaina are the major draws to Maui’s west side. However, several other factors make the west an ideal place to vacation when on the island. 

Great things about Maui’s west side:

  • The majority of restaurants are located close together. 
  • Many whale watching and snorkeling tours leave from the west side of Maui.
  • Most of the high-end resorts and condos are located on the west side. 
  • The west side of Maui is set up for tourists to visit. 
  • The temperature on the west side is ideal for hanging out at the beach. 

Ultimately, one main thing that makes the west side ideal for vacationing is that most tourist accommodations are located on that part of the island. However, you can certainly stay in other parts of Maui. 

So what are Maui’s west side’s main attractions?

The Old Whaling Village of Lahaina

One of the main draws to Maui’s west side is Lahania. This old whaling village is steeped in rich history, though it now houses many shops and restaurants. In its prime, Lahania was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820-1845. 

As you visit the adorable village of Lahaina, you will see that it overlooks a boat harbor where you can watch vessels depart. Parking can be tricky, but once you find an excellent place to leave your vehicle, it’s easy to navigate the restaurants and shops on foot.

You can also visit a few historical museums to learn more about the town and the island of Maui, or book a luau to experience one of Hawaii’s oldest traditions. Finally, there are several submarine tours and dinner cruises that launch from Lahania, which you can also book if you’re looking for adventure or a special dining experience with your loved ones.

Lahania is genuinely a one-of-a-kind experience and worth the stop if you find yourself staying on Maui’s west side. 

Ka’anapali Beach

Another major draw for Maui’s west side is Ka’anapali Beach. This beach is stunning because its pale sand goes for about 3 miles (5 km) along the most resort-laden portion of the island. You can easily walk along the beach and then easily make your way back to the shops and nearby restaurants. 

The sandy beach is known for being soft and easy to walk along. So Ka’anapali Beach is an excellent stop if you want a day of relaxation and peace. You can easily play in the Pacific Ocean or lounge on the sand. The stunning stretch of beach is also perfect for intimate walks into the sunset. 

Drawbacks to Staying on the West Side

Everyone’s goals for a vacation are different, and it’s essential to define what kind of trip you wish to have. Maui has many stunning areas, and all have their pros and cons. So what are some of the drawbacks to staying on the west side of Maui? Some of the drawbacks include:

  • The west side is a little more expensive than the south side.
  • More crowded.
  • Less rural and more city. 

Staying on the South Side of Maui

Even though the west side of Maui is excellent, some prefer the south side. So what makes the south side of Maui so enticing to some? What draws does this portion of the island provide?

Though Hawaii’s islands have a more laid-back air, the south side of Maui is more relaxed than the west. The south side prides itself on stunning beaches and a peaceful environment

What the South Side of Maui Has To Offer

On this portion of the island, you can find some beautiful beaches and places to golf. Additionally, there are still quite a few resorts and condos to be found along this portion of the island.

Some of the main draws of Maui’s south side include:

  • Large stretches of beach.
  • Optimal snorkeling.
  • A view of the Molokini Crater. 
  • A quiet, peaceful environment. 

Makena Beach

Makena Beach is one of the most notable beaches on Maui’s south side. This beach is unique because the reef sits so near the shore. You can frequent Makena to glimpse sea turtles as they nap in the reef. Additionally, you can also see many vibrant and unique fish as you swim through the water.

It’s important to note that booking a tour is the safest way to explore Makena Beach and its famous Turtle Town if you haven’t been snorkeling before. 

Molokini Crater

Another notable draw to the south side of Maui is the Molokini Crater. This crater was once an island used for bomb target practice by the military. The bombs dropped resulted in a crater that is now home to some of the most stunning fish and coral. You can easily book a tour to explore the beautiful crater and glimpse the fantastic fish/creatures that live there. 

Drawbacks to Staying on the South Side

As with any part of the island, there are bound to be drawbacks to the south side. That said, keep in mind that what you consider a con will depend on your value while on vacation. 

Here are some of the south side of Maui’s drawbacks:

  • Fewer accommodation options.
  • Fewer restaurants and tourist attractions within walking distance. 
  • It can be a little windy. 

West vs. South Side of Maui: Which Is Better?

The west side of Maui is generally better due to the number of resorts and vacation rentals found there. Additionally, most restaurants and other tourist attractions are within walking distance of your accommodations. Not to mention, the west side has stunning beaches. Plus, the island of Maui isn’t that large, so you can always visit the south side. 

Conclusion 

Both sides of the island are stunning, and you’ll likely have a great vacation on either side. However, Maui’s west side is ideal for those looking to stay in large resorts or beautiful condos on the beach. Additionally, these resorts and condos are generally near more tourist attractions and dining establishments. 

Brittany Rajeckas

Brittany is a lifelong travel lover who can't get enough of hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. When she's not actively traveling, she's usually already planning her next trip into the great unknown.

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