Children are welcome everywhere on Maui. Hawaiians love kids – large families are common and na keiki (children) are an integral part of the scenery. Maui has everything for a child on vacation: sandy beaches, fun hotel pools, tasty food and outdoor activities galore. Maui also offers cool cross-cultural opportunities, from hula lessons to outrigger-canoe rides.
Best Regions for Kids
First stop? Banyan Tree Sq to play among those wonderful banyan-tree branches. Kids will find lots of water attractions at the adjacent harbor, from a submarine ride to surfing lessons.
Water sports galore, especially for older kids – think swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, catamaran sails, whale-watching, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. On land, kids can hike and zipline. The Whalers Museum is well-suited to kids curious about history.
Another great place to hit the water, with surf lessons in Lahaina and kayaking in Makena Bay. Many beaches have lifeguard stands as well as grassy areas for picnics. Try an outrigger-canoe trip, available at many resorts.
Haleakalā National Park
Every kid loves playing astronaut on a crunchy walk into the wildly lunarlike crater, plus you can join a ranger talk or complete the requirements to become a Junior Ranger.
Maui for Kids
Eating With Kids
Maui’s family-oriented, casual atmosphere means children will feel at home almost everywhere. Sit-down restaurants are quick to accommodate kids, with high chairs and booster seats.
You might assume that all fancy restaurants frown on parties that include children, but many cater to them with special kids’ menus. The trend toward exhibition-kitchen restaurants – one large open area with a loud dining room – means that child chatter will blend into the overall din. At hotel luau, kids receive a discount and most will enjoy the show (they might even get invited to go on stage and enjoy the fun!). As for the food, the local palate tends toward the sweet and straightforward, which typically agrees with kids’ tastes, without too much garlic or pungent flavor.
Children love a picnic, and impromptu picnicking on Maui is a cinch – you can scarcely go a mile without finding a park with picnic tables. Many restaurants pack food for takeout, and grocery stores invariably have extensive deli sections with grab-and-go meals. Finding treats is also easy. Premium ice cream, shave ice, home-style cookies and chocolate-covered macadamias are omnipresent temptations.
When you’re traveling around the island, stop at roadside fruit stands to let everyone pick their own healthful snack. It’s fun watching a coconut being cracked open with a machete, then slurping up the coconut water through a straw.
- Many of Maui’s beach resorts have keiki (child) day programs where kids can do fun things while you head for the spa.
- Visitors to Haleakalā National Park should take advantage of the free junior ranger program, geared to ages seven to 12.
- The Pacific Whale Foundation provides a free Junior Marine Naturalist handbook that introduces kids to Hawaii marine life through quizzes, anagrams and the like. Pick up one on board a whale-watching cruise.
Keep watch for festivals, even small local events, while on Maui. They’re invariably family oriented with plenty of keiki-geared activities included in the fun. The weekly Friday Town Parties (www.mauifridays.com) are entertaining and filled with distractions.
- Surf lessons in Lahaina Gentle waves! Surf schools line the streets.
- Snorkeling at Honolua Bay Fantastic underwater sights are a few kicks from shore. Careful on the slippery entry!
- Whale-watching From mid-December to April, hop on a boat in Lahaina or Maʻalaea to glimpse these mighty beasts.
- Outrigger-canoe tour Join a family-friendly trip to look for green sea turtles in a traditional Hawaiian canoe.
Plants & Animals
- Maui Ocean Center A 54ft clear tunnel funnels families through a fish-filled 750,000-gallon tank.
- Surfing Goat Dairy Kids can hang with the kids – of the goat variety.
- Ono Organic Farm Sample exotic fruit as you explore a 300-acre farm.
- Maui Tropical Plantation Enjoy two ziplines, a touch of history and exotic fruit at the Coconut Station.
- Banyan Tree Square With its sprawling canopy and thick trucks, this tree would make the Swiss Family Robinson feel at home.
- Kealia Coastal Boardwalk Burn off energy at this elevated boardwalk through coastal wetlands.
- Kalakupua Playground In Haʻiku, this jungle gym at the Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park looks like a sprawling castle.
- Kula Country Farms In October, bring the little ones to the pumpkin patch.
Older Kids & Teens
- Skyview Soaring From Hana, glide above the slopes of Haleakalā in a sailplane.
- Haleakalā National Park Hike into the crater to see cinder cones and silverswords.
- Makena Bay Paddle from shore to see green sea turtles, tropical fish and maybe a breaching whale.
- Hana Lava Tube (Kaʻeleku Caverns) Wander through a long underground tunnel formed by lava.
- Makena Stables Ride through coastal lava fields on horseback.
Museums & Cultural Sites
- Whalers Village Museum In West Maui, kids can imagine life aboard a 19th-century whaling ship, complete with harpoons and scrimshaw carvings.
- Old Lahaina Luau Hawaii's most authentic, aloha-filled luau comes with music, hula and children's games.
- Piʻilanihale Heiau Near Hana, gaze up at an enormous ancient temple.
- La Perouse Bay Walk past the lava-rock ruins of an early Hawaiian coastal settlement.
Kid Friendly Resorts
- Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa Slides, caves and waterfalls across nine pools! You won't see the kids until dinner.
- Four Seasons Maui at Wailea The Kids for All Seasons program offers fun and educational Maui-inspired programs for the youngsters, plus there's a resort game room.
- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa Swim-through grottoes and water slides in the pool are fun, plus there are exotic animals in the lobby.
- Kaʻanapali Beach Hotel Kids can pick up an Aloha Passport spotlighting 12 activities, plus there are daily Hawaiian activities for children.
- Children are welcome at hotels throughout Maui. Those under 17 typically stay free when sharing a room with their parents and using existing bedding.
- Many sights and activities offer discounted children’s rates, sometimes as cheap as half price.
- Car-rental companies on Maui lease child-safety seats, but they don’t always have enough on hand so don’t book your car at the last minute.
- If you’re traveling with infants and forget to pack some of your gear, go online to www.mauibabyequipment.com to rent cribs, playpens, pushchairs and other baby items.
- For an evening out alone, the easiest and most reliable way to find a babysitter is through the hotel concierge.
- Maui is an open-minded place, and although public breast-feeding is not commonplace, it’s unlikely to elicit unwanted attention.
Am I Old Enough?
Some popular activities on Maui require that children be of a certain age, height or weight to participate. Always ask about restrictions when making reservations, to avoid disappointment.
To learn how to surf Kids who can swim comfortably in the ocean are candidates for lessons. Teens can usually join group lessons, although younger kids may be required to take private lessons.
To take a snorkel cruise Depending on the outfitter and type of boat (catamaran, raft), tours sometimes set minimum ages, usually from five to eight years. Larger boats may allow tots as young as two to ride along.
To go ziplining Minimum age requirements range from eight to 10 years, depending on the company. Participants must also meet weight minimums (usually 60lb to 80lb).
To ride a horse For trail rides the minimum age ranges from eight to 13 years, depending on the company. It helps if the child already has some riding experience.
Need to Know
Car-safety seats Reserve in advance with your car rental.
Changing facilities Found in shopping malls and resorts.
Cots/Cribs Request in advance when booking a room.
High chairs Available at most restaurants.
Kids’ menus Family-oriented restaurants have them.
Nappies/Diapers Grocery and convenience stores sell them.
Pushchairs/Strollers Bring your own or rent in Maui.
Helpful Books & Websites
Travel with Children (Lonely Planet) Loaded with valuable tips and amusing tales, especially for first-time parents.
lonelyplanet.com Ask questions and get advice from other travelers on the Thorn Tree's online 'Kids to Go' and 'USA' Forums.
Go Hawaii (www.gohawaii.com) The state's official tourism website lists family-friendly activities, special events and more – easily search the site using terms such as 'kid' or 'family'.
Maui Family Magazine (www.mauifamilymagazine.com) Geared to locals, but the website does have a weekend guide for families.