A fun family adventure awaits you in Maui! As one of the most popular Hawaiian islands, there are lots of things to do in Maui with kids. Go whale watching, snorkel pristine waters, fly over paradise in a helicopter, hike the lush landscape or visit a volcano. Of course, with beautiful beaches scattered around the island you’ll have an incredible vacation even if you don’t venture far from your lounge chair. Not surprisingly, the island has something for everyone, and kids are sure to love it all. Maui is a favorite destination for our family and we hope it becomes a special place for you too. After all, who can beat fun in the tropical sun! Check out my list of the 15 Best Family Adventures on Maui for suggestions on how to make your vacation amazing.
Explore Haleakalā National Park
Located toward Maui’s southern tip, the Haleakalā volcano dominates this landscape and serves as a way to navigate the island. Drive-up on a clear day to see the other Hawaiian Islands from the top of the volcano or arrive before sunrise in Maui to watch the sun pop up over the horizon. Haleakalā National Park is divided into two districts: Summit and Kipahulu. Hiking trails in Haleakala National Park, allow you to explore the Summit district on foot. But if hiking in Maui isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the views from the visitor center. One of the most thrilling activities in Maui is to bike down the Haleakala volcano. A local operator will drive you to the 10,000 ft summit and then you’ll ride 23 miles downhill without peddling! Watch in awe as you pass by volcanic rock and sugar cane fields while you descend. Self-guided, guided, and private tours are available with equipment provided. Your kids won’t stop talking about this thrilling bike ride in Maui!
Pro Tip: When visiting the volcano pack warm clothing because it can be unexpectedly chilly! Also, be sure to check the National Park website to see if there are any current restrictions or if reservations are required.
See Maui From the Air on a Helicopter Tour
What kid wouldn’t love a helicopter tour in Hawaii? Seeing Maui from the air is an incredible experience! Various local tour companies offer helicopter tours in Maui, such as Maui Helicopter Tours. Different flight patterns are available, ranging from views of Hana and East Maui to the West Mountains. You can soar over the Haleakalā volcano, pouring waterfalls, sugar cane fields, and beautiful beaches! You’ll be surprised how much of this stunning island can be seen from a bird’s eye view. If you’re going to splurge on a helicopter tour during your Hawaiian family vacation, remember to schedule it at the beginning or end of your trip. It’s a great way to preview the places you plan to visit by car or see them from a different perspective after already exploring them on the ground. A helicopter tour in Maui will definitely be a favorite family activity!
Drive the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is one of Maui’s most famous attractions. Better known as the Hana Highway, this 64.4-mile stretch is an epic day trip. With 617 curves the road twists and turns, each new vista beckoning travelers onward. Kids will love jumping out to explore any of the 10 waterfalls you’ll see along the way. Keep an eye out for the Rainbow Trees near mile marker #7. Estimate nine hours of driving, including stops, if you drive all the way to Hana and back. However, the Road to Hana is still incredible even if you turn around at the famous Half Way Sign. Plan to drive slow and/or take medication if you have a passenger prone to motion sickness. There’s limited cell reception so download a few items: an offline map, desired music from a streaming service, and one of the many apps that will narrate the iconic drive. Driving the Road to Hana is one of the best family-friendly adventures in Maui!
Pro Tip: Remember your rain gear and a change of clothes! Though this is one of the best adventures in Maui with kids, the weather on the east side of the island is very unpredictable. While it may be sunny skies at your resort, it can be wet and muddy in a matter of minutes on the east side of the island!
Enjoy a Luau Dinner
Attending a Luau is a rite of passage for families vacationing in Maui! Otherwise known as a large, communal-style dinner, this excursion is a great chance to experience traditional Hawaiian songs, dances, and food in the evening. These shows usually begin at sunset and include an all-you-can-eat buffet, so be sure to come hungry! There are several Luau venues around the island, all ranging in price. You can easily book them online or through your hotel concierge. For example, the TeAu Moana Luau takes place on the Marriott Wailea’s oceanfront property. It offers families a fresh flower lei, alongside activities for kids to enjoy like crafts or storytelling demonstrations. Old Lahaina Luau is another extremely popular option on the island, where parents will be greeted by a Mai Tai, and kids are ushered through a night of authentic Hawaiian history. A Luau is a great evening activity for any family on vacation in Hawaii!
Take to the Skies While Parasailing
Wherever you see large parachutes pulled behind boats you’ll find a company offering parasailing. It’s spectacular to fly high like a bird and you don’t even get wet! This adrenaline-pumping water sport is available from May to December on the beaches of Ka’anapali and Wailea. You can book your family adventure in Maui with West Maui Parasail, UFO Parasail, and Wailea Activities. The ride is often less than 10 minutes, so with a price tag of $100+, it ranks as one of the more expensive activities in Hawaii. However, it also ranks as one of the most memorable and family-friendly activities in Maui as all ages can participate. Kids five and up can usually join in the fun, depending on the company. Remember to wear shorts over your swimsuit, as you’ll be more comfortable when hoisted up in the harness. Operators take a break for whale watching season so research availability in advance.
Go Scuba Diving
Maui is a great entry-level spot for scuba diving in Hawaii, especially for adventurous kids. Visitors who want to experience diving for the first time but aren’t certified will find a lot of beginner scuba dive options in Maui. Book a “Discover Scuba”dive with a local operator likeIn2Scuba or Dive Maui, who specialize in taking new divers down to experience the ocean like never before. Divers must be over the age of twelve, and the package includes all diving equipment. Participants will learn new skills like how to breathe with a mask underwater before taking a guided dive tour. Popular spots for beginners include Mala Warf in Lahaina, where you can visit a resident shark and scuba with countless turtles, and Airport Reef where you’ll see plenty of tropical fish. There are lots of options for certified divers who want to scuba dive in Maui, including morning dives, 2 tank dives or multi-day trips.
Snorkel with Sea Turtles and other Marine Life
Maui is known for its large turtle population and the best way to spot one is to join them underwater. Book a trip to Molokini for a day of snorkeling alongside the submerged walls of the volcanic crater. There are lots of tour operators but Trilogy is known for their cinnamon rolls. Pack sea sickness medication because the sailing can be bumpy. Black Rock, behind the Sheraton in Ka’anapali Beach, is popular because it’s walking distance to several resorts. Even if you’re chasing a turtle, don’t snorkel past the end of the rock – there’s a strong current! This spot is suitable for children, but be prepared for waves that crash hard close to shore. You’ll be in awe at the underwater world of Honolua Bay. Anytime you snorkel with kids in Maui, stay to the edges for your best chance at spotting turtles or schools of fish.
Snorkeling is one of the most fun things to do in Maui with kids! Other popular spots to snorkel include Kapalua Bay,Napili Bay, and Kahekili Beach Park (this will give you access to the reef behind the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas)..
Pro Tip: You’ll park on the side of the road and travel a jungle path to arrive at Honolua Bay. It’s surrounded by rocks, with no restrooms, so it’s a spot to store your towel and have a snack but don’t plan to lounge for long. This spot is best to visit during the spring and summer.
Take Surf Lessons
Maui’s gentle waves mean you’ll look like a pro surfer in no time! Surf lessons in Hawaii are a great way to get your family into the water while on vacation. You can exercise while having fun! If you’ve never surfed before there are several surf schools in Maui to help get you started. Kids will love to brag about their adventures surfing in Hawaii! Companies offer morning, afternoon and private lessons and provide rash guards for comfort when riding the waves. Once you’re done with your lesson have fun practicing your new skills around the island. However, be realistic about your abilities and don’t get in over your head. The waves in Maui are usually bigger than they look! You can reserve a class through Goofy Fruit Surf, Maui Waveriders, Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, Island Scuba & Surf School (inKa’anapali) or Island Style Adventures(in Ka’anapali).
Ride on the Atlantis Submarine Maui
Hop aboard the Atlantis Submarine in Maui! This Maui attraction and underwater tour is an amazing experience for any ocean lover. Prepare to dive 100 feet below the surface in a submerged submarine. Along the way, you’ll pass colorful coral reefs, schools of fish, and other fascinating marine life. As featured in National Geographic Television specials, your guide will pass along educational information about Maui’s underwater world. This is a great tour for families in Hawaii that have younger children who want to see the ocean without diving or snorkeling. There’s no specific age requirement, but kids must be at least 36″ to enter, with the ability to stand still in closed spaces. Atlantis Submarine Maui also offers different packages for parents who want to save money on sightseeing in Maui. Combine your submarine excursion with a whale watching tour, a snorkeling adventure, or luau to see more of Maui!
*Please note that Atlantis Submarines Maui has temporarily suspended service due to COVID-19, but plans to reopen in March 2021.
Hit the Beach
Of course, on vacation you must visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui! Parents with young children will love relaxing at Lahaina’s Baby Beach, a stretch of sand protected by an exposed coral reef. Here, little ones can swim freely without having to worry, since the water is shallow. There’s also Sugar Beach, known as Kealia Beach, the longest beach in Maui. It’s not ideal for swimming, but travelers love taking a stroll at sunset, as well as whale watching in the winter. Sugar Beach is best for older kids who want to windsurf, kayak, or kitesurf. Families who want to experience Maui’s most famous beaches should save a day to check out Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui or Kapalua Beach. Risk-takers who are open to a steep hike can also venture to Red Sand Beach, near Hana, where rugged rocks disappear into a dramatic Maui coastline.
Adventure through Ziplining
Adventurous kids will have a blast zip lining in Maui! Kapalua Ziplines boasts Maui’s largest all dual zipline course. You’ll find 5, 6, and 7 line tours and you can select what’s right for your crew. Lasting three hours, the 5 line course is great for those who want an introduction to ziplining in Maui with kids. It includes access to dual zip lines, a 360ft suspension bridge, and a short ATV ride. Families who want to spend more time ziplining can book the 7 line tour instead, which also includes a guided hike where you’ll learn about local flora and fauna. At Flyin Hawaiian Zipline in Wailuku, a comprehensive tour includes access to 8 zipline adventures. You’ll cross nine valleys and eleven ridges during your journey, while tour operators point out fun facts about Hawaiian wildlife. Please note kids must be at least ten years old to zipline in Maui.
Go Whale Watching
Whale watching is an incredibly special family-friendly experience in Maui! If your room has an ocean view, you’ll probably see the humpbacks wave to you from water when they cruise by from November to May. If you want to see these majestic creatures up close, you can easily book a tour. The Pacific Whale Foundation offers a Whalewatch Sail Deluxe that includes a three-hour excursion and a delicious lunch onboard. Operators such as Makai Adventures and Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel offer a variety of Maui tours to suit your family’s needs. Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Maui with kids, and it’s a memory you’ll treasure for years to come!
Take a Hike
If you want to stretch your legs there are a few hiking trails in Maui scattered across the island, each providing its own unique view. Check out the Kapalua Coastal Trail located along Kapalua Beach in Lahaina. It’s an easy walk on the beach, leading to the sand dunes at Oneloa Bay, through the Ritz Carlton, and then to D.T. Fleming Beach Park. For families with advanced trekkers, challenge yourself to hike the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, which provides amazing views of Maui’s landscape. If you drive the Road to Hana, you can enjoy an easy .9 mile loop on the Waikamoi Trail, right after mile #9. On the south side of the island, you’ll find the famous Pipiwai Trail, which cuts through a bamboo forest. This 1.8-mile flat trail is ideal for beginners or younger kids visiting Maui. Although it can get crowded, the journey is worth it once you come to the final stop: the spectacular Waimoku Falls. Getting out and exploring nature is one of the best free things to do in Maui with kids!
Visit the Maui Ocean Center, the Aquarium of Hawaii
Kids interested in meeting Maui’s marine life will love the Maui Ocean Center! Located in Maalaea, all ages will enjoy visiting and learning more about Hawaii through exhibits designed to entertain and educate simultaneously. Start by the Living Reef, which showcases colorful Hawaiian corals in a range of different ecosystems. Then, visit the Turtle Lagoon to say Aloha to Maui’s green turtles! Families can also learn about native islanders, Hawaiian monk seals, and other interesting facts at various other exhibits throughout the aquarium. Little ones will definitely love a trip to the Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & Sphere, where you can sit front and center for a special whale show. Don’t forget to walk through the Open section as well. This long tunnel features sharks swimming above, a thrill for kids visiting Hawaii.
Ask Your Concierge For More Family Fun!
Finally, there’s no telling what family adventures you’ll find at your hotel! Many people visiting Hawaii with kids often overlook the fun that’s happening right at their hotel. If you’ve booked a family-friendly Maui hotel, chances are there’ll be amenities to keep younger travelers entertained during your stay. Ask the concierge or front desk for a daily activity schedule. You might find that you don’t have to go far for free Hawaii activities! Several properties offer morning yoga, games for kids, hula lessons, lei making, animal tours, and much more. Explore your local beach or see if there are any historical attractions in the area. Also, ask the activity desk if you can borrow any gear that’s been abandoned. It’s a great way to score a boogie board or snorkel set for the week and have some free family fun in Maui!
We hope you liked this parent-approved list of The Best Family Adventures In Maui by our contributor Emily Kapic. With all the amazing things to do in Maui with kids, you’re sure to discover that this Hawaiian island is truly magical.
Happy planning and may you have an unforgettable vacation in Maui!
Find more from Emily on Instagram @Take5Travel!
All images included in this article were taken by and belong to Emily Kapic, unless otherwise credited.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions on this list may be temporarily closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
•This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.