You’ve probably noticed that, even though it’s a smallish island, getting directions around Maui can be somewhat confusing if you’re a first-timer who’s unfamiliar with the towns and unique directional cues you’ll get from locals. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to catch on to what’s where and how to get there.
First off, north/south/east/west are infrequently used, unless someone is referring to the sides of the island. You’re more likely to hear island directional cues like mauka, makai and upcountry. To go in the “mauka” direction means to go away from the ocean; going “makai” means to go toward the ocean. “Upcountry” is the area at higher elevations up Mount Haleakala.
There are also leeward and windward mentions, but this is usually in relation to weather patterns. When Maui’s tradewinds are blowing, Hana, Kahului, Makawao, Wailuku, Kapalua, and Napili are on the island’s windward side; Wailea, Kihei, Maalaea, Lahaina, and Ka’anapali are located on the island’s leeward side.
Where You’ll Find What
- Kahului is in Central Maui, at the isthmus of the island between East and West Maui; it’s where the Kahului (OGG) airport is.
- Maalaea is where one of Maui’s harbors and the aquarium are located. It’s also near the park & ride lot where we meet you before your tour.
- Lahaina is on the west side, along with Kaanapali–a long stretch of resorts, beaches and shops.
- Kihei, Wailea and Makena are on the south side.
- Makawao, Pukalani, Kula and part of Haiku are all upcountry towns.
- Paia, Sprecklesville and part of Haiku are on what’s referred to as the North Shore.
- Because of its remote perch at the very end of the eastern coast, Hana is…Hana.