My name is Craig, as I live on the island of Maui, as I am responding to your post for a place to stay.
I am currently taking a break from Couchsurfing during this season. Normally, I generally prefer not to host Americans, as I prefer meeting those from other countries, as I have worked and lived abroad for much of my adult life.
The dates of your arrival on Maui are prime/peak tourist season dates, as I advise you to reserve a place at a hostel, if you can find one at this time. Seriously, from November to March is THE winter tourist season!!!
Reserve a hostel bed or room NOW or you may find yourself living on the beach, unless you are fortunate to find a host.
I lived in the former Czech Republic during the Communist regime, hiked in the Carpathians, as there are more Americans living in Prague now than in Paris! I hosted several Czechs couples last year, as they were from Pilsen and Prague as they were great guests. However, the dates that you are visiting are some of the busiest times in Hawaii.
.Sadly, many hosts have now dropped out of hosting, as there were too many flakes and people sponging, even though you claim not to be free loading. Will take you at your word but suggest you reserve a hostel, if you can find one. sadly, this is the current perception of many Couchsurfers.
However, unless you find a CS host, you might try to reserve a hostel dorm bed, as Maui gets very busy during the winters. The Aloha Surf Hostel, in Paia, is probably the best.
To be honest, few CS will host more than one person, as that is enough for most CS hosts. However, as a former CS host, you might find that you will receive some interest. remember that your dates of arrival are the height of the winter tourist season. Many hostels will be fully booked in advance, if you do not find a CS host.
As I said, your visit to Maui will be at the height of the winter tourist season, and will be in full swing during the dates of your visit to Maui. They may already be booked up so you need to check.
Many of the CS hosts have now dropped out or withdrawn
You will need to make a reservation, at least initially,at one of the hostels, if you can find a host. However, you have only one reference, as it appears that you have not hosted anyone, a red flag for many CS hosts on Maui.
From Thanksgiving Day on is prime tourist season. You might get lucky to find a host. Good luck!
However, so that you do not end up living on the beach or in the former sugar cane fields,. you need to make a reservation NOW, as Christmas/ Hanukah/New Years is around the corner.
There will probably be NO vacancies, during the dates of your visit, unless you are fortunate enough to find a CS host, unless you make a reservation now, for at least during the first week of your visit. You never know.
The best hostel is the Aloha Surf Hostel in Paia, near the prime windsurfing and surfing areas of Maui. Make reservations NOW, as there will be no rooms or beds available at the Christmas season. Trust me as the time of your visit is the peak of the winter tourist season.
Please read the remainder of my long message as it may help you during your visit to Maui.
I am undecided whether to host at this time, as I suggest that you might make a reservation at the Aloha Surf Hostel, in Paia, as it is an excellent location, within walking distance of anything you might need, including beaches and the legendary health food store, Mana Foods.
This hostel would be a good place to base yourself, as it is small, friendly, and, by Maui standards, inexpensive.
However, it is all relative, as I realize hostels might be awkward for ‚older‘ travelers, as they also offer free tours for guests. The hitch is that it is very popular, and tends to fill up quickly. Paia is less than ten minutes from the airport by car. It is a lovely small town and very convenient for the CS.
I would consider making reservations with one of the local hostels soon, should the Aloha have no vacancies. if they have any beds left.
My CS favorite has been the Aloha Surf Hostel, located in Paia, as it is within walking distance of shopping and the beaches on this side of the island.
Many ‚guests‘ have no record of having hosted anyone unlike yourself.This has become a sticking point as to why many CS guests cannot find a host on Maui. This has made it increasing difficult for new CS to find hosts, as many hosts have dropped out or withdrawn from hosting CS altogether.
I probably will NOT be hosting any CS in the immediate future, as I thought that the following information might be helpful. However, you might find a CS host, as you never know.
Many of the CS guest inquiries are getting absolutely no offers to be hosted, nor even any responses, but you never know. You might yet be fortunate to be hosted by a CS host, as I have been approached several times a day this year by CS unable to find a host.
Please read the rest of my message, so you can plan your visit in advance.
My former CS have stated that their favorite hostel, by far, is the ‚Aloha Surf Hostel‘, in Paia, although it tends to fill up very quickly, as it is relatively small. I actually stopped by recently, to pick up my CS, as it really is a well managed hostel, and quite pleasant.
My CS seem to prefer this hostel, in Paia, as opposed to the others which are located in Wailuku. They also have free tours and excursions for guests, as it is a nice welcoming atmosphere, as it is within walking distance, including beaches, for most everything one might need.
I believe that the phone number of the Aloha Surf Hostel is (808) 573-0117, but better to check the number. The front desk is usually managed in the mornings after 8:00 am and after 5:00 pm in the evenings to inquire. Let me think about hosting , as I am undecided.
It is in a very good location in the small alternative town of Paia, as you can walk to the beach from the hostel. Paia also has many small shops, an excellent health food store, Mana Foods, and quite a few small cafes. The public bus also services Paia, should you wish to travel further, and do not have a rental car.
The least expensive restaurant in Paia, within walking distance of the Aloha Surf Hostel, is the very popular Fish Market, owned and operated by Brazilians, serving, obviously, variations of fresh fish and seafood meals. Turn over is fast, as customers are seated at common picnic benches inside. It fills up quickly at meal times.
Certainly, there is enough to keep one occupied, all within walking distance, and without the large touristy crowds elsewhere, in Lahaina or Kihei.
Many residents/CS are currently hosting family and friends at this time, especially during the tourist seasons.. It is not convenient for me to host at this time, although things may change in the future.
You may also receive an offer to be hosted by a CS host, if you are lucky, as one never knows. Some of my CS have reported that they have received no offers, not even responses, from CS hosts. Many CS hosts have now withdrawn, moved off island, or simply lost interest in hosting CS.
Some CS hosts have admitted that they will not host anyone, who does not have a rental car, as they do not want to become a tour guide. It is understandable, as there is an efficient public bus system.
Unfortunately, this is true, as many CS have mentioned this. However, Maui does have a public bus system, which is efficient and inexpensive, although it can be slow, as renting a car is far more convenient. A rental vehicle the ideal way to see Maui.
I believe that the cheapest car rental agencies are Kihei-Rent-A- Car and Kimos- Rent- A- Car, as opposed to the large corporate car agencies. You should shop around for the best deals in rental vehicles, as it pays to compare rental prices.
Kihei-Rent-Car will pick up those by shuttle, who rent cars from them, at the main airport, by pe-arrangement. and are locally owned and family operated. The only complaint that I have heard is that their insurance rates are a bit high, as you need to inquire, as I do not know.
Newsflash***** I just learned from one of my Couchsurfers that Kihei-Rent-A -Car has NO YOUTH premium for those renting a car, who are under the age of 25 years old, unlike the large corporate car rental agencies.
While they are not luxurious, they are well maintained and legal, as the rental car company is locally owned and operated. I was told that the cars are inexpensive, good value, and the owners friendly and very helpful. This could be of great help to those who thought that renting a car on Maui under 25 years old,would be beyond their travel budget. It might be well worth investigating.
****I have just learned this morning that the previously known auto/car rental agency, ‚Advantage‘, now known as ‚Advantage/Easy /Rent‘, near the airport, can be rented for as little as 138 dollars, including taxes, for 7 days, as it is on a daily supply and demand basis. Their car rental charges change all the time, as you must inquire. Apparently you can reserve a vehicle online as well with them.
Kihei- Rent- a- Car is another local and family owned rental car operation on Maui, as their base is obviously, in Kihei, on the other side of the island, and not by the airport. It does pay to shop around, as this rental car agency does charge a youth premium, for those under 25 years of age. They will pick up customers, from the airport, upon arrival. with their shuttle, as well as for departing passengers.
Maui has arguably the finest climate that I have ever experienced, anywhere, although it can be expensive to visit and to live here. It continues to be the number one island choice of surfers, windsurfers, and beach enthusiasts in the world, as it is sometimes almost too popular.
I am sometimes contacted by Couchsurfers several times a day, as I have refused to host almost all of them at this time. I advise those CS to go to the local hostels, as this is the peak of the tourist season.
I suggest that you make a reservation at one of the hostels, in advance, before you arrive on Maui. Summer on the other side of the island ( Kihei, Lahaina) is HOT, mostly during the summer, and can be quite uncomfortable during this period.
I think that the hostel maybe initially best option for the for the budget tourist, the back packer and the young traveler, if you will be on Maui for only a short time, as it is possible meet other travelers, who might also share expenses for a rental vehicle, if you choose not to rent one.
I realize, that for some travelers, especially older ones, that they may find that hostels are sometimes a bit awkward, but they do serve a purpose.
Perfect for the young traveler looking to meet other travelers, hopefully, to share a rental car, for companionship as this arrangement is quite common for those who cannot or will not rent a car.
Naturally, I am biased, as Maui really does have it all, from the nature, beaches, surfing, to the touristy stuff. I live on the more residential side of the island near world class, surfing , hiking and beaches.
In my opinion, Honolulu, certainly has its attractions as it is essentially a large city, with its share of sites, as well as the hassles of a city. The outer islands, Kauai, Maui, Big island are more laid back, less developed and less congested.
Actually I live on the opposite side from the touristy stuff, as it is a very different lifestyle than the more developed side of the island, such as Kihei and Lahaina. This side of the island is the windsurfing/surf capital, and far more casual and residential.
My previous CS have all regretted not spending more time here on Maui, if you really want a taste of Hawaii and have little time. It is, of course, your decision. Spreading oneself around the islands tends to dilute the Hawaii island experience, in my opinion.
Arriving late at night, may be awkward, as the buses stop running at 9:00 pm and taxis, like anywhere, can be prohibitively expensive. This depends on what time that one arrives on Maui, although there is a public bus from the airport.
Finding a CS host on Maui, with minimal references, or none, can be difficult, as hosts are more discriminating these days. CS hosts have become more selective in recent years.
The most beautiful campsite on Maui, is located near Hana, and it is called Wainapanapa, as it is inexpensive, and up to 6 campers are permitted to camp there at each campsite. You must reserve a camp site in advance and only on line. It is a very nice place as Hana is the gem of the island.
If you wish to camp, the best and safest place is Wainapanapa State Park, obviously, a state park, as opposed to a county one, just outside the beautiful and relatively undeveloped area of Hana, arguably the most beautiful part of the island. It is almost beach front as it is very beautiful.
Olowalu is another campsite, although not as nice as Wainapanapa, but free, popular, and on the main highway towards Lahaina.
However, all reservations must be made online, as I believe that they charge 19 dollars a night per camping place, for non-residents. Wainapanapa State Park is a state maintained Maui campsite, and is safe and well maintained, as well as a beautiful location outside Hana. This might be your best bet, as it is cheap, very nice, if you are willing to camp.
However, due to the popularity, it may possibly be full. I have learned that Wainapanapa has many vacancies, as each camp site can accomodate up to 6 persons per campsite. It really is a gorgeous area of the islands. Check anyway, as they always have cancellations and no shows. It is really quite nice and well maintained.
Kanaha Park, a Maui County camping area, near the airport, is a popular windsurfing area during the day, but sketchy at night, as it attracts the homeless, drifters, and druggies at night, as this is a county park, as it is not advisable to camp there.
I advise you to read the following, as it may assist you in your trip to Maui. You might also try to find a copy of the excellent guidebook, ‚Maui Revealed‘, which is far superior to the Lonely Planet series, and quite practical, as it is available online or here at Costco on Maui. However, it might not be necessary, as you will only be here for a short time. I
However it is easy enough to avoid the more touristy activities, if you wish to, and, if that is what you want. It depends where your interests are and what you wish to do, while visiting Maui. You may want to reserve a bed at one of the hostels in advance, as I have described them.
It easy to escape to the less developed and most beautiful areas of the island like Up Country and Hana. I live in the more rural/suburban area of Haiku, also known as Up Country, which is more residential and definitely cooler during the hot summers.
From November 20th until after the end of April, is really the peak tourist season, when many residents on Maui are hosting family and friends over the winter from the mainland.. This is a precaution, although one should have no problem finding a bed in one of the hostels later in the season.
I also advise all visitors to reserve a space at one of the hostels during your visit, if you choose, at least initially, as there will probably be some rooms available during this period. If available, they will be expensive. You will be lucky to find a bed at the hostels or with a CS during the holiday season.
I doubt that many will respond to your request for a host during this summer period, as you never know, You might get lucky, although it is the mid season of the popular winter tourist season. Maui has now experienced a dramatic increase in tourists as prices have pyramided for rentals which are expensive and increasingly scarce.
The the rates for the two hostels are currently 33 dollars a night for a dormitory bed at the Northshore Hostel and 52 dollars at the Banana Bungelow, for a dorm bed, not cheap, but one of the the least expensive options at this time of the season on Maui. The Northshore hostel is smaller, more personable, and of course, cheaper than the Banana Bungelow which is larger more expensive and impersonable. The Aloha Surf Hostel has received excellent reviews.
The Banana Bungelow hostel is supposed to be the most convenient choice, as my CS guests preferred this hostel, as they have free tours to different areas of the island, on alternate days, depending on demand, for those who are guests. They are also more expensive.than their rival the Northshore Hostel.They have free tours to Haleakala and Hana, locations which are NOT serviced by pubic bus.
However, I just learned of a better choice of hostel, as everything is within walking distance as it is also a very small, laid back town and readily accessible to the beaches, as opposed to the two based in Wailuku. I describe it in the following paragraphs.
The hostels are ideal, for those who do not or cannot rent a vehicle, as there are tours around the island on alternate days for those staying at the Banana Bungelow. You can always find other travelers looking for travelers to share the expense and companionship of a rental vehicle.
The Maui tours are free to customers staying at the hostel, but they fill up quickly, if you can find a place/bed at this late date. As you know, this is Maui is now a year round tourist destination, although summers a little slower, as the hostels still may even be booked up.
The only expense, is a free will tip to the driver, if you wish. It maybe difficult to get a bed or room at this time at the hostels, as you need to check or make a reservation in advance. You might get lucky to find a CS host, but do not count on it.
Attitudes are definitely hardening toward those CS, especially those with no references of hosting other CS, or having never hosted at all, as many CS hosts no longer live here on Maui. Many CS hosts that are listed, are no longer current, have withdrawn or left the island. The CS host list has not been updated, as I am contacted by potential CS guests daily.
Hostels, while not inexpensive, are also excellent places to meet other travelers, or perhaps share a rental car and expenses with other budget travelers. It can also be fun to meet and travel with other companions, from around the world. I will list the three main hostels that I am aware of.
The Banana Bungelow’s direct number is (808 (244-5090), as you can also make reservations online, at www.mauihostel.com as they are open, until 11:00 pm, as you must account for the world time difference wherever you live.
Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel
Another nearby other hostel, less than ten minutes away, within walking distance of the Banana Bungelow, is the Northshore Hostel, also in Wailuku. Their direct number is (808)986-8095. They can be contacted email@example.com. They offer a free pancake breakfast, but do charge for any and all tours, that originate from the hostel. The Banana Bungelow and the Aloha Surf Hostel in Paia do NOT request fees for tours, as long as one is a registered guest..
I recently just learned about another hostel that is actually relatively close to me. It is located in the small boutique town of Paia, as it actually is superbly placed, being within walking distance of shopping, a popular and excellent heath food store, Mana Foods, as well as the excellent nearby beaches. It is called the Aloha Surf Hostel, located at 221 Baldwin Avenue, in Paia. I realize that I am repetitive so please excuse the multiple references!
It is actually under new management, has been refurbished, and has received excellent reviews. It is about 10 minutes by taxi from the airport ( 25 dollars), or easily accessible by public bus ($2.00) during day, from the airport, until 9:00 pm. Cost is 44.50 per night, ( excluding taxes), for a bed, in a dorm room for 6, free tours, and a free pancake breakfast. Their phone number is (808) 868-0117. It is advisable to make advance reservations, as it apparently fills up quickly. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe that the Northshore Hostel, Banana Bungelow or the Aloha Surf Hostels maybe your best hostel options, assuming that they have any beds, as they sell out quickly in the winter. Apparently, the newly refurbished Aloha Surf Hostel has received excellent reviews and is accessible to the non-touristy beaches on the island.
Please do not hesitate to ask me for any assistance or info, should you have any further questions.
Good luck and have a pleasant visit.