Getting Around Maui

On Maui, you can lounge on a sunny beach in the morning and explore a jungle rain forest before lunch.  We might seem like a tiny island, but Maui is diverse and spread out. Recently, new friends visiting for the first time thought they could hop off their transpacific flight and go on a sightseeing tour to the top of Haleakala before going to their hotel on the other side of the island. This would be a difficult and tiring experience!

It is natural to focus a lot of trip planning effort on what to do, and not so much on the logistics of where everything is on the island. However, understanding  how long it takes to get from place to place is important, especially during busy commuting hours. While multimodal transportation options are becoming more popular, if you really want to get out and explore, plan on renting a car or or arrange guided tours. Other than the beach and some amenities close to your condo, you wont’ find many things in walking distance.


This map and chart of driving distances will help you get better aquanted with the island. Note that the estimated times do not include extended stops along the way. Once you have in mind how long it takes to get around, you can better make plans to discover Maui’s unique towns and villages and set off for some adventures.  From the whaling village inspired shopping in Lahaina to the wooden sidewalk in the paniolo (cowboy) town of Makawao, each area has its own flavor. Not to mention ono grinds (really good food) which you can check out on our dining guide.


West Maui

West Maui has the most abundant sunshine of anywhere on the island. Once the playground of island ali’i (royalty), the area is a favorite of visitors from around the world. Be sure to check out Lahaina’s numerous historical sites.

The charming sea port is also a launching spot for a snorkel, dive or fishing charter. Hop a ferry to another island, browse ocean front stores or have a delicious open air meal. Further up the coast, Kaanapali Beach, set among high end-resorts, is a large, sunny swath of golden sand, great for people watching. Traveling further north, the population thins and snorkeling and hiking opportunities increase.

See our beach guide or more hikes on our nature page.

Where to stay in West Maui: Kuleana Resort


Central Maui

Maui was created from two volcanos, and Central Maui is the isthmus that connects them. Quaint Maalaea Harbor village lies to the south, while the business centers of Kahului and Wailuku are to the north. This convenient spot is located between Maui’s sunny south and west shores

Maalaea condos are on the ocean within walking distance to the island’s longest beach, Maalaea small boat harbor for snokeling and fishing tours, shops, restaurants and the world class Maui Ocean Center aquarium.


South Maui

Miles of golden beaches are easily accessible in South Maui. This area is consistently one of the sunniest spots on the island, flanked by the verdant slopes of Haleakala volcano on one side, and glittering sand and sea on the other. In South Maui, you’ll love spending time outdoors!

Stunning views from shore include the islands of Kahoolawe and Lanai in the distance, plus the tiny Molokinin islet- a favorite snorkeling spot accessible by boat. Explore the miles long Sugar Beach on the north end of Kihei, to Makena State Park, aka Big Beach, to the south past Wailea. In between is a plethora of shops, golf courses, outdoor markets and restaurants to fit any appetite.


Upcountry Maui
Diverse upcountry includes the towns, vineyards, ranch lands and parks on the slopes of Haleakala. Cowboys and artists blend naturally in residential neighborhoods and create an authentic visitor experience. Paniolo (cowboys) compete at rodeo and polo grounds above the rustic town of Makawao.
Mosey in and out of original Makawao storefronts and round up unique gifts, or browse galleries of filled with Maui artwork. Then take in the sites in a beautiful upcountry drive, stopping at a goat farm, garden or distillery or two. The road from town up to the 10,000-ft summit of Haleakala is nothing short of stunning, with sweeping views of the entire island. Check out our Haleakala info before visiting.


Northshore Maui

With a laid-back beach-town surfer vibe, Paia is home to quirky shops, a big health food store and awesome casual open air dining. It’s also a great place to grab a picnic lunch on the way to Hana or one of the local surf spots.

The wind comes up strong off the Northshore, making for world-class surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Even if you are not ready to hang ten, there are perfect spots to watch the action, such as the overlook at Hookipa.


Road to Hana and East Maui

A winding road, with a waterfall or jaw dropping ocean view around almost every curve, ends in a remote town that is Maui’s most Hawaiian. Start early and take your time- making stops along the way is half the fun. Among stops are black, red and golden sand beaches, lava caves, tropical gardens and a roadside stand with the best banana bread around.

Get an excellent history of the area at the Hana Cultural Center, mingle with the locals at Hana bay and buy a shave ice before continuing on to more beach parks, such as the Pools of Ohe’o. See our road to Hana page for more info.

Note: There are very few places to stay from the Northshore to Hana, including Upcountry Maui. Staying in Maalaea in Central Maui or North Kihei in South Maui are great jumping off points for these locales. It is safest to book with a reputable on-island management company like Destination Maui Vacations. Unfortunately, illegal rentals are common on the internet, and can truly ruin a vacation.

To further explore what to do on Maui, has the best Things to Do guide around. Enjoy!


By |2022-09-27T06:03:07+00:00March 14th, 2022|Beach, Entertainment, Ocean|0 Comments

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