*This post was updated in November 2023.
If you’ve spent much time on my blog, it’s no secret that Maui is my favorite Hawaiian Island ; )
I visit Maui pretty frequently (and used to live there) so I’ve stayed in a lot of different hotels and condos on trips (and staycations) plus visited so many more and done a LOT of research.
So one of my favorite things is helping people figure out exactly where to stay on Maui.
I’m not going to lie…it can be a little overwhelming just because of the sheer number of options but GOOD NEWS…you have ME to help you figure it all out!
Where to Stay in Maui: The Best Areas to Stay
This post may contain some affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the Lincoln Travel Co possible.
I’m warning you…this is a MONSTER of a post. It has more info packed in than you can possibly imagine.
Here’s a quick “table of contents” for what’s in this post:
- Lay of the (Is)land (West Maui, South Maui, North Shore & Upcountry, Hana)
- Condos vs Hotels
- My Favorite Places to Stay in Ka’anapali & Kapalua (From Luxury to Condos)
- My Favorite Places to Stay in Kihei & Wailea
- My Favorite Places to Stay on the North Shore & Upcountry
- My Favorite Places to Stay in Hana
First up…let’s get the lay of the (is)land. Maui is a pretty big island (like 10-12 hours to drive all the way around without stopping) and there are four regions where visitors stay (although 90% of visitors stay in either West Maui or South Maui).
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll fly into Kahului Airport (OGG), which is located on the north side of the island in the valley between the two mountains (Haleakala to the east and the West Maui Mountains to the west). This is where Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, and Whole Foods are located, but you likely won’t spend much time in Kahului once you pick up your rental car and groceries.
Majestic and rugged, West Maui’s mountains give way to beautiful white-sand beaches where you’ll find Maui’s oldest resort areas. Ka’anapali, Napili, and Kapalua are all in the same general area, but all have very different vibes.
The historic town of Lahaina (previously the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii) that burned to the ground in August 2023 used to be the hub of this part of Maui. The area is 100% closed to visitors and it’ll likely be years before it is rebuilt.
The resort areas (Ka’anapali, Napili and Kapalua) were unaffected by the fires and are gradually reopening to tourism. Before the fires, West Maui was where most visitors flocked.
West Maui is usually sunny and dry, making it perfect beach weather. There’s a wide range of accommodation options so whether you’re looking to splurge on a beachfront resort or save on a condo, you’ve got options. There’s a lot of development and things going on, and it’s absolutely stunning with those jagged green mountains rising up in the background. Not to mention some of the best beaches on the island are here.
After the devastating fires, most of that is still true. But the area will be going through a long transition in the aftermath of the tragedy before everything feels “back to normal” (if it ever does).
South Maui (Kihei & Wailea) is Maui’s dry, more rugged coast that competes pretty admirably with West Maui as the best place to stay on Maui.
South Maui may be drier and more arid by nature (South Maui sees substantially less rain than West Maui), but that means more sunny days perfect for lounging around those golden beaches. And the beaches are golden.
From Kihei south through Wailea and Makena, South Maui is one long string of magnificent beaches for swimming, boogie boarding, and snorkeling.
While the resort areas on the West Side kind of all flow from one to another, South Maui feels a little more diverse.
While it has every vacation amenity you could want, Kihei feels more like a local town while Wailea is a pretty exclusive resort area. People tend to figure out pretty quickly which one suits them best, but one of the things I love about South Maui is that these two areas are so close to each other so whichever you choose (and prefer), you can still take advantage of the other because of the proximity.
And one of my top reasons for preferring a stay in South Maui…you’re a lot closer to the island’s other sites and attractions like Haleakala National Park, the Road to Hana, the North Shore, and Upcountry.
**If you’re definitely interested in staying in either West Maui or South Maui (what I recommend for most people), I’ve got a pretty extensive post that breaks down the differences and pros and cons of both areas to help you decide which one will be best for you. Read my post comparing West Maui (Ka’anapali) vs South Maui (Wailea) here.
Now I’ll give you a quick rundown on two parts of the island that don’t see too many overnight visitors, but might be attractive to some people.
Hana (East Maui)
The Hana side of the island (East Maui) is by far the most remote area of the island. If you’ve done any research at all about Maui, you’ve probably heard about the Road to Hana. It’s an epic drive along a winding road through the north shore and the incredible jungles of East Maui that’s packed with waterfalls, bamboo forests, tiny one lane bridges, and plenty of adventures.
While it’s arguably the most beautiful part of Maui, most people visit as a day trip and not many people stay here.
This is partly because it’s super remote (you have to drive the Road to Hana just to get there) and there isn’t much to do (you know, apart from hiking to hidden waterfalls and what not).
Most people that choose to stay in Hana either 1) Stay just one night so they can spend more time hiking and exploring when they do the Road to Hana or 2) Have been to Hawaii before and crave a much more off the grid experience.
As you would imagine, there also aren’t many places to stay around Hana.
North Shore & Upcountry
This is my FAVORITE part of Maui, and it’s where I used to live. But again, this is a part of the island that most people settle to visit as a day trip.
Maui’s north shore is home to Paia, a surf town with a hippy vibe and as you head up the mountain to the country (hence why they call it “upcountry”) you’ll start to see the real Maui.
The beaches are beautiful on the north shore (really some of the prettiest on Maui) but they can get pretty windy and rough. And while this is my favorite part of Maui, it’s not what most people are probably looking for in a homebase for a Maui vacation.
There aren’t many hotels on this part of the island (there are a few small ones though), so it’s mostly vacation rentals.
Read about my favorite things to do upcountry here.
Condos vs Hotels
Before I get into specific property recommendations, it’s a good idea to know if you’re looking for a hotel/resort or a condo/vacation rental.
There could be any number of reasons you may want a condo vs a hotel (more space, a kitchen, washer and dryer, etc), but the big one that I’ll address here is price.
Maui hotels and resorts have seen exorbitant price increases post pandemic and while there’s still a sliding scale of options for different budgets, I’ll give you a little insight to set your expectations…
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the under $300/night price range…you’re going to need to look at condos.
There really just aren’t many (if any) hotel or resort options in that price range anymore.
As I give recommendations for each part of the island, I’ll cover the big beach resorts but also much more affordable condo options.
And if you were hoping to have a more resort-like stay but you just can’t shell out the $$$, don’t get too worried. A LOT of condo complexes on Maui feel like resorts and have a lot of the amenities that you’ll find at the big fancy beach resorts.
Where to Stay in Maui: Recommendations
Okay, it’s showtime. Now here’s the deal…I am not going to recommend every single resort on Maui to you. It won’t be helpful. There are a lot of good places to stay and your budget and circumstances may make you lean in a certain direction. So if you have your eye on a certain place and I don’t recommend it here, it’s not necessarily a bad place to stay. This is just a streamlined version of what I recommend.
Final Note (and a big favor to ask): If you find my blog and info AT ALL helpful, the absolute best thing you can do to help me out is to click through the links in this post to book your rooms. I make a small commission on your bookings and if you’re going to book a hotel anyways, it’s a WIN WIN. Thanks so much!
Now, here’s the info you really want…
***Want to save major $$$ on a fancy beach resort? My favorite travel hack is cashing in points to score free nights at some of the island’s most high end resorts. My go to hotel brand is Marriott so I use this Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card to rack up points for a lot of my trips to Hawaii. If you pay for your monthly expenses on the card and are responsible about paying it off every month, the points add up really fast. Plus, if you sign up through my link, you’ll get THREE bonus free nights to use. On Maui, use your points at some of my favorite Marriott properties like the Wailea Beach Resort, Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Westin Maui, and Sheraton Maui.
My Favorite Places to Stay in Ka’anapali, Napili & Kapalua
Ultra Luxury Resorts
If you want luxury (I’m talking true 5 star luxury), Kapalua is the only place you’ll find it on the west side (most of Maui’s luxury resorts are concentrated in Wailea on the south side). Unlike Ka’anapali, Kapalua doesn’t have as much beachfront real estate (a lot of condos have golf course views or they have ocean views but they’re cliffside), but Kapalua’s two resorts have beach access at two of Maui’s finest.
So here’s the deal…if your hardest decision has come down to choosing between the Ritz Carlton or the Montage, you’re doing okay in life.
The Ritz Carlton Kapalua exudes luxury (just like you’d expect) and it has just about everything you’d want at a Maui beach resort: a sprawling pool area, multiple restaurants, a top notch spa, nearby tennis facilities, and not to mention the stellar golf situation. Plus from the resort it’s just a short stroll down to D.T. Fleming Beach
While some of Maui’s other “best resorts” get quite a bit of foot traffic because of their location (along popular beach walks in Ka’anapali or Wailea), the Ritz feels pretty secluded (without being too far out of the way) and it’s mostly just people actually staying there hanging around.
Check prices at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua here.
Quite possibly Maui’s most luxurious resort, the Montage is a sprawling property, but it manages to feel quiet and secluded (like, you might feel like you’re the only ones there).
This 5-star resort only has about 50 rooms so it feels more like a private villa, except it also has sprawling luxurious grounds.
The pool area at the Montage Kapalua is pretty expansive and includes an infinity edge pool looking directly over the ocean. The hotel also has a luxury spa, a high end restaurant, beach bar, and kids club. Resort guests can also take advantage of the excellent golf and tennis facilities in the Kapalua Resort area.
Check prices at the Montage here.
So which one is better? Eh, it’s hard to say. The Montage is pretty over the top spectacular but still manages to feel so intimate. If you’re on your honeymoon or you really value privacy, it’s hard to beat the Montage.
If you want the full resort experience (lots of restaurants, hopping pool area, etc.), I’d probably go with the Ritz Carlton. Neither is directly on the beach (they kind of sit back a bit which is great because it makes them feel more private), but the Montage has access at Kapalua Bay which is one of the best beaches on the island and the Ritz has access at DT Fleming which is nice, but often pretty rough.
You can’t really go wrong with either, though.
Big Time Beach Resorts
Okay, there are three main resorts on Ka’anapali Beach that are my “favorites.” The Westin, Sheraton, and Hyatt Regency. I think they’re good all around resorts that deliver the “Hawaii experience” that the majority of visitors are looking for. Now, these aren’t luxury resorts (Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, etc), but they’re solid mid range resorts.
Think grand and welcoming properties, efficient and friendly service (but not necessarily personalized), lots of amenities, and lots of people. These are the big box stores of the resort world.
All of these resorts have nice pool areas, multiple restaurants, a spa, beach amenities (chairs, paddleboards, snorkeling rentals, etc.). They’re full fledged resort properties.
They’re also USUALLY all within the same price range. Now, if you’re doing the math for your dates and one of these resorts is significantly cheaper than the other two, that’s probably the one I would go with since they’re all fairly comparable. But I will get into the pros and cons of each specific resort in case there’s something that’s super important to you that one does better than the others.
These three resorts all sit on Ka’anapali Beach in the same general vicinity. The Sheraton is at the far north end in front of Black Rock, the Hyatt is at the far south end and the Westin is in the middle right next to the Whalers Village. They’re all connected by a beachwalk so no matter which one you’re staying at you’re not very far from the others and from everything that Ka’anapali has to offer (including the golf course). So when I mention locations below, just know that I’m being super nit picky since these are all in the same area. On Google maps it says it’s almost a mile to walk the length of Ka’anapali Beach, but it never feels that long when you’re walking the beach pathway.
Here’s what I love about the Westin: it’s right smack in the middle of Ka’anapali Beach and next door to Whalers Village so it has the best location of the three if you consider being in the middle of the hubbub the “best.” It’s been EXTENSIVELY renovated over the last couple of years so overall the property is sparkling and probably the most top notch on Ka’anapali Beach, but part of the renovation included the addition of the Hokupa’a Tower.
This new luxury tower not only offers more upscale rooms, but also exclusive access to amenities like the Lanai (a gathering area with a private pool and lounge). It’s the only thing like it in Ka’anapali so if your tastes skew towards luxury, the Westin should for sure be your number 1 pick.
The not so great: well, it’s crowded. All of these resorts tend to be on the crowded side, but because the Westin sits in the middle of the beach and it’s next door to Whalers Village it seems to get more foot traffic than the other two resorts.
Check prices at the Westin Maui here.
What I love about the Sheraton: It’s down at the end of the beach in front of Black Rock which is a super popular snorkeling spot (it’s good but it’s also super accessible which I think accounts for most of its popularity). The waves tend to be a little calmer down at that end of the beach.
You don’t have to be staying at the Sheraton to use the beach in front, but if you’re staying down at the Hyatt it’s probably a hike to do more than once.
The property feels quieter than the Westin because it’s on the edge. It’s an updated property but it’s also one of the original resorts built in the 1960s and to me it very much has that Elvis/Blue Hawaii vibe.
The not so great: for kids, the pool isn’t quite as entertaining as the Westin or the Hyatt and overall the resort feels a little dated (if you’re not taken in with the vintage vibe).
Check prices at the Sheraton Maui here.
What I love about the Hyatt: In a word…the penguins. It sounds crazy, but seven African black-footed penguins have taken up residence in the hotel’s atrium lobby and they’re a sight to see! They have feedings every day. It’s pretty magical.
Okay onto the bigger stuff…the Hyatt also underwent a huge renovation in 2020 and it’s pretty spectacular. I think it actually has the best pool area of the three (there’s a grotto swim up bar in addition to a whole kid friendly complex).
It’s a huge resort and there’s a lot of people staying there so it feels crowded even though it doesn’t get the passing foot traffic like the Westin since it’s down at the end of the beach. It also has one of the best luaus in Ka’anapali, but you don’t have to be staying there to attend.
The not so great: there’s not much of a beach in front of the resort. It’s pretty narrow.
Check prices at the Hyatt Regency here.
So in a nutshell…
Best pool for kids: Westin or Hyatt
Best beach and snorkeling: Sheraton
Best location (in the middle of the action): Westin
Best location (out of the way): Sheraton or Hyatt
Best resort for adults: Westin in the Hokupa’a Tower
Best resort for kids: Westin or Hyatt
For most circumstances, I think my preferred order is Westin > Hyatt > Sheraton but honestly they’re all three pretty neck and neck.
Resorts with Condo Style Rooms
Does everything above sound just like what you’re looking for but you’d really love to have a 1, 2, or 3 bedroom unit instead of a standard hotel room? You’ve got options!
Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club: Right on the main part of Ka’anapali Beach, if you like a lot to do and to be in the middle of the action, this is your spot. It’s very family friendly (i.e. LOTS of kids running around) so either that’s perfect for your situation or move along and look for another place ; ) This spectacular property offers all of the resort amenities with the layout of condos. Price is the only downside. Find specific condo units here.
Westin Ka’anapali Villa Resorts: If you’re a Marriott Bonvoy points tracker, pay attention! There are two separate Westin villa resorts on North Ka’anapali Beach: the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas (KOR) and the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. Nanea is a little newer, but KOR is a little bigger. They’re next door to each other (and just south of the Honua Kai) and you can use the pools and amenities at both resorts. They’re both pretty nice and I would probably just go wherever I found the better deal.
Honua Kai Resort: On North Ka’anapali Beach, this is my #1 pick if you want a full on resort experience with condo type accommodations. This high end beach resort has a tower of condo units, a great pool area, Duke’s is on property, and it’s a great location that’s convenient to what’s going on but also on the quieter side. Find specific condo units here.
Nice Oceanfront Resorts
Okay, moving on down the list…if you have in mind that you want a hotel/resort type place with a great location but you just can’t wrap your mind around shelling out the $$$ for the big brand name spots and mega resorts, here are a few options where you might find what you’re looking for, but for less.
This 25-acre resort is technically on North Ka’anapali Beach (Kahekili Beach), but it’s JUST north of Black Rock and the Sheraton and there’s a walking path that connects it to the Sheraton so I feel like it still has that primo location. It’s got everything you’d want at a resort including three outdoor pools, two hot tubs, a full service restaurant, even a luau. But my favorite part is the tennis ranch. The Royal Lahaina has one of the best tennis programs on the island so that’s a big plus for me. The Royal Lahaina was built in the 1960s (it was actually the first resort built in the area) and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little dated, but depending on the price and your expectations, it’s a good option. I would definitely book a room in the Lahaina Kai Tower though.
Also, unlike most places in Hawaii, the Royal Lahaina doesn’t have a daily resort fee!
Check prices at the Royal Lahaina Resort here.
Located in between the Sheraton and the Westin, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel calls itself the “most Hawaiian hotel” and it is very vintage and charming. It’s a full fledged resort though with pool, beach activities, restaurants, luau, cultural activities, etc. If you want the full resort experience, but the “big 3” on Ka’anapali Beach are out of your budget, this is a great pick.
Check prices at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel here.
This is a strong contender if you want an old Hawaii vibe right on a great beach. It’s a resort, but the property has multiple bedroom units. The Napili Kai by far has the best (and most spacious) grounds in the area and it’s a great place to stay if you have kids.
Check prices at the Napili Kai Beach Resort here.
Also a hotel that offers some condo style accommodations, they do have one bedroom units and all studios have a kitchenette. Rooms here are a bit more modern than most in this area and a lot of rooms have great ocean views.
Check prices at the Mauian Hotel here.
West Maui Condos
Some of the options I’ve already given you could technically pass as condos, but now we’re deep into condo territory. If you’re on a budget, this is where you’re going to want to dig around.
Unlike the big resorts (or condo-tels), it’s hard for me to rank these super definitively because things are very subjective based on price and specific condo units.
Basically, from here on out things are going to get personal. But generally I’m going to break them into three groups and say the options in tier 1 are the best, the options in tier 2 are still good but a notch down, and the options in tier 3 is where you might find a bargain if you’re willing to dig. All of them will require research to make sure that you’re getting an individual condo unit at a price that you’re happy with.
West Maui Condos (Tier 1)
The Whaler: Right next to Whalers Village (a super nice shopping and dining complex) on Ka’anapali Beach, the Whaler is a spot with potential. I have personally stayed here and the lobby and the grounds are top notch, and you can’t beat the location. The pool is pretty much right on the beach, but it’s pretty small and not super impressive (it’s just a small concrete hole in the ground), and there’s a pretty big variance in individual units. If you can find a nice unit (and like the price), and the pool situation isn’t a huge deal, then this is a great spot. Find specific condo units here.
Ka’anapali Ali’i Resort: Sitting on a prime spot on Ka’anapali Beach next to the Westin, this is probably the best spot if you want a phenomenal location and great pool complex for a deal. Find specific condo units here.
West Maui Condos (Tier 2)
West Maui Condos (Tier 3)
Lokelani: Like many properties in this area, the beach is narrow and can disappear entirely with the tide, but there’s a nice lawn to set out on with views over the ocean. Find specific condo units here.
Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.
My Favorite Places to Stay in Kihei & Wailea
I guess it’s no secret that my personal favorite place to stay on Maui is in Wailea. I’ve stayed at all of the big beach resorts in Wailea and I’ve written EXTENSIVELY about it on this blog. So instead of rehashing it all, I’ll send you to those posts so you can read up.
Pretty much all of the options in Wailea can be defined as “luxury” even though there’s definitely a spectrum. If you’re looking for the best places to stay in South Maui, you’re looking at Wailea.
Best Hotels in Wailea << This post has a pretty detailed ranking of all of the big beach resorts in Wailea (the Four Seasons, Andaz Maui, Grand Wailea, Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea Beach Resort, and Hotel Wailea). Seriously, I’ve left no stone unturned ; )
Besides that, I have detailed reviews for these hotels:
AND IF YOU WANT MORE…I’ve written a couple of posts comparing some of these even further:
So besides all of that, in this post I’ll add some notes about your options on where to stay in Maui on a mere mortal human budget (the prices in Wailea have seriously gotten out of hand).
Condo-tels & Villas
Besides the big resorts in Wailea, there are also a ton of options for condo-tels or villa resorts in the area. Check these out:
Ho’olei at the Grand Wailea: These villas are situated in a resort community attached to the Grand Wailea. It’s not right on the beach (across the street), but you’ll get access through the Grand. If you have the budget, and you’re looking for primo accommodations, you’ll love it here. Find specific units here.
Wailea Beach Villas: These are not your average condos. These are VILLAS. The accommodations are fabulous, the location is fabulous, but they’re not a bargain. The price matches what you get. Find specific units here.
South Maui Condos
Okay, same thing as with the West Maui Condos…it’s hard to review these objectively because what might work for you is going to vary based on your budget and personal taste.
So I’m going to make some recommendations, but you’re going to have to do your own research. Generally I’m going to break these recommendations into three groups and say the options in tier 1 are the best, the options in tier 2 are still good but a notch down, and the options in tier 3 is where you might find a bargain if you’re willing to dig. All of them will require research to make sure that you’re getting an individual condo unit at a price that you’re happy with.
South Maui Condos (Tier 1)
Palms at Wailea: Great location in the super swanky resort area of Wailea. Not on the beach, it’s only a short ways away and this property is new and NICE. Not only are the units quality, but the pool and common areas have a very luxe, resort-like feel. This is a serious contender for me. Find specific condo units here.
Wailea Grand Champion: Not terribly far from Wailea Beach, this is a large complex with several pools and probably where you’ll find the best deal in Wailea. The Wailea Tennis Club is also onsite. Find specific condo units here.
Sugar Beach Resort: This is the nicest property in a nice little cluster of condos in north Kihei (where the beaches can be a little windy but it’s way less crowded). The pool area is pretty big and nice. Find specific condo units here.
South Maui Condos (Tier 2)
These first three options are all located in north Kihei where the beach can be a bit windier.
South Maui Condos (Tier 3)
All of these condo complexes are located in central Kihei (right in the thick of everything). The first three are all on the beach/ocean and the last three are all across the street from the beach.
My Favorite Places to Stay on the North Shore & Upcountry
This charming little inn on the north shore of Maui is the perfect location for exploring sites on the whole eastern side of the island (Road to Hana, Haleakala, upcountry, north shore, etc.).
It’s conveniently located right in Maui’s cute north shore surf town, Paia and has great beach access and a lawn out back. It’s not a full service resort or hotel (it’s small with just a few rooms), but if you like a design forward small boutique inn (with a great beach AND town location), this is your spot.
Rooms only have one bed so it’s not great for families and prices are on par with some of the hotels in south and west Maui so it’s not exactly a budget hotel. But they do have small efficiency rooms that are less than a lot of the options.
Check prices at the Paia Inn here.
Right on the beach, these little cottages are one of the best priced options in the area if you want something with more of a vacation rental vibe but still some of the amenities of being part of a bigger property.
Check prices at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House here.
Located upcountry in Makawao, this is really the only hotel-option on this part of the island and it’s more like a retreat than a hotel. If you like yoga and you’re a health and wellness “person,” you will LOVE it here.
Check prices at the Lumeria here.
North Shore & Upcountry Vacation Rentals
Besides these three places, if you want to stay on Maui’s North Shore or Upcountry, your best options are going to be vacation rentals.
Search for vacation rentals in Paia here. You can move the map around to show you options in other nearby areas, or search for places like “Kula” “Haiku” or “Makawao” to see specific options.
My Favorite Places to Stay in Hana
For vacationers wanting to get off the grid and truly escape for a while, you’ll definitely want to check into the only resort in Hana. The Hana-Maui Resort is a boutique hotel in the middle of Maui’s lush, secluded east coast that overlooks Hana Bay.
They say Hana is “where time stands still,” and it’s easy to see why when you’re overlooking the wild ocean from the resort’s pool.
The Hana-Maui Resort delivers rustic luxury and features some all-inclusive packages. Rooms here feel off the grid with no televisions, clocks, or air conditioning (although there is internet).
Travelers that book at least three nights on one of the resort’s packages get complimentary flights from the main airport in Maui (Kahului) to nearby Hana Airport although driving the legendary Road to Hana is half the fun.
Also, the property was recently acquired by Hyatt and they’ve been doing quite a few renovations. If you want a little more luxe experience (including air conditioning) book one of the bungalows.
Check prices at the Hana-Maui Resort here.
The Hana Kai Maui is a group of oceanfront condos, but it’s run like a small hotel. If the Hana-Maui Resort isn’t in your budget, this is the next best option. Book the Hana Kai here.
Hana Vacation Rentals
Besides those two places, everything else in Hana is going to be a vacation rental. Find the best options for your budget and travel party here.
Still Looking for a Place to Stay?
Here’s one more really important thing you need to know before your Hawaii trip…
Reservations You Need to Make BEFORE Your Hawaii Trip
You’ve got your airfare, hotel, rental car and your big activities booked, so you should be good to go, right? Wrong!
Travel is BOOMING in Hawaii so a lot of state and national parks used the closure and reopening to institute reservation systems at some of the island’s most popular spots to make things a little more sustainable.
That means that there are now over half a dozen sites (beaches, trailheads, etc.) that require advance reservations. And some sell out well before you arrive on the island so you really need to have some sort of a plan.
I recently saw somebody in a Hawaii travel group post in a panic that they didn’t know they had to make reservations for things in advance…they thought they could just show up and “go with the flow.” I was tempted to say, well, “as long as the flow doesn’t take you somewhere that requires reservations, you can!” ; )
But I don’t want YOU to be that person, so I’ve pulled together a list of all the places you need to reserve entry in advance (plus all the details on booking windows, price, links, etc.) and a handful of popular tourist hotspots that book out really far in advance too.
Haleakala National Park (Maui)
To visit Haleakala National Park for sunrise at the summit, you must make reservations in advance here.
Reservations are required to enter the park gates between 3AM and 7AM (sunrise hours).
Online reservations are $1 per reservation/vehicle PLUS you’ll pay the park entrance fee of $30/vehicle when you arrive (National Park annual passes are also accepted at the gate).
The reservation booking window opens 60 days in advance at 7AM HST. There are also a limited number of tickets released two days before.
You can make one reservation every three days with the same account. So if you want to make reservations for back to back days (in case of weather/conditions), you’ll need to do so with separate accounts (email addresses).
If you can’t get reservations for sunrise, you can enter the park anytime after 7AM without reservations. The summit is spectacular during the day and you don’t need reservations for sunset.
I strongly recommend creating an account before and making sure you’re logged in at 7AM HST because it’s not uncommon for reservations to sell out quickly.
Waianapanapa State Park (Maui)
To visit Maui’s famous black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park on the Road to Hana, you must make reservations in advance here.
Reservations are required to visit the beach and are distributed in windows from 7AM-10AM, 10AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-3PM, and 3PM-6PM. And they are pretty strict about exiting by the end of your window time (you can arrive anytime within your window).
It’s $5/person to enter plus $10/vehicle to park and those fees are paid when you book your time slot.
Reservations open up 30 days in advance.
Iao Valley State Park (Maui)
To visit the lush, green mountains and hike at Iao Valley State Park, you must make reservations in advance here.
Reservations are offered for 90 minute time slots beginning at 7AM and ending at 6PM. They ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your time slot.
Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.
Reservations open up 30 days in advance.
Diamond Head (Oahu)
To hike to the top of Waikiki’s famous Diamond Head, you must make reservations in advance here.
Reservations are offered in two hour increments beginning at 6AM (6AM-8AM, 8AM-10AM, etc.) and ending at 6PM. If you’re parking onsite, they ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your reservation window.
Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.
Reservations open up 30 days in advance.
Tip: I recommend booking one of the first two time slots because there isn’t much shade on this hike and it gets pretty hot.
Hanauma Bay (Oahu)
To snorkel at Oahu’s pristine Hanauma Bay, you must make reservations in advance here.
Entry times are staggered in 10 minute increments from 7AM to 1:20PM with roughly 1000 slots being assigned in advance every day.
Reservations can be made two days in advance and they open at 7AM HST. They’re usually gone in minutes (if not seconds).
If you’re unable to get an advanced reservation, you can try for a day of, walk in ticket. They open at 6:45AM and they only have a limited number available. Everyone in your group needs to be present when you purchase your tickets in person.
There are no reservations for parking and it’s first come, first serve. $3/vehicle.
It’s $25/person to snorkel at Hanauma Bay (12 and under, active military, and locals with HI ID are free).
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday (CLOSED MONDAY AND TUESDAY) from 6:45AM-4PM. Last entry is at 1:30PM, the beach is cleared at 3:15PM and you have to leave the facility by 4PM.
Jellyfish patterns can also affect whether or not the bay is open so double check the day before/day of.
USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (Oahu)
If you want to take the boat tour at Pearl Harbor out to the USS Arizona, it’s recommended to make advance reservations here.
Online reservations are guaranteed a specific boarding time to go out to the USS Arizona. If you’re unable to get an advance reservation, you can wait standby when you arrive. The line could be short (15 minutes or so) or long (hours) and it just depends on the day (if they’re having problems with the loading dock sometimes they don’t take many from the standby line) and the time of day.
Reservations are supposed to open up 60 days in advance, but keep an eye on your exact dates, because lately they’ve actually been opening up about 57ish days in advance???
They also release a small batch of tickets the day before.
The boat ride out to the USS Arizona is free, but it’s $1 to make the reservations online.
They recently started charging $7/vehicle for parking at Pearl Harbor.
Haena State Park / Kalalau Trail (Kauai)
If you want to hike Kauai’s famous Kalalau Trail, you must make advance reservations here.
You’ve got three options here:
1) Parking & Entry: This is the most flexible option and also the most limited. THESE RESERVATIONS SELL OUT IN LESS THAN A MINUTE. There are three time slots available: 6:30AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-5:30PM and 4:30PM to sunset. You can purchase multiple time slots if you want to stay longer. It’s $10/timeslot (parking) plus $5/person and you have to reserve every person when you initially book. Everybody has to arrive in the same car and your ID needs to match the reservation.
2) Shuttle & Entry: If you can’t get parking at the trailhead, there’s also a shuttle option. Shuttle reservations are $35/person (16+), $25/person (ages 4-15), 3 and under can ride free. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes 6:20AM to 6:40PM.
3) Entry Only: If you’re a Hawaiian resident (with HI ID) or someone WITH a Hawaiian resident, you can purchase entry only for $5/person with no advance reservations. Also, if you’re walking or biking to the trailhead you can do this option. But there is NOWHERE to park in the area to walk in. So this really only works for those with bikes or who are staying close enough to walk. They will tow your car if you park outside the designated areas.
The reservation window opens 30 days in advance at 12AM HST. The parking & entry option usually sells out in a minute, but the shuttle availability will last longer.
There are a TON of FAQs here including the possibility of snagging a canceled reservation.
Other Things to Book in Advance
Hawaii is a busy place these days! Besides the state and national parks above, here’s a handful of miscellaneous things you should make reservations for in advance (if they’re on your radar):
Mama’s Fish House (Maui): The iconic spot is the most popular restaurant in Hawaii and they’ve been opening reservations (and selling out) 4-6 months in advance. You can call and get on the waitlist for one day or you can set notifications on OpenTable to alert you for cancellations every day of your trip. Most people have pretty good success on OpenTable.
Old Lahaina Luau (Maui): Honestly, any luau you’re planning to attend you should book early, but most people are usually shocked how far out the Old Lahaina Luau books out. Book it as soon as you know your dates (I think they open at the six month window). They also have a waitlist.
Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (Oahu): Everybody loves Jurassic Park so getting to ride UTVs where they filmed the movies is very popular. The ranch offers a lot of different tours but the UTV tours usually book out a couple of months in advance.
Spa Reservations: If you’re staying at a resort with a spa (or planning on visiting one), don’t wait until you arrive to make your reservations. I’d make them at least a month in advance.
Tee Times: Same for golf, reserve your tee times well in advance.
Dining Reservations: Any “fancy” or resort restaurant is likely to be booked up these days so if you like having a nice dinner every night, make your plans in advance.
Want to read more? Don’t miss some of my most popular (and favorite) posts about Maui: My Favorite Hotels on Maui | Wailea vs Ka’anapali | All of the Wailea Resorts Ranked | Maui Travel Tips | Things You Can ONLY Do on Maui | My Favorite Road to Hana Itinerary | Road to Hana Tips | Should You Drive the Backside of the Road to Hana? | 4 Day Maui Itinerary | Is Mama’s Fish House Worth It? | Tips for Sunrise at Haleakala National Park | Things to Do Upcountry | Best Beaches in Wailea & Kihei | Best Restaurants in Wailea | Maui vs Kauai | Four Seasons Maui Review | Andaz Maui Review | Fairmont Kea Lani Review | Wailea Beach Resort Review | Four Seasons vs Andaz Maui | Andaz Maui vs Wailea Beach Resort
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