Hawaii Week: Maui with Kids

This is a guest post Sarah Burns is a California native, mom blogger who traded traffic-filled freeways & the cold West coast waters for a beach house in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Sarah, along with her husband and two children, now calls Maui home and shares her parenting dispatches from paradise, on her site The Ohana Mama. You can also follow and catch up to the minute happenings of Sarah’s Maui life on twitter, @SarahBhawaii.

Road to Hana

There’s no shortage of things to do on Maui and the best part is that some of the most fun and adventurous outings are FREE. From the numerous beaches, to our hiking trails, to free walking tours of our historic towns, you can have fun and not break the bank. We also have TONS of paid activities from parasailing in the summer, to whale watching in the winter. Yes, being bored on Maui is hard to do.

The weather on Maui is warm year round. Winter brings more rain showers (and rainbows) along with cooler temps while summer is generally hot and dry. Either way, Maui is perfect year round for those who love the outdoors, whether it’s relaxing on a white sand beach or trying out your surfing skills in the warm Hawaiian waters, there’s something for everyone! Just be sure to pack the sunscreen, put it on, then have a fun-filled vacation the keiki (that’s children, in Hawaii) are sure to never forget!

Maui sunset

Maui with Kids: Family-Friendly Things to Do and See

Gazebo Restaurant, The Ultimate Kid Friendly Breakfast spot

Start an action-packed Maui day with some breakfast at The Gazebo restaurant overlooking breathtaking Napili Bay on the West side of Maui.  Take note that they do not take reservations and you must line up and wait for a table. Fear not however, the time goes quickly and there are activities to keep the kids at bay while you wait. The Gazebo offers coffee for the partrons while in line and has a life-sized checker board nearby where the kids can use halved coconuts as their markers. Not into checkers? No worries, there’s plenty of green grass to romp around and get the energy out and of course you can spend the time taking beautiful pics of the amazing Napili Bay. Once seated, the absolute best part, other than the food, is that your breakfast will arrive to your table in less than five minutes from when you order. That’s a grand slam for parents. The food is excellent and a perfect start to an adventurous Maui day!

Insider secret: Don’t want to wait?  Up early due to the time difference? Be the first to arrive by getting there before 7 a.m. and you are sure to be one of the first seated.

Sugar Cane Train. Photo Credit Sarah Burns

Take a Ride on The Sugar Cane Train

A true classic, The Sugar Cane Train located in Lahaina Town is a must do with the kids. Go for a ride back in time as you get a scenic tour of Lahaina and Kaanapali along the same rails that were used to transport sugar cane to the old Pioneer Mill in Lahaina in days past. As you ride along, the friendly conductor teaches you all about Lahaina, Maui and the islands of Lanai & Molokai which sit directly off the Kaanapali coast.  Bring snacks of your own or purchase a snack pack when you buy your ticket for about $8. The ride runs about 90 minutes and they have a dinner train every Thursday.

Insider secret: Grab a tourist magazine at any grocery store or activity center to find coupons for The Sugar Cane Train and other Maui adventures. Also purchase tickets online in advance for a discount.

Under the Sea

The Reefdancer departs out of Lahaina Harbor and takes you on an underwater tour where you’ll learn about all of the reefs and sea-life that hides beyond the beaches of West Maui. Divers on the boat bring up sea creatures such as Octopus to give you an up-close look at these magnificent creatures. The Reefdancer isn’t a real-deal submarine, it’s actually a glass bottom boat, with air-conditioning in the cabin, and full views underwater from both sides. For those with children, this can be a godsend, as you aren’t stuck underwater should anyone need air. You simply head upstairs where you can enjoy the fresh ocean air and maybe spot a whale or two.

Insider secret: Get there early so you can check out one of the world’s largest banyan tree and the old historical Lahaina courthouse; both stand just across from the Lahaina Harbor. Look in the activity books for coupons or book online to receive a discount.

Baby Beach. Photo Credit Sarah Burns

Baby Beach

The name says it all. This gorgeous slice of Maui coast is aptly named Baby Beach because, you guessed it, it’s prefect for the kieki. Baby beach is situated just off of Front Street in Lahaina and has gently rolling waves so kids, and parents, feel comfortable splashing away. It’s in close proximity to the major grocery store, Safeway, as well as the local store, Foodland. Grab a sandwich, bag of chips, some fruit and water and you have yourself the perfect beach day. During low-tide you can take a closer look at the reef and watch tiny schools of fish swim in and out with each wave of water (be sure not to step on the reef or you’ll damage it – walking on the reef is a big no-no). If you forgot your umbrella you can head north towards Mala wharf where you can sit on the grass under the trees all while still being mere steps to the water. Take a stroll to the far north end of Baby beach to also visit Lahaina’s Buddhist Jodo Mission; the larger than life Buddha statue is amazing.

Insider secret: There are bathrooms located at the very North end of baby beach near Mala wharf, although they can be dirty.

Windsurfers, Kiteboarders and Pizza Oh My!

On the other side of the island take a drive past historic Paia town to Hookipa beach. This high wind beach offers the perfect location for windsurfer and kiteboarders to show off their best tricks. You can park high above on the cliff for the perfect advantage point. Your kids are sure to be amazed at the fanciful flights of these Maui athletes. It can be a bit cooler due to the winds so do bring a sweater. After building up an appetite watching the kiteboarders, stop off at Flatbreads Pizza in Paia. This all natural, organically conscious pizza joint features a huge wood burning oven right in the middle of the restaurant. Most all ingredients are locally grown or raised and are organic. They offer pizza dough to the keiki to play with while you wait for your oven-baked pizza; it’s super fun and extremely kid friendly. My favorite pizza is the Kalua pig pizza with goat cheese, Maui onions and barbeque sauce on a crispy flat dough. They also serve a ton of vegetarian options for those who walk on the green side.

Insider secret: Try and request one of the large booths in the front of the restaurant. This allows for the kids to keep an eye on what’s happening outside and offers plenty of room for everyone to spread out or even for a little one to take a nap.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino recommended Hawaii family hotels

Kona Village Resort review

Big Island of Hawai’i with kids – favorite activities

Kauai with kids – favorite activities

Maui with kids – favorite activities

Maui with kids – fun photos and special activities

3 Comments

  1. Love the Insider Secrets – Mahalo to Sarah from The Ohana Mama – love your blog too!

  2. Thank you for listing the activities for kids. I need some advice,about choosing the hotel.Is Kaanapoli area better than Wailea? I have a 5yrs old and 7 yrs old daughters,we have been to Oahu last year,we stayed at Hilton. Someone told me that Kaanapoli area is more like Waikiki Beach and Wailea is very quiet. I am considering 4 hotels Westin,Sheraton,Grand Wailea and the Fairmont. I am open to any other opinions,but I am not too interested in condo style because we usually do not cook on vacation.

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