Maui isn’t just a paradise for couples, it is a wonderful destination for families too! I love this island because its not overly touristy so you still get a little bit of that old Hawaii feel, but busy enough that there’s still a lot to do. But going through all the options can be overwhelming. So here’s our top 11 family friendly things to do on Maui to help you have an adventurous and relaxing vacation with the kids.
This is the largest tropical aquarium in America and is the perfect little getaway for families especially with smaller children. Its located conveniently off the Honoapiilani (30) Hwy next to the Maalaea Harbor where a lot of tour boats leave from (if you want to double up the fun). There are interactive touch pools and a must see 3D whale video. The tanks are full of vivid colorful local fish, sharks and sea turtles. Our kids favorite part was the Ki’i Pohaku Rubbings where the keiki (kids) had to find 12 stones located throughout the park and rub the image onto their Keiki Passports. Once it was full they could go into the gift shop for a free little prize. In general, it's a great spot to get children excited about what they may see out in the ocean and for mom and dad to enjoy some nice air conditioning.
Looking for that unique high adventure (but still simple) experience that your kids will tell all their friends about? Well, Atlantis Submarines offers rides for the whole family on a real live submarine. First, you’ll board a boat and cruise along the stunning coastline of western Maui with 4 islands in view. Then, you’ll board the submarine where you’ll dive to depths of about 130ft (don’t worry you won’t notice it because the water clarity is spectacular). The kids will get to see large schools of reef fish, eels, sharks and a sunken ship! Yup, that's one for the books. The submarine has pictures next to the windows with the names of the fish you’ll see so you can play a next level game of “eye spy.” The end of the trip drops you back off in old town Lahaina with adorable little stores to walk around and enjoy some lunch along the beach.
3. Snorkel Honolua Bay
This is one of the best snorkeling sites on Maui and kid friendly! The parking is located off the Honoapiilani (30) Hwy about 14 minutes north of the big resorts in Ka’anapali. Just past the Honolua Bay lookout there will be a well groomed access trail to the beach. Here you’ll find beautiful coral reefs with schools of unique beautiful fish close to the beach. We usually buy boogie boards at the grocery store for the kids to use to float along. We also recommend taking water shoes as its a rocky beach. If you have babies, it's an easy spot to switch off snorkeling with another person. Either way you won’t be disappointed floating along in this breathtaking setting. Not done yet? Head down the road to the Nakalele Blowhole for some excitement!!
4. Road to Hana
The road to Hana is all about the journey. It's a full day excursion along the wet side of the island where you’ll find Maui’s famous waterfalls, black sand beaches, yummy local food and epic lookouts. The naturally frequent stops break up the trip into smaller manageable bites for any little traveler. We recommend renting a car so you can move at your own pace which makes the trip a low stress activity. You won’t be able to see it all in one day so pick your top stops and aim for those. Tip: write down the mile marker to your stops as cell reception is often bad and roll down the windows (the smells and sounds are one of the best parts of this drive).
5. Haleakala National Park
Ever dream of hiking inside a volcano above the clouds? Well, maybe not but Haleakala offers stunning views and a unique story to match. Many people reserve tickets in advance to watch the sunrise but we prefer morning hikes (before clouds roll into the crater) or you can watch the sunset without reservations. Temperatures are much cooler up here which offers a nice break from the heat from down below (remember to bring your jacket). Families can hike as little or as long as they like on the moon-like surface in an eerie silence that surrounds the crater. So epic! We recommend driving up to the summit at Red Hill for amazing views and then to the visitor center near Pa Ka’oao to the Keonehe’ehe’e Trailhead.
This trip offers a well rounded tour the whole family can enjoy. As you board the boat breakfast will be served (let's face it, there needs to be food involved on a trip to satisfy the little ones). Then the boat will head off to Lanai, a close neighboring island, known as the pineapple island. Here you will follow huge pods of spinner dolphins in groups of up to 100! They are very acrobatic and jump, spin and flip into the air. A show your kids won’t forget. Next you’ll visit Lanai’s best snorkeling spots with vividly clear water beneath towering cliffs and enjoy lunch in the shaded cabin. One of the things I love are the boogie boards with little windows of plastic on them so even the youngest child can enjoy looking at the reef and fish below. Kids (and parents) can play around sliding down the slide in the back or viewing fish through the windows below deck! If your kids are 8 and older they can also try the snuba thats aboard! Aren’t you the coolest parent!
No trip to Maui is complete without some heavenly soft Hawaiian Shaved Ice (yum!). Our favorite is Ululani’s in Keihi off of South Keihi Road. There’s several locations on the island but this location has a laid back atmosphere and feels a little bit more “Old Hawaii” to us. They have a ton of exciting flavors, the softest ice and toppings that kids will love. You can also head next door for some must have Malasadas or catch the farmers market for some fresh sweet fruit! It’s a sweet refreshing pick-me-up after a fun warm day in the sun.
8. Black Rock Beach
This is a popular beach for a reason. Located near the resorts in Kaanapali, this long and wide beach often experiences smaller waves perfect for families. There’s a small free beach access parking located at the Sheraton Maui Resort or there’s a free 3 hour parking at the Whaler’s Village ($20/all day). At Pu’u Keka'a (black rock) beach you’ll find a very popular rock kids and adults can jump off into the warm waters below. Grab your snorkel gear, or rent it from the beach shack, and follow an underwater lava cliff to see schools of tropical fish and maybe a turtle or two. You don’t have to go far from the beach to begin seeing fish which makes it easy for new snorkelers. Bring a floatie if you’re not a good swimmer so you can enjoy yourself more. At sunset there’s a torch lighting ceremony where a young diver honors his heritage by proving his spiritual strength by leaping 30ft into the ocean. So much excitement for one beach!
Of course, you can’t go to Maui without experiencing the culture and full bellies of a luau. You’ll love the award winning Old Lahaina Luau with its beachfront production during sunset. Make sure you make reservations in advance as seats fill up quickly. Guests can choose from two types of seats, you can sit at a table and chairs or at the traditional seating (near the stage) where guests sit cross-legged on cushions and dine with a low table. Tip: traditional seating is first in line to the buffet. Wink wink. When you first walk in you will be greeted with a Lei and shown to your seat. You are then free to enjoy the crafting station and watch the Imu ceremony as the kalua pig is unearthed from the ground. Kids will love the free blended virgin drinks and they can visit the buffet as often as they like. The menu has a large selection to pick from so even your picky eaters will find something to enjoy. Then eat and enjoy the show, as it takes you on a journey through Hawaiian history, even your littlest ones will be entertained!
10. Snorkel Molokini Crater
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to snorkel inside a partially sunken volcanic crater! The crescent shape of the crater creates a protective barrier from waves and currents and is home to over 250 species of fish many only found in Hawaii! Water visibility can be seen up to 150 feet which makes this one of the top dive sites in the world. The kids will love the fun boat ride there full of music and of course food. Boats have restrooms, shaded areas, snorkeling gear and are equipped with all kinds of different flotation devices for the kids (like a surfboard with a window!) The calm water with high visibility makes it easy for kids to watch fish. The Pacific Whale Foundation offers a Jr. Naturalist on board who conducts a snorkel and fish ID class with the kids. While the Maui Magic offers glass bottom viewing windows and a slide for the kids (and young at heart). No matter how you get there exploring this location together will be one to remember!
11. Wailea Beach
This calm relaxing beach has a small little break making it perfect for kids. Public beach access parking is located on Wailea Alanui Dr next to the Four Seasons Resort. There's also a public rental outfit near the parking lot where you can rent umbrellas, chairs and Stand up paddleboards (SUPs). You’ll likely find sea turtles swimming around especially during the summer, which the kids will never forget! So pack a picnic and get ready to relax in the warm waters of Maui.
No matter how you choose to explore Maui your family is sure to have an amazing vacation full of relaxation, nature, culture and adventure.
Aloha and happy travels,