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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.