Let's get real: everyone wants to visit Maui at least once in their lifetime. With its near-perfect year-round weather, calm and swimmable beaches, epic hiking trails, hidden waterfalls, Hawaiian culture programs, and world-class spas, the island lures all sorts of travelers. Deciding to go to Maui is easy. The hardest part is choosing where you want to stay on the island. Don't worry, we did the heavy lifting and visited almost 70 hotels in person to bring you your perfect Maui vacation.
Maui boasts the most miles of swimmable beach in Hawaii, so snorkel enthusiasts will be busy here. It’s possible to book a day trip for off-shore snorkeling, but Sheraton Maui Resort makes getting up close and personal with underwater creatures even easier than getting on a boat. The hotel is built on the golden sands of Kaanapali Beach, adjacent to Black Rock, a veritable hot spot for parrotfish, damselfish, triggerfish, needlefish, goatfish, snapper, and Hawaii’s former state fish: humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Sea turtles are known to gather around the underwater lava rock ledge and visibility is good year-round. Hotel guests can rent snorkel gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or even take a Snuba lesson.
Maui can be spendy, but there are deals to be found. Kaanapali Beach Hotel is on the same gorgeous stretch of Kaanapali Beach as its upscale neighbors, like Sheraton Maui Resort, but prices at Kaanapali Beach Hotel are much lower than competitors. Free extras like lei-making and hula lessons keep entertainment costs down and there’s a large whale-shaped outdoor pool. The restaurants and shops at Whaler’s Village are a five-minute walk from the hotel, which saves on transportation fees. Admittedly, some of the rooms could use an update, but all come with private lanais.
The Montage Kapalua Bay‘s spa is worth a visit even if you’re not staying at the luxury property. The spa is set on five acres of land that includes a stream trickling through gardens. Anyone who books a treatment gets access to the outdoor infinity pool, an enormous fitness center with yoga classes, and luxe locker rooms with whirlpool hot tubs, rainfall waterfalls, and steam rooms and saunas. Each open-air treatment hut has an outdoor shower and stone soaking tub. Island-inspired treatments include an awa and cacao wrap or a bamboo and ginger body polish. Don’t forget to hit the juice shop after your treatment for a fresh smoothie made with local fruit.
Maui is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world, and though there’s a lot of competition from neighboring hotels, it’s hard to beat the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort for overall best hotel for kids. Let’s start with the pool complex, which is more akin to a water park, with four waterslides, rope swings, and a water elevator inside a man-made volcano. The kids’ camp is a whopping 20,000-square-foot space with a movie theater and PlayStation room. Guest rooms are the largest on the island and kid-friendly food, like burgers and pasta, is offered at all five restaurants. Bring your kids here once and be prepared to get repeat requests every year.
The Four Seasons Maui promises two staff members per guest, so if you truly want to relax on your honeymoon, this is the place to do so. Free unpacking services and a driver are provided for all guests. The property isn’t devoid of kids, but there’s an adult-only pool with a swim-up bar; cold towels and Evian spritzes are provided poolside. Beachside cabanas don’t cost extra, which is a major plus. Honeymooners love the hillside massage huts that overlook the ocean. Romantic dinners for two can be had at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago or Duo Steak and Seafood. Maybe you should just cut to the chase and have your entire wedding here.
Looking to unplug and truly become one with nature? Travaasa Hana, Maui is the place to do it. The rustic-luxury hotel is one of the only properties in East Maui, found along the often one-lane coastal highway that cuts through 37 miles of waterfalls, secluded beaches, and seriously picturesque landscape. The hotel itself overlooks the ocean (no direct beach access) and offers rooms and cottages without TVs, radios, or phones. Locally caught fish and produce are featured in the gourmet restaurant. Most guests spend their days exploring the rugged surroundings or in the hotel’s luxury spa.
The stereotypical Hawaiian surfer has become world famous for a reason: Hawaii has some of the best surf in the world for both beginners and pros. Guests at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa can learn to pop-up on the sand before braving the waves with a surfboard at Ka’anapali Surf Club. Their instructors have a reputation for patience and persistence, and even the clumsiest surfer can expect to ride at least one wave. Looking for less adrenaline? Stand-up paddleboard lessons are also on offer.
The Te Au Moana Luau, held on the oceanfront lawn at Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui, is the best of the best. Tickets sell out in advance for three hours of all-out eating and dancing. Guests are greeted with a fresh lei or carved wood necklace, then treated to a jaw-dropping show of acrobatics and hula dancing, plus a performance by a fire-dancing world champion. The menu includes baked kalua pig and Hawaiian fried rice, plus several desserts and an open bar. It’s definitely an event just for tourists, but it’s beautifully presented and not to be missed.
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