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If you’ve heard about Maui and wondered exactly where it’s located, you’re not alone. As one of Hawaii’s most popular islands, people from all around the world dream of visiting Maui’s stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and iconic landmarks like Haleakala Crater.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 2,500 miles from California. It’s part of the Hawaiian archipelago and sits northwest of the Big Island.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about where Maui, Hawaii is located. You’ll learn key details like what island group Maui belongs to, exactly how many miles away it is from major points across the Pacific, what bodies of water surround it, and how it fits in with the other Hawaiian islands.

Maui is One of the Hawaiian Islands in the Central Pacific Ocean

Part of the Hawaiian Archipelago Northwest of the Big Island

Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, covering 728 square miles. Located northwest of Hawaii’s Big Island, Maui is a key part of the island chain that extends for over 1,500 miles across the North Pacific Ocean.

Along with Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai islands, Maui makes up the lush, tropical paradise known as Hawaii.

The island of Maui itself is made up of two shield volcanoes – the enormous Haleakala which rises 10,023 feet above sea level, and the smaller West Maui mountain range. This volcanic origin gives Maui its distinctive shape and landscape, with sandy beaches along the coastline and verdant valleys and waterfalls carved out of the interior over millions of years.

Approximately 2,500 Miles from North America

Situated almost right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Maui lies nearly 2,500 miles from the west coast of the United States. Its geographic coordinates are 20°45′N 156°20′W, placing it south of Alaska and California and west of Mexico and Canada amongst the Hawaiian islands.

Despite its remote location in the middle of the world’s largest ocean, Maui has been inhabited by Polynesian settlers for centuries. Modern transport links by air and sea now connect it to major destinations across the Pacific, bringing over 3 million visitors every year according to the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority.

Located Between Molokai and Kahoolawe

Maui is situated in between the islands of Molokai to the west and Kahoolawe to the east, only a short channel separating it from its nearest neighbors. To the south lies the island of Hawaii, home to Mauna Kea – Hawaii’s tallest mountain and the tallest island mountain in the world.

Despite its small size compared to the other Hawaiian islands, Maui stands out for its magnificent scenery – including the Road to Hana coastal drive and sweeping views from Haleakala National Park. It richly deserves its nicknames “The Valley Isle” and “The Magic Isle” thanks to its lush green valleys, glistening waterfalls and near-mystical natural beauty.

Geographic Coordinates and Major Distances to Maui

20°48′N 156°20′W: Maui’s Geographic Coordinates

The Hawaiian island of Maui is located at the geographic coordinates of 20°48′N 156°20′W, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This places Maui at around 20.8 degrees north of the equator and 156.33 degrees west of the Prime Meridian that runs through Greenwich, England.

Maui’s central location coordinates indicate that the island has a subtropical climate, with generally warm and sunny weather year-round. The trade winds blowing from the northeast provide a cooling effect and moderate temperatures.

2,500 Miles West of California

Maui lies approximately 2,500 miles west of the U.S. state of California. The ocean voyage from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Maui takes between 15-22 hours by cruise ship, depending on the port of departure and vessel speed.

The distance from California is why Hawaiʻi feels like a world away for mainland travelers. Maui retains a remote tropical island charm, even while offering most modern conveniences and amenities that visitors expect while on vacation.

2,400 Miles Southwest of Vancouver

Canada’s bustling metropolis Vancouver is situated around 2,400 miles northeast of Maui in the Pacific Ocean. It generally takes about 10-12 hours to fly directly from Vancouver International Airport to Kahului Airport on west Maui.

Many Canadians escape their frosty winters for an annual Hawaiian vacation on Maui’s beautiful beaches. And increasing numbers of Vancouverites even seek retirement homes or winter getaway condos on the Valley Isle.

4,000 Miles Southeast of Tokyo

Maui lies roughly 4,000 miles southeast of Tokyo, Japan across the Pacific Ocean. It takes approximately 8 hours to travel directly between Tokyo-Haneda and Kahului International airports.

Japanese travelers and companies have played a huge role in Maui’s cultural landscape and tourism economy since the 19th century. There is a thriving sister-city friendship between Maui and Hiroshima prefecture as well.

Oceans, Seas, and Channels Surrounding Maui

Pacific Ocean to the North, South, and West

Maui is surrounded on three sides – north, south, and west – by the vast Pacific Ocean. The Pacific stretches over 60 million square miles, covering around 30% of the Earth’s surface. Its azure waters and strong currents have shaped the geology and environment of the Hawaiian islands for millennia.

To the north, Maui faces the expanse leading towards the North Pacific islands. To the south is the shorter route to New Zealand and Antarctica. And to the west lies the longest stretch of open ocean on the planet all the way to Asia.

Alalakeiki Channel Separates Maui from Molokai

Lying just to the northwest of Maui is the island of Molokai, with Maui’s northern and western coasts facing Molokai across the Alalakeiki Channel. This channel stretches around 13 miles at its widest point and reaches depths of over 650 feet.

The channel is named after a princess in Hawaiian legend. It carries nutrients and marine life between Maui’s productive waters and Molokai’s ecosystems. Ancient Hawaiians would fish and travel between the islands across this channel before Western contact.

Alenuihaha Channel Separates Maui from Big Island

To the southeast, Maui is separated from Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island) by the Alenuihaha Channel. This is a wide and deep passage nearly 30 miles across, with a maximum depth of over 5,000 feet.

The channel’s name means “Great Billowing Cloud” in Hawaiian, referring to the volatile weather and high winds often witnessed here as waters from the north mix with warmer currents from the south. Even modern boats take care when crossing this channel between Maui and Hawaii’s largest island.

Maui’s Place Within the Hawaiian Islands Chain

Hawaiian Islands Formed by Undersea Volcanoes

The Hawaiian Islands, including Maui, were formed by a chain of volcanoes erupting up from the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean. As the Pacific tectonic plate moved slowly northwestward over a relatively stationary hotspot deep below the ocean surface, magma pushed up through vents and fissures, creating volcanoes that eventually breached the surface and formed islands.

This 40-million-year process of sequential volcanic eruptions created the Hawaiian archipelago as we know it today, with the Big Island of Hawaii being the southeasternmost and thus youngest island. Maui lies northwest of the Big Island, making it older but still considerably younger than the westernmost main islands of Kauai and Niihau.

Maui is the 2nd Largest Island After the Big Island

At 727.2 square miles, Maui ranks as the second largest of the populated Hawaiian Islands after the Big Island of Hawaii. Maui contains a land area of 620.5 square miles, plus an additional 106.7 square miles occupied by Kahoolawe, an uninhabited island just off Maui’s southern coast.

To offer a sense of scale, Maui is larger than well-known islands such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Guam. However, it is considerably smaller than Iceland, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and Tasmania.

Island Area (sq mi)
Big Island of Hawaii 4,028
Maui + Kahoolawe 727
Oahu 598

West Maui Mountains Formed from Extinct Volcano

The western half of Maui consists of the eroded remains of a once-massive shield volcano, known as the West Maui volcano. Estimated to have last been active over 1.2 million years ago, this long-extinct volcano formed extensive lava flows that created the imposing West Maui Mountains.

Towering up to nearly 6,000 feet high at some peaks, the West Maui Mountains capture refreshing rains and represent half of the island’s renowned lush landscapes filled with cascading waterfalls and plunging pools.

How to Get to Maui

Non-Stop Flights Available from West Coast

Maui has two airports that offer non-stop flights from major west coast cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and more. Kahului Airport and Kāʻanapali Airport provide convenient access to Maui for visitors flying in from the mainland United States.

The average nonstop flight time from Los Angeles to Kahului is about 5 and a half hours. Travelers can expect to pay around $300-$500 for a roundtrip ticket during peak season.

Cruise Ships Visit Maui from Pacific Ports

Cruise ships that depart from Pacific coast ports like San Diego, Vancouver, and Honolulu often visit Maui as part of larger Hawaiian itineraries. Popular cruise lines that stop in Maui include Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.

While cruise durations and prices vary greatly, visitors can expect to pay at minimum around $100 per person per night for a Hawaiian cruise itinerary. Cruises allow travelers to island hop and experience several destinations like Oahu and Kauai in addition to extended stays on Maui.

Island Hoppers Can Take Inter-Island Flights

In addition to flights from mainland U.S. cities, inter-island flights make it easy to hop between the Hawaiian Islands. Island hopper flights connect Maui to the other Hawaiian islands like Oahu and Hawaii Island.

Major airlines like Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air offer inter-island flights starting as low as $69 each way. Island hoppers can build custom Hawaii itineraries and spend a few days experiencing popular spots on each island.


As you can see, while paradise-like Maui may seem far-removed, it’s easier to access than you may think. Just a quick non-stop flight from the West Coast, Maui awaits with its world-famous beaches, epic sunsets, and local Hawaiian culture.

So now that you know precisely where it’s located in the Pacific as the second largest Hawaiian island, you can start planning your upcoming Maui vacation! Whether you’re looking to surf towering waves, hike through lush rainforests, or simply relax on golden sand beaches, you now have all the key details on how to get yourself to this Hawaiian jewel.

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