When you’re deciding which island to live on in Hawaii, Maui will likely cross your radar. Also known as the Valley Isle, Maui is often considered a middle ground between the hustle and bustle of Oahu and the untamed natural beauty of the Big Island.
Maui played host to the first capital city of the Kingdom of Hawaii. King Kamehameha named Lahaina the kingdom’s capital in 1820, although it was moved to Honolulu in 1845. Many celebrities have made Maui their home over the years, including Woody Harrelson, Ram Dass, Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood, Charles Lindbergh, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and many more.
If you’re considering making Maui your home, we’ll show you what you need to know before you make the leap, including some ideas on places to live, work, shop and make the most of your days off.
Where to Live on Maui
Although Maui’s population has more than doubled in the last 40 years, Maui still offers a wide variety of places to live, depending on the lifestyle you’re looking for. Some of our favorite spots include:
- Upcountry, including Pukalani, Makawao and Kula – These towns sit in the foothills of the dormant volcano Haleakala and, as a result, enjoy the cooler temperatures and breezes that result from higher elevations. Although you’ll encounter tourists in the historic town of Makawao as well as others on their way to Haleakala’s summit, you’ll mostly live around locals who are in Maui for the long haul.
- North Shore, including Paia, Haiku and beyond – This section of Maui sports an incredible amount of diversity in a short stretch. If you find yourself in Paia, you’ll enjoy the warm sunshine and the funky atmosphere of a quirky beach town. Drive just a few miles east to Haiku, and you can live right in the heart of Maui’s rainforest, a lush area with plenty of foliage, fed by frequent gentle rains.
- Wailuku – Just west of Kahului, Maui’s central business district, Wailuku offers traditional apartment building living, quiet housing developments and easy access to all the conveniences Kahului has to offer.
- Lahaina and west Maui – Although Lahaina can feel isolated from the rest of Maui, residents swear by this warm, sunny enclave. You’ll probably need air conditioning year round, but you’ll also enjoy easy access to the town of Lahaina, with all its shops, restaurants and bars.
- Kihei – Popular with single folks, young families and retirees alike, Kihei offers you easy access to Maui’s beautiful south shore beaches as well as the restaurants and bars of Kihei.
A company which I checked out not so long ago offers Maui condos for sale. You should check them out!
Like most of Hawaii, Maui isn’t a cheap place to live, and the increasing prevalence of Airbnb has driven rents higher. However, if you’re patient—and you leverage Craigslist as well as the coconut wireless—you’ll find a place that’s right for you and your family.
Rents vary widely, depending on where you want to live, but use these ranges as a guide:
- 1 BR – $1,200-1,500
- 2 BR – $1,800-2,200
Where to Shop on Maui
Maui features plenty of big box stores like Costco, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Home Depot and Lowes, which adds a layer of convenience to island life. Because everything has to be shipped in, stores will occasionally run out of items that seem essential. (Shop for flashlights before hurricane season hits!) However, if you’re willing to stay flexible, you’ll find most of what you need, even if it takes you an extra stop or two.
That being said, we also encourage you to shop local and support our Maui-based businesses. Some of our favorites include:
- The Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market in Kula, which has everything from local produce to vegan ramen to local art, all in one place.
- Mana Foods in Paia – In addition to a killer selection of natural foods at prices that often beat Whole Foods, Mana also has a great hot bar that makes for a delicious lunch.
- Maui Coffee Roasters – Stop in for one of their specialty coffee blends, like chocolate macadamia nut coffee, or one of their delicious bagels with lox to get a little taste of the Mainland.
- Tamura’s Fine Wine and Liquors – In addition to being a great place to get a reasonably-priced bottle of wine, Tamura’s seafood counter is legendary. Try one of their poke varieties or take some spicy tako to go. (Also features locations on Oahu if you need a fix while you’re over there!)
Where to Work on Maui
If you’re not coming to Maui with a job locked down, we’ve got some ideas to focus your search. Maui hosted 2.7 million tourists in 2017. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that hospitality and food service is the top industry in Maui, followed by the retail sector, which is also strongly supported by tourism.
However, as the below list of Maui’s top industries suggests, the island still needs workers in other sectors. If you’re new to Maui, though, finding a job that supports tourism will probably get you to work the quickest.
Biggest Industries in Maui
- Hospitality and food service (19%)
- Retail (12%)
- Healthcare & social services (9%)
- Construction (8%)
- Education (8%)
Making the Most of Your Days Off on Maui
When you get to live where most people vacation, your days off are extra special. Overall, Maui’s culture tends toward an early-to-rise, early-to-bed philosophy. Nightlife is hard to find, except in areas frequented by tourists, including Lahaina and Kihei.
But when the sun is shining, Maui offers adventures for all ages and lifestyles. Some of our favorites include:
- Taking a hike. Try the Lahaina Pali trail for gorgeous views of Maui or the Waihee Ridge Trail to enjoy vistas of the lush west Maui mountains
- Hitting the beach. You’ll find a postcard-worthy one around just about every bend. Check out Big Beach in Makena, Sugar Beach in Kihei or Baldwin Beach near Paia.
- Checking out a First Friday, which rotates every week to a new location. You’ll get a strong appreciation for the island’s unique neighborhoods
- Taking in a show at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, where the recent line-up included Steven Tyler and country star Lee Brice.
- Going windsurfing at Hookipa, or one of Maui’s other epic north shore beaches or learning to surf on one of Maui’s calm, south-facing shores
- Taking a sunset boat cruise from Lahaina to enjoy views of Lanai as well as winter whale watching
- Hitting up one of Maui’s best happy hours at Monkeypod in Wailea, the roof deck of Fleetwood’s in Lahaina or the funky Beach Bums in Maalaea Harbor.
Whatever activities you decide to pursue, you’ll get the most out of your life in Maui by venturing out of your own neighborhood as much you can. Island fever is a real thing—and it gets even worse when you forget to explore your own island. Make the effort to drive a few extra miles, and it will keep your appreciation for the island fresh.
Living the Maui Lifestyle
If you’re moving from the Mainland, Maui can feel like paradise. That being said, island living has its own quirks. So as you settle into Maui life, we have one more piece of advice for you: Go with the flow. Traffic may move more slowly. Checkout at the supermarket may take longer than you expect. Just remember: You’re in Maui.