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When I began planning my trip to Hawaii, it was entirely based around the generous hospitality of family and friends who live there. Frankly, I didn’t know there was any other way — I pictured nothing but endless rows of high-end hotels, far out of reach of my teeny tiny budget.

And then, in my research, I stumbled upon The Banana Bungalow Hostel in Maui. A hostel, in Hawaii? I had to see this.

Banana Bungalow Maui HostelConsider me converted — The Banana Bungalow stole my heart.

After leaving The Big Island, I was supposed to stay at the Banana Bungalow for five nights. By the fourth I had already changed my plane ticket to stay another five more. I might never have left, had I not had a non-refundable trip to Las Vegas on the horizons. Read on for what makes the Bungalow such a special place.

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

The Crowd / Atmosphere

For some reason — oh, perhaps that I was in America — I expected there to be plenty of Americans at this hostel. I couldn’t have been more wrong! My countrymen and women make up only a small percentage of the diverse and international crowd at Banana Bungalow.

At the Banana Bungalow, mornings are spent eating pancakes in the sunshine, days are spent exploring the stunning island of Maui, and evenings are spent sharing drinks and stories with new friends in the courtyard — surfers, backpackers on round-the-world-trips, and even athletes from the recent Hawaii Ironman. While I arrived at Banana Bungalow not knowing a soul, I left with friends from around the world — my friend Paola from Spain has already come to visit me in Florida, and I have plans to run into a few more Bungalow-ers in Thailand this month.

There is a young, fun staff at the Banana Bungalow that feels like a tight-knit family — one that welcomes newcomers with open arms. This, combined with the fairly long-term stays of many guests, means that there is a strong community vibe in the air, one that will tempt anyone who walks through the door to be a part of it.

While there is no hostel bar and quiet hours start at 10pm, the crowd here is primarily young and party-prone. That said, families and older guests are also happy customers of the Banana Bungalow.

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Location

Nestled in the Happy Valley town of Wailuku, the bungalow has a garden-like setting so inviting that some guests spend all day relaxing in the courtyard, swinging in the hammock, or soaking in the jacuzzi.

Within walking distance lies a grocery store, a few restaurants, a post office, and other vitals. For those that want to journey further afield (and who wouldn’t, on Maui?) car rental with free parking is available, and the bungalow is 100 feet from the Piihana Terrace bus stop on the Wailuku Route.

But for those that don’t want to hassle with rental cars or public transportation, the hostel offers daily free tours around the island. You read that correctly!

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Free Tours

Without a doubt, Banana Bungalow’s greatest asset is its free tour program — a different trip each day of the week. Some tours go to different famous beach towns and snorkel spots around Maui, my favorite being the clothing-optional hippie drum circle parties on Sunday at Little Beach. More active days take you on the famous Road To Hana trip or hiking through the Ioa Valley. Saturday is the day of the Haleakala tour — my personal Maui highlight. The Bungalow tour guides are the only ones offering the full twelve-mile hike across Haleakala Crater, topped off by a sunset that could make Photoshop obsolete.

Hawaii is no bargain destination, and tours of this caliber offered by other operators on the island can run up to $100 a day, making staying at The Banana Bungalow an amazing value. Do note that all tour guides are working in exchange for accommodation only, so tipping is vital. A tip of $5-25 per tour (and a beer at the end of the day!) is appropriate.

Check back this week for reviews of the many tours I took with Banana Bungalow!

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Amenities

In addition to the usual hostel perks like a laundry room and large kitchen, Banana Bungalow really spoils its guests with bonuses like free internet and computer use, a free pancake breakfast each morning, and a free keg party every Friday. Plus, um, did I mention the free tours?

The common areas boast a jacuzzi — perfect for soaking in after a long day of hiking! — a pool table, an outdoor grill, and a massive TV with a billion channels for those mythical rainy days (I never had one while I was there).

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

The Rooms

Banana Bungalow offers both four and six bed dorms, with the option of women-only rooms. Private rooms are also available with one queen or two twin beds. The shared bathrooms vary in plushness — some are basic while the two most recently renovated were super modern and boasted some of the best water pressure I’ve ever had.

With bright colors and fabrics and thoughtful touches like original artwork on the walls, my private room at The Banana Bungalow resembled a boutique hotel more than a hostel room.

Banana Bungalow_013

Banana Bungalow_014

Banana Bungalow_015

Room For Improvement

Being closed out of the common areas (including the kitchen) from 10pm to 8am was inconvenient at times, when late night hunger or early morning thirst hit hard. The internet connectivity was spotty at times and certain rooms had better signals than others.

Wailuku is not the most exciting or convenient area in Maui, however with the free tours and cheap car rentals this never bothered me.Banana Bungalow_012

Overall Impressions

I can’t help but smile when I think of the Banana Bungalow — I cherish the time I had there, and it really got me excited about traveling solo again. The winning combination of relaxed, bohemian atmosphere, the great value and insta-friendships created by the daily tours, and the unbeatable setting on the island of Maui will have me singing the Bungalow’s praises for years to come. I recommend staying at least a week, but two if you have the time — enough time to partake in each of the tours but also have free days to kitesurf in Kahana with new friends, or to sleep in after a late night kareakoing in Kihei.

With flights to Hawaii at an all time low (I’ve seen rates from $419 for New York City to Honolulu round trip!) and the free tours offered by the Bungalow, a week in Hawaii just went from fantasy to affordable reality. Go — you might find yourself unable to leave!

Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel

Location: 310 North Market Street, Wailuku 96793
Price: Dorms are $37, Privates start at $85. There are special monthly dorm rates and surfer’s rates available.
Amenities: Free daily tours, free internet and computer use, free pancake breakfast, free Friday keg parties
Book Here: The Banana Bungalow Hostel

Would you stay at a hostel in Hawaii? What’s the greatest hostel you’ve ever stayed in?

This post was made possible by Hostelworld and the generous hospitality of the Banana Bungalow. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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31 comments… add one

  • Dad
    January 8 2013

    Very informative and as always a picture is worth a thousand words

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      I think people tend to think of hostels as icky and gross, but look how bright and clean and beautiful this place was! I took millions of photos :)

  • Camels & Chocolate
    January 8 2013

    Typically, I’m not really a hostel-kind of girl (well, not any longer…I stayed in them all the time up until I was 25 or so), but I love the feel of this place…it’s just so HAWAIIAN!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Give Back: Support Education in East Africa

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      You know, the way my travels have progressed thus far I haven’t done too much of the hostel scene (mostly traveled through Asia where there isn’t as much hostel culture and then in Europe I’ve often stayed with friends). But this place made me excited to stay in more!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    January 9 2013

    That looks so cute. Love all the details and the fact that they are offering free tours.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Top – 10 things to pack for voluntary placements

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      The free tours make this place into an amazing value! Plus they make it really easy to meet people.

  • Rebecca
    January 9 2013

    We’ve stayed in some great hostels in NZ, where you want a clean room but you don’t want to pay too much for it (we always stay in a private room).

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      I definitely prefer a private room when possible… I’m such a light sleeper! But traveling solo now I think the dorms would make it easier to meet people.

  • Shaun
    January 9 2013

    LoL! In that one pic, would you call that a, wait for it, “banana hammack” eh? :)

    Looks like a really cool place. I would not have expected a hostel in Maui that’s for sure! And free pancake breakfast? Awesome!

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      Haha, can’t believe I missed that opportunity for a pun!

  • Abby
    January 9 2013

    I could totally relax here for a few days WOW. I can see that it wouldn’t be too convenient if you had a Maui itinerary, but unwinding in places like this is my kind of vacation. With a private room, how could you say no?
    Abby recently posted..Why I am not a Farmers Market Girl

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      Especially from Las Vegas, you aren’t too far at all! Weekend in Maui… I think you deserve it!

  • Erica
    January 9 2013

    *gag* I forget how expensive hostels are in 1st world countries. Don’t get me wrong – much cheaper than a hotel but still. I think I need to head back to Latin America for a while lol.
    Erica recently posted..Washington DC: The SECOND Time Around

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      Yeah no kidding, Hawaii in general gave me stick shock after years of Southeast Asia travel. But when you add in the value of the free tours it definitely makes the price more palatable! There are cheaper hostels on Maui but you’d then have to rent a car to get out and see the island.

  • Candice
    January 9 2013

    Wow… Thank you for posting so many pictures. Usually Hawaii tourists end up at the major resorts. It’s so great that you stayed at this totally cool little hostel.
    Candice recently posted..Our Trip to New Zealand, Part 3: Queenstown

    • Alex
      January 10 2013

      Thanks Candice! I’m so happy to share great finds like this. I wouldn’t have traded my time here for a room at the fanciest resort in Hawaii.

  • Emily in Chile
    January 11 2013

    This place looks so relaxed, and the rooms are beautiful! I’m impressed.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Saturday in Santiago: Foto Ruta Santiago

    • Alex
      January 12 2013

      I know, me too! I’ve only ever stayed in one other hostel that had this great of a look/feel/vibe, and that was the Mad Monkey in Phnom Penh. Need to go back there and write a proper review!

  • Ayngelina
    January 11 2013

    I didn’t love this place but now I see why, I stayed in a dorm. I think I need to start getting private rooms because I love the social aspect of hostels but I can’t do bunkbeds anymore!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Underground in Camden Town

    • Alex
      January 12 2013

      You might be right, Ayngelina. The funny thing is when I first heard I had a private room I was a little disappointed as I was traveling along and afraid I wouldn’t meet people! What I didn’t understand is that staying in a hostel its really impossible not to.

  • Seattle Dredge
    January 11 2013

    Wooow, it looks and sounds amazing. I’m definitely going to think about staying here next time I’m on Maui :D

    • Alex
      January 12 2013

      I would come back here as the destination! Love this little hostel, thanks for sharing :)

  • Olivia
    January 12 2013

    This could be the setting for some really cool surfer movie, don’t you think?

    • Alex
      January 13 2013

      There’s this movie called Soul Surfer…

  • emma@gottakeepmovin
    February 1 2013

    This place looks awesome! I never would have imagined Hawaii would do hostels but I guess I’m proved wrong with you. Will definitely keep this in mind for future travels! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alex
      February 2 2013

      So glad to share, Emma! I never would have imagined Hawaii hostels either until this experience!

  • Looks like a great place to stay!
    Sebastian @ Off-The-Path.com recently posted..Ein Wochenende im Khao Yai National Park

  • This hostel looks amazing! The atmosphere sounds awesome, a great way to meet travelers even when you’re in your own country.
    Meredith@GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..The Beauty of Nature Travel: A Blog Roundup

    • Alex
      April 10 2013

      More than six months later and my mind still wanders back to Hawaii and the Bungalow frequently! I love this place dearly :)

  • Charu
    July 8 2013

    I think the free tours is totally brilliant, I’d so do that and I’m not a hostel person!

    • Alex
      July 8 2013

      The private rooms are really nice! Combined with the free tours they are a pretty darn good value for Hawaii as well!

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