2024 Maui Visitors Guide
From the second your plane lands on the island of Maui on your family vacation, a remarkable feeling happens. It starts with a feeling of relaxation as you catch the scent of orchids and gardenias; as you wander through the outdoor corridors, the warm, tropical heat wraps around you. You know that you and your family are on a very special, almost magical family vacation. You are on the Hawaiian island of Maui, one of the best family vacation destinations in the world. Maui is perfect for family vacations.
Taking your family to Maui is more affordable than you would think and, most importantly, the sweet island paradise will make a busy family united again. On Maui, your family can spend your family vacation lounging on one of the best beaches in the world or hike into an uncharted jungle. Wherever you go on Maui, your family will be happy to be together on this family vacation. Just be forewarned: after a family vacation to Maui, you will want to return again and again. Once a Maui family vacation gets into your blood, it never leaves.
Where to Stay on Maui
There are many different towns and areas to explore on the island of Maui. On your Maui family vacation, choosing where to stay is an important consideration.
Wailea, on the south side of the island, is the most exclusive and expensive side. Wailea Beach is miles of sparkling white sand, so even if you and your family do not stay at one of the ritzy Wailea resorts, it is definitely worth a day trip on your Maui family vacation. Many Maui snorkeling activities leave from Wailea Beach because of its access to the Molokini Crater. A family-friendly affordable option on your family vacation, instead of staying at Wailea, is to stay just a few miles down the road in the friendly, small town of Kihei.
Unpretentious Kihei has beautiful beaches in its own right but also provides easy access to Wailea. The Westside of Maui is another popular destination for family vacations—in fact, Kaanapali Beach, located just outside the charming town of Lahaina, is the most popular spot on Maui for family vacations. Like Wailea, Kaanapali is lined with fancy resorts, but mingled in with the large resorts are small, family-friendly hotels that offer wonderful services for much more affordable prices, perfect for family vacations.
Kapalua or Napili
An affordable option for a Maui family vacation is to stay just a few miles up the road from Kaanapali, in the towns of Kapalua or Napili. There are resorts here, as well, but they are often less crowded and less expensive than Kaanapali. Also, do not hesitate to check out the smaller, family-run hotels that offer the best prices and most friendly welcomes on the island of Maui.
A proper Maui family vacation includes a lot of time spent on beaches! Some of the best beaches in the Hawaiian islands—and, by extension, the whole world—are located on the beautiful island of Maui and are perfect for family vacations.
Wailea Beach is popular for family vacationers. The one-third mile strip of sand is the traditional crescent-shaped and offers calm and clear waters—perfect for the littlest members of the family. Enjoy the Wailea resorts without having to pay the price: the lobbies are often filled with local flora and fauna to explore, and stores and restaurants abound along Wailea Beach.
Kamaole Beach is another South Maui beach that is great for family vacationers: there is ample parking close to the beach, lifeguards, restrooms, and even a convenience store nearby for a quick soda or snack.
On the Westside, Kaanapali Beach lures family vacationers with its sparkling white sand, clear water, and access to all sorts of amenities. A paved sidewalk traces the length of Kaanapali Beach. This sidewalk is bustling and busy with other people on family vacations. But Kaanapali is big enough to absorb all the people and make it feel like a large carnival atmosphere, rather than a crowded strip of sidewalk. Restaurants and shops are ample here. Parking can be pricey, but your best bet, if you do want to visit Kaanapali on your Maui family vacation, is the Whaler Village Shopping Center parking lot. Also in West Maui is Kapalua Beach and Napili Bay, both excellent, uncrowded beaches that have calm water and lots of room for families to run around and play.
Maui Family Activities
The beaches get a lot of attention on a Maui family vacation. But it should not surprise those on Maui family vacations that Maui offers plenty of inland beauty as well. For families who love hiking and exploring the outdoors on their family vacations, Maui offers plenty of options.
Haleakala Crater is a popular destination for families seeking hiking opportunities: There are 27 miles of trails inside this blown-out volcano. Families who like to take it easy on their Maui family vacation can also enjoy Haleakala; many outfits take families by van up the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala and provide bikes for families to cruise down the mountain on. This is a popular activity among family vacationers on Maui, but make sure to be careful; accidents are common.
Visiting the Iao Needle is another wonderful idea on your Maui family vacation. Once a sacred burying place for chiefs, the Iao needle was the location of the last battle between King Kamehameha and the Maui natives, who battled for their supremacy. They failed, and the Hawaiian Islands were united under King Kamehameha. The Iao Needle is a great way to explore this fascinating history on your Maui family vacation.
If you and your family wish to explore the towns in Maui on your family vacation, there are a few standouts. A fun way to explore the Maui surfing culture on your Maui family vacation is to spend some time in the neat town of Paia, which is a famous haunt for surfers and beach bums.
Paia is full of a laid-back hippie vibe that makes for an entertaining family visit on your Maui family vacation. A larger, but still just as charming, town to spend time in on your Maui family vacation is Lahaina.
Lahaina is a great place to center on a Maui family vacation; from its big-name restaurants (Bubba Gump and Cheeseburger in Paradise usually have thirty-minute waits or more) to the traditional Hawaiian places like Aloha Mixed Plate, Lahaina is a family vacation delight. Once a bustling seaport and capital of the Hawaiian islands, Lahaina has colonial charm in spades. The streets of Lahaina can be very busy with family vacationers, so it is best to park outside the town and walk through. Family vacationers who attempt to drive the cobblestoned streets often find themselves in Hawaiian-style gridlock.
The largest city in Maui is Kahului. This city most resembles mainland cities; from Old Navy to Burger King, Kahului is great for quick stops on your Maui family vacation.
The Hana Highway
A trip to the beautiful town of Hana, in East Maui, is another must-do activity on a Maui family vacation. A trip along the Hana Highway can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and takes you and your family through some of the best scenery on the island; from freshwater, and sun-dappled ponds, to the jungle-like canopy. This is a popular activity, so the road can be busy. Many guidebooks say to start early, but my family has had success leaving in the early afternoon as well when most of the morning traffic has died down. Once you are in Hana, explore the rich history of this charming, little town and make sure to visit the Seven Sacred Pools, freshwater pools located just outside Hana that offer lots of climbing, jumping, and diving in a beautiful, lava-rock setting. You and your family can even ride waterfalls! Just make sure to keep an eye on your little ones, as the rocks can get slippery and there are no lifeguards.
There are many places to eat on your Maui family vacation. The laid-back, island vibe of Maui makes noisy, restless kids a non-issue on your Maui family vacation. Most restaurants in Maui are family-friendly, filled with local music, and offer delicious food.
In Lahaina, Aloha Mixed Plate is an open-air, oceanside restaurant that offers traditional Hawaiian fare at some of the best prices on the island. This is a no-frills, no-fuss place, perfect for a Maui family vacation. Bigger chains also abound in Lahaina. A popular eatery with less of a wait than the bigger chains but still offering the same friendly, noisy ambiance that is so much fun on a Maui family vacation, is Kimos.
On Kaanapali Beach are the Hula Grill and Leilani’s, sister restaurants that offer great American grill food that is sure to satisfy the family. Bare feet are encouraged, as the tables are perched on the sand.
Over in Wailea, most of the dining is expensive, but if you are looking for a ritzy night out away from the kids on your family vacation, then give the Grand Wailea Dining Room a try. A more family-friendly place in Wailea is Maui Onion, which has burgers and world-famous onion rings. On a Maui family vacation, one of the best family vacation destinations in the world is open to you—enjoy beautiful Maui, and do not forget to let the special Maui magic do its work.
Crescent Island in Hawaii – The Molokini Crater
Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater, forming a small crescent island. The island is placed between the islands of Maui and Kaho’olawe, in the Alalakeiki Channel, in Hawaii. This crescent island is very small, measuring an area of 23 acres and a diameter of 0.6 km. It is located 4 km west of Makena State Park and south of Ma’alaea Bay. Tourists are attracted to this island for scuba diving, snorkeling, and snuba.
The crater is home to a wonderful reef, visible even at 46 m. It houses about 250 species of fish. The fish, along with the reef, birds and all marine life in the area is protected from any kind of human destructive behavior, such as fishing or collection.
To prevent the ecosystem from being destroyed, tour boats have been limited to only a few per day. The crescent island is designated as a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary; everywhere around the atoll, you can see nesting seabirds, such as the Wedge-tailed Shearwater and the Bulwer’s Petrel.
Another important species is the Humpback whale. Although it does not enter the shallow waters of the atoll, it can be seen often around the island during the mating season. Molokini’s shape offers divers protection from the channel’s currents and waves. In its calm waters, you can enjoy:
Tourists can enjoy snorkeling with about 250 species of endemic fish and other marine species. Due to the constant flow of tourists, marine life began to tolerate them and became more comfortable with snorkelers around.
Scuba diving around Molokini Island is only for certified scuba divers. This is because of its dangerous wall and drift dives. In the deep waters at the back of the island, you can see sharks, moray eels, octopuses and exotic fish.
Snuba diving is for non-certified scuba divers who would like to scuba anyway. This is done with a raft holding the scuba tank to which very long tubes are attached. This way, you will be able to enjoy the marvelous view and have all the freedom you wouldn’t have if the tank was on your back.