Where to Stay in Maui for a Local Experience

Lush vegetation surrounds a cove on Maui, Hawaii
Lush vegetation surrounds a cove on Maui, Hawaii | © Vaclav Schindler / Alamy Stock Photo
Charlene Fang

Want to know the nearest hotels to the Hawaiian island’s best surf breaks and beaches? Our local insider has the lowdown.

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Tranquil beaches, emerald-green bamboo forests and a coastline sculpted by dramatic cliffs: the Valley Isle’s attractions are plentiful. While not a large island, choosing where to stay – west Maui for the resorts, south Maui for hush-hush beaches – will give you an entirely different Maui experience. From charming historic inns to swanky beachfront resorts and boutique abodes for you and your crew, these Hawaiian hideaways won’t disappoint.

The Mauian on Napili Bay

If low-key and beachfront ticks your travel checklist, The Mauian on Napili Bay is hard to beat. All rooms are steps away from the crescent-shaped Napili Bay where sea turtles are regularly sighted. While not the newest property (it was built in 1959), it has been renovated and breakfast is on the house. Rooms come with mini-fridges and microwaves, while the studios have full-size refrigerators and cooktops so meals can be enjoyed from your home base. There’s no in-room TVs, phones or air conditioning, however you’ll hardly be indoors to notice with so much hiking and watersports in the area.

Ho’oilo House

The name translates as “winter” in Hawaiian, which gives a hint at how this bed and breakfast came about – as a winter escape for the owners. Located just south of Lahaina, the six-room property is elegantly decorated with cast-iron clawfoot tubs, flamboyant flamingo prints and spacious lanais to whale watch from. In line with giving back to the community, every stay nets a donation to the Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui. Rooms come with a small refrigerator and breakfast is included. For all other meals, some of the area’s best restaurants are a short drive away.

Maui Meadows Guesthouse

The trick to pain-free group holidays? Keep everyone together and the amusements on tap. At Maui Meadows Guesthouse, there’s ample breathing room (and beds) for all with four tastefully styled bedrooms and five spacious bathrooms. Communal fun comes in the form of a saltwater pool, pingpong table and hot tub, while a waterfall and outdoor cabana provide a retreat for quieter, more intimate moments. When it’s time to hit the beach, there are eight sandy shore fronts within an hour’s walk.

The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono

Formerly known as the Lufkin House, The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono has been lovingly restored to recall the glory of 1920s Hawaii. The plantation-style property now boasts 10 guest rooms featuring oversized bamboo furniture and hand-sewn quilts that are pieces of art in their own right. Guests wake to a delicious home-cooked breakfast of local favourites enjoyed in the comfort of your room or within the meticulous tropical garden inspired by Don Blanding’s poem My Hawaiian Garden.

Maui Coast Hotel

One of the few hotels in the sunny Kihei area, the modern-style Maui Coast Hotel – located across from Kamaole Beach Park – means quality beach time is guaranteed, whatever time you rise. Another plus? It’s located near the boat dock if you prefer to book snorkelling and whale-watching excursions on the fly. When it’s time to call it a day, there’s a hot tub, pool bar and two restaurants available.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

If big resorts are your jam, then head to 508-room Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Ka’anapali Beach where distractions abound. From the nightly cliff-dive ceremony to the large lazy river pool and choice of five restaurants so everyone can have their fill of Hawaiian fare. All rooms come with the expected mod-cons, while the grounds sport charming local touches, like a traditional canoe and drums. Its location is 10-minute walk from Whalers Village, with all its conveniences. Just remember to set aside some beach time: Black Rock is known for snorkelling and, if you’re lucky, turtle sightings.

Iao Valley Inn

What was once a family home has been turned into a gem of a bed and breakfast. Located on a secluded plot, Iao Valley Inn’s two rooms and standalone cottage offers a unique Maui stay. The property’s tropical decor is reflective of its lush green setting where forest bathing and napping to the sounds of Wailuku River remain the focus. Close by, visit Iao Valley State Park for 4,000 acres (1,620ha) of lush, green scenery, hiking trails and natural splendor. For horticulturists especially, there’s a walk around the Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop that showcases the tropical flora of Hawaii.

Aloha Surf Hostel

Beloved by surfers of wind and waves for its primo location between the breaks of Ho‘okipa and Kanaha, the Aloha Surf Hostel offers cool flashpacker-style accommodation in the historic town of Paia. Located within walking distance of Paia Bay – where there’s an excellent near-shore surf break – the hostel offers a bunch of freebies including free tours, breakfast and parking.

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