7 Favorite Things to do in Maui with Kids
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is known as the Valley Isle due to the verdant central valley flanked by two dormant volcanoes. Maui Nō Ka ʻOi meaning “Maui is the Best” is a common phrase heard around the island and it is easy to why. We’ve visited twice and longed to return. Maui offers countless activities for the whole family and spectacular beauty. Here are some of our family’s favorite activities in Maui.
Best Things to do in Maui with Kids
1. Play in the Water
Maui is blessed with 42 miles of stunning beaches. The popular ones are Ka’anapali, Kapalua, Makena and Wailea. They’re fantastic places for strolling or building sandcastles and for watching some of the most amazing sunsets. The beaches are free and many have parks, restrooms and picnic areas.
There is no shortage of aquatic activities here from snorkeling, whale watching (December through May) and kayaking to windsurfing and sailing. For an unforgettable day trip, there are tours to Molokini which is two miles off the southern coast. This protected bird and marine sanctuary is an extinct volcano’s crater.
2. Enjoy Haleakala National Park
Haleakala, Maui’s only National Park is a must visit attraction. Known in Hawaiian as “House of the Sun,” many visitors trek up the over 10,000 feet summit to experience the stunning sunrises and sunsets above the clouds. We chose to do a day trip instead and still had a great time on this dormant volcano.
The park’s highlight is the volcanic crater at the summit that looks like a lunar landscape. Pictures don’t do justice to the incredible beauty of this surreal and otherworldly scenery. It almost looked like a painting and was breathtaking. There are several trails and lookouts around this area. Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger program and earn badges. Look for the silversword plants along the trails, and you may even get lucky and spot the Nene or Hawaiian goose (the state bird).
- Wear layers when going up here. It can be cold and windy.
- Gas up and bring plenty of snacks and water. There are no concessions.
3. Explore Farms
Upcountry Maui is one of the most beautiful areas on the island and is on the way to Haleakala. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farms is a wonderful family-friendly stop. This working farm includes many gardens with some fantastic views. There were over 25,000 lavender plants here and it smelled heavenly. My kids enjoyed the Lavender Treasure scavenger hunt throughout the property to collect stamps and earned a prize. The gift shop has many unique items including lavender tea, coffee, cookies and jelly. Guided walking and cart tours are offered daily.
Don’t miss the nearby Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. My children loved petting the animals and sampling award-winning goat cheese. The goat cheesecake was delicious! Tours like feeding and milking the goats and seeing the cheese making process are available.
4. Visit Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center showcases over 60 indoor and outdoor exhibits, interactive activities and hands-on learning. It’s an interesting look at coral and marine life only found in Hawaii. This is considered the western hemisphere’s largest tropical aquarium. Walk through the 54-foot tunnel to see the sharks and manta rays. It’s a great way to explore Maui’s underwater world without getting wet. See Hawaiian green sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and even a sea jelly gallery.
- Buy tickets online for savings.
- Check the schedule for special talks and shows upon arrival.
5. Stroll the Maui Tropical Plantation
This 60-acre working plantation is a delightful place to show kids how some of the Hawaii’s tropical fruits are grown and harvested. There are beautiful trails and gardens for a relaxing stroll, including plenty of ducks to feed which my kids loved. Narrated tram tours are available for a fee. There is also a restaurant, gallery and gift shop on site. Maui ZipLine provides an adventurous tour and parallel lines over the plantation. Kids ages 5 and older are able to zip line!
6. Drive the Road to Hana
One of the most adventurous road trips can be found on the harrowing, 52-mile one-way drive to the quaint town of Hana. Driving to and from the town can take between two to four hours. Visitors go through narrow, winding roads with over 600 hairpin turns and 54 narrow bridges but also along beautiful scenery with some attractive spots and beaches along the way.
We didn’t have enough time to finish the drive during our last trip. We only made it to Mile Marker 8. It was a glimpse into why this road trip really is all about the journey. We would love to finally make it to Hana on our return trip to Maui. This road isn’t for the faint-hearted or those suffering from motion sickness.
- Leave early to avoid afternoon traffic.
- Check into a guided tour if this isn’t your kind of driving.
- Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for the long road trip.
7. Attend a Luau
It wouldn’t be a Hawaiian vacation without attending a luau. Maui offers a few luau feasts depending on your budget. See live Polynesian performances and fire dancers and have a sumptuous buffet. It’s a memorable feast while learning about the local culture and eating some traditional food. Most are oceanfront with an impressive sunset backdrop. Guests are usually invited on stage to join the fun and even learn how to hula.
- Reserve your luau online and early to get the best seats.
- Look around for discounts especially with third-party re-sellers. Pile up the discounts by booking various activities together.
The beautiful Grand Wailea Resort is located on Wailea Beach and offers a variety of activities and amenities for the whole family.
You may also enjoy:
- 6 Days in Kauai with Kids and Chickens
- Day Trip to the North Shore, Oahu
- 5 Fantastic Things to do in Hawaii’s Big Island with Kids
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Know Before You Go
- Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and The Big Island.
- Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time). This time zone is 2 hours behind Pacific Standard Time. Hawaii also doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time!
- It is considered rude to refuse to wear a Lei if someone offers it.