Family Activities on Maui
Maui is a wonderful destination for families, and a Maui family vacation is sure to create treasured lifelong memories. Summer is the most popular family travel season on Maui, but there are plenty of family activities on Maui year-round. You won’t run out of options to keep everyone entertained, from toddlers to teens. It’s more likely you’ll have a hard time deciding which activities to squeeze in to your limited time on the island. Following are a few of my suggestions for fun family activities on Maui.
NOTE: This blog was updated in November 2021, but due to the continuing impacts of COVID-19, some of the businesses, events, or activities mentioned in the blog could possibly change their operations temporarily or permanently. As things are changing constantly amidst this pandemic, please check with these places directly to verify their operating status and hours. Mahalo!
FAMILY ACTIVITIES ON MAUI
• FIRST THING! Check out the activities offered at your accommodations. You’ll find some of the best family activities on Maui right where you’re staying. Most accommodations on Maui are family-friendly, and they make an effort to offer fun, creative activities and programs specifically for children or for families to enjoy together. Many also offer “day camp” programs where the kids can enjoy supervised fun while parents have a few hours to themselves. So, as soon as you arrive at your accommodations, familiarize yourself with the family-friendly activities right there in your own backyard.
• Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western hemisphere, and it’s a great place for a family outing. It features more than 60 exhibits, from a hands-on tide pool where little fingers can touch sea creatures to a walkthrough glass tunnel with sharks and stingrays gliding around you. Its new 3D Sphere Theater (opened in 2019) is an awesome experience — as if you’re swimming with whales! Maui Ocean Center is a fun, fascinating place for kids AND adults, and one of the top family activities on Maui.
• Boat trips, particularly snorkeling tours and winter whale watching excursions, are great family adventures. Just remember to keep slathering on the sunscreen (reef-safe ONLY, please!) throughout the day, and take something to prevent seasickness if you or the kids are prone to motion sickness. More Maui boat tours.
• There are endless opportunities for family beach and ocean activities, from lolling on the beach or building sandcastles to more active endeavors like snorkeling, surfing, stand up paddling, and parasailing. Keep your eyes open for sea turtles (pictured), which occasionally come up onto the beach and can look very much like large, smooth rocks! They are protected by law, so don’t approach, touch or disturb them in any way. Just appreciate them from a distance.
There are a number of beaches and protected coves around Maui that tend to have calmer waves and are considered more child friendly than others. If you have little ones with you, ask at your accommodations if there is a “baby beach” nearby. They will know where the best family beaches are in their area. However, please be mindful of safety whenever you are in or near the ocean, even if it looks calm. Stay alert. The sea is beautiful but can be unpredictable and dangerous. Here are some Maui beach tips.
• Submarine rides are available in Lahaina. An easygoing adventure for families who want to view the underwater world without getting wet! Children must be at least 36 inches tall for these submarine tours.
• A luau is great fun for families! You’ll be introduced to Hawaiian and Polynesian food, music, dance, and cultural traditions, and often there are games or crafts for children to participate in before the program begins. Definitely plan to include a luau in your family activities on Maui.
• Haleakala National Park is not only a fascinating and beautiful destination but it also offers some great activities for kids and families, including a fun Junior Ranger program.
• Explore beautiful Upcountry Maui, on the slopes of Haleakala, and make sure you include a stop at Surfing Goat Dairy where children can pet (or feed) the goats while adults sample delicious gourmet goat cheese. Sign up for one of their tours — fun and interesting for all ages.
• Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui provides a beautiful and easy walk for families. You can see the famous Iao Needle landmark (pictured here–a needle-like rock formation that points to the sky) and read informational signage about the historical significance of the area, which was the site of a famous battle between Hawaiian warriors in 1790.
• Maui Tropical Plantation in Central Maui is home to a family-friendly zip line operation. (Most Maui zip lines are too intense for young children.) This one is available to children as young as 5 years old, with a minimum weight requirement of 45 pounds. The 45-minute tram tour of the plantation is also fun and interesting, including a coconut husking demonstration.
• Meander through Maui’s small towns, like Paia (North Shore) and Lahaina (West Maui). Great little towns with lots of shops and eateries, and make sure you treat the family to some Hawaiian shave ice (similar to “snow cones”). If you’re in Paia, plan to also drive to nearby Hookipa Beach. It’s a great place to watch surfers and windsurfers in action, and you might catch a glimpse of sea turtles there, too–especially in late afternoon.
• Pick up a copy of one of our local newspapers and check the calendar of events section for upcoming family activities on Maui. Also ask the staff at your accommodations for current event information. There might be special festivals, town parties, fairs or other fun family events taking place when you’re here. If so, go! You’ll experience an authentic slice of Maui life.
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