The ultimate Maui neighbourhood guide for your next trip

This is how one of North America’s most treasured travel locales is building itself back up

We’ve become increasingly accustomed to major weather events occurring more frequently, but even in this elevated environment the wildfire that swept through Lahaina in August seemed particularly tough. In part, that distress is tied to the speed at which the historic town burned, but also, for many of us in B.C., it has been exacerbated by the deep and long connection we have held with the island. Thanks to favourable direct flight routes and developers from our own region building hotels there, Maui has always felt like our island—let the Americans flock to Honolulu, we’ll take the low-key-cool of Paia or the restrained luxury of Wailea. And this year in particular the island needs our support—as thoughtful partners helping rebuild Lahaina and steering Maui forward to a promising future. So if you choose to answer that call, here’s a cheat sheet on which part of the 1,900-square-kilometre island is right for you.


The Skinny: Wailea anchors South Maui, also home to subtle Kihei to the north and very swank Makena to the south. It’s the driest part of the island and has attracted most of the bold-name hotels, which are interspersed among very high-end homes and condos. If you were to play a word association game and someone said “hedge fund bonus,” you could do worse than answering “Wailea.”

Famous Residents: Clint Eastwood, Jim Carrey, Jeff Bezos.

Where to Stay: The obvious choice is the Four Seasons, already famous after the first season of The White Lotus was filmed there. But the best choice? Its neighbour, the equally tony Fairmont Kea Lani, which has a bigger, better piece of property and where every room is huge—they start at 860 square feet, meaning they can actually comfortably house a family of four. Plus, the hotel went under a massive redesign just last month: all the rooms, a new outdoor bar and restaurant and a new interactive cultural centre to help curious visitors really connect to this special place.

Where to Eat: Lineage, in the swank Shops at Wailea, has seen a rotating door of chefs since opening but it continues to offer interesting takes on local fare at prices that are pretty reasonable (for Wailea, that is).

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, Maui
Photo credit: Westin Maui Resort and Spa/Don Riddle


The Skinny: The OG resort community on the island, Ka’anapali is where most Western Canadians had their first encounter with Maui. Its famous beach, with views of Lanai, remains a stunner and is a perfect spot for a long stroll to start or end a day. Ka’anapali is located just northwest of Lahaina, so while it’s now back and running full tilt, its proximity to the fires means that it needs your support more than ever.

Famous Residents: Not really a second-home kind of spot.

Where to Stay: There are, amazingly, three different Westins in Ka’anapali, but the classic Westin Maui Resort & Spa is our fave for families thanks to a price point that’s not punitive, the insanely massive kids’ “aquatic centre”—which in reality is five different pools complete with waterslide—and a superlative spa with 16 treatment rooms to retreat to… after a day at the aquatic centre.

Where to Eat: Duke’s Beach House is massively touristy, but sitting on its open-air patio, listening to someone playing the slack-key guitar and sipping a Big Swell IPA, it’s tough not to let the vibe of Aloha blow over you—and that’s not such a bad thing.

Kapalua_Napili Kai Beach Resort
Photo credit: Napili Kai Beach Resort


The Skinny: Kapalua is Ka’anapali’s richer, more private sibling. Located on the island’s west side, it’s anchored by the Kapalua Resort with its famous golf course(s), luxe tennis facilities and two high-end resorts: the Ritz-Carlton and the Montage.

Famous Residents: Mick Fleetwood (whose Lahaina restaurant was destroyed in the fires).

Where to Stay: How about a curveball? Eschew the swanky in favour of the classic: the low-slung Napili Kai was built by Vancouver investors in the early 1960s when the area was largely undeveloped. Today, its functional kitchenette suites and family atmosphere attract a blue-blooded tranche of BCers who like long stays and don’t need the pomp of the Ritz.

Where to Eat: Merriman’s is the classic option here but even Montage dwellers may balk at the prices (like $90 for a ribeye). For us, we like the easygoing vibe of the Plantation House, up the hill from the beach with the green of the golf course as your backdrop: it’s relaxed, not very golf-y for a clubhouse restaurant and delivers surprisingly sophisticated takes on Maui classics like brown sugar togarashi seared ahi.

Inn at Mama's Fish House
Photo credit: Mama’s Fish House


The Skinny: Paia is the chillest town on the chillest island in the chillest state, and with the situation in Lahaina it’s the only spot on the island that offers a strolling-down-Main-Street vibe. There’s a disproportionate number of natural food stores, you’re never more than 50 feet from a kombucha and flip flops count as dress shoes.

Famous Residents: Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson.

Where to Stay: It seems odd to stay at a restaurant, but Mama’s Fish House is no ordinary restaurant. The oceanfront eatery may be the most famous in Maui, but the unobtrusive cottages tucked off to the side remain a bit of a secret for those who want access to the North Shore (Ho’okipa Beach is next door) but don’t need a lobby and a concierge to feel like they’re on vacation.

Where to Eat: Paia is where you ditch the seated dining altogether and instead hit Mana Foods’ amazing food bar, grab an aforementioned kombucha and head to one of the local beaches (Baldwin Beach Park is closest and is great; Jaws—a.k.a. Peahi—is farther and is… insane), which will be booming with monster waves if a winter swell is coming in.

Maui-Hana Hotel/Destination Hana
Photo credit: Maui-Hana Hotel/Destination Hana


The Skinny: Most people think of Hana solely as a destination on the most famous twisty road trip in the state. But those who stay find a totally different side to Maui, where the clock feels turned back 50 years, the pace is slow and the opportunities consist of walking, swimming and relaxing.

Famous Residents: Oprah has her 60-acre farm near here, Woody Harrelson.

Where to Stay: The forgettably named Maui-Hana Hotel actually boasts one of the great pedigrees on the island. It was opened as the Kauiki Inn in 1946, when Hana was a long way from anywhere, and while it’s been greatly expanded and made quite luxe, that escape-from-it-all vibe still pervades: to wit, no TVs in the rooms.

Where to Eat: There’s casual and then there’s Hana, where for several years a renegade pizza restaurant in the trees was the best restaurant. A little more upscale—they have basic chairs and a business licence—is Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill: a simple roadside stop specializing in BBQ pork and simply grilled fish at the lowest prices on the island).