Whether you’re visiting with older kids, toddlers, or babes in arms, there are a huge variety of fun things for families to see and do on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Nicknamed “The Valley Isle” owing to the great valley that lies between its two major volcanoes, picture-postcard Maui is known for its stunning natural beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking in the lush Lao Valley, visit a world-class national park, or delight in a drive along the scenic Road to Hana. Maui is also a popular family destination and we’ve picked out 12 of the best activities and attractions for kids on the island.
Attend a traditional Hawaiian Luau
If you want to introduce your little ones to a quintessential Hawaiian experience, an authentic luau is an essential feature of any trip to Maui. There are several venues around the island where you’ll find a luau – extravagant feasts served against the backdrop of an immersive dinner show with live music, tropical drinks and Polynesian dances that tell traditional stories through their rhythmic movements, from the hypnotic hula to the frenetic Samoan fire knife dance.
Tuck into taro at a fun-packed festival
Each year, Maui plays host to one of the most popular events on Hawaii’s cultural calendar. Running for over 25 years, locals and visitors alike come to enjoy the East Maui Taro Festival, named after the taro plant that has been at the centre of Hawaiian agricultural life and remains a dietary staple to this day. As well as every type of taro, the festival also features all-day Hula and music, local arts & crafts, a farmers market, and authentic cultural activities including poi pounding, lauhala weaving and cloth making.
Hana Ballpark / April each year
Swim with sea turtles
Once the contemporaries of dinosaurs, sea turtles have survived and outlasted many on their evolutionary run. And one of the best places to find them is in the waters off of Hawaii, where they are known as the Hawaiian honu. Near Maui, there are numerous popular snorkelling spots where you’re likely to spot them swimming just offshore. And because the ocean floor is covered with turtles’ favourite foods – seagrass – they’ll often linger for hours, peacefully grazing and giving you and your kids the chance to get up close and personal.
See Maui from the sky
For a dramatic vantage point from which to enjoy Hawaii’s incredible natural scenery, how about embarking on a memorable helicopter flight over the islands? There are several such tours available and one of the most popular is a 55-minute sunset flight over Maui and Molokai and Lanai. Aboard an ECO-Star helicopter, you’ll get to enjoy awe-inspiring tropical vistas of lush coastlines, waterfalls, rainforests, dormant volcanoes, and the spectacular Hawaiian ocean.
Challenge yourself on a jungle zipline
If your kids are still at the age when getting active is more appealing than sitting on their phones or tablets all day, then they’ll love this Jungle Zipline Tour that combines the thrill of zip lining with the primitive eco adventure that is the Hana Highway. During the tour, you’ll traverse the lush tropical rainforest environment of Haiku, zipping between and into giant Banyan and Mango trees at up to 30mph, leaving your children with memories to last a lifetime.
Learn to Hula
Hula is a dance richly ingrained in Hawaiian culture, and visitors to Maui who want to learn how to perform it themselves can attend a fun-filled hula lesson. Lessons are typically conducted on the beach or a grassy area and instructors will arrive with costumes, music, fresh flowers and leis to help you dress Hula-style. During the lesson, you’ll learn the dance technique, as well as the history of Hula and how to make flower rosettes to pin in your hair like a genuine Hula dancer. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes and leave your inhibitions at home.
Milk a goat at a dairy farm
Children like nothing better than interacting with farm animals, and on the island of Maui they have the chance to participate in the unique experience of milking a real-life goat. Located in lower Kula of Maui’s Upcountry, Surfing Goat Diary has been producing gourmet goat cheeses for over a decade and the venue also hosts regular tours that invites visitors to learn about the day-to-day life on a working dairy. The activity is fully supervised, so even younger kids can get involved.
3651 Omaopio Road, Kula / Tues-Sat 9am-5pm Closed Sun-Mon
Go horseback riding
Since the late 1800s, horseback-riding paniolo have been wrangling cattle in Maui’s wide-open upland fields. Today visitors can experience those days of yore for themselves by mounting a saddle and embarking on their own horseback-riding excursion. There are a wide variety of themed tours available on the island run by reputable local companies, taking you across Maui’s varied landscapes, including into mountain valleys, along oceanfront trails, and through thick lush grasslands. You can also spend the day at a working Piiholo Ranch for a quintessential Maui horseback riding adventure.
Cycle down a volcano
An incredible experience for older children and intrepid parents too, Maui is home to a giant volcano called Haleakala that offers a thrilling 27-mile downhill bike ride that takes in jaw-dropping biocostal and crater views. There are plenty of pit stops along the way, so be sure to bring a camera as well as essentials including water, a hat and sun tan lotion. Tours can be arranged through Haleakala Bike Company who also offer bike rentals for those without their own.
Learn to play the ukelele
Everyone who comes here learns to love the songs and dances of Hawaii, a place where music is in the heart and soul of everyday life. One of the instruments most closely associated with Hawaiian music culture is the ukulele. Mele Ukele runs ukelele lessons and workshops for adults and kids, letting you taste the fun of playing the ukulele, with the option of buying your own to take home and continuing learning via online lessons.
See the stars at night
There’s nothing that captures a child’s imagination like gazing at the stars, and Maui Stargazing offer one of the most memorable nocturnal activities on the island. Just before sunset, guests traverse the slopes of Haleakalā Volcano to the heady heights of 10,000 feet where they’ll witness the breath-taking transformation of the sky into a kaleidoscope of stars. With no smog to ruin the view, guests can peer through a telescope, observing planets, comets, nebulae and star clusters. The tour price includes the use of jackets, gloves, hats and pants, along with engaging commentary by your expert guide.
Paint a Maui picture
Suitable for adults and older children, Island Art Party hosts regular evenings of painting, drinking and conversation, where all guests depart with their own unique hand-made painting of Maui as a souvenir. An experienced teacher will give detailed instructions for you to recreate that evening’s chosen theme on canvas, all while munching on popcorn and sipping on beer, wine, cocktails – or something softer for the kids. This is a great way to unleash your creative juices in a sociable and fun atmosphere.
Azeka Shopping Center, 1279 South Kihei Road, Kihei / Tues-Weds 2pm-5pm Thurs-Sat 2pm-9.30pm Sun 12pm-5pm Closed Mon