Maui is the perfect Hawaiian island to visit with kids of all ages. It isn’t as crowded as Oahu, but there are more things to do on Maui with kids than on other islands like Kauai or The Big Island of Hawaii. On our Hawaiian vacation, we split our time between Kona on the Big Island and the Kā’anapali area of Maui.
If you are visiting Maui with kids, you will want to divide your time between relaxing at the beach, enjoying local water sports, and other fun things to do on Maui. During our five days on the island of Maui, these were our favorite things to do on Maui with kids.
5 Things to Do on Maui with Kids
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1. Snorkeling by Molokini
While you can typically snorkel off the beach, the waves can be a bit rough for a beginner. For a true Hawaiian snorkeling experience, take a snorkel cruise out to Molokini Crater. This volcanic atoll forms a crescent off the coast of Maui and its clear waters serve as a home to protected bird and ocean life. There are multiple companies that offer snorkeling excursions to Molokini.
The boat ride takes about 45 minutes to one hour and the water can be a bit choppy so if you are prone to seasickness, take some Dramamine before you go. Luckily, the waters off Molokini are calmer and you are able to see many beautiful tropical fish.
The nice thing about snorkeling with kids at Molokini is that some of the tour operators offer floats for beginners, which are like boogie boards with a porthole for viewing underwater and handles to help stay afloat. This was a perfect way for our six-year-old to “get her feet wet” (pun intended). After a while, she ditched the prop and went right in.
The only drawback is that the water was cold (I prefer snorkeling in the Caribbean) and it got crowded once multiple snorkel boats arrived at the same spot, so you need to watch out that you don’t get kicked in the head by someone swimming by.
2. Tour of the Stars at the Hyatt
Since we didn’t get to go to the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island, I promised our little one a look at the stars. The Hyatt in Ka’anapali offers a Tour of the Stars rooftop astronomy program. The Hyatt has been named the World’s Top Hotel for Stargazing, offering astronomy programs on Thursdays through Mondays at either 8:00 pm, 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm or 11:00 pm (reservations are recommended).
The Director of Astronomy and NASA Solar System Ambassador uses a computer to select an agenda, and locate and identify 1,000 objects in the sky including stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulae. We were able to get a close-up look at the moon, as well as take a look at Mars and Saturn through their telescopes.
Who knows, maybe this program was part of why she developed a lifelong love for astronomy.
3. Watch the Sunset Ceremony at Black Rock
If you are staying in Ka’anapali, you must take a walk up to Black Rock at sunset for the cliff diving ceremony at the Sheraton Maui. This traditional ceremony starts with the blowing of a horn and men with torches run up the rock, present an offering to the sea, and then dive off the cliff into the ocean. It is quite an amazing spectacle and a taste of local culture that is often overlooked.
During the day, it is also fun to watch locals and tourists climb Black Rock and dive off the cliffs. My husband tried it, but the climb was a little too much. Of course, I’m too much of a chicken to even attempt it but just swimming in the waters around the cliffs you can see sea turtles and other wildlife.
4. Driving the road to Hana
Driving the road to Hana is one of the “to-do” things if you are going to Maui. For those of you that don’t know, the Hana Highway is a stretch of winding, narrow road between Kahalui and Hana on the east coast of Maui. The drive is not about getting to Hana, which isn’t supposed to be anything amazing, but more about the sights you will see along the way.
If you are going with kids, don’t be afraid to call it quits before you get to Hana…you won’t be the only one. You’ll want to get started early and plan to spend a whole day on the road. Remember, you have to come back the way you went, so unless you are staying overnight in Hana, you may want to head back before late afternoon so you aren’t attempting those curves in the dark.
Before you leave, you might want to make a dinner reservation at Mama’s Fish House for the way back, just bring a change of clothes or something to freshen up since this is one of the best restaurants on the island.
On our drive to Hana, we stopped in Paia to pick up a picnic lunch at the Hana Picnic Lunch Company. We started off with some delicious tropical smoothies, then ordered some box lunches, which they packed up in a handy, reusable cooler bag for the road.
Our first stop was at Twin Falls, one of the best stops on the road to Hana (and therefore crowded) pitstop along the way. It is located just past mile marker 2 after the Jaws General Store. While the falls are not spectacular, I was able to fulfill my dream of swimming in a waterfall and walking behind the falls.
The hike to the main falls was about 1 mile along mostly even terrain, but there were sections that were bumpy or slippery over rocks so you’ll want to take care when going with young children. If you are wearing sneakers for the hike, make sure to bring along some water shoes because you will need them for walking into the water. To get behind the falls you’ll need to walk through knee to thigh-deep water over very slippery and uneven rocks. Quite tricky when carrying a little one.
After our adventures at the falls, we were starting to get hungry so our next stop was the Waikamoi Ridge Trail. From our research, we thought we would take a hike up to the top and enjoy lunch in the picnic area at the top of the trail. What we didn’t realize was that there were no bathroom facilities and the walk was quite arduous for the view it afforded. Given the opportunity to do this again, we probably would have skipped the hike and found another spot for our picnic.
We got a better view (and a bathroom) at Kaumahina State Wayside Park, where a short walk gave a sweeping view of the Keanae Peninsula. It looked so beautiful, we decided to take a detour and get a closer look. We took the road down to the water and spent some time hanging out with some locals fishing and hanging out at the beach with their families. After taking full advantage of the photo ops, we decided we had come far enough.
We honestly couldn’t picture it getting any prettier than that spot and felt we had done enough. We felt complete (which is rare for me to not mind missing something on our list), we swam in waterfalls, hiked through bamboo, walked on lava, and saw some beautiful sights. It was about the journey.
If you go further, be sure to stop at the Black Sand Beach in Honokalani in Waianapanapa State Park.
When driving the road to Hana, be sure to bring along the following:
- Dramamine for car sickness
- Plenty of liquids
- A picnic lunch
- Bug spray
- Sneakers or hiking boots
- Water shoes or flip-flops/sandals
- Charmin to go (just in case…there aren’t many restrooms and those aren’t fully stocked)
- Hana Highway audio guide or mobile app
- Change of clothes, etc for dinner on your way home
5. Sugar Cane Steam Train
Note: this attraction is currently closed, but the website hints that it will reopen in the future. While this attraction may be a bit boring for adults, if you have kids into trains, then it is worth spending an hour on an old-fashioned steam train.
Places to Eat On Maui with Kids
These are some of our favorite places to eat on Maui with kids.
1. Lahaina Grill
Lahaina Grill has been named the best restaurant in Maui for 20 years in a row by Honolulu Magazine and I believe it! This was definitely our favorite meal. Located in downtown Lahaina, the restaurant is something of a surprise.
Inside the decor is decidedly upscale with a blend of quaintness (like the tin ceiling) and modern (black and white tile floor). The food is amazing and beautifully presented. What we appreciated most was their kids’ menu. Instead of just the typical chicken fingers and french fries, they offered options like Grilled Mahi Mahi with rice and vegetables (our daughter was thrilled!)
Lahaina Grill is located at 127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, Maui.
2. Smoothies at Whaler’s Village
We often walked up to Whaler’s Village, a shopping area on Ka’anapali Beach, for breakfast and lunch to avoid the steep prices at the hotel. In addition to the fish tacos at the beachside restaurants, we loved getting tropical smoothies as breakfast or an afternoon snack at the Island Vintage Shave Ice. We also loved to poke around the shops, especially the Cinnamon Girl boutique.
Whaler’s Village is located at 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI
3. Roy’s Kaanapali
On our first night in Maui, we took a drive up to Roy’s to try some of his famous Hawaiian cuisine. I fell in love with the guava martini!
Roy’s Kaanapali is located at 2290 Kaanapali Parkway, Suite A, Lahaina, HI
4. Pacific’o on the Beach in Lahaina
As the name suggests, Pacific’o is located right on the beach in Lahaina and offers a relaxing atmosphere that is a step up from your typical beachside restaurant. We were able to try some freshly caught Ono fish and take a walk to dip our toes in the water between courses.
After dinner, we enjoyed a walk through the Shops at 505 Front Street and came very close to purchasing a painting at one of the art galleries (I somewhat regret not going through with it but the cost and carrying a very tired child pushed me toward the door.)
Pacific’o on the Beach is located at 505 Front St Suite 114, Lahaina, HI
Need more suggestions on what to do on Maui? Want to know the best luaus on Maui? If you are headed to Hawaii, also check out our suggestions for what to do with kids on the Big Island! Also, looking for things to do in Oahu? If you head to Oahu, be sure to check out the Disney Aulani.
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