Where Should I Live on Maui?

As a real estate agent on the Valley Isle, I’m often asked which area is the best place to live. What’s most important for every home buyer is to figure out where you feel most comfortable – which may simply be the community you were visiting when you first fell in love with the island. Here’s a quick overview of Maui’s major regions.

South Side

With only about 10 inches of rainfall per year, golf, tennis, and an incredible array of gorgeous beaches, the Kihei/Wailea/Makena area provides the surroundings for a true island lifestyle. Maui’s south side features a full range of single-family homes, oceanfront condos, and luxury estates, plus all the necessities that make a community livable, from casual restaurants to fine dining, gyms to nightlife, and medical offices to upscale shopping. The region also allows easy access to the University of Hawaii Maui College, Maui Memorial Medical Center, and the government offices of Wailuku, as well as the airport and all the large retail stores of Kahului.

Makena Secret Beach at sunset in Maui, HI

West Side

Like the south side, Maui’s west side is rich in stunning beaches and opportunities to enjoy water sports, golf, and tennis. From lively Lahaina (the original capital of the Kingdom of Hawai`i), to the resort community of Kaanapali, to the scenic planned community of Kapalua, the region offers real estate options including condos, homes, estate properties, and vacant land. Complete with great restaurants, farmers’ markets, galleries, shops, an outlet mall, fabulous views of Lāna`i and Moloka`i, and breathtaking sunsets, it’s no wonder residents of the area say, “The west side is the best side.”


Situated between Maui’s south and west sides (just 7 miles from Kihei and 15 miles from Lahaina), this tiny harbor town contains nine condo complexes, plus a few oceanfront homes. Residents can walk to restaurants, shops, the Maui Ocean Center aquarium, the Maui Golf & Sports Park amusement center, and Haycraft Park (which connects Maalaea Beach to Sugar Beach, for six uninterrupted miles of walkable sand). Maalaea Bay is also known for its whale traffic each winter – and is also a hangout spot for honu (Hawaiian sea turtles).

North Shore

Surfers, windsurfers, and kiters from around the globe flock to the Paia community, attracted by its proximity to renowned big-wave surf break Peahi (or “Jaws”) and the windsurfing capital of the world, Ho`okipa. The town, which originally established itself around a sugar plantation and mill in the late 19th century, is now home to an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops, funky boutiques, art galleries, and the island’s most popular natural food store.


Perched at elevations of around 1,500 to 4,000 feet on the Haleakala volcano, the “upcountry” towns of Haiku, Makawao, Pukalani, and Kula have the advantage of cooler temperatures than many of Maui’s lower elevations. This peaceful region offers not only a lovely climate, old Hawai`i charm, and panoramic views, but ranch and farmlands that support everything from cattle and goats to vegetables, coffee, and flowers. Homebuying choices range from cottages and bungalow homes to gentleman’s farms and equestrian estates, many with larger land parcels. Along with parks, botanical gardens, markets, and mom-and-pop stores, the area provides restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and even a winery and a vodka distillery.

Central Maui

Situated at the foot of the West Maui Mountains, Wailuku serves as the county seat and features cafés, coffee shops, antique shops, and the historic Iao Theater (a popular venue for local stage productions). Wailuku’s neighboring town, Kahului, serves as the retail center, with everything from big box stores, to furniture stores, to car dealerships. Home to state and county government offices, the college, the hospital, the airport, and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (which hosts all of the island’s major music, dance, and visual arts events), central Maui also offers more affordable home options than many other parts of the island.

Makena Secret Beach at sunset in Maui, HI

East Maui

For those who truly want to get away from it all, Hana provides the ultimate in unspoiled tropical beauty. Although this unique region does have a market, a general store, local produce stands, and food trucks, its primary attractions are its seclusion and natural wonders like bamboo forests, waterfalls, and red and black sand beaches. Hana’s remote location makes it ideal for homebuyers seeking privacy and tranquility.

The Takeaway

The bottom line is that with such a diverse variety of communities, Maui has a home for everyone. Once you settle on the area that suits you best, we’ll find you the perfect-fit property.

Leslie MacKenzie Smith, REALTOR(S), RS-42147

Comments (0) Show CommentsHide Comments (Remember)

Cool. Add your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private, this form is secure and we never spam you.

More Articles from Hawaii Life