Top Maui Cities: Guide to Hawaii’s Iconic Island and Towns
When planning a vacation in Maui, many visitors don’t realize the island has several cities. Some have big-city amenities such as airports, while others provide a remote escape hard to navigate. To ensure a successful trip, learn about the top Maui cities and what to expect.
Top Maui Cities to Visit When Vacationing in Hawaii
Hana – East Maui
Hana sits on Maui’s eastern shore and offers a remote escape from heavy traffic and commercial areas. The city provides a quiet oceanfront escape surrounded by rain forests.
To visit Hana, visitors must take the Road to Hana, a 64-mile route that ranks as a destination itself. On the journey, guests should plan a full day or two, and enjoy everything along the way. Top sites include parks, waterfalls, gardens, hiking trails and roadside stands.
Must-see attractions: Wai’anapanapa State Park, Honokalani Black Sand Beach, Maui Garden of Eden, Hana Bay, Wailua Falls, Hanawi Falls.
Kaanapali – Western Shore
Kaanapali Beach features 3 miles of pristine coastline, and has been named among the best beaches in the U.S. At the beach, visitors are welcome to try water recreation activities such as cliff diving, swimming, snorkeling, parasailing, scuba diving, and boating. In addition, Kaanapali has two championship golf courses complete with scenic ocean views.
Must-see attractions: Kaanapali Coffee Farms, Skyline Eco-Adventures, Royal Kaanapali, Kaanapali Kai, Whalers Village shopping complex.
Kahului – Northwestern/Center
As one of Maui’s largest cities, it’s no surprise this destination serves as an epicenter of commercial activity and retail. Kahului is home to a main airport, deep-water port, large malls, arts and culture, car rentals, and big-box stores. Those who vacation in Maui usually start in Kahului where many locals work and shop.
Must-see attractions: Maui Swap Meet, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Maui Mall, West Maui Circle Drive, Kahului Airport, Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary, Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course
Kapalua – Northwest
Kapalua is located about an hour from Kahului Airport to the west. As one of the top Maui cities, Kapalua offers a high-end resort feel with popular beaches, golf courses, high-rises, spas, restaurants, festivals and family-friendly attractions.
Must-see attractions: Kapalua Beach, D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Dragon’s Teeth, Kapalua Plantation Course, Kapalua Golf Resort, Spa Montage Kapalua Bay
Kihei – Southwest
Located in the sunniest and driest section of Maui, Kihei beckons beach lovers. This oasis features 6 miles of beaches, wildlife-watching options, fishing charters, nightlife and dining. During the day, visitors swim, surf, snorkel, kayak and sunbathe. To break from the sun, head to a local brewery or restaurant for fresh flavors.
Must-see attractions: Kamaole Beach, Maui Brewing Company, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary, Saint Theresa Roman Catholic Church
Lahaina – West Maui
Lahaina ranks among the top Maui cities for its tourism appeal. Visitors flock here to attend events, learn about culture, and tour a historic whaling village. Additionally, Lahaina has dozens of art galleries and locally owned boutiques. While visiting, make time to explore the city’s seafaring heritage.
Must-see attractions: Ka’anapali Beach, Napili Beach, Banyan Tree Park, Lahaina Front Street, Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, Lahaina Harbor, The Outlets of Maui, Punakea Palms Coconut Farm
Napili – Northwest Shore
Napili appeals to guests looking for calm waters and sits between Kahana and Kapalua. The city is best known as a resort town, but visitors can’t pass up the beach. In fact, Napili offers one of the best snorkeling spots on Maui island. In addition, visitors have access to shopping and nightlife.
Must-see attractions: Napili Bay, Napili Farmers Market, The Gazebo restaurant, Boss Frog’s Dive and Surf Shop
Paia – North
Many know Paia as the windsurfing capital of the world and one of the top Maui cities. Visitors driving Road to Hana can access this historic town, which once served as a sugar cane plantation.
Today, the town has transformed into a destination with shops, art galleries, shopping and beaches. During winter, watch professional windsurfers and surfers practice riding large waves.
Must-see attractions: Ho’okipa Beach Park, HA Baldwin Beach Park, Maui Dharma Center, Paia Peace Stupa, Ho‘okipa, Paia Bay
Wailuku – Northwest
For more sites and shopping, visit Wailuku. The city serves as the county seat of Maui County and features picturesque family-owned shops, restaurants, and cafes. In addition, Wailuku sits near Iao Valley, one of Maui’s top sites.
Must-see attractions: Maui Ocean Center, Maui Tropical Plantation, Iao Valley State Monument, Tropical Gardens of Maui, Mendes Ranch, Hale Ho’ike’ike at the Bailey House, Ocean Science Discovery Center, The Historic IAO Theater