Kamaole Sands Resort Review: A Budget-Friendly Beach Basecamp For Your Maui Vacation (2022)

Short-term condo rentals, such as those at Kamaole Sands Resort, could be your answer to a budget friendly stay on Maui — without skimping on essential amenities. Just don’t expect poolside pampering and high-end onsite restaurants here, like you would at a luxury resort. 

Here’s what it’s like to stay at a condo rental in Kihei. 

**Disclaimer: We’ve been so impressed with Kamaole Sands in the past that we purchased a condo there. The specific unit I reference in this post is our own.**

Is a short-term condo rental the right pick for your vacation? We lay out everything you need to know about staying at one of South Maui’s most popular resorts — Kamaole Sands in Kihei.

Ready to book a condo at Kamaole Sands? We highly recommend vacation rental managers PMI Maui. Click here for a list of units they manage at Kamaole Sands. Or click here to book the specific condo rental mentioned in this post.

In this post:

What I love

  • Easy beach access just across the street  
  • Less than a block away from the Kihei boat landing for water tours  
  • Access to kitchen and laundry make longer stays more comfortable
  • Parking included

Good to know

  • Owners may install standalone air conditioner units. No central air conditioning
  • Independent ownership. Fees for booking, management, and cleaning fees differ from unit to unit 
  • No contactless or mobile check in (yet). They’re working on it
  • No onsite restaurants, but there are plenty of food options nearby

Kihei: A casual beach town

Kihei is a walkable beach town with a selection of casual restaurants, grocery stores, and sundry shops — perfect for picking up a tube of reef-safe sunscreen or spam musubi snack. Many of the businesses in this part of Kihei are also locally owned, giving the area a community feel you don’t get when big box brands move into an area.  

Outdoor seating at Lava Java on South Kihei Road, 1.5 miles from Kamaole Sands.

Then there’s the shoreline that draws people to this beach town. Parallel to South Kihei Road, the two-lane thoroughfare that slices through town, tourists and locals alike flock to the long stretch of beach. Overall, Kihei feels like a good mix of locals and part-time residents, along with tourists. 

Sunset across the street from Kamaole Sands, at Kamaole Beach Park III.

Location-wise, we’ve found that Kihei is an easier and shorter drive getting to major destinations around the island. For example, getting to the OGG airport from Kaanapali takes nearly twice the time it takes to get to Kamaole Sands. 

For those on a moderate vacation budget, this section of Kihei puts you close to the exclusive Wailea resort neighborhood, without the price tag.

The Kamaole Sands vibe: low key with a side of aloha

At Kamaole Sands, the resort parallels Kihei town’s energy. Walk the grounds and you’re greeted with smiles from other guests, residents, and staff alike. 

Each unit at Kamaole Sands is independently owned and managed. There are a small percentage of full-time residents and a larger percentage of part-time owners who live in their units for weeks or months at a time. 

Kamaole Sands Resorts sits directly across the street from Kamaole Beach Park III.

Many owners choose to rent their condo (or condos plural, as I know some own multiple units) to offset the cost to keep it running. Vacationers who stay at Kamaole Sands include all sorts: honeymooners, young families, parents with teenagers, multi-generational and extended families, babymooners, Maui fanatics, first timers, couples, and more. 

And while Kamaole Sands isn’t the fanciest you’ll find (drive farther south to Wailea if you need luxury), it does feel like one of the most relaxed — where we can be ourselves. For us, the resort community feels like a home away from home. And it’s one of the main reasons why we decided to buy a place here. 

Our stay and impressions

We stayed at our unit in Kamaole Sands for two weeks at the end of May 2022. At every step, we made an effort to experience Kamaole Sands through the lens of a vacationer stepping onto the resort for the first time. Here are our thoughts:

Check-in and initial impression

We checked in at the resort’s reception building, which is open 24 hours, in the early evening. Two receptionists greeted us with a smile and chatted with us during the check-in process. 

The receptionist located our reservation information and walked us through a packet that contained a map, parking info, the gate code, and resort rules. We also had to provide our car’s license number to obtain a parking permit.

Our unit’s assigned parking spot is in front of building 8, not our actual building, which is building 9. Not a big deal for us, but it’s something to think about if you have mobility issues. If we had heavy items from a Costco shopping trip, for example, we would drop things off in front of our building and circle back to our parking spot after unloading. 

And while the resort is one of the older communities on Maui, built in the early 1980s, we didn’t notice any dilapidated areas or peeling paint. Foliage around each building remained as well-kept as in the main courtyard.

Foliage directly in front of our condo unit.

Our unit at Kamaole Sands

Our condo lies in building 9, which sits just outside of the U-shaped building configuration. The unit doesn’t have direct access to the inner courtyard with a view of the fountain, pool, and grounds. 

We find this location more private, as the buildings facing the courtyard don’t have much privacy on the lanai. Our building 9 unit faces a side street that’s blocked visually by a tree line. During our two-week stay, we saw only a few people walk past our lanai. One of them was the resort security guard making his rounds.

One of the top things Maui vacationers often look for is an ocean view. While you’d get the best view from an upper level unit, our first floor condo has a rare peek-a-boo ocean view. 

The layout of the unit is a one bedroom, two bathroom configuration. A sofa bed pullout in the living room accommodates two people for a maximum occupancy of four. The previous owners remodeled the unit in 2021 using mid-level materials. 

The kitchen. The kitchen had the utensils and pans I needed. On most mornings I scrambled eggs for breakfast. On one night, I fried up some lumpia. The kitchen was also useful for bringing back leftovers from a big meal to snack on later.

Chopping veggies for homemade lumpia in our Kamaole Sands kitchen.

Other amenities. We had plenty of beach gear in the closet: boogie boards, a pool noodle, four Tommy Bahama beach chairs with backpack straps, a cooler, and a bag of plastic beach toys. We used the chairs almost every day, walking them across the street to enjoy sunset on the beach. 

And having an in-unit washing machine and dryer made packing much easier (and lighter). We like to work out while on vacation, so we go through multiple sets of clothes every day. The laundry units are a game changer for packing plans. 

Tips for choosing a short-term condo rental at Kamaole Sands 

All of the vacation rental units at Kamaole Sands are independently owned and operated. That means interiors and amenities can differ dramatically from unit to unit. Some may have an older design aesthetic, while others may have been remodeled and modernized in recent years. 

Here’s what to consider when choosing a condo rental at Kamaole Sands:

Individual unit numbers and floorplans 

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms. At Kamaole Sands, unit configurations range from one to three bedrooms. The bedroom count dictates maximum occupancy. For example, the maximum occupancy for the one-bedroom unit is four people. 

View of Kamaole Sands resort from the street

Floor level and views. Each building has an elevator and stairs for ground level access. Higher levels tend to have better views. But units on the upper floors aren’t as convenient to access as a ground floor unit, especially if you’re in and out of the unit a lot.   

Interior design. Has the unit been recently remodeled, or is it a 1983 throwback? Personally, I care more about cleanliness, but a pleasing design aesthetic can certainly make a vacation more relaxing.

Amenities. Many owners have beach and pool equipment available for use. Example beach amenities include: beach chairs, beach towels, pool noodles, boogie boards, and beach toys.  

Building location

Five of the resort buildings are configured in a U-shape, while three buildings lie on the outer section, without direct views of the interior courtyard grounds. 

The buildings that overlook the inner courtyard are building numbers 1 to 3, 5 to 7, and 10. Building numbers 4, 8, and 9 don’t overlook the inner courtyard. 

Deciding on a building location will depend on your preferences. If you enjoy sitting on your lanai with a view of the resort grounds, any of the inner courtyard buildings could work. 

For easiest pool access, consider building numbers 2, 3, and 6. If you prefer a lanai with privacy and less pool noise, look at units in the outer buildings of 4, 8, and 9.   

Building 10 sits closest to South Kihei Road, but that also means that it’s the closest walk to the beach. 

We chose building 9 because we like how private our lanai feels. It’s also a short walk to the main road without being too close to the noise. 

Owner or property manager policies and fees

Legal vacation rentals. Short-term vacation rentals are heavily restricted on Maui. Whether you book a Kamaole Sands condo directly with the owner or through a property manager, confirm that the rental has a valid transient accommodation tax (TAT) account with the state. A valid TAT indicates that the unit is registered as a short term rental. 

To verify a vacation rental’s TAT, search the Hawaii Department of Taxation business lookup here.    

Fees. The community has a set resort fee and check-in fee for non-owner guests, which total $70 as of June 2022. Many owners and managers collect this fee from the guest upfront as part of the booking. The resort then bills the owner later. 

Uncovered off street parking is also usually included with your stay, as each condo has its own assigned spot.

Other vacation rental fees are typically set by the owner and management, so the amount may vary from unit to unit. These costs may include:

  • cleaning fee
  • booking fee
  • cancellation fee
  • deposit amount

Also, you’ll find different management policies from unit to unit. Each owner has their own booking procedure and cancellation policy. Some may allow late check in or check out, while others may not.   

Bottom line: Shop around, compare condo rentals by calculating the total overall cost, and read the fine print before booking.

Pool and grounds

Kamaole Sands has one main pool area and two hot tubs. We never used the pool during our stay, but we walked by several times. In the mornings, the pool was empty. By mid-afternoon and evening, the area was bustling. 

There are several lounge chairs and a few tables with umbrellas. Missing are poolside service, water slides, ocean views, and extra frills. If those amenities are important to you, you’re better off splurging for a stay at a Wailea or Kaanapali resort.

As far as the grounds, the manicured landscaping at Kamaole Sands is one of the resort’s best features. Walking past the orchids, bird of paradise blooms, and central fountain makes for an enchanting stroll.

One of the barbecue spots available for use by resort guests and residents.

Fitness center

Serious fitness buffs will probably be disappointed with the Kamaole Sands gym. Located next to the pool, the fitness center has just the basics — a dumbbell rack, a single weight machine, a rowing machine, two treadmills, and an elliptical machine. 

It’s an adequate space to work out in, but not particularly inspiring. 

I recommend bringing a towel or your own exercise mat. The few workout mats I spied hanging from the wall looked sad and tired — and I can’t speak to how frequently the mats are cleaned.  

One bright note: The gym was in the middle of a refresh, and there are talks among the owners’ association about updating the equipment. Hopefully the association will spruce up the space over time with newer, more modern equipment.  

Onsite activities at Kamaole Sands

Kamaole Sands hosts several onsite activities (availability can change based on the season):

  • Turtle presentation with a naturalist from the Maui Ocean Center
  • Whale presentation with a naturalist
  • Tennis lessons
  • Wednesday poolside luau 

Where to eat nearby

Kamaole Sands has no onsite eateries, but you don’t have to venture far to satisfy a rumbling stomach.

The Cinnamon Roll Place is only an 8 minute walk from the Kamaole Sands Resort.

These are some popular food spots within a few blocks of the resort: 

  • Coconut Fish Cafe – Casual sit-down spot with wild-caught fish and Hawaiian flavors.
  • 808 Deli – Take-out sandwich spot. Try the pudding.
  • Cinnamon Roll Place – Best. Cinnamon. Rolls. Ever.  
  • Cafe O’Lei – Casual dine-in restaurant specializing in fresh seafood and local cuisine.
  • Southshore Grindz – Casual eatery with a relaxed vibe that focuses on food sourced from the island.

Nearby activities

The resort retains an onsite concierge to assist guests with everything from snorkeling rentals and tour recommendations, to tips for touring the island. Find the activity concierge in the Kamaole Sands pool area. 

The activity concierge at Kamaole Sands sits at this kiosk adjacent to the pool area.

These are a few popular activities near the Kamaole Sands Resort:

  • Take a snorkeling tour that leaves from the Kihei boat ramp. The boat ramp is only a five minute walk south from Kamaole Sands. 
  • Splash around at the local beach. Kihei has some of the most popular beaches on Maui — and one of them (Kamaole Beach Park III) is just across the street from the resort. 
  • Lighten your wallet at The Shops at Wailea. The luxury shopping center features high-end brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Pick up a new pair of sandals at Olu Kai, or stop for ice cream in a waffle cone at Lappert’s. 
  • Discover the Makena beaches. Farther south, explore one of the largest beaches on Maui — Big Beach at Makena State Park.
  • Hike a lava field. Drive south to the literal end of the road and hike the moderately difficult Hoapili Trail. Spy wild goats in the trees before venturing onto the rocky lava trail. At the turnaround point, find one of the most stunning and remote beaches on the island.   

Read more about South Maui’s stunning Makena beaches: 5 BREATHTAKING MAKENA BEACHES ON MAUI YOU HAVE TO SEE TO BELIEVE

Getting there

It takes about 25 minutes to drive to the Kamaole Sands Resort from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG). If you aren’t renting a car, we’ve always had good luck using a rideshare service (such as Uber or Lyft) from the airport 

We don’t recommend traveling by bus from the airport. The journey takes over an hour, and you’d need to transfer to a different line at Kahului’s Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. It’s not terribly convenient, especially with luggage.  

To get to Kamaole Sands, drive south on Highway 311 for around 12 miles. Turn right on Keonekai Road. Make a left at the end of the street. The Kamaole Sands main resort entrance is on your left. 

From the entrance, follow the street as it bends left. The check-in reception building will be on your left. Guest spaces are available in the adjacent parking lot for check in with the resort desk.

The bottom line about Kamaole Sands

The Kamaole Sands Resort is perfect if you’re bent on exploring the island and need a central place to clean up and regroup before heading back out for another adventure. Or if you don’t have the budget for $1,500/night resort stay. 

We think that staying at the resort is a great value for a stay in a central Maui location. You won’t have poolside pampering or a daily cleaning service. But what Kamaole Sands does offer is a comfortable, home-like spot to come back to after a long day of touring the island.

About Author

Hi, I’m Gina — managing editor, Maui enthusiast, and human behind the keyboard here at Maui Trip Guide. When I’m not on the island at my Kihei condo, you can find me planning my next travel adventure from my home in the Pacific Northwest.

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