Planning a family vacation to Maui and wondering what to do? This can be quite the daunting task, especially if you have never visited the island. Let us take the guess work out of planning your trip and extend our years of experience with you!
1 – Road to Hana: Whether your family prefers to “go it alone” or enjoys guided tours, the Hana Highway trip is an absolute must for any visitor to Maui! The resort areas on the South and West coasts will give you the swaying palm trees and beautiful sunsets; however, when you think of lush rain forests and waterfalls, this is the place!
If you decide to take a guided tour, there are numerous folks providing options, from the most basic to very luxurious, that are suitable for just about every budget.
Should you decide to do it on your own, definitely pick up one of the many guided CD’s available and listen to it while you make the drive. They are usually a great mix of music, interesting facts and will tell you exactly where to stop along the way so you don’t miss a thing. Remember, Hana is simply the destination. This trip is all about the journey. Pack a lunch, make lots of stops and you will get the most out of the trip.
2 – Wainapanapa State Park: Just before the village of Hana, you will want to stop at this unique coastal park. This a great spot to explore, with hiking trails, caves, lava arches, a stunning black sand beach and oh so much more. Stop at the park’s office for detailed information on the many things to do before heading on into Hana and beyond.
If you have time to make a couple of days out of the trip, this is about the most budget friendly way to go. The park is equipped with outdoor camping facilities as well as rustic cabins (think summer camp … bunk beds and basic necessities, but the hot water, bathroom, kitchen and electricity will be most appreciated!). All cabins also have a lanai (porch) and charcoal grill … my family made the best s’mores here!
3 – Seven Sacred Pools (Pools at O`heo): Shortly past the village of Hana, you’ll find Kipahulu. This is actually the back side of the slopes of Haleakala National Park and is vastly different. The nick-name was actually a marketing idea from a local hotel to entice visitors to make the long (and back in the day, somewhat dangerous) trek.
While there is nothing “sacred” about them and there are many more than seven pools, this is one of my favorite spots on Maui. Pack a lunch, swimsuit and towel and make sure to hit the upper trails (called the Pipiwai trails). This is a very easy walk so almost any age can do it.
There are numerous smaller waterfalls and swimming holes all being fed from the breath-taking 400 foot Waimoku Falls, an enormous Banyan Tree (like something out of a fairy tale enchanted forest) and a Bamboo forest that you can lose yourself in.
The lower pools are at the bottom of the parking area with a 1/2 mile loop trail and seven lovely swimming pools and flat rocks if you want to take in the sun.
4 – Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center: Not only is this an historic building and art gallery with stunning grounds to meander, the Hui Noeau offers fantastically fun “Family Friday Workshops”! Adults and children ages 5+ come together with family and friends for a night of creativity, fun and team work with various projects ranging from holiday themed projects to clay mugs. Not just an art class, they order PIZZA to make this extra special … who wouldn’t love to “kick it Maui style” and take home a very special souvenir you made together to commemorate your island visit?
5 – Maui Ocean Center: Kids of all ages, visitors and locals alike, are awed by the Maui Ocean Center Hawaii Aquarium daily and it’s no wonder! Among the numerous exhibits are a 750,000 gallon tank that is home to over 20 very lively sharks and a 360 degree viewing tank with glowing jellyfish. There are also a variety of outdoor touch pools for interacting with the sea life, including local sea turtles and star fish. To keep things exciting, some of these exhibits are ever-changing.
The Maui Ocean Center was built with the idea of representing the underwater world of Hawaii and everything you will see swimming around and in the
Aquarium can be found in Hawaiian waters … it is especially nice to have such an abundance of marine life all represented in one place as you never know what you’ll see in the wild.
This is an activity for kids and adults alike and is frequented by both visitors and locals. You can even enjoy overnight group sleep overs, allowing you to watch nocturnal behaviors you would not otherwise be privy to.
One of the coolest features is a long glass tunnel in the large tank which you can walk through, observing enormous sting rays, graceful sharks, and huge tropical fish swimming on bot sides and over head … pretty close to a “dry immersion” experience, in my book!
6 – Maui Golf and Sports Park: Whether you just want a fun way to spend the day or are planning a special event, the Maui Golf and Sports Park is fun for the entire family!
Get wet in a 4000 sq. ft. natural lava lagoon that is home to ten electrically powered bumper boats, all equipped with Master Blaster water guns, complete with two waterfalls plunging into the lagoon and an island to navigate around.
For those five and older test your skills on our 25 ft. rock pinnacle with four paths, ranging from easy to difficult. Ring the bell when you reach the top, and then enjoy the auto-belay ride back down.
Try out two challenging 18 hole miniature golf courses, all set in a beautiful tropical atmosphere with ponds and streams throughout. The courses are completely different with obstacles such as a 30 foot play-through volcano, caves, lava tubes, and loop-de-loops.
Last, but not least, Soar 30 ft. in the air on the bungee trampoline! Do multiple flips while harnessed in or just see how high you can fly!
7 – Horseback Riding: Enjoy a ride like no other as you explore the open range of a working cattle ranch on the slopes of Haleakala. Panoramic views extend from lush forest areas filled with native plant life and endemic birds all the way down to the blue waters of the Pacific 2,00 feet below!
Daily rides are open to all skill levels; even if you’ve never seen a horse, they can find the right one for you! Families are welcome (some age restrictions do apply).
They even offer individual riding lessons for ages 3 +, private parties and pony rides!
8 – Molokini Crater: Before most visitors ever make it to Maui, they’ve read, heard about or seen details on Molokini Crater. There are only a handful of places like it in the world and we are extremely lucky that one of them is here.
The only way to get there is on a boat so you want to select the best one for your family. I may be a bit biased but I tend to believe the rave reviews and the votes naming the Four Winds II Maui’s best. Having been in activities for most my time on Maui, this is certainly the best outfitted boat for kids of all ages!
Our morning trip is the best way to make it to the crater, as wind and water conditions are at their best early. Spend about 2.5 hours exploring this awesome under-water caldera teeming with a variety of colorful reef fish, enjoy a hot B-B-Q lunch and even a glass bottom viewing room designed to provide a full immersion experience without ever leaving the boat.
9 – Royal Lahaina Luau: Not to be mistaken with the Old Lahaina Luau, there are many luaus you can attend on Maui and have a wonderful time. This is just a very budget-friendly choice. It’s also the only one that really does cater a bit more to kids with a special “kids buffet”, offering foods the finicky eaters in your party might like better than traditional luau fare (think chicken fingers and spaghetti).
The show is held at the Royal Lahaina Resort, is entertaining enough for all ages and offers great options for all ages in your family.
10 – Surf Lessons: Hawaii is famous for its big waves, but we also have some of the easiest waves to ride in the world, making it perfect for learning to surf. Great instructors make surfing easy to learn with simple instruction and easy-to-ride Long boards. Using the best “Soft-top” surfboards ensures safety, are easy to use and fun to ride. Hard working, experienced instructors are surfing right with you in the water giving encouragement and guidance. Our instructors will show you how to share, respect and enjoy the ocean and soon you’ll be paddling out on your own!
These are just a few of my top picks for Kid Friendly Activities and fun on Maui. Don’t be afraid to get out explore and have a great time! You’ll make memories that will last a life-time as a family and ensure the kids will be entertained, learn new things and have fun, fun, fun!!!