Nicknamed “The Valley Isle,” due to the great valley that lies between its two major volcanoes, the picture postcard Hawaiian island of Maui is known for its stunning natural beauty as well as its high-end luxury resorts. Outdoor enthusiasts of a more active disposition can go hiking in the lush lao Valley, visit a world class national park or simply delight in a drive along the jaw-dropping Road to Hana.
While most visitors to Maui come here to relax and unwind, it’s also a popular family destination. And then it comes to kid friendly activities on Maui, there are a huge variety of fun things to do, whether it’s with toddlers or older family members. To help inspire you, we’ve picked out 12 of the best things to do with kids on the island.
Attend a traditional Hawaiian Luau
If you want to introduce your kids to a quintessential Hawaiian ritual, an authentic lauau is an essential experience on any trip to Maui. There are several venues around the island where you’ll find luau, best described as extravagant feasts served against the backdrop of an immersive dinner show with live music, tropical drinks and an array of Polynesian dances that tell traditional stories through their rhythmic movements — from the hypnotic hula to the frenetic Samoan fire knife dance. Your kids will be mesmerised, and there’s every chance you will be too.
Tuck into taro at the East Maui Taro Festival
Each year Maui plays host to one of the most eagerly awaited events on Hawaii’s cultural calendar. Running for 26 years now, locals and visitors alike come to enjoy the East Maui Taro Festival, which is 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 an array of authentic cultural activities including as poi pounding, lauhala weaving and cloth making. This is a great chance to immerse your children in one of Hawaii’s most traditional and fun-filled occasions.
LOCATION Hana Ballpark DATES April each year
Swim with sea turtles
Once the cohorts 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 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 beauty, 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 40-minute sunset flight over Maui, Molokai and Lanai, offered by GetYourGuide. Aboard an ECO-Star helicopter you’ll get to enjoy an awe-inspiring Hawaiian sunset along with stunning tropical vistas of lush coastlines and spectacular ocean views.
Challenge yourself on a Jungle Zipline Tour
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, which can be booked on Viator, you’ll traverse the lush tropical rain forest environment of Haiku, zipping between and into giant Banyan and Mango trees at up to 30mph. This is without question one of the most fun-packed kids’ activities to enjoy on Maui.
Learn to Hula
Hula is a dance richly ingrained in Hawaiian culture, and visitors to Maui who want to learn 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 come to you or your group 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 Surfing Goat Dairy
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 an actual 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, as well as the chance to get hands-on and milk a goat. The activity is fully supervised so even younger kids can get involved if they want.
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 stop along the way, so be sure to bring a cameras as well as essentials including water, a hat and sun tan lotion. Tours can be arranged through Haleakala Bike Company who provide adventure bikes to those who need one.
Learn to play the ukelele
The musically minded will 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 and visitors to Maui have the chance to learn how to play one during their visit. Mele Ukele runs lessons and workshops for adults and children, allowing you to experience the fun of playing the ukulele, with the option of buying your own to take home and continuing learning via online lessons and downloadable single song sessions.
See the stars at nightt
There’s nothing that captures a child’s imagination quite like gazing at the stars at night. Under the helm of owner Jan Robertson, Maui Stargazing offer one of the most memorable nocturnal activities on the island of Maui. Just before sunset, tour guests traverse the slopes of Haleakalā Volcano to the heady heights of 10,000 feet where they’ll get to witness the breath-taking transformation of the sky into a kaleidoscope of stars. With no smog or pollution to ruin the view, guests are invited to peer through a telescope, observing planets, comets, nebulae and star clusters for the astronomy lesson of their lives. Tours include jackets, gloves, hats and pants, along with fascinating and 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 chatting, where all guests come away 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 for both you and your progeny to unleash their creative juices in a sociable and fun atmosphere.