Our series of fam-friendly travel guides
The Hawaiian island’s mix of natural wonders and cosmopolitan amenities make it Paradise Found for families.
Catch a wave
You can’t visit one of the prime surf destinations in the world without giving the sport a go. The pros at Beach Activities of Maui get families up and riding the waves in no time—one two-and-a-half hour lesson gives you all the basics (go back for more to get really skilled). They’ll even bring a photographer out on the water to document the experience. But if surfing’s not your scene, the company also offers stand-up paddle lessons, plus other water activities and beachfront amenities, at locations all over the island.
Swim with the fishes
Trilogy Excursions offers snorkeling and snuba trips from Maalaea Harbor and Kaanapali Beach on beautiful 50-foot trimaran sailboats. The crews provide delish meals, basic instruction and guidance on where in the crystal blue water to see the most colorful schools of fish, turtles and coral. Your only worry will be how soon you can plan your next trip.
Stargaze from way up high
You don’t have to be a guest at the Hyatt Regency Maui in Kanaapali Bay to book a spot in its awesome Tour of the Stars. Head up to the roof of the hotel to get a prime view of thousands of stars with an astronomer who’ll help you identify constellations, first in plain sight and then with the use of astronomy binoculars and “Great White,” a 16-inch reflector telescope. The whole family will leave with a new appreciation of our galaxy and ones far, far away.
Visit a pineapple farm
The Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, which harvests the famous Maui Gold pineapples, offers fun and fact-filled tours via bus for ages five and up. You can add a three-course lunch at the adjacent Hali’imaile General Store afterward, too.
Hike to a waterfall or a rainforest—or both!
Hike Maui offers guided treks through stunning landscapes that range from super easy (think walks through a lush park) to strenuous, and lasting for a couple of hours to all day. The experts who lead the hikes will fill you in on all kinds of local history and know the best spots for stuff like cliff diving and discovering unusual flora and fauna. They also offer hikes to Hana (including a drive on the famous Hana Highway) for families with older kids.
Cool off with shave ice
You’ll find stands selling Hawaii’s famous shave ice—like a snow cone, but way fluffier and more awesome—all over the island. The one you want to stop at is Ululani’s, which makes all of its own syrups using fruit purees and juices and has a super-smiley staff. The long list of flavor options run from tropical (pineapple, mango) to kid-centric (tropical punch) to native faves (li hing mu, or salty dried plum).
Summit a volcano
Haleakala National Park, home to the dormant volcano, is busiest in the wee hours, when throngs of tourists make the trek up in the darkness (most catching a snooze in the back of an outfitter’s van) to see the breathtaking sunrise from the summit. You can hike, bike down the crater or just bus it back, but if you want a less-crowded and just-as-spectacular experience, opt to go for sunset. Bonus: You won’t have to get everyone up around 2 a.m. to get there.
Splurge on (at least) one great dinner
Maui’s got no shortage of spectacular views, but it’s hard not to gasp at the gorgeous setting when you arrive at Mama’s Fish House, an island staple since 1973 that sits on a white-sand studded with palm trees. The fish is as fresh as it gets (menus let you know who landed the catches of the day and where) and the atmosphere is perfect for everyone from honeymooners to whole clans. Save room for Mama’s signature Polynesian Black Pearl dessert—chocolate mousse served in a pastry seashell.
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