Maui beckons visitors to its powdery shores with the promise of sun, warm ocean waves, and a welcoming spirit (the aloha kind). Whether traveling with a baby, grade school child, or teen there are plenty things to do on Maui that are sure to please every member of your family. As a family travel blogger who has visited the Hawaiian isles numerous times, here are my picks for the best things to do on Maui with kids.
1) Play at the Beach
With 120 miles of coastline and over 30 beaches, you don’t need to travel far for a beach day. From the black sand shores of Wai'anapanapa State Park in Hana to miles of white sand along Ka’anapali Beach, you’re sure to find a spot to suit your family. There are even two special "Baby Beaches" that offer protected swimming areas with calm water. Check out Baby Beach in Lahaina and Baby Beach on the North Shore. To get started take a look at our pick of the 7 most popular beaches in Maui.
2) Drive the Road to Hana…and Stay a While
Photo: Aussie Assault via Flickr
Stretching 64.4 miles, the winding Hana Highway connects Maui’s touristy side with the sleepy eastern town of Hana. Expect some white knuckle moments as you grip the steering wheel with fear when attempting to cross one-way bridges and switchbacks while locals zoom past with a smile and a friendly hang-loose gesture. Bring cash to purchase fresh fruits and homemade banana bread from local stands along the way. The Garden of Eden Maui Botanical Gardens and Arboretum makes a delightful stopping point to stretch your legs and smell the tropical flowers. Plan to spend ALL day driving to Hana and back. Better yet, stay a night or two in this town of just over 1,200 residents. If you need to unplug and reconnect as a family, Hana is THE place to be.
3) Attend a Luau
Photo: Luke H. Gordon via Flickr
Everyone likes a party, especially when that party includes the hip shaking hula, fire dancing, and mai tais for mom and dad. Luaus are Hawaiian feasts that were once reserved for Hawaiian royalty. Today anyone can enjoy the traditional foods like roasted pulled pork and lomi salmon (salted fish marinated in lemon juice, tomatoes and onions). For those with adventurous taste buds, try the Hawaiian’s beloved poi, a purplish gray paste made from taro root. Outgoing children will love to get on stage for the audience participation portion of evening to try their best to do the hukilau, a fishing-inspired Hawaiian dance. Many resorts on the island offer luaus, or you can attend the Old Lahaina Luau, often hailed as the “most traditional” luau and one of the more authentic things to do on Maui.
4) Brave a Surf Lesson
Photo: Maui Surf Clinics
Maui is an ideal place to learn to surf, with long breaks, warm water and skilled instructors. Maui Surf Clinics offers lessons for kids as young as 4 years old, as well as family surf lessons. Your children will never forget the first time they stand up on a board and ride a wave.
5) Eat Hawaiian Shave Ice
Think shave ice is just a snow cone by another name? Think again! Made with super fine shaved ice rather than crunchy crushed ice, shave ice is often served atop a scoop of ice cream and then drizzled with tempting flavored syrups. Locals even like it topped with a little sweetened condensed milk. Choose from tempting flavors like coconut, mango, liliko'i (passion fruit), cotton candy, and many more. Tobi’s Shave Ice in Pa'ia makes a nice stopping point before hitting the Road to Hana.
6) Dive Below the Ocean in a Submarine
Dive into the ocean to view a spectacular array of brightly colored fish, coral and sea plants…all without even getting your hair wet! Families with kids at least 33 inches tall can climb aboard an Atlantis Submarine for a tour of the ocean’s gardens and sea life.
7) Zip-line across Maui
Photo: Zip Line
See Maui from a whole new angle with a zip-lining excursion. With Skyline Eco Adventures, choose from five zip-lining adventures for ages 10+. The Kaanapali Zip N’ Dip gives families a chance to soar through the air before dropping into a natural mountain lake to cool off. Heading to Haleakala? Zip across five lines over canyons and through eucalyptus trees on the slopes of the sleeping volcano in Upcountry Maui.
8) Meet Surfing Goats
Photo: Trilogy Excursions
Take a break from the beach with a day trip to the Surfing Goat Dairy in Kula. Sign up in advance for a Saturday Grand Tour to get a chance to feed and milk a goat, see the cheese making process and sample the cheeses produced at the dairy. You can also swing by for more casual daily tours without any reservation, or just to buy some of their delicious goat cheese. Do the goats really surf? No, but you wouldn’t know it from all of the surf boards serving as decorations here. You’ll find a small outdoor play area for young children and shaded picnic tables.
9) Explore a Sleeping Volcano
Although the volcano hasn’t erupted since the late 1700’s, Haleakala is considered dormant but not dead. Scientists predict that Haleakala will indeed erupt again…someday. Many visitors arrive in the wee morning hours to take in a spectacular sunrise from the summit. Families will enjoy hiking Haleakala’s trails together, while kids ages 7 to 12 will get a kick out of the Junior Ranger Program. Open 24 hours, stargazing is a popular nighttime activity in the park. Be sure to dress in layers since the temperature can be 30 degrees cooler at the summit than in Kahului, a 1.5-hour drive away.
10) And The Best Thing to Do on Maui...Watch a Sunset
Photo: Pride of Maui
Locals don’t take their good fortune of living in paradise for granted. Each night locals gather along the ocean’s shores and watch the best show in all of Maui as the sun descends and stretches fuchsia, violet, orange and crimson stripes across the sky. The crowd collectively holds their breath as the great ball of fire dips into the sea. Then everyone applauds as if to say, “Well done, Maui, you’ve done it again!”
Photo: Sands of Kahana