Most travel posters frame Maui as a typical romantic destination. And it is. But it also offers rafts of family fun. Family, or ohana, is a big priority in Hawaiian culture, and there is much to do on the island of Maui with your kids, or keiki. Here’s a rundown of some favourites that may leave you a little more in love with the island, and with each other.
For Kids of All Ages
Get Up Close and Personal with Ocean Critters
Maui Ocean Center.
Why go to an aquarium when the big blue ocean is at the end of your flip-flops? While it’s amazing to see animals in their natural element, it doesn’t always happen—and you don’t necessarily want it to! At the Maui Ocean Center, view Hawaii’s marine life firsthand while learning about the islands’ natural history and cultural heritage. Check out the live coral displays—the largest collection in the U.S.—and then watch cute green sea turtles dart through the water, while sharks and rays sail overhead as you walk through an underwater tunnel.
Sculpt Some Sand
Want to try your hand at building a masterpiece made of sand? Local artists Riki and Tom Inzano will guide your family in creating a piece of sand art at Grand Wailea Resort’s beach. The Inzanos are known for their intricate sand sculptures. In fact, any of Maui’s beautiful beaches offer sandy fun for the kids. In particular, there’s Baby Beach, with a calm lagoon near Paia (Highway 36, Marker 5), complete with good swimming for adults, plus jaw-dropping views of the coast.
Surf’s Up on the Farm
Take your keiki for a farm adventure at Surfing Goat Dairy, located upcountry in Kula. Show up anytime before 3 p.m. (1 p.m. on Sunday) for a casual tour of the farm—just don’t miss the adorable baby goats. On a Grand Dairy tour, the whole family can feed and milk the goats, witness the cheese-making process and then sample all the fresh cheeses produced on site.
Kids ages 0 to 3
Koi Chow Time If you’re staying at a hotel with ponds full of ornamental koi fish, inquire about feeding times. Your little keiki can toss the koi some grub and watch them collectively freak out. At the Grand Wailea Resort, a daily keiki koi feeding takes place at the Humuhumunukunukuapua´a Lounge, followed by traditional Hawaiian conch shell blowing and a torch-lighting ceremony. At The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, not only are there koi and carp to feed, but you can also slip Newman, the black swan, a few tasty tidbits. Don’t worry, he has no teeth so your little ones’ fingers are safe.
Kids ages 4 to 8
Shake That Money-Maker! Every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., students of the Napili Kai Foundation present a lively hula show of island song and dance at Napili Kai Beach Resort in West Maui. The foundation works to preserve Hawaiian culture by teaching children the dances, language, history, arts and crafts of Polynesia. You and your keiki can get up on stage and learn to hula as well. Proceeds benefit the non-profit foundation.
Kids ages 9 to 12
High-Flying Family Inject a little adrenaline into your mellow holiday by taking the family ziplining near Haleakala National Park. Your kids will not only have a blast, but the vistas they’ll see—a eucalyptus forest, carved valleys carpeted in lush vegetation and one of the world’s largest volcanoes—are unbeatable.
Let your big kids go wild at the Grand Wailea’s Canyon Activity Pool. It offers 770,000 gallons of fun consisting of nine pools on six levels, connected by a river loaded with whitewater and lazy currents. Plus, there are jungle pools, waterfalls, slides, a Tarzan pool with rope swing and the world’s first water elevator—that’s right, an actual elevator where water pours down while you go up. There’s also an infant pool that keeps things safe and fun for the wee ones.
Kids Day (or Night) Camps, ages 5 to 12
Need to occupy the kids for a day or an evening so Mom and Dad can actually have a Hawaiian date? Many hotels, such as the Westin Kids Club at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, offer registered keiki programs that include games and crafts centred on Hawaiian culture and nature. The Grand Wailea’s Camp Grande features sessions in tide pools, crab hunting and sand sculpting. Just look for an activity room when your kids need a break from the sun. They’re typically free to use, and are equipped with keiki favourites—video games, air hockey, toys and more.