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Jul 17, 2012 05:23 PM

Maui Trip- Recommendations on where to stay

Hi there!

My friend and I are planning a trip to Maui in April of 2013 and are just in the early stages of planning. She has been to Oahu twice, but I have never been anywhere in HI.

Based on our research, it looks like Maui is the best fit for an island stay for us. However, we literally have no idea where to stay. So far, it looks like Lahaina might be a good fit, but I was hoping I could get some feedback on where to stay.

We are looking for a happy medium between scenic with gorgeous views, landscape and beaches and a good restaurant scene with nightlife. Ideally, we would like to stay somewhere that has great beaches for the day time and great food and drink at night (upscale bars, cocktails, etc). Does anyone of have any recommendations as to where we should stay? And, recommendations on where to eat and drink? We are both coming from California (San Francisco and Los Angeles).

Any help is much appreciated!!!


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  1. Lahaina Town doesn't qualify for great beaches; it does have a nice nightlife scene, but the streets roll up at 11pm or so. Ka'anapali, the areas north of Ka'anapali like Napili, and farther up to Kapalua are what you are looking for. Areas south down to Wailea have what you're looking for. Knowing what your able to pay would make it easier to narrow the suggestions down. If you have any idea of what time in April, I highly suggest you get your car reservations as soon as you can. Although there is public transit on Maui, you need a rental car to get around and see the sights.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rexster314

      Hi rexster314,

      We're actually just trying to get an idea of what town/area to stay in- not exact hotels, etc (yet). We are probably going to look for accommodations through (the condo rental option seems like the best way to stay). We definitely plan on renting a car.

      Thank you for the great information on which areas to stay! We are both completely unsure about the best spots to get great beaches, great food, and craft cocktails. Any recommendations you have on where to eat/drink in any of the aforementioned places? My husband is a chef, so I lean toward a "foodie" scene, for lack of a better word. We're from Los Angeles and San Francisco, both places that have great restaurants, and great cocktails (measured, not free poured, fresh juices, quality liquor). Thanks for your help!

      1. re: alaina9yaya

        I'd agree that on Maui, Wailea or Ka'anapali would be best for you. There are LOTS of threads about where to eat in those places. Off the top of my head, it seems that Wailea has more "new-ish" fine dining restaurants than Ka'anapali. (eg Alan Wong just opened a restaurant in Wailea called Amasia). The beaches in Wailea and south of there are really nice and you have some good options to choose from. Ka'anapali has been a resort area for a longer time and I'd say it feels a bit more "worn" to me and its a bit more compact in area and crowded, although many people love it. But I'd also go out on a limb a bit and suggest that you might not want to expect, on Maui, the kind of high end cocktails and dining options that you find in LA or SF. Others might disagree and I know there are a number of high end places on Maui, but still probably not at the same level and definitely not as many as you'd find in a trendy major US city. If that is really most important to you, you'd probably be better off in Honolulu, especially if you really want to have "nightlife" if you mean dance clubs and late night bars and stuff like that. Maui is not going to have a lot of that, I don't think.

        1. re: mwest9

          One thing to add to the equation is to see if the VRBO agreement you enter into has a possible way to get a refund should you have an emergency or situation that prevents you from making the trip. If you do a condo through a company for example Outrigger it is a hotel company and has provisions for cancellation within a few days of arrival. If your unit does not you stand to lose the money if they can't re-rent the unit which is hard to do last minute on an island. I think Wailea would be a good place for you. Kapalua does not have "nightlife" per se but if you had a car you could go to Lahaina . I don't think that they have a nightlife scene that you are looking for either but think of it this way. Go out, have a nice dinner somewhere, come back to the unit and enjoy the view and the stars and get ready for another great day!

        2. re: alaina9yaya

          When I read your posts, it seems that Oahu will be a better fit for you versus Maui. There's more of a "foodie" scene in Oahu. Honolulu's got wonderful restaurants (upscale and downscale). And prices are so much more reasonable in Oahu. After coming off from a week in Maui, I was happily surprised that entrees at Roy's averaged in the 20s and 30s. At Merriman's in Maui, I spent $60 for a thoroughly mediocre entree. And there were other places in Maui where I spent around $30 an entree for not so great food. All the places in Oahu at that price point offered much tastier offerings. And I ate really well at lower price points as well.

          But if you're intent on going to Maui, I think Wailea would be a good fit for you. Spago in Wailea was wonderful (at least the appetizer portion). I thought the beaches in that area were very pretty. And some of my favorite meals (Mama's Fish House, Hali'imaile General Store) were in the Upcountry region of Maui (closer to Wailea than Ka'anapali). Kihei is also another area you may want to consider. But I really disliked the look of Kihei (reminds me of Southern California).

          I'll try to keep the non-food part short because we're on Chowhound. Half an hour away from Honolulu are some very beautiful beaches (IMHO thought were nicer than Maui's best beaches -- though I really do love Big Beach at Makena). There are quite beautiful landscapes in Oahu (Oahu is a lot more than just Waikiki) -- though I have to admit that there's nothing like Haleakala in Oahu. But what I really liked most about Oahu was that everything is pretty much within an hour's drive of Honolulu, with most drives being much shorter in duration. In Maui I ended losing a lot of time driving to different destinations. Oahu is also better for those who like to walk as there are more walking neighborhoods versus Maui.

          1. re: alaina9yaya

            I'm from NYC, we were in Maui in January. From my experience craft cocktails basically don't exist in Maui. Most places use sour mix, don't jigger, don't care about quality ingredients. You have to go to Oahu or the Big Island for that I think. The exceptions I found were at Monkeypod Kitchen and Hali’imaile General Store to a lesser extent. I would greatly lower my expectations in terms of cocktails. There are some solid cocktails on Maui if you order carefully, but that is about it.

            Pack some jiggers, a bar spoon, some shaker tins, and make your own. That is what we did.

        3. If quiet and quaint you are looking for, Hana will be a place to go. Unfortunately, night life does not really exist here -- just quiet, quiet, quiett.... Or, you can take a day trip and try Gerard or Mama's.