12 BEST THINGS TO DO ON MAUI WITH KIDS
Maui is a renowned family-friendly destination— home to resorts with pools that resemble mini-waterparks and countless fun activities like snorkeling and zip lining. But planning your trip can easily get overwhelming, especially when you have sometimes-fussy kids in tow. To help you pick the right activities for your family and create unforgettable memories with your kiddos, check out our picks for the best things to do on Maui with kids.
1. Explore the Maui Ocean Center
The Maui Ocean Center isn’t just for kids— this 3-acre facility in Maʻalaea is a wonder for all ages. Wander through the deep sea, shallow reef, and near-shore exhibits and come face to face with Hawaii’s most magical marine animals: sharks, sting rays, octopus, turtles, and hundreds of tropical fish.
The aquarium also features fun interactive exhibits where kids and adults can learn about sea life, Hawaiian culture, and history. Prepare to be mesmerized in the deep sea exhibit, where a 35-foot-long tunnel stretches through the aquarium’s largest tank, and stingrays and sharks soar overhead. But the Maui Ocean Center’s most alluring attraction is the Humpbacks of Hawaii sphere. This planetarium-like theater showcases a 3D movie of whales filmed in Maui’s waters, bringing visitors eye-to-eye with the majestic behemoths. (Heads up: the 3D film is not suitable for children under three).
2. Take a surf lesson
The gentle rolling waves at Maui’s beginner breaks are ideal for kids learning how to surf— and there are plenty of awesome instructors to help kick-start their surfing journey. Kid-friendly surf lessons are offered across the island, from Cove Park in Kihei to Ukumehame on the West Side. Some of our favorite surf schools include Maui Surfer Girls, Rivers to the Sea, and Maui Wave Riders. Surf lessons typically come with everything you need to get started: rash guards, booties, and of course, a surfboard! Keep in mind that some surf schools have age requirements and might require young children to take a private lesson.
3. Stop by the Maui Tropical Plantation
Young or old, there’s something for everyone at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Located in Waikapu, this sprawling plantation is home to a restaurant, working farm, shops, and plenty of family-friendly activities. Adventurous families can book a zipline tour with Maui Zipline, which features five side-by-side lines explicitly designed with children in mind. However, if your kiddos are more tame, hop aboard the tram tour. This 45-minute excursion showcases the plantation’s many crops and offers a fun peek into Hawaiian agriculture. Kids can also feed ducks at the plantation’s duck pond. Duck food is sold by the handful at a kiosk nearby. Meanwhile, parents will enjoy the elevated island fares at the onsite restaurant, Cafe O’lei at the Mill House, and the unique shopping at Country Market.
4. Take a drive to the Surfing Goat Dairy
Traveling with animal-loving kids? Make your way to the Surfing Goat Dairy in Upcountry, where you can enjoy a unique culinary experience and keep the kids preoccupied with friendly goats. The 30-minute’ Casual Tour’ offers a quick but thorough look into the dairy’s operations. You’ll get to meet the goats, check out the milking facilities, and get a glimpse into the cheese-making process. The excursion culminates with a tasting of some of the dairy’s award-winning cheeses. For a more in-depth experience, go for the 2.5-hour ‘Grand Dairy Tour,’ where you’ll help herd and milk the goats and experience a grand tasting of all the cheeses produced at the dairy.
5. Go Sailing
Get your sea legs ready! Sailing is one of the best activities on Maui— and there are plenty of ways to get your fix. But for the creme de la creme of Maui sailing experiences, book a private charter with Maui Custom Charters. Instead of crowding onto a tour boat and anchoring at an over-crowded snorkel spot, you and your family will have full reign of the 42′ Nova during your charter. Plus, the hospitable crew will show you to their favorite off-the-beaten-track snorkeling spot.
6. Explore The Depths on a submarine
*** On August 8, 2023 wildfires on Maui devastated the West Maui town of Lahaina and the surrounding area. Our deepest condolences go out to all of the people, families, and businesses affected by this terrible event. Unfortunately, Lahaina Harbor was also lost in the fire and it will be some time before we see any ocean tours leaving or visiting this area. Check with any tour company directly before booking to make sure they are still operating. You can find ocean activities at Maalaea Harbor and at Kihei Boat Ramp in the meantime.
Atlantis Submarine is one of the most exciting ways to see Maui’s marine life in its natural habitat. This activity is especially great for keiki who are too young to snorkel or aren’t comfortable in the water. Departing from Lahaina Harbor, the submarine descends over 100 feet to an artificial reef/shipwreck. Here, feast your eyes on colorful tropical fish, eels, and maybe a reef shark or two. During the tour, a naturalist is on hand to detail the many different types of marine life you’ll spot. Plus, the sub is spacious and air-conditioned for a comfortable ride.
7. Have a blast at Maui Golf & Sports Park
The Maui Golf and Sports Park in Maʻalaea is heaven on earth for kids. With two well-appointed 18-hole golf courses, bumper boats, a rock climbing wall, and a bungee trampoline, Maui Golf and Sports Park is the closest thing Maui has to an amusement park. The golf courses snake past streams, over bridges, along tropical gardens, and through artificial caves. Meanwhile, a troupe of 10 bumper boats zips through a 4,000-square-foot pool, their water guns soaking anyone and anything in their path. The park also features a cafe with burgers, hot dogs, pizza, Dole Whip, and shave ice— a picky kid’s paradise.
8. Attend a luau.
Luaus are a fun way to introduce kids to Hawaiian culture. While some parents might worry about their kids getting bored, several of Maui’s luaus know how to keep their guests entertained from start to finish. For instance, the Grand Wailea Luau kicks off with pre-show activities geared toward all ages: henna tattoos, lei making, ukulele lessons, and Hawaiian games. The show features a group hula lesson and lots of exciting dances— namely, the Samoan fire knife dance. If you’re on the fence about bringing your kids to a luau, you can’t go wrong with the Grand Wailea Luau.
9. Visit the Ultimate Air Trampoline Park
Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re just trying to kill some time before heading to the airport, Ultimate Air Trampoline Park is every tired parent’s dream. Kids can expend their energy in Ultimate Air’s massive Wailuku facility— blanketed with trampolines and fun activities like basketball hoops, dodgeball, and foam pits. Spry parents are welcome in on the fun too, but if you feel like kicking back, a row of black leather massage chairs awaits.
10. Go whale watching
Whale watching is one of the most magical Maui activities. December 15th marks the official start of whale season, and from then until April or May, a myriad of tour boats offer whale watches. One of our favorites is Kai Kanani, a deluxe catamaran that operates out of Maluaka Beach in Makena. Kai Kanani employs an onboard naturalist who rattles off captivating facts about humpback whales and explains any whale behavior you might see. The boat is pristine, the crew is great with kids, and the onboard bar is well-stocked— always a plus when traveling with kids.
11. Beach it!
What is a Maui vacation without some serious beach time?! While some beaches on Maui can be rough— even for adults— there are just as many kid-friendly beaches. Here are some of our favorites:
West Maui: Kahekili Beach, also known as Airport Beach in Kaanapali is a great spot for families. Just be sure to pick a sandy patch for swimming because the reef/rocks here can be sharp. Launiupoko Beach Park outside of Lahaina also has a sandy keiki tide pool protected by a sea wall. On calm days, older kids might enjoy snorkeling and boogie boarding at Napili Bay.
South Maui: Kalepolepo Beach Park is home to an ancient fishpond that forms a shallow, calm pool perfect for young keiki. Maluaka Beach and all three Kamaole Beach Parks are suitable for kids when it’s calm.
North Shore: The north shore is notorious for wind and strong surf. But Baby Beach in the far western corner of Baldwin Beach Park is the go-to place for families in Paia. The outer reef forms a placid, sandy lagoon for kids to play in. Some ocean currents can sneak in, but overall this beach is protected.
12. Get shave ice
Colorful and oh-so-sweet, shave ice is the dessert of choice for kids around Hawaii. There are dozens of places to try the snow-cone-like dessert, but the undisputed king of Hawaiian shave ice is Ululani’s. This locally-owned company is known for having the fluffiest shave ice around, plus an extensive list of toppings and flavors. Parents, you don’t have to worry about high fructose corn syrup here— all of Ululani’s syrups are made in-house from organic cane sugar and fruit juices.