Maui is an exceptional place for a family vacation.
With approximately 120 miles of coastline, and about 30 of those featuring pristine beaches — some ranking among the world’s best — Maui is a quintessential destination for those interested in spending time on the beach or in the surf. Ocean-oriented activities provide a vast array of options, including swimming, surfing, wind-sailing and diving.
1. Swimming at the Beach
The best beaches for swimming with little ones include Kaanapali, Kapalua, D.T.Fleming and Launiupoko in West Maui. In South Maui, the top options include Kamaole I, II and III in Kihei, Keawakapu and Polo in Wailea and Makena Beach Park (AKA Big Beach). Along North Maui, the best options include Baldwin Park, while Hamoa and Hana Beach Park in Hana get the highest marks on that side of the island.
2. Exploring the Maui Ocean Center
The Maui Ocean Center is a top-notch aquarium located in the fishing village of Maalaea. The facility originally opened in 1998 and has developed a well-deserved reputation among residents and visitors alike. The family friendly facility features more than 300 species of marine life. On Saturdays at 11:30, children 3-12 can enjoy a story time followed by an ocean-themed craft.
3. Whale Watching
Maalaea and Lahaina also are the launching point for some of the best whale-watching on the globe from early December to late March, a great activity for kids. The waters off Maui are where the the ocean giants known as humpback whales annually migrate to mate and birth their young. From around 1825 to 1865, Lahaina was regarded as the whaling capital of the world. Whale-watching tours originating from Maalaea and Lahaina generally last two to three hours. Another option is to park off the scenic McGregor’s Point near Maalaea and view the whales from shore. You can also pay a free visit to the Whalers Village Museum at Kaanapali near Lahaina.
4. Catching a Bird’s Eye View
Helicopter tours are on the expensive side for family activities but provide a spectacular and unique perspective for experiencing a bird’s-eye view of Maui from the top of majestic Haleakaka to some remote and beautiful inland waterfalls.
5. Snorkeling and Diving
For folks who want to learn how to snorkel and/or dive, there are many companies that provide child friendly instruction and rentals. Another diving option is to book a trip from Maalaea to the crescent-shaped submerged atoll of Molokini located off of Maui’s southern shore for a family fun day in the sun.
An increasingly popular activity on Maui is to zip-line through and over the jungle between two fixed points at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. Kids generally have to be at least six years of age and weigh at least 60 pounds before they are strapped into a zip-line harness.
7). Welcoming the New Day at the House of the Sun
One of Maui’s signature visitor activities is to welcome the new day at Haleakala, a dormant volcano that represents the highest point on the Valley Isle. The visitor’s center for Haleakala National Park is located 9,740 feet above sea level. Given the pre-dawn temperatures coupled with the high altitude, warm clothing is a must for those making a pilgrimage to the house of the rising sun.