It may be one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations, but Maui has an abundance of experiences and resorts to entice families as well
From swimming at beautiful beaches to exploring dormant volcanic landscapes and feeding farm animals in the Upcountry, Maui offers a diverse range of experiences for families.
The 6.5-kilometre-long Kā‘anapali Beach is one of the island’s most beautiful. Several operators offer water sports including surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and jet skiing, and each night a sunset torch lighting is held at the northern-most cliffs, known as Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock). It’s also a popular place for snorkelling, along with Honolua Bay, ‘Ahihi Kinau Bay, and Wailea’s Ulua Beach. Boat tours that include snorkelling depart Mā‘alaea and Lāhainā harbours.
From December to May, whale watching cruises offer the chance to spot migrating humpback whales, or look for the gentle giants from the shore at McGregor Point west of Mā‘alaea or the beaches of Kā‘anapali, Kīhei and Wailea. You can also visit the Whale Center of The Pacific at Whalers Village in the Kā‘anapali resort area to find out more about these fascinating creatures.
Maui Ocean Center at Wailuku is a great place to learn more about marine life. It boasts the world’s largest collection of live Pacific corals, with more than 60 exhibits, a 16-metre long walkthrough tunnel, a turtle lagoon and a tide pool with sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
To find out why Maui is called the ‘Valley Isle’, splash out on a scenic helicopter flight. You’ll soar over the dormant Haleakalā Crater, the hidden waterfalls of West Maui and former sugar and pineapple plantations. It’s also worth getting up early to watch the sunrise over Haleakalā, which towers more than 3,000 metres above sea level. You can also hike into the crater and go horse-riding or mountain biking in the national park, while kids can take part in its Junior Ranger program. Reservations are required for cars from 3am to 7am and can be made online up to 60 days before.
In Upcountry Maui, children can frolic among the perfumed purple flowers at Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm, which also has a small shop selling lavender-inspired skincare products, aromatherapy and essential oils, tea, coffee and chocolate. Take a tour of nearby Surfing Goat Dairy to meet the farm animals and learn how cheese is made before a tasting. There’s also a petting zoo at Lāhainā, Maui Animal Farm, with goats, pigs, miniature horses, bunnies, chickens and even a tortoise.
Accommodation on Maui is concentrated in three regions. Kā‘anapali, on the north-western side of the island, is a family-friendly resort area along the beautiful Kā‘anapali Beach. A little further north Kapalua is a luxurious resort area with championship golf courses, while in the south, Kīhei, Mākena and Wailea offer more high-end hotels and resorts, and a quieter vibe.
Accommodation on Maui is concentrated in three regions. On the north-western side of the island, you can stay at Kā‘anapali — a family-friendly resort area along Kā‘anapali Beach.. A little further north you’ll find Kapalua, a resort community with luxury resorts including The Ritz Carlton and Montage brands, and championship golf courses. In the south, Kīhei, Mākena and Wailea offer more high-end hotels and resorts, and a quieter vibe. In the east, you can stay at the Hyatt property Hāna-Maui Resort.
With a whale-shaped pool, open-air bar and family-friendly activities, Outrigger Kā‘anapali Beach Resort is a great option. Set among more than four hectares of tropical gardens, it was named the best hotel in the state in the Hawai‘i Magazine 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, and one of the top resorts in Hawai‘i in the 2022 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. The hotel’s refurbished beachfront rooms are ideal for families, who can take advantage of kids 17 and under staying for free. The no resort-fee hotel also offers free daily cultural classes and the opportunity to participate in water sports and beach activities, with world-class golfing, dining and shopping all within walking distance.
The condominium-style Aston at The Whaler on Kā‘anapali Beach has a pool, spa, gym, tennis court and tropical grounds with fire pits. A bit further north, Aston Kā‘anapali Shores has a large garden pool with mini-waterfalls and spouting streams, an oceanfront pool with cabanas and an on-site eatery, The Beach Club Restaurant & Bar. Next door, Aston at Papakea Resort has rooms with full kitchens, two pools, shuffleboard, pickleball and tennis courts. Honua Kai Resort & Spa has a network of pools with waterfalls, waterslides, caves and fountains. Its restaurant, Duke’s Beach House, has a large outdoor dining area with thatched umbrellas and tiki torches.
Perched atop picturesque Namalu Bay, Montage Kapalua Bay is on a 10-hectare property between three white sand beaches, offering luxurious residential style accommodation amidst tropical gardens with an on-site Spa Montage. Along with several restaurants featuring locally inspired cuisine, the resort also offers access to two nearby championship golf courses, cultural activities, and a twice-weekly lū’au.
At South Kīhei on the southwest shore, Castle Hotels & Resorts’ condominium-style Kamaole Sands is set within tropical surroundings, with freshwater ponds and waterfalls, a pool, wading pool and jacuzzi, tennis courts, a gym and barbecue facilities. Located across the road from the beach, Maui Banyan has one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums, two pools, jacuzzis, a putting green, a gas barbecue and picnic areas.
With a large al fresco area and a firepit, beachfront restaurant Huihui at Outrigger Kā‘anapali Beach Resort is ideal for families. The thatched roof restaurant offers a fusion menu inspired by the practice of Hawaiian navigation, including ingredients the islands’ original inhabitants used to sustain themselves on their brave voyages.
Whalers Village, also on Kā‘anapali Beach, also has some excellent offerings, including seafood restaurant Leilani’s On the Beach, Hula Grill and Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, which was founded by Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine co-founder, Peter Merriman. Duke’s Beach House also has a great vibe, with live music adding to the atmosphere.
In the nearby town of Lāhainā, Cheeseburger In Paradise is a relaxed oceanfront eatery with tiki décor serving burgers, local favourites like loco moco, fish tacos and a range of salads. Also in Lāhainā, Kimo’s seafood restaurant is known for its hula pie dessert, and has a dedicated kids’ menu. The Old Lāhainā Lū‘au is the place to go for a feast of traditional dishes, including kālua pork roasted in an imu (underground oven), lau lau (bundles of pork and taro leaves), ‘ahi poke and lomilomi salmon.
In the old plantation town of Pā‘ia on Maui’s North Shore, grab a fish burger from Pā‘ia Fish Market before dessert at Pā‘ia Gelato, which offers flavours like Maui Pineapple, Big Island Macadamia Crunch and Sandy Beach (peanut butter, coconut candy and lava sea salt).