Updated: May 21, 2015
Map of Maui - Island of Maui MapIf you are planning a vacation to Maui, you should start off with a good map of Maui. It's not a big island, but you still need to know the layout of the cities, beaches, and roads, as well as where the best resorts are. The map below shows the Maui basics. Before we go into too much detail, we will talk a little about the geography of the island, which plays a big role in the weather around the island, which in turn plays a big role in the location of the main cities and resorts. So come along with us as we delve into the map of Maui and help plan your vacation!
Maui Weather Map - Airport MapThe map below tells us a little about the geography of Maui, which in turn affects the weather. Maui is formed from the remnant of two volcanoes. The northwestern side of Maui is dominated by an over 5000 foot volcanic peak, and the southwestern part of Maui is dominated by the remnants of a 10,000+ foot peak (named Haleakala) -- not many places besides Maui where you can go from snow at 10,000 feet to 85 degrees at a tropical beach in just an hour and a course of about 20 horizontal miles. In Maui, the tradewinds blow from east to west, so the eastern shores of the island are known as the windward sides, and the western shores are known as the leeward side. Almost all of the resorts on Maui are on the leeward (west) side. The windward side gets most of the wind and almost all of the rainfall, while the leeward side, in the rain shadow of the volcanic peaks that absorb most of the moisture and hang onto most of the clouds, is much drier. In fact, the southern part of Maui, Wailea, is VERY dry, sometimes getting only 6-10 days of rain PER YEAR! Many times it is raining north in Kaanapali, yet Wailea is dry (since it it sheltered by the much taller volanic peak). And while the peaks of these volcanoes might get doused with 20 FEET of rain per year, spots like Wailea and Lahaina normally see less than 20 inches. So in general terms, the farther west and south you go, the drier it gets. If you find yourself there rained in, head for Wailea beaches -- it's worth a shot. Hana is officially on the windy and rainy east side of the island, off by itself, but it actually has pretty sunny weather most of the time since a lot of the cloud formation and rain takes place further inland, up the slopes of Haleakala.
So apart from rain, the next issue is often wind. Given that strongs tradewinds are wrapping around these two volcanoes, some areas are naturally much windier than others. Kihei and Wailea are often calm in the morning (best time for snorkeling), but the wind then picks up by the early afternoon. Lahaina is perhaps the best protected from winds, but as you go north, winds wrapping around the mountain increase, with Kapalua normally having the strongest, most constant winds, which bring wind-whipped seas with them. So you will feel warmer as you drive south from Kapalua towards Lahaina, with higher temps, lesser chance of drizzle from the clouds that gather over the mountain, and less wind. Some people see the fancy Ritz Carlton and villas up at Kapalua and think that is the best place on the island of Maui - but in fact, in terms of resorts, that area is probably the worst weather location (which in Hawaii means still lots of sun and warm air, but also more chances of rain and stronger winds). The picture below shows you the view from Wailea up towards western Maui - notice how the clouds crowd around the top of the mountainous area, piled up on the eastern side especially. Lahaina and Kaanapali are up around to the left, just out of view.
You can also easily locate the airports on the map. The main Maui airport is in Kahului, right near the center northside of the island. This is where all the commercial mainland flights land. Kapalua, on the northwest corner, also has a small airport which handles some smaller inter-island flights, saving you about 45-70 minutes of driving time from Kahului. This brings up the issue of driving times. It takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport at Kahului to the Wailea resort area, though traffic and roadwork could easily add 10-15 minutes to that. Plan on about 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the areas beyond Kaanapali Beach. Kihei to Lahaina takes about 25-35 minutes to drive.