Your Future Maui Vacation May Save the Island from Further Disaster

Your Future Maui Vacation May Save the Island from Further Disaster

Maui will be dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophe of epic proportions for a long time. The physical damage to Maui is in Lahaina, with West Maui (including Kaanapali) being cut off from tourism until further notice. However, the 109 square miles of West Maui comprise just 15% of the island’s 735 square miles.

But there’s another type of disaster that’s looming, and it is a financial one.; Maui island is, whether you like it or not, highly reliant on tourism continuing unabated.

With 85% of the island not damaged, many visitors and hotels are left wondering.

How to move forward with trip planning and reservations is at the top of everyone’s thoughts. The rest of Maui has hotels and vacation rentals open that can welcome visitors when the time is right. But having said that, they are impacted by what happened and by every decision that gets made.

The state initially asked all visitors to leave Maui after the Lahaina fire. And now hotels and vacation rentals in South Maui (Kihei and Wailea), Central Maui (Kahului), Upcountry Maui, and East Maui (Hana) are wondering how long they have to sit with open availability.

Initially, the state urged visitors to leave Maui following the Lahaina fire.

But that has since changed. There has been no official confirmation of a return to Maui travel, but the governor stated on Facebook that Maui needs visitors to return, and you have called for it in countless comments.

Hindsight will be great in evaluating whether the decisions made were the best ones, and will help both in preventing and mitigating future disasters. What’s done is done, but some are seeing the call by Lieutenant Governor Luke for all visitors to leave as unnecessarily drastic, and ill-advised. We saw this weekend in Honolulu an enormous number of people who reported moving there after being evacuated from Maui last week. The crowding was very noticeable everywhere.

The need for tourism employment to return is becoming critical.

It is ultimately a personal decision for the visitor about when to return, and visitors will need to decide for themselves. But here are some things to keep in mind for the moment, and over the next weeks:

West Maui is off-limits until further notice, and we don’t have information about when that will change. Placards are required for entry into West Maui and are only available to full-time residents and critical personnel.

Shelters are still open on Maui because of so many people who have no place to live. These people need housing before tourism can be fully restored.

The official death count will no doubt climb higher in the coming days. 500 or more people have probably perished. This is devastating to all of Maui because everyone is highly connected. There needs to be time to heal and we don’t even know when the full impact of the fire will be known.

Haleakala National Park will reopen on August 16. That’s a good sign for things moving forward in the near future.

Is island-wide infrastructure capacity constrained?

We have heard that yes, it is, but have also heard that no, it isn’t. For example, a number of comments have mentioned shortages of diapers and other necessities at Maui stores. Please confirm if you know about that.

BoH comments highlight the many differing points of view on resuming Maui travel:

“We are the ones donating our time money and resources locally to help the effort. But if you take away our income then we cannot sustain that effort or ourselves. The balance is no travel to West Maui for now and let the resorts there house the displaced. Let the rest of the island sustain the economy. The reality is that getting money from the state or FEMA takes months to years.”


Susan: “What about us? We need to make a living too! How can we survive if again the tourist trade is interrupted by an unforeseen event that in this case doesn’t even affect us?” I say come to the south side. Kihei is fine. Wailea is fine. It’s up to you to make your own decision.”

Seth said, “I live on Maui and work in the customer service industry in a management position, Southern Maui. To all those asking, if there are available rooms to book in Kihei and Wailea, or you already have reservations, please come. With a lack of business, I will not be able to justify fully staffing as usual. It’s a business and operating for a loss means closing down, causing further job loss. With fewer shifts to go around, the hourly workers will suffer causing a major domino effect into the inability to pay bills and their daily needs. When visiting, be respectful. Although it is your vacation and money, realize the workers have experienced tragic loss. It’s an island, we all know each other, the nightmare we are living through while trying to put on a smile and go to work, with the pictures, videos, loss of friends and families, etc is really taking a toll. But we are all doing what we need to do to get by.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum sits Julie’s comment: “People should just cancel their vacation… the people who live and work on Maui just lost everything… the airlines are honoring your plane tickets .just take the credit and go somewhere else for your vacation…. or put it on hold… all resorts and hotels should open for the residents who lost their homes. And the government should foot the bill.”

What are your thoughts about upcoming Maui vacations?

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117 thoughts on “Your Future Maui Vacation May Save the Island from Further Disaster”

  1. should be having musical events to help raze money for rebuild.
    would like to know what areas of the island we can vacation in so that we can spend dollars there.
    never was able to get there. always wanted to go. now want to vacation where maybe some of my dollars can add to the pot and posable help.
    with all our love and support dale and donna

  2. There is no “private” news anymore. Een through the White House. So I would like an informed mind to tell me; What is the next step for: The displaced families? Why is there not any statements on what type of living arrangements will happen for them? What is the next step to clean and de-toxify Lahaina? Could they not take a section of the land, to get it prepared for temporary housing? And if so, what kind of temporary housing would be acceptable with the climate of Hawaii? Why is there not an outline of proposed steps planned? Nothing is private anymore with social media, yet we see nothing on this?! I know in school we had to outline steps in our studies. I’d like to see the outline here?! I would be sad to learn that the State of Hawaii is just like the Mainland and afraid to make a move for offending someone! Look what that gets us?! Nowhere, but crime and stalemate.

  3. Maybe rebrand Maui Strong to Lahaina Strong. As long as Maui is a disaster area then tourists won’t visit. It’s unclear whether Maui is a disaster or not if all the fundraising and support is blended together.

    1. Christa I agree with you. because most humans are followers and the un-informed have no idea the geography of Maui nor really the reason they want to vacation on this island. Back in my childhood school day, we had to study history, national geographics. We had tests and had to know each state well. When I first visited Hawaiian chains, in the 70’s, it was because I loved the history, land, and the beautiful people that was studied for years. I wanted to see it all first hand. Now, it is a social media bucket list, selfie zone, etc. But, back to your statement. Marketing should not be: Come to Maui:, bring your full wallet, tip extra, volunteer on your days off when you worked 5 years to get there, and now the entrance or exit of West Maui. These are some of the statements I read that understandably are needed, but for sure not good marketing for time in Paradise for the uneducated or uninformed which is pretty widespread…unfortunately.

  4. Thank you for all your info. We received a note from the condo that we are renting in March of next year. They are saying please don’t cancel. They even gave us a list of All the stores and restaurants that are open in west Maui! We will come!!!

  5. You want us to cancel our reservation at Kaanapali but the Air BnB will not cooperate and let us cancel by not giving us a refund. We are due to stay in Kaanapali from 11/16 through 11 24. Please advise us.

    1. Hi Cecile.

      There will be updated guidance from the state about West Maui. That should not take long, while you’re reservation is still more than two months away.


  6. I am planning on coming to Maui in February to visit a friend
    She lives upcountry
    What should I do? I can volunteer and help.

  7. Hello,

    We have a trip planned for late October, and after the guidance this week we have decided to keep our plans, with a slight modification. Our original plans included stays in both south and west Maui, and we have changed everything to stay in south Maui.

    We would like to do some volunteering while we are there. I know this is a ways away and it is hard to predict what the need will be. But can someone point us to local organizations, including churches, that may be seeking and/or coordinating volunteer efforts?

  8. Our vacation for Sept 7th through 19th was canceled.
    Airlines ( United) returned our full airfare. Our condo owner ERIC also paid us back Our money. vrbo was great.
    We will book Hawaii end of 2024.

  9. My thoughts exactly, and what we plan to do when we return to West Maui in January as we have been doing for nearly 20 years.

  10. This is a valid rich important question and statement. I for one experienced for months while reseraching Maui brutal social media posts that we are no longer welcome and should stay out. This was before the fire. I wish we knew what posts to believe. I know what sounds logical, but when our lives are threatened by certain posts, one wonders.

  11. I agree that stopping tourism completely will have a severe impact on the economy. That being said, tourists who do still go thru with their vacations, will need to adjust accordingly. Pack a suitcase full of patience and empathy for what these residents are experiencing, open it immediately and use it liberally.
    Once the recovery phase is over and they move to rebuilding, maybe there will be opportunities to offer a few days of your vacation to volunteer your services.

  12. i am planning on visiting Maui at the end of December and attend the tournament of champions golf tournament at Kapalua.
    my first question is, will the golf tournament at Kapalua be canceled?
    Is there any fire damage in the Napili or Kapalua area?
    I am constantly praying for the people of Maui.

    1. I seriously doubt that the Tournament of Champions would be cancelled and I expect that by that time the chorus of “please return to West Maui and support the local economy” will be essentially unanimous. Of course all good people recognize the importance of respecting the important search and recovery work in Lahaina which must be carefully completed and I hope that we’re also able to acknowledge the importance of welcoming visitors back into west Maui to avoid an economic catastrophe. I own and manage 2 vacation rental properties in west Maui and I just got off the phone with the cleaner for one of them. She’s displaced from her (still standing) apartment in Lahaina and now staying in Ka’anapali and her daughter will be able to finish her senior year high school at Maui Prep in Napili. We had a good conversation with no cell reception problems and she was in surprisingly good spirits, describing how the community has come together so I take this as another indication of Maui’s strength. My other west Maui property is at the Honua Kai resort in Kaanapali, which has taken zero fire damage and my understanding is that there was no damage to Napili or Kapalua, which are miles away from Lahaina. 2 years ago my friends and I played the Plantation course the day after the pros finished and all the pins were in the same spots. Enjoy your stay in West Maui and thank you for supporting the local economy and the people of Maui by not cancelling your travel plans.

  13. I live in the Lahaina; the devastation and suffering is enormous! While our local Kaanapali resorts gear up to serve the needs of those homeless from the fires, I think in the upcoming weeks or perhaps a month they will open up again for tourists as the hospitality industry & related jobs find its way amongst the recovery… I know many people who lost everything except their lives… many people are worried that if the tourism takes a drastic down turn on the West side, they will lose their jobs as the resorts cannot continue to pay them without guests. Most importantly, we honor the recovery efforts, as the dead have not been accounted for by any stretch of the imagination! I pray those trying to make a living and survive through this severe tragedy will not lose their livelihoods, as so, many have already …#MauiStrong

  14. It is such a fine line. I do have clients that will be arriving Maui August 19th and they are staying in Wailea. My best find of information has said they are functioning and need the reservations. With great sadness and full respect for all of Maui that has experienced the most devasting disaster with horrific loss of life and property, I hope supporting the businesses that are able to keep operating might allow them to provide the help their neighbors are in dire need of.

  15. It was understandable to discourage travel to the island during the days immediately following the fire. There was an immense strain on all resources across the island. The fire wasn’t completely out, there were other fires, traffic, staffing changes (people who lived in Lahaina didn’t necessarily work there), and I can only imagine stores and gas stations were impacted as residents gathered resources to donate to West Maui. Not to mention the complete devastation that many residents felt and carried with them in those first few, terrible days.

    It’s hard to know what one Should do regarding travel. HTA doesn’t speak for all residents. A few individuals on social media do not speak for all residents. A few business owners do not speak for all residents. I would say, look at HTA for the foundational guidance.

    I am cancelling a trip to visit a friend upcountry in September. I don’t mean to have a holier-than-thou attitude about it, but it just didn’t feel right to me, so I’m not going. If it feels right to you to continue your own trip to Maui, do as HTA says and contact your accommodations for more info (unless it was West Maui in which case it sounds like you’re out of luck through August). If you might be able to spare some funds for a donation toward Lahaina families or restoration efforts, that could be nice too.

    1. I have a Hyatt timeshare (on the west side) reservation at the end of the month. Hyatt says I will have to pay a cancellation fee to cancel!!!!!! How terrible. Why isn’t Hyatt opening its facilities to the homeless? Why doesn’t the federal government rent the facility to house the homeless? Shame on Hyatt and shame on our government.

  16. Perhaps you should listen to the Hawaiians who have been voicing their true feelings. Tourism accounts for only 25% of the income for Maui. Tourists are a drain on limited resources and further contributing to environmental issues that contributed to this fire

      1. Yeah. Reuters and Time magazine have tourism as 80% of Maui economy (“according to the island’s economic development board”).

    1. “…Tourists are a drain on limited resources and further contributing to environmental issues that contributed to this fire”
      So now the tourists are responsible for the fire? Wow. Please explain?

    2. And what percentage of the residents of Maui are saying that? Is it a majority, or is this a tyranny of a noisy minority thing?
      Most people would not do well with a 25% cut in pay – I suspect that the island’s economy would not either.

      1. I’d say it’s a very small but self centered faction that could care less about the well being of the people that have lost everything and they don’t care if they are unable to be employed and start the rebuilding process. Sadly they make up “facts” (25%) to support their version with how they want the world to be. So many people are heartbroken by this disaster and it’s a time to pull together, learn from, and recover.

    3. From labor and statistics:

      As of September 2021, tourism accounted for around 75-80% of Maui’s economy. The state of Hawaii hovers around 25%.

    1. I live and have deep roots on Maui. We will welcome respectful visitors as always. 80٪ of the island is unaffected. Stay out of Lahaina side.

      If we all lose our jobs, as many likely will, our grief will be compounded!

  17. We have friends who work in West Maui and live in Lahaina, so have lost everything except their jobs, which will be there once they are able to work again in West Maui. I have talked with them, mainly listened to them. Our hearts break for the loss of so many lives, livelihoods, homes, animals, land, historical and cultural artifacts.
    We have owned a studio timeshare in West Maui for nearly 20 years and stay for several weeks in Jan/Feb. All of our plans for a Jan. 12 arrival have been made, and we hope to be permitted to follow through with them. While we send donations now, we want to do more – to support the businesses and to volunteer however we can.
    There are a lot of us who love and respect the people, the culture and the land. We hope that our presence is not an intrusion, but proof of our loyalty to a place and a community that has given us so much.


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