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South Maui vs West Maui Key Differences

South Maui and West Maui are two of the most popular visitor destinations on Maui with a ton of activities and accommodations geared towards visitors. While both are similar in some aspects, they also have several key differences.

The South Maui region is favored by locals and visitors for its access to some of Maui’s best beaches, dining options, and sumptuous views. The area covers approximately 37.6 square miles and includes the areas of Maalaea (to a degree), KiheiMaui MeadowsWailea, and Makena.

West Maui is home to some great beaches and is another popular visitor destination for its variety of outdoor activities, fabulous restaurants, stunning golf courses and numerous West Maui real estate options. Ranging from luxury condos to awesome value buys, West Maui is consistently in demand. West Maui is comprised of the following towns: HonokowaiKaanapaliKapalua, and Lahaina.

South Maui

South Maui differs from West Maui in the sense that it is split into two main parts, Kihei and the resort area of Wailea and Makena; whereas, West Maui has four defining areas. Only about 25 minutes from the airport, it is easier to access the rest of the island from South Maui. Although, South Maui’s popularity has been rising, it is still less crowded than West Maui.

Photo courtesy of Dom Marino

Defining South Maui Traits

  • In general, the beaches in South Maui are more of parks with access to the beach, so that means easier parking and sand/grassy areas to sprawl out.
  • Wailea is the premier resort destination on the island with plenty of high end shopping and fine dining to match. If you can swing it, we definitely recommend staying in Wailea at a hotel or vacation rental condo.
  • South Maui does have a harbor, but it’s more for locals and does not offer commercialized ocean activities for visitors.
  • South Maui is home to four golf courses, three in Wailea and one in Kihei.

West Maui

Initially developed in the 60’s, West Maui is certainly the most popular choice for visitors due to the concentration of attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping. The main visitor areas on the west side are the Kaanapali resort and Front Street.

While a littler further than South Maui from the air port, West Maui resort areas are only a 45 minute drive from the airport; however, it’s important to keep in mind that it is only a two way highway along the ocean.

Kapalua views

Defining West Maui Traits

  • Front Street is home to the Lahaina Harbor where many of the ocean activity boats leave from (snorkeling, whale watching, deep sea fishing, ferry to Lanai, glass bottom boats).
  • Whaler’s Village offers beachfront shopping with many dining options, similar to a very small Waikiki. This includes access to a 3 mile beachfront boardwalk.
  • Crowds are dense here due to the wide range in pricing of visitor accommodations and the total number of hotel rooms and vacation rental condos. Generally, you will find very well priced accommodations with a mix of luxury options available.
  • Home to three golf courses, one of which is the Kapalua Plantation Course which hosts the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
  • The West Maui Mountain range offers a pretty backdrop with numerous hiking trails where its elevation does not reach as high as Haleakala’s.
  • Front Street is also home to the only outlet mall on the island.

Contact a Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market.

Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)


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