In light of the devastating fires that swept through the historic district Front Street and Lahaina harbor on August 2023, the Hawaiian people of West Maui face a stark and uphill battle for recovery. At the same time, tourism is necessary and required for the economy to move forward. There have been some mixed feelings about tourists returning to Maui, but most locals point towards a mindful and respectful return to Maui while encouraging tourists to consider local Lahaina businesses. Check this website for the latest updates on closures.
Maui is one of the most popular Hawaiian Islands for families thanks to gorgeous beaches and easy logistics. Its beachfront family-friendly resorts offer plenty of activities for all ages, making it easy to spend an entire relaxing Hawaiian vacation in the hotel pool and on the adjacent beach.
However, you’re truly missing out if you don’t see more of the Valley Isle. We’re talking about zip lines, up-close interactions with sea life (and even goats), luaus, and so many more fun things to do in Maui with kids that adults will enjoy just as much. A few favorites for kids activities to consider for your trip to Maui include surfing lessons, a trip to black sand beach, road to Hana, and Maui ocean center. So pack your flip flops and get ready to take on the wonderful place that is Maui!
1. Learn Hawaiian Culture at a Luau
Of the many luau experiences the Hawaiian Islands have to offer, one of the best is Old Lahaina Luau.
In addition to eating traditional Hawaiian foods like roasted pork, Lomi salmon, and poi, your family will experience ceremonies, traditional Hawaiian songs, ritual chants, fire dancers, and traditional hula dances. Lava rocks ring the circular stage where storytellers, hula dancers, and other entertainers provide you with a taste of Hawaiian culture and rich history.
There are even kids activities like crafts and games. Families love attending the Old Lahaina Luau as it is an experience like no other and so much fun. Sure, it’s a little pricey, but you’ll come away from it with a lei and banana bread while you also get a show and an open bar with your feast.
Sadly, this luau is currently closed with reservations resuming February 1, 2024. Other Hawaiian luau possibilities in Kaanapali include the Drums of the Pacific at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Maui (reservations resuming November 19, 2023) and Nui Luau at Black Rock at Sheraton Maui (bookings begin December 20, 2023). In Wailea, opt for Te Au Moana or The Grand Wailea Luau.
2. Take a Molokini Snorkel Tour
Create an unforgettable family trip with a Molokini snorkel tour, one of the most spectacular family-friendly activities in Maui with kids.
Molokini is a small volcanic atoll just off the south coast of Maui. It’s known for great snorkeling and scuba diving as it’s a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District.
The Molokini crater is believed to be more than 150,000 years old, created by a violent volcanic eruption. It contains an abundance of marine life, including green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and more than 150 species of colorful tropical fish. Protected from swells and ocean currents, it’s easy to take kids snorkeling in Molokini or scuba dive as it’s one of the best snorkeling spots for snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Several snorkel tour companies will take you out to this fascinating area for an underwater adventure that includes seeing a living coral reef and lots of resident Pacific Ocean creatures. Booking with Pacific Whale Foundation is a great option as it offers a good combination of family-friendly food and activities geared toward kids.
Tours depart from several locations and you can also choose Molokini tours that offer two separate snorkeling experiences. Most tours often include a stop at Molokini Crater and another at the famed Turtle Town, a popular place for Hawaiian green sea turtle sightings. Both locations offer mind-blowing reefs, incredible marine life, and warm waters with few waves.
3. Visit Maui Ocean Center
Spending a day at the Maui Ocean Center is a superb activity in Maui with kids for taking a glimpse of the underwater world without a snorkel.
It’s the only state-of-the-art aquarium dedicated to preserving Hawaiian ocean life. As one of the top things to do in Maui with kids, it offers a full slate of experiences for young children and adults, including educational displays on ocean ecology, humpback whales, and Hawaiian sea life.
Tour the sea turtle sanctuary and check out the huge indoor shark tank displaying Hammerhead sharks, along with the famous Hawaiian Tako (octopus) and other rare marine life.
4. Go Under the Sea with Atlantis Adventures
The Atlantis submarine tour is another adventure that is perfect for families with young kids. You’ll descend through 100 feet of water in West Maui between the islands of Molokai and Lanai to observe ocean life.
Between December and April, you’ll even get a chance to do whale watching as winter is prime time for the humpback whale migration.
Among the underwater attractions you’ll discover in the Atlantis submarine is Carthaginian, a sunken 19th-century whaling brig that has created an artificial reef filled with local creatures. This educational experience is truly an adventure that the whole family can enjoy. (This adventure isn’t currently bookable but should return soon!)
5. Become a Hawaiian Islands Mermaid for a Day
If your kids are obsessed with mermaids or mermen, then Hawaii Mermaid Adventures is a must for your Maui vacation. You’ll find fun for everyone here as anyone over 50 lbs. can dive into the water in a mermaid suit for a two-hour lesson.
The experience is not entirely fantasy. Hawaii Mermaid Adventures stages a program that includes a wealth of information on Hawaii’s flora and fauna and the mythology behind mermaids.
Best of all, a booking here includes free digital underwater photos to immortalize your underwater adventure.
6. Take Surf Lessons
What better way to experience Maui with kids than to take surf lessons in one of the world’s surfing capitals?
Plus, it’s a bonding activity the whole family can enjoy in a group lesson and is quite pleasant in warm ocean water.
Maui has an incredible number of options for surf instruction, from beginner to advanced. Take your lesson at Maui beaches or oceanfront resorts. Choose from small or large groups or private classes.
The calm beaches of Kaanapali, Lahaina, and Kihei are ideal for beginners, even younger kids, so if you’re ready to catch some waves and hang ten, consider these surf schools:
- Zach Howard Surf
- Maui Surfer Girls
- Hawaiian Paddle Sports
- Maui Wave Riders
- Goofy Foot Surf School
7. Enjoy a Family-Friendly Beach
Whether you’re traveling with younger children like toddlers and even babies, the famous family beaches top most itineraries and lists of best things to do in Maui for good reasons.
Most have gentle ocean waves ideal for swimming, sunning, and paddle sports to complete your Hawaii vacation. For example, Kapalua Bay Beach has excellent snorkeling and even has a tiny hut where you can rent snorkel gear.
In addition to the resort beaches at Kaanapali and Wailea, you’ll also want to try:
- Baby Beach at Baldwin Beach Park and Hookipa Beach Park
- Kahekili Beach
- Kamaole Beaches
- Big Beach at Makena
- Hana Bay
- Hamoa Beach
8. Travel the Road to Hana
Anyone who has visited Maui will tell you that the Road to Hana is a must. It can become one of the best family activities in Maui if you go about this all-day excursion while accommodating your family.
The winding Hana Highway runs just over 64 miles (denoted by the occasional mile marker), connecting Kahului with the sleepy town of Hana in east Maui. Older children and teens may love this trip as it’s a fantastic way to see a different part of Maui, although it may be taxing for the younger kids.
Possibly the best option is to rent a car and take your time on the Road to Hana to enjoy the scenery that includes sacred pools, rainforests, lava tubes, one-lane bridges, and so much more. Driving on your own ensures that families can move at a comfortable pace and stop when needed. Plan your stops ahead of time so you know what to expect.
Can’t miss stops include roadside stands to buy fresh fruit and fresh homemade banana bread. Would you like to swim in a waterfall? If so, visit the Seven Sacred Pools or the swimming hole at Twin Falls.
Waianpanpa State Park is just off the highway, home to what many consider is the best black sand beach in the Hawaiian Islands. In addition to the stark contrast between the black sand and the sky, you can take an easy hike.
9. Visit Haleakala National Park
This national park in upcountry Maui has so much to see and do that you can easily spend several days here.
One of the greatest things to do in Maui with kids is watching a sunrise or sunset at the volcano’s summit (even though I can tell you from personal experience it’s a very early wake-up call). Bring jackets or light sweaters as the temperature is a lot colder at the top.
Stop at one of the three national park visitor centers to learn about local culture and Hawaiian history.
The Sliding Sands Trail is one of the best hiking trails to go on with children as you can walk a short distance to see old lava and then turn around when the kids get tired. Kids ages 7–12 can participate in the Junior Ranger Program here as well.
Teens may enjoy a bike tour in Haleakala National Park after watching the sunrise. Pipiwai Trail, with its famous bamboo forest, is an alternative for family-friendly activities for kids in Maui if you don’t want to go up to the volcano’s top.
10. Hike in Iao Valley
One of the best places to go in Maui with kids is the Iao Valley. Hiking through this lush tropical setting in central Maui will make for a beautiful yet educational journey as the valley is full of local history.
Hear stories about how the valley is the traditional locale for housing ancient Hawaiian demigods, along with one of King Kamehameha’s great battles that helped unify the islands of Hawaii.
The landscape is breathtaking as the black rocks rise to the sky with the famous Iao Needle tower more than 1,000 feet overhead. On a clear day, you might catch incredible views of the West Maui mountains, Kahalawai, which is the Hawaiian word for where the heaven and earth meet.
Pack a picnic lunch, hike the trails, play in the waterfalls and natural pools, and simply enjoy life for an unforgettable family vacation experience.
11. Enjoy the Makawao Forest Reserve
Although Maui is known for its beautiful beaches if you want an activity in Maui with kids that’s somewhat off the beaten path, try the Makawao Forest Reserve in central Maui.
Visitors will find seven trails at the upcountry Maui attraction, including the Kahakapao Loop Trail, with six miles of winding trails with scenic views.
It’s also a great place to take a family bike ride if you’d prefer not to walk. Bikers and walkers use separate trails.
12. Go on a Treasure Hunt
The Maui Treasure Hunt is a super fun activity for families visiting Maui with kids ages five and up. Kids ages seven and up can do the hunt on their own without parents.
This three-hour activity including a two-mile hike, swimming in a private lagoon, and searching for trinkets with your treasure map.
Participants get a backpack, snacks, and bottled water. Come prepared with sunscreen, a swimsuit, closed-toed shoes, and insect repellent.
Maui Treasure Hunt begins near Kahului and is a great way to engage the kids, get some exercise, and learn about the Hawaiian island in the process.
13. Go Whale Watching
One of the most spectacular family-friendly activities in Maui is to go on a whale watching tour. Prime whale watching season is between December and April, so if you schedule your family vacation during winter break, you’ll be in luck.
Humpback whales travel here annually, with most whale calves born in Hawaiian waters. You may also spot false killer whales and several other species.
The large tour boats on this family tour will give everyone room to move about. Bring some snacks and a few activities for the journey out to the whale grounds.
The whole family will love seeing these gentle giants move through the open ocean during their annual migration. It’s one of the incredible experiences on a Maui vacation you shouldn’t miss.
14. Visit Sea Turtles at Ho’okipa Beach
Located on Maui’s north side, Ho’Okipa Beach is a great place to see Hawaiian green sea turtles in the wild in a turtle lagoon.
Each day, sea turtles emerge from the water and crawl onto the sand to lie in the sun for a few hours. Even though you can’t go up to them, watching these majestic creatures from a distance is an amazing experience and one of our favorite things to do with kids in Maui. The area is also great for taking in breathtaking views the entire family will absolutely love.
15. Surfing Goat Dairy Farm
Take a break from the usual Maui with kids activities by spending a few hours at Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. Although you won’t find any goats surfing here, this trip to the slopes of Mount Haleakala crater in West Maui offers a range of tours that will keep tots as well as older kids engaged.
One of the most popular and best tours lets you feed and pet the goats (including some baby goats!), and kids will love interacting with the resident pigs, cats, and dogs. You’ll also learn how a farm works in the process. Learn how to milk a goat, observe how cheese is made, and sample their delicious creamy cheeses.
For a more in-depth experience, select the Evening Chore and Milking Tour at the goat dairy farm where you’ll help the farmers wrap up a typical day on the Maui farm (and put the goats to bed).
16. Go Rappelling or Zip-Lining
Are you a family of thrill-seekers? If so, Rappel Maui will give you an unforgettable vacation. It doesn’t get any more exciting or unique than rappelling down a waterfall. Rappel Maui provides guests with detailed instructions and all necessary equipment.
Skyline Eco-Adventures is another place to get your thrills, with courses through Mount Haleakala’s slopes and another through Kaanapali resorts. All give you spectacular views of the Valley Isle. Being in good physical condition makes the experience easier. Adventurous kids must be at least eight or 10 years old, depending on the course. Reserve your places ahead of time, particularly with Skyline Eco-Adventures.
We’ve also enjoyed Maui Zipline, an easy drive from Wailea resorts. A huge plus of Maui zipline is that the Maui tropical plantation is on site where you can catch a tour of the sugarcane and pineapple farms.
17. Tour of the Stars at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort
Are you looking for something to do at night? At Tour of the Stars on the rooftop of Hyatt Regency Maui, amateur and professional stargazers gather for an astronomy lesson and a peek at the universe through some high-powered telescopes and binoculars provided by the hotel. It’s awesome and we’ve done it.
If you’re looking for a unique experience in Maui with kids, this fits the bill, especially if you’re traveling with a budding astronomer. You’ll also see some constellations you can’t easily see from the mainland and learn tons of interesting information. You’ll need to book through the hotel concierge desk and note that tours are subject to weather cooperating.
18. Smell the Flowers at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
The lavender plant isn’t native to Maui, but the flowers thrive at this farm, where visitors get a crash course on this fragrant plant.
Spread across 13.5 acres in Upcountry, Ali’i Kula is a working farm, with 45 varieties of lavender, along with succulents, olive trees, and hydrangeas adding to the beauty.
The farm is one of the best family activities in Maui as it has walking tours, craft classes, and picnics. Hearing the story of how lavender came to Maui is also an experience as Ali’ Chang, the founder of Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, started his enterprise with just a single plant.
Don’t miss the secret garden treasure hunt that begins at the gift shop and takes you through hidden areas of the farm, ending with a prize for the kids.
19. Treat the Kids to Shave Ice (a Must When Visiting Maui)
Consuming this treat is a unique way to experience Hawaiian culture. It’s different here, not the hard carnival-like version one might consume on the mainland and no trip to Maui is complete without shave ice!
Maui shave ice is a creation with unique flavors that include coconut and local fruit, plus the ice itself is shaved, not crushed. The fine shaving soaks up the flavors and melts in your mouth. Choose from favorites like piña colada, mango, and papaya, or get traditional options like cherry, grape, and bubblegum.
Ululani’s is a favorite of many, but other places to try include Peace Love Shave Ice in Kihei and Island Cream Company in Lahaina for a taste of island paradise in Maui that not only the kids love.
20. Attend a Lei-Making Class
The traditional garland of flowers called a lei is the most colorful token of Hawaiian hospitality.
Orchids are the most popular element, but you can also find leis made of shells of kukui nuts. As kids are often fascinated with craft projects, they’ll love this class.
The most popular leis are made of orchids, but you can find shell or kukui nut leis too. Many resorts in Maui offer lei-making classes, and the experience can become the premise of vacation fodder for years to come.
21. Maui Butterfly Farm
Older and younger kids alike will enjoy the amazing place that is the Maui Butterfly Farm. This is the only walk-in butterfly flight house in Maui and is dedicated to saving the declining butterfly population on the island.
22. Catch a Glimpse of the Famous Cliff Divers
Every night at the Sheraton Maui, cliff divers engage in an ancient cliff diving ceremony that dates back to the 18th century. Today, the divers throw themselves 20 feet off Black Rock accompanied by the beautiful scenery of a Maui sunset in a pretty amazing and daring feat.
Top Family Resorts on Maui
As mentioned earlier, the many family-friendly resorts heave with things to do in Maui with kids. When people come to me wanting to plan Maui trips, they typically choose these places to stay (that you can book with extra perks through me):
Four Seasons Maui (Wailea): This is my most booked Hawaii resort because they do an amazing job with consistent five-star service, excellent restaurants, kid-friendly activities (kids’ club and game room, too), and rooms.
Fairmont Kea Lani (Wailea): It’s an all-suite resort next door to Four Seasons that people choose because it usually has a lower price point and families want the extra space. It’s also five stars and my clients love it.
Hyatt Regency Maui (Wailea): Children love the penguins that live in the lobby, having breakfast near the swans and the resident tropical birds, not to mention the fun kids’ club and swimming pool.
For more information, you can check my full list of Maui hotels.
What are your favorite things to do in Maui with kids?