Things to Do in Maui with Kids on Your Family trip to Hawaii
Thinking of a family holiday to Maui, Hawaii? Below you can find a list of things to do in Maui with kids along with useful information for your Hawaiian vacation such as when to visit, what to bring, where to eat and what to see and do on this breathtaking island. Make sure you also check out our main guide: Hawaii with kids.
Visiting Maui with Kids
There’s something so magical about the island of Maui—the sweet smell in the air, the tropical breeze, the warm sun, the crystal blue waters, the white sandy beaches, the aloha spirit.
You just feel at home even though it’s your first time in this corner of the Pacific. No wonder this Hawaiian island always finds a spot in every other travel junkie’s bucket list and is one of the top destinations to visit in the world, especially with kids.
When to go to Maui with Kids
Hawaii is a great place to visit all year round, however, most who have visited Maui would agree that the best times to visit are during Summer (June to August) and Winter (December to April).
Summer (June – August): The Summer weather is what most people are looking for when they visit Maui, or Hawaii in general. The calm ocean is perfect for the little beachgoers to enjoy.
Winter (December – April): Winter in Maui is the perfect time to go whale watching, but they aren’t the only ones you can watch in the water. The rough waves are inviting to surfers, intermediate and pros, as they try to catch unbelievably big waves.
Although these seasons are ideally the best time to visit Maui, there are downsides. The best weather and calm waters in the Summer, and the whales and surfing in the Winter, all draw big crowds. Not to mention flights are at its most expensive.
April to June and September to November are the off-peak seasons and better times to visit Maui with kids. Flights are cheap, less crowds, the weather is still perfect, and the water is still spectacular.
How to get around Maui with Kids
There are many ways to get around the island. There are shuttles, tour buses, public transportation, and rental cars. You can use any of these means but renting a vehicle would probably be the most convenient and best way to experience Maui with kids because it is more convenient.
You can stop at any time at any spot you wish to explore, and you can pull over at any food truck or restaurant you want to try. You will undoubtedly see more of Maui when you’re behind the wheel.
Best Things to do in Maui with Kids
Maui is overflowing with spectacular places and crazy fun activities to do with children. No matter where you go or what you do, you’ll enjoy amazing sea creatures in crystal clear blue waters, fresh air atop cliffs with stunning views, and mouth-watering local food. Below are the cream of the crop spots to visit and things to do when visiting Maui with Kids.
If you love the beach, check out our post on the Best Beaches in Hawaii. Below though you can find a great list for your family holiday.
Once named America’s Best Beach, Kaanapali boasts three miles of gorgeous white sand and crystal-clear water. Whales love the waters of Ka’anapali, so be sure to watch out and listen for them. Though there are several resorts situated along this beach, there’s plenty of room to spread out.
Just north of Ka’anapali is Pu’u Keka’a also known as Black Rock Beach. Here you can snorkel and scuba dive with sea turtles, while exploring the coral and watching colorful sea creatures. The currents may be strong, so just be hyperaware and cautious.
Depending on when you visit, this beach can be crowded. But at the right time of year, you may find yourself the only ones there enjoying snorkeling in the calm water and seeing all the colorful reef fish. You may even witness a green sea turtle!
Also referred to as Secret Cove, this beach is simply breathtaking. Its moniker most likely came about because reaching the beach requires a quarter mile walk past Makena State Park and through a lava rock wall between houses. Unless you or your children are not phased by nudity in public, ensure you’re heading to Pa’ako beach and not the nearby clothing-optional Little Beach.
Located just past Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop, Olowalu Reef is a breathtaking spot to go diving, snorkeling, swimming with the turtles, and even kayaking. After a morning in the water, venture out to the village of Olowalu to check out the petroglyphs. These unique carvings are carved into the side of a cliff. Treasured artistically and considered spiritual symbols, keep in mind to be respectful when visiting of the petroglyphs and its surrounding area.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Located on the Road to Hana, this great state park offers remarkable views of the lush tropical jungle, great swimming for experienced swimmers, a blow hole, camping, and a black sand beach. This spot can get crowded depending on when you visit, so just be prepared.
Perhaps one of the coolest places you can snorkel in Maui with kids is the volcanic atoll Molokini Crater. Due to the crescent-shape crater that breaks swells and currents, snorkeling and diving go much more smoothly here. There’s a visibility of up to 150 feet and about 250 native species of marine life can be spotted. Check out several different boat tours that offer day trips to this spot.
Ok so they are the best beaches to visit when you are visiting Maui with kids. Now for the activities!
2. Pipiwai Trail and Waimoku Falls
Pipiwai Trail is also known as the Hana Highway Bamboo Trail. The first half of this 4-mile hike begins in a flat trail of the Bamboo forest, then the other half with a steady incline that requires good hiking shoes. The trail is quite doable with children depending on their age and fitness levels, and the reward is the spectacular view of Waimoku Falls in the end. Along the way, you can enjoy swimming in the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o.
3. Whale Watching
If you find yourself in Maui during the Winter, you must book a whale watching boat tour. Between the months of November and May, North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate to their Hawaiian winter home to give birth. If you’re lucky, you might witness a whale or two leap out of the water, and that’s one experience you don’t want to miss especially if you are visiting Maui with kids.
Biking down Haleakala
This is another fun adventure for families with older children. Experience the volcanic terrain of Haleakala like none other as you bike down 23 miles after you watch the sunrise from the summit. There are tours you can book, but there’s also a self-guided tour where you and your family can bike at your own pace all while creating many happy memories together.
Looking for a thrilling adventure with panoramic views you won’t get anywhere else? Then ziplining is the way to go. There are several different options where you get incredible views of Haleakala volcano or the West Maui mountains. Keep in mind age requirements and other restrictions before booking though. A fun thing to do in Maui with kids who love an adventure.
5. Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a famous drive through a beautiful area of Maui. There are many ways to enjoy Hana. You can book a tour, hire a guide, or you can rent a car and do a self-guided tour. We suggest opting for the car. Aside from convenience, you can stop at destinations that pique your curiosity without the rush and expense of a tour. Among the sights to look out for are waterfalls, whales breaching, Nakalele Blow Hole, and Honokalani Black Sand Beach.
6. Hana Lava Tube
The most famous highway in Hawaii, Hana, is not just a beautiful drive. It also leads to many fascinating natural wonders such as the Hana Lava Tube. The tube was made when a still-flowing lava stream formed a hard crust roof, which became home to stalactites and stalagmites. You can go on a self-guided tour inside the tube and find your way out of a Red Ti botanical garden maze aboveground.
7. Iao Valley State Park
This historic state park is home to the iconic Iao Needle, which served as a lookout point during the Battle of Kepaniwai. The sacred valley is peaceful and stretches about 4,000 acres with streams, rainforest walks, paved path for Iao Needle viewing, a lookout, and Hawaii Nature Center for interactive exhibits. A great place to visit if you are looking for things to do in Maui with kids.
Places to eat in Maui with Kids
There are countless of restaurants and eateries in Maui, but if you want the non-touristy “hidden gems” that mostly locals frequent, you’ll have to drive about an hour away from the hotels. Below is a list of restaurants frequented by both locals and tourists, and each one is highly favored by anyone who come to enjoy the tasty meals they offer.
1. Da Kitchen
Located in the largest city of Maui, Kahului, Da Kitchen is a local’s favorite. Small and casual, this place offers huge servings of local and Hawaiian style staples. Among them are loco moco, lau lau, kalua pork, saimin, and kalbi ribs.
2. Café Des Amis
Another small, casual, and cheap restaurant that features scrumptious food in a small town called Paia. Just east of Kahului, you can stop by here before you take the trek on the Road to Hana. The mouth-watering menu consists of breakfast crepes, savory crepes, Indian curries, and curry wraps.
3. Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop
Giving patrons a cozy old Plantation style look, this casual and inexpensive restaurant offers delicious sweet and savory pies, sandwiches, burgers, and hoagies. Grab some pies or a loaf of banana bread to eat in your car on your road trip around the island.
4. Brigit & Bernard’s Garden Café
This German restaurant is a breath of fresh air in the industrial part of the tropics in Kahului. They boast authentic dishes using original family recipes from Europe. These unique meals are prepared from scratch, freshly made to order, and using only fresh and real ingredients.
5. Hula Grill
Enjoy a sunset dinner at this open-air kitchen and Barefoot Bar restaurant by the water. Serving fresh and local produce and seafood, this place is pricey, but worth it. You and your family can enjoy imu style ribs, coconut seafood chowder, fire grilled ahi steak, and Hawaiian ceviche among others, while listening to the waves crashing.
6. Maui Brewing Company
This largest craft brewery in Hawaii has four restaurant locations—two in O’ahu and two in Maui. If you find yourself meandering in or near Lahaina in the west or Kihei in the south, make sure you stop by here for the best pork nachos, yummy carne asada taco, and tasty poke taco bowls.
7. Leilani’s on the Beach
Watch the waves crashing as you munch on delightfully delicious fish tacos, and fish and chips. If it matters to you where your food comes from, this is the place to go. Not only do they have gluten-free choices, but their seafood is also caught fresh daily by locals, and they use socially conscious free-range chickens and all-natural pork.
8. Old Lahaina Luau
Visit Old Lahaina Luau for an authentic Hawaiian luau highlighting traditional Hawaiian cuisine, cultural dances and demonstrations, and music. Be immersed in Hawaiian culture and hospitality with the sun setting in the horizon and the ocean view.
What to pack when visiting Maui with Kids
You don’t want to waste your time at the store shopping for the items you could have packed with you from home. You want to head straight to the beach or explore hikes and the tropical jungle. So, we’ve compiled a list of must-haves to snuggly pack in your luggage when visiting Maui with kids.
If it’s been a while since your kids last wore a swimsuit, it’s best to try them on before throwing them in your luggage. Your kids grow up so fast, they might need new ones already.
2. Feet protection
It’s fascinating to watch locals use only one kind of footwear no matter the weather or the terrain—slippers. But for you and your children who are unfamiliar with muddy, slippery hikes, rough beach rocks, and the warm weather, you’ll need three kinds of feet protection.
Flip Flops / Sandals / Thongs (Depending on where you are from): These are very nifty when it’s hot and humid and your feet needs to air out, but the ground is too hot for you to go barefoot.
Sneakers/tennis shoes: Comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting ruined or dirty when you go on long walks or hiking.
Water shoes: Water shoes are necessary when exploring in water with corals or sharp rocks.
3. Snorkeling gear
Though this is something you can easily buy or rent anywhere on the island, you can bring your own should you choose to. It’s also best to plan and look up where the locations of these rental places are. However, depending on the number of people in your family and how often you’ll use the gear, it might be cheapest to just buy your own.
It will be fun and helpful for your kids to have a snorkeling gear if you want them to see life under the sea. A snorkeling gear may make an inexperienced swimmer confident in the water, but please take precautions. Listen to lifeguards, don’t ignore danger signs, and never turn your back on the ocean!
4. A light sweater/jacket
If you’re visiting Maui in the Winter or you may go into a restaurant or somewhere indoors that’s way colder than the outdoor temperatures, it’s nice to have a light sweater to keep you from getting too chilly.
5. Waterproof camera
Think about all the fun moments you’ll capture in the water.
6. Sun protection
Sometimes, sunscreens just won’t cut it. The sun in Hawaii can be deceiving. Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you won’t burn. Lather the sunscreen. Wear the hat. Put on sunglasses. Wear the rash guard. Protect your little ones’ little bodies. Sun burn can be really painful.
7. A supportive and comfortable backpack
This is especially beneficial when visiting Maui with kids. You’ll be carrying lots of essential things like water bottles, wipes and diapers, a change of clothes, and many, if not all of the items on this list.
8. Waterproof phone case and flotation strap
You can find this online or you can easily buy this anywhere in the island. This is especially helpful when your whole family decides to play in the water and no one is left at the beach to watch your stuff. You’ll want to put your phone and money inside a waterproof case strapped to a flotation device, so you don’t lose your essentials.
9. Seabands and/or motion sickness relief medication
Just in case. You may not know it now, but if you’ve never been on a small boat in the middle of the ocean and you jump on a small boat heading to the middle of the ocean for shark caging or parasailing, you or your kids might be too bent-over-the-side-of-the-boat sick and puking to enjoy the activity you just paid hundreds of dollars to do.
Things to do in Maui with Kids
If you’re looking to take your family to a place where you can detox from technology, spend time with each other, and simply relax, there are plenty of things to do in Maui with kids. There’s something about the aloha spirit that just makes you feel all warm and tingly on the inside. You will have an amazing time on your trip to Hawaii, and the memories you make will be memories to last a lifetime for you and your kids!
Author: Regine Orme– Lived in Hawaii for more than a decade.