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Maui with kids
Maui ticks all the right boxes for active families. Sure it’s got those golden sand beaches fringing the island, but there’s more to this tropical isle than building sandcastles and boogie boarding. Many resorts offer complimentary lei making and hula lessons, which is fun for the first 10-minutes, but Maui offers so much more than cheesy tourist activities (if you’ve been to a luau, you know what I mean). For outdoorsy, active families, I recommend hitting up one of these 7 experiences to get a real feel for Maui’s natural wonders. These are by far, the best things to do in Maui with kids.
Maui whale watching tours
One of the top things to do in Maui are its whale watching tours. From January until May, the warm, shallow costal waters surrounding the Hawaiian archipelago are prime breeding and birthing ground for humpback whales. The town of Lahaina, Maui offers several tour options, and we went with Ultimate Whale Watch tour.
The boat they use for these tours is a rigid haul inflatable (like a Zodiac). It’s just like what the Coast Guard uses, so we felt very safe the entire time.
Within two minutes our crew spotted mother and her baby, so we hung out close by (by law you can’t get within 100 yards), for a good 10 minutes as they showed us their fins and some spectacular splashes. Apparently you’ll have better luck seeing the aquatic life in the morning, but we went early afternoon and had no trouble.
Horseback riding Maui
Head to upcountry Maui for horseback riding and to make like a paniolo AKA Hawaiian cowboy. Paniolos are just as much a part of the Hawaiian culture as surfers are. In fact, they’ve been around much longer.
Trail rides at Maui’s Piiholo Ranch take you through a fertile valley that runs through valley parallel to Mount Haleakala. On our horseback riding adventure, we moseyed past herds of deer, nēnē (the Hawaiian state bird) and a family of wild boars! When we needed a bit of cooling off we galloped up to natural pools, before picking guava straight off the tree.
Forget photography tours! The most adventurous way to explore Maui’s waterfalls is to rappel down them. If you’re keen to soak up the natural wonders of Maui, your family will have the time of their lives going backwards down cliffs and sinking into natural spring pools.
Rappel Maui takes families (children over 10-years-old and at least 70 lbs) into the jungle for in depth safety orientation before descending down ridges. With your safety gear on, you’ll rappel down 60 ft cliffs, learning how to refine your technique before going through a waterfall. It’s a refreshing experience to say the least and totally rad for older kids and teens.
Maui surf lessons
There are only five eco-tourism companies in Maui and Hawaiian Paddle Sports is one of them. Why does this matter? Well, surf lessons are so much more than learning how to paddle out, catch the wave and stand up properly.
Hawaiian Paddle Sports does all that in their surf lessons, plus you’ll learn about the surrounding aquatic life and vegetation on Maui. You won’t be charged for the photos they take and you’re sure to remember how great it felt catch your first wave as you cruise into shore with the west Maui mountains as your backdrop.
Kid’s can’t scuba dive, but in Hawaii, they can still explore the bottom of the ocean floor on submarine rides. Atlantis Submarine adventures submerge your brood down to 127 feet on a real, working submarine. I thought it would be hooky, and while I could do without the Mission Impossible soundtrack, I became as enthralled as the rest of the tourists, especially as we skulked past several white tipped reef shark, manta rays and a sunken vessel.
Sea turtles in Maui
This is one activity, you don’t really need to pony up and book an excursion for – if you know where to go. There are several great spots in Maui brimming with coral reefs, interesting fishies and yes, sea turtles.
We spent a ton of time around Kapalua Bay, in front of the Montage Resort. We choose this spot because that’s where the Ritz Carlton takes their guests and there’s a family of sea turtles that live in the rocks right in the very center of the bay. If these sea turtles are around, kids should have no trouble spotting them. Like all beaches in Hawaii, it has public access and there are washroom facilities near its parking lot.
Throw Net Fishing with Travaasa Hana, Maui
Most people who take the perilous 82 km journey along Maui’s famed Hawaii to Hana, do little more than pull over for postcard-worthy views of the jagged lava coastline. But if you’re hankering to uncover a more authentic side of Hawaii, you’ll want to stop at Travaasa Hana. Here, guests are invited to try their hand at ancient Polynesian traditions from outrigger canoeing to lei making to throw net fishing. Our family spent a peaceful afternoon knee-deep in the Pacific casting out nets. Apparently throw net fishing is a sustainable way to capture large amounts of fish. Sadly, we only snagged a snorkel mask.
Have you ever been to Maui or any other Hawaiian island? What are your favourite activities to do there?