10 Family Activities That Will Create a Lifetime of Memories

Maui is truly a fantastic destination for the entire family. Sure, it’s great for honeymooners or couples looking to escape day-to-day life, but with safe beaches, plenty of condos and resorts with full kitchens that cater to children and a family-friendly atmosphere in general, Maui truly is the best of the Hawaiian islands for families. But once you’re here, besides the beach and pool, what should you do with your kids? Here are our recommendations of the 10 best things to do with your family on Maui, listed alphabetically.

Bird Watching
Maui is home to many birds, some of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world. However, bird watching can be slow and probably boring for children. Luckily, on Maui, we have a few bird preserves and parks where spotting birds is simple. Here are two suggestions for spots that you’ll be guaranteed to quickly see (and photograph) Maui’s exotic birds.

  • Haleakala National Park
    Haleakala is one of the few places in the world you can find the state bird of Hawaii, the nene (Hawaiian goose). If you’re planning on heading up to the summit for sunrise, on your way back down, stop at Hosmer Grove, a preserve loaded with birds. Another option in the national park is the Waikamoi Preserve. However, to enter this preserve you need to be part of a guided tour.
  • Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
    Located in Kihei, this refuge features a boardwalk open seven days a week, that takes you through marshlands that are home to  species of birds, including the endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt). Please note that the visitors center is not open on weekends. As an added bonus, from May – September, the endangered hawksbill turtle reside here along the shore.

Day Hike/Nature Walk
Nothing beats a day on the trails with the family. Hiking provides many opportunities to interact with nature and enjoy the beautiful weather of Maui. Luckily, Maui is loaded with hiking opportunities. Some, like the backtrails of Haleakala are for experts only. But Maui also provides outstanding trails for families. Here are four easy hikes near common tourist destinations.

  • Twin Falls (just outside of Paia on the Road to Hana)
    Twin Falls is one of the iconic waterfalls on Maui. It’s also one of the most accessible waterfalls. Located just outside of Paia, it makes a whole lot sense to wake up early and do the hike, then get lunch or gelato afterwards in Paia. Once you’ve parked your car at Twin Falls, getting to the waterfall is a short walk, less than a mile, along a well-maintained trail. Once at the falls, you can swim in the water, but the water gets deep quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on the kids.
  • Kapalua Beach Trail (Kapalua)
    Easy to navigate, the flat trail is part paved/part dirt and rock. You’ll be walking between two of Maui’s most popular beaches, Kapalua Beach and DT Fleming Beach. Along the way, you’ll have unencumbered, beautiful shoreline views. There are also small beaches that are virtually devoid of people, which is almost unheard on Maui. It’s appropriate for anyone who can walk 1.75 miles, or 3.5 if you plan on walking back. But really, you can turn around at point of the trail
  • Wailea Beach Path (Wailea)
    The path basically runs the length of Wailea’s gorgeous resorts. You’ll know you’ve reached the end when you run out of path. If you’re staying in one of the resorts along the shore, you can easily hop on the path from your hotel. If you’re seeking out the path by car, there are a few public beaches with parking along the path. The path itself is mostly flat and well kept. It affords some great views of the ocean and access to beaches. There are plenty of rest spots and food stands along the way, as well as the Shops at Wailea.
  • ‘Iao Valley State Monument (‘Iao Valley)
    This hike is really more of a nature walk and is accessible to just about everyone. There’s a nice path that takes you through the park and allows fantastic views of the ‘Iao Needle. As you stroll on the path, you’ll see plenty of native Hawaiian plants and flowers. For a slightly more difficult walk, you can climb the stairs to a lookout. This is very safe. The only difficulty lies in the amount of steps you need to climb.

Horseback Riding
It’s probably not the first thing you think of when planning a trip to Maui, but there are some outstanding horseback riding opportunities on the Valley Isle. Maui has a long history of ranching and some of the best rides on Maui are on working ranches. Other rides take you along coastal trails. Here is an article on our favorite horseback riding excursions on Maui if you’re interested in saddling up.

When you think “luau” you probably don’t think of kids. But you should! Most of the luaus on Maui have fire dances, which are mesmerizing for both parents and children. The food is also good, with most having children’s menus. Before you book your luau, though, you should double check the menus. We’ve found that the luau’s are also surprisingly fine for gluten-free and vegetarians. But the real reason luaus are good for kids is that they are quite educational. Over the course of the evening, you’ll learn the history of Hawaii and Polynesia through dance and story. Here are five favorite luaus on Maui and here’s another article if you’re interested on learning about the history of luaus on Maui.

Maui Ocean Center
Should the weather forecast look iffy, schedule the Maui Ocean Center for a rainy day. Nearly all of the activities are indoors, and oh what activities they are! The highlight of any trip to this aquarium is the stunning glass tunnel through the middle of a tank full of sharks and rays. It’s just beautiful. Maui Ocean Center is ultra-eco-friendly. They keep no mammals, nor do they serve drinks in plastic bottles or offer plastic straws (they use paper straws.) Overall, it’s a very impressive aquarium and was recently named as one 2018’s Top 10 Aquariums in the world by Trip Advisor.

Roller Skating
Take your kids roller skating at the Kalama Park roller rink. Every Wednesday from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Skating is free, but if you need to rent skates, they are available for just $5 a pair. FYI, this is not the free skate park, which is located near the rink. The skate park, for those who crave a little more adventure, is for skateboarders, roller skaters and scooter riders who prefer ramps and tubes.

Snorkel Cruise to Lanai
Definitely the highlight of any trip to Maui is a snorkel excursion to Lanai. The day starts with a continental breakfast featuring fresh fruit, pastries and a variety of juices. Throughout the trip, stay hydrated with all the soda, juice and water you desire. For lunch, we fire up the grill on the back of boat and barbecue burgers, hot dogs, chicken and veggie burgers. Salads, chips and cookies are also served. But, you don’t go on a snorkel food just for the food. We provide a full set of gear, floatie devices for those who need them and general lessons to get you started. We also send our crew into the water to keep an on everyone who enters the water. Note that snorkeling is actually optional. We have many riders who want to cruise without snorkeling. We believe in safety first!

Surf Lessons
Depending on the age of your kids, this can be a fun for the family. Generally speaking, you’ll find friendly, knowledgable instructors who will get both you and children up and riding waves. A morning of surfing creates memories to last a lifetime. It may even create a lifelong surfer, and just as importantly, your children will learn respect for the ocean. You can find surf lessons all over Maui.

Whale Watching
In season, December 1 – April 30, nothing beats a whale watching tour. Two hours on a nice boat, learning about whales and the ocean, while taking in gorgeous views of Maui and surrounding islands. Out of season, snorkel trips out to Lanai almost always take you through pods of active spinner dolphins. While dolphins aren’t as spectacular as giant whales, they are loads of fun and love to play next to the boat. Click here to learn more about our whale watch tours and our Lanai snorkel adventure.

Ziplining is a fun and exhilarating way to see Maui. You can find various zipline adventures all over the island. We recommend googling it. But, for this article, we’ll call out three that are located near visitor hotels and condos and that are family-friendly.

  • Lahaina Zipline Adventure Tour: Soar over the Maui Dragon Fruit Farm on Lahaina’s only zipline tour. Though only 450 ft. long, this zipline tour allows you to go up to four times! The minimum age is 5 years old, with a max weight limit of 250 pounds.
  • Maui Ziplining at Maui Tropical Plantation: With five zipline adventures, ranging from 300 – 900 feet, Maui Ziplining has something for everyone aged 5 and up. Must be between 45 and 250 pounds.
  • Skyline Eco-Adventures Ka’anapali: For ages 10 and up (minimum weight 80 pounds,) this tour encompasses either an 8-line or 11-line tour with views of the Pacific Ocean and takes 2.5 – 3.5 hours.

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the Island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promocode VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.


Handy Apps to Download for Use on Maui

Whether your on an iPhone or an Android phone, there are great apps to use while you’re visiting or living on Maui. We’ll assume that you have the national apps like Lyft/Uber, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb. Instead, we’ll focus on apps that are Maui-centric, apps you may delete once you’re at the airport to head home. Unless otherwise noted, the apps listed here are for both Android and iOS


A Brief History of Pineapple in Hawaii

While it’s not known when pineapple first started growing in Hawaii, we do know it was prior to when the first American missionaries arrived in 1820. Most believe pineapple showed up from South America around 1770. However, it wasn’t until James D. Dole arrived in 1899 and established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company that pineapple became commercially produced and canned. The company turned its first profit in 1903. The pineapple industry took off from there.


Job Openings at Hawaii Ocean Project

Dock Agent

Lahaina Cruise Company is looking for someone with excellent customer service skills to fill our Dock Agent position.

If you love the outdoors, you are energetic, enthusiastic and have the Aloha spirit we want to meet you! 

  • Must have excellent customer service skills
  • Need to be punctual and be able to work without direct supervision
  • Be able to use gmail, and reservations system or willing and able to learn
  • Valid Hawaii drivers license and live on the West side.

If you believe you are the right fit for this job, please send us your resume to ops@lahainacruisecompany.com

We look forward to meeting you!


Molokini Snorkel Tour: The Highlight of Your Vacation!

One of the great things about our ocean paradise is that there’s no shortage of activities in and on the water to fill a vacation itinerary. Snorkeling on Maui, in particular, is simply a must. At Hawaii Ocean Project we invite you to come aboard for our exclusive Molokini Snorkel Tour, where we venture beyond the shores of Maui and visit Hawaii’s very own marine island sanctuary. There’s plenty of fish in the sea and Molokini is jam-packed with schools of sea life to fill you with wonder. That is, if you’re not already amazed by the stunning geography on display.

Rising 160 feet above water, nearly a half-mile long and curved like an open smile, there’s plenty to take in at Molokini Crater before you get in the water. The islet is also a seabird sanctuary for 2 primary bird species: Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Bulwers Petrels. Well over a thousand have made their nests at the crater. Though they feed primarily during the day, you’ll still see a lot of them perched along the cliffs. Bring a camera and savor the opportunity. That, plus the crater itself makes for a spectacular backdrop. Don’t be shy. We’re more than happy to capture the moment for you.

For experienced snorkelers, this is an opportunity you can’t miss. How many people can say they snorkeled inside a volcano? For those new to snorkeling, a Molokini excursion is the perfect gateway charter that’ll have you coming back for more. We provide careful instruction on board, and our vessel makes it a breeze getting into the water with an easy swim-up platform. The hard part isn’t getting you in, it’s getting you back on the boat when it’s time to go.

A Molokini tour is a snorkeler’s dream. Underwater visibility is unparalleled. The clear, sapphire blue water is a result of the lack of surrounding sand. With sunlight penetrating, visibility is in excess of up to 100 feet. The arms of Molokini crater protects snorkelers from the wind, waves, and the ocean current, ensuring for uninterrupted exploration of the stunning coral reef below. Molokini’s shallow reef boasts an ecosystem of 250 species of fish and marine animals, so it’s not a question of whether you’ll see any, but how many you can count.

With the amazing visibility also comes ample opportunity for some truly amazing underwater photos. Do keep in mind that Molokini is home to all of its underwater residents, so while visitors are blessed with uninterrupted snorkel time, we ask that you do not disturb or provoke the sea life. Boats are tied to moorings instead of anchoring to prevent harming the reef, and only a certain number of vessels are permitted to enter the crater at a time. We are doing our part to preserve Molokini and its wildlife for others to come visit and enjoy. We ask that you do the same.

Our Molokini Snorkel Tour will surely be the highlight of your vacation. Check-in is at 6:30am at the North end of the Lahaina Harbor with departure set for 7:00. Just in case you couldn’t squeeze in a meal before the early check-in, we do offer a continental breakfast to get you ready for the day ahead. It’s a 6-hour excursion, meaning there will be plenty of time to bask in the ocean and all of its wonder. Book online and save 10% off Hawaii’s premiere snorkel destination.

A Beautiful Evening Aboard Maui’s Finest Sunset Dinner Cruise

As far as the vacation destination of your dreams, it doesn’t get any better than the island of Maui. Known for its gorgeous beaches, lush landscapes and world-class hotels, Maui is filled with adventure from the mountains to the sea, sunrise to sunset. Many a Hawaiian sunset has been enjoyed from the comfort of shore, toes curled up in the sand while watching the sun dip below the horizon. We at Hawaii Ocean Project offer some luxury to the activity with our Sunset Dinner Cruise, an intimate voyage aboard the Maui Princess with dinner and live entertainment; though, let’s be honest, the setting sun and the awe-inspiring wonder of the stars will keep you plenty occupied. You might not experience sunsets the same way again.

When we promise our guests luxury, we deliver. The Maui Princess is the largest luxury vessel on the island. You’ll enjoy premium top-deck seating replete with panoramic views of the ocean so you never miss a thing. The wide-open space of the vessel makes the entire experience feel like a floating restaurant along the stunning coastlines of West Maui. Honeymooners and couples will find this incredibly dream-like and a hallmark of their romantic stay on Maui, while families will enjoy a relaxing voyage at sea serenaded by the calm rustle of the ocean. For kids, it’s a keen opportunity to spot dolphins, humpback whales, and other varieties of sea life when most boats and vessels have docked for the day, meaning the ocean is all yours.

With luxury comes quality table-service to match. Guests will be waited on by our attentive staff ready to serve you upon request. You’ll be treated to a three-course meal with salads and dinner rolls to start. Your choice of entrée: Prime Rib carved on-board, delicious Island Roasted Chicken, Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi Mahi with Buerre Blanc Sauce – which is as mouth-watering as it is a mouthful, and, for those seeking a healthier option, Vegetarian Patty served with steamed vegetables dipped in marinara. Soft drinks and juices are unlimited to help you wash the deliciousness down. Just remember to save some room for our very special Cheesecake dessert served with a delectable fruit glaze topping.

Guests have two and a half hours aboard the Maui Princess, so there’s no need to rush. Get to know your fellow travelers. You may even find yourselves delighted by our friendly crew and wait-staff. Otherwise, feel free to kick back and take in the mesmerizing beauty of nighttime Maui and the enchanting glow of the moon and stars above. If you think Maui’s majesty can only be found when the sun’s out, think again. Did we mention that the bar is fully stocked? Guests 21 and over and over will get 3 alcoholic beverages included with their meal, additional drinks at $4 – $6. Live entertainment will be featured on deck so grab a partner and sway to the soothing sounds of Hawaii.

Check-in time is at 5:00pm, with the cruise set to depart at 5:30pm just as the sun is setting. We’ll be out at sea in time to catch the mystifying pink flash of the sun kissing the horizon. For our guests staying in Kaanapali, we are conveniently located at Lahaina Harbor on Front Street. If your accommodations are located in Central or South Maui, we recommend leaving an hour before check-in. We’ll have you back at 8pm soundly.

Our Sunset Dinner Cruise is a great way to cap off your stay on Maui or highlight your journey on the island so far. It’s dinner and a show on a grand and romantic scale. What are you waiting for? Clear your vacation itinerary and book a voyage with Hawaii Ocean Project today!

Get to Know Lanai on Our Snorkeling & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour

The best adventures are the ones that start early, so join us at the main booth on the north end of the Lahaina harbor at 6:30 am and board our 70 foot double-deck catamaran. At 7:00 am we will set sail to the neighboring island of Lanai. Be sure to keep an eye out for your favorite finned friends, Spinner Dolphins and possibly even Humpback Whales that frequently greet us on our journey (in season)!

If you happened to miss breakfast due to the early check-in time, we got you covered. Our on-board continental breakfast comprises of muffins, fruit juice, and coffee to keep you fueled for the day’s festivities. Once we anchor off the coast of Lanai, grab your gear and hop into one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii.

Worked up an appetite after all that swimming? Well on our way to our second location we will be serving a barbecue lunch featuring hamburgers, veggie burgers, chicken breasts, and more to refuel you for even more fun in the warm island waters! Once at our captain’s choice destination, you can hop back in and get yet another chance to glimpse the marine world or you can dry off while basking in the Hawaiian sun.

Sadly, your Maui adventure with us does have to draw to an end. So while we head back to the Lahaina Harbor, we invite you to sit back and take in the majestic sights one last time. As you step off the Kaulana around 1:30 pm, we would love to give you a few suggestions on how you can spend the rest of your day here on the west side.

So what is included?

  • Complimentary breakfast and lunch along with endless water, soda, and juice.
  • Snorkel equipment with instructions from Hawaii Ocean Project crew members
  • Flotation Devices (noodles, belts, boogie boards, life jackets)
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen

Wetsuits are available for rent at $15 while underwater cameras are also available for purchase.

A Lanai Snorkeling Tour with Hawaii Ocean Project is sure to be a tropical ocean activity to remember. Set sail with us all year long; we are sure that your time here in Hawaii will have a spot for this memorable island adventure. Book online today and save 10%!

Get to Know Maui with Our Free Quarterly Newsletter

Whether you are planning a Maui vacation for the first time or you are a seasoned visitor, there are certain advantages to knowing the ins and outs of the Valley Isle. With that said, we here at Hawaii Ocean Project aim to keep you in the know before you go with our Free Quarterly Newsletter. Get island inspiration right in your inbox and see how easy it is to fall in love with Hawaii.

Along with providing you with exciting ocean activities, we work to be a helpful resource for you during your stay here on Maui. While we already offer Hawaii travel tips and tricks on our website, this newsletter features exclusive updates on all things Maui. From upcoming island events and current Maui news to the best eateries and sights to see, you are sure to find something that will lead to unforgettable memories.

Discover incredible destinations like Upper Waikani Falls on the way to Hana or wander through bustling towns like Lahaina’s own Front Street. You can even plan to join in the island festivities, especially during this holiday season, and truly step into island living. And if you’d rather be out on the sparkling blue ocean, we also highlight one of our action-packed boat tours with each issue.

Hawaii Ocean Project invites you to get to know the island of Maui before you step off that plane, and after all the tans fade but Maui memories are forever. So HOP to it and sign up today! Enter your name and email in our sign up form below; it is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Already here? Well stop by the far north end of Lahaina’s historic harbor, we would be delighted to give you our warmest aloha!

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Humpback Whales Spotted Near Kapalua

Stepping out of your island “home away from home” and onto the white sands of the nearby beach, you enjoy the calming sound of waves gently crashing at your feet. The warm, ocean water at your toes and Hawaiian sunshine kissing your shoulders attract more than just the relaxation-seeking vacationer with mai tai in hand. Since the days of Old Hawaii, the Kohola (Humpback Whales) have been regular and beloved visitors of the island chain.  Born in Hawaii, these gentle giants typically tend to frequent back to their birthplace and make the long journey to the islands in the month of December as the northern temperatures are dropping. Fortunately, we have had the incredible opportunity to welcome our majestic friends home a little early this year!

Spotted off West Maui near Kapalua on October 10th, two North Pacific humpback whales have come to spend the next few months here in the Hawaiian Islands. Many of us look to escape the icy chill of winter in the North to Maui’s coastal waters and the humpback whales are no different. The warm, subtropical climate of Hawaiian waters brings these beautiful mammals to breed as well as give birth. With neighboring islands nestled close to each other, the ocean waters of Maui County offer a safe “kiddie pool” for these whales to also raise their young calves without the threat of toothy predators like the orca.

The official season does not start until December and runs to around April, but this early sighting is an exciting sign that the whales have started their 4-6 week journey to their island home. During the peak of their time here, typically in January or February, you can probably catch a stunning display of frolicking whales right from the shore. But if you want to grab a sneak peek at the breaching and tail slaps, your best bet would be on the water! While any of Hawaii Ocean Project’s cruises offer the incredible opportunity to personally experience the Pacific humpbacks up close, our whale watching tour is centered on these magnificent marine giants. Reserve your spot today and get your cameras ready for 2 hours of once-in-a-lifetime views!