Maui is an incredible destination that offers endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. From stunning beaches to lush rainforests, there is something for everyone on this Hawaiian island. But, if you are planning a family vacation to Maui, you may be wondering what activities and attractions are best suited for kids. Here are some of the best things to do in Maui with kids, including fun and free options, as well as the best luau for families.
We were in Maui for six days and five nights. Although we weren’t able to do everything on this list, I’m hoping we’ll be back again soon to do some of the things we didn’t do on this trip. I’ll also be sharing things to do in Kaanapali since our hotel was located there.
Visit the Beaches
Maui is famous for its beautiful beaches, and there are plenty of family-friendly options to choose from. One of the best beaches and best things to do in Kaanapali is to head to Kaanapali Beach, located on the west coast of the island. With its soft sand and calm waters, it’s the perfect place to swim, play, and build sandcastles. Our hotel was located on Kaanapali Beach, right next to Black Rock, so we had great access to snorkeling, cliff-diving, and all the ocean and beach fun we could ask for. Other great beaches for kids include Baby Beach in Lahaina and Kapalua Beach. You can swim, snorkel, build sandcastles, and soak up the sun. Checking out the beaches is definitely one of the fun things to do in Maui.
Take a Hike
Maui is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, and many are suitable for kids. Hiking is one of the best free things to do in Maui. And one of the best hikes for families is the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which offers stunning views of the ocean and passes by several beautiful beaches. The Iao Valley State Park is another great option, with its lush rainforest and waterfall.
We spent one afternoon doing a little hike to see the Nakalele Blowhole, which is one of the things to do in Maui for free. This is a naturally made wonder that’s definitely worth the drive to the northwest corner of Maui. There is a hole in the rock that when the waves crash in, creates a geyser-like effect that can shoot water up to 100 feet. I’ve read a lot about the blowhole, so I want to relay a word of caution. Do not get close to the blowhole, do not stand on wet rock near the blowhole. As long as you stay on the dry rock, you don’t have to worry. It can be dangerous if you get too close. People have died by being sucked into the blowhole.
The climb down the rocky trail to get to the blowhole is rather steep. The kids and I each slipped and fell once. However, it’s still a pretty easy hike that you can do with kids as young as toddlers. The view of the cliffs and the blowhole are spectacular and definitely worth the 30-minute drive from Kaanapali.
Visit the Maui Tropical Plantation
The Maui Tropical Plantation is a beautiful botanical garden that showcases the island’s tropical flora. Kids will love exploring the gardens and learning about the different plants and flowers. The plantation also offers a tram tour, which takes visitors on a ride through the fields and groves. We weren’t able to visit this trip, but I’m adding this to my list for next time.
Maui is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the world, and kids will love seeing the colorful fish and coral up close. One of the best places to snorkel with kids is Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali. The water here is calm and clear, making it perfect for beginners.
The coolest part about the hotel we chose is that it was located literally steps from Black Rock, so we were able to walk right from our hotel into the ocean and within seconds, we were already snorkeling with fish AND sea turtles! There were two sea turtles that swam right by us! I’ve never been that close to sea turtles in the wild.
I’ve snorkeled in the Bahamas and in Puerto Vallarta, and the snorkeling in Maui was the best I’ve experienced thus far. The water was clear and fairly calm, it was so nice to be able to snorkel right from the beach, and the biodiversity was amazing! There were tons of tropical fish, coral, sea urchins, and more to look at. There was also a shop right at my resort that sold snorkeling gear for reasonable prices if you didn’t bring your own.
Watch the Sunset
Maui is known for its breathtaking sunsets, and there are many spots to watch the sky turn orange and pink. One of the best places to watch the sunset with kids is Haleakala National Park. From the summit, you can see the sun setting over the ocean, creating a stunning and unforgettable sight. We didn’t get a chance to take that drive. We watched the sunset right from our hotel balcony, which overlooked Kaanapali beach. To be honest, there is no wrong place to watch the sunset, but it was definitely beautiful in Maui.
Explore Iao Valley State Park
Iao Valley State Park is a must-see attraction for families visiting Maui. This lush valley is home to the iconic Iao Needle, a 1,200-foot volcanic rock formation. You can take a short hike to the top of the Iao Needle for a stunning panoramic view of the valley below. The park also has picnic areas and a visitor center with exhibits about the history and culture of the area. This is another area we didn’t get to visit, but I’d definitely like to check out the next time I’m in Maui.
Visit the Maui Ocean Center
One of the top things to do in Maui with kids is to visit the Maui Ocean Center. This state-of-the-art aquarium is home to a variety of marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, and colorful tropical fish. Kids will love the interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, like touching starfish and crabs in the touch pool. The Maui Ocean Center also offers educational programs and guided tours.
We’ve been to a lot of aquariums over the years, but this was one of the best ones we’ve be to. Their selection of animals and ocean life was phenomenal. I also loved the sustainability elements and the fact that they are working to rehabilitate different wild life, including coral and sharks. If you visit, you must watch their new humpback whale 3D movie. It was such a cool and immersive experience. My kids are still talking about it.
Attend a Luau
No trip to Hawaii is complete without experiencing a traditional luau, and Maui has some of the best. We chose the Westin Luau, which is right near Kaanapali Beach for the best luau in Maui for families. These luaus offer a family-friendly atmosphere, delicious food, and live entertainment, including hula dancing and fire knife performances. This was our first time at a luau, and we definitely enjoyed watching the performances, enjoying the traditional Hawaiian food, and watching the gorgeous Maui sunset as the backdrop to the experience.
Take a Whale Watching Tour
If you’re visiting Maui between December and May, you can take a whale-watching tour to see humpback whales in their natural habitat. These gentle giants migrate to Hawaii each year to mate and give birth, and Maui is one of the best places to see them. Some tour operators offer whale-watching tours specifically designed for families with young children.
Since we’ve already been on two whale-watching tours in Alaska, we decided not to do one in Hawaii. Ironically, we have seen humpbacks at the other end of their journey between Hawaii and Alaska. However, if you are looking for fun things to do in Maui with kids, whale watching would definitely be a great choice.
Hike to a Waterfall
Maui is home to several stunning waterfalls that are accessible by hiking. Some of the top waterfall hikes for families include the Twin Falls Trail and the Waihou Spring Trail. These hikes are relatively short and easy, and the reward is a refreshing swim in a natural pool beneath a waterfall. Many people choose to do the Road to Hana, which does offer some more great views, hikes and waterfalls. We chose to skip it, because I heard it makes for a long day and I don’t think my kids would love all the time in the car. But I’ve also heard its beautiful, and definitely something I’d like to do on an adults-only trip to Maui.
Learn About Hawaiian Culture at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center
The Maui Arts and Cultural Center is a hub for arts and culture on the island. The center offers a variety of family-friendly events and programs, including hula performances, storytelling, and cultural workshops. You can also visit the on-site gallery to see exhibitions of Hawaiian art and crafts. We didn’t get a chance to visit this trip, but hoping we can do this next time. Thankfully, we did get some opportunities to take in Hawaiian culture during our visit to the Maui Ocean Center and also during the Luau.
Explore the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project
The Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project is a conservation organization dedicated to preserving the native birds of Maui’s rainforests. The organization offers guided tours of its research and conservation areas,
Maui is an excellent destination for families looking for a fun and educational vacation. With a variety of activities to choose from, including visiting the Maui Ocean Center, exploring Iao Valley State Park, and attending a traditional luau, there’s something for everyone in Maui. And with stunning beaches, waterfall hikes, and whale-watching tours, you can experience the natural beauty of the island while creating memories with your family. I hope this guide to the best things to do in Maui with kids has inspired you to plan your next family vacation to this beautiful Hawaiian island. We had an amazing time, and I definitely can’t wait to come back to Maui again very soon.