It’s no secret that Hawaii is one of my favourite places in the world. If I could move my whole family, I’d do it in a heartbeat, then take up paddle board instructing by day and write novels by night. We’ve visited Maui twice now: in 2010 during our honeymoon and in 2013 with an 18-month-old. Both experiences were amazing; it is one of those magical places where everything is easy to enjoy – from endless stretches of pristine beaches and giant turtles to glorious sunsets and hours of downtime in the sun. Whether you’re travelling solo, with your partner, or with the kids in tow, don’t miss out on any of these 7 things to do in Maui:
1. Find a place to stay near Kaanapali
Kaanapali Beach is west Maui’s signature beach and is 5km (or 3 miles) of picture-perfect, sandy bliss. It’s a 45 minutes drive from Kahului Airport, 10 minutes drive from the town of Lahaina and five minutes drive from Whalers Village (the main hub for West Maui snorkelling and cruises). It is an endless stretch of paradise – and the best place to unwind, swim and sip cocktails for hours (or days) on end.
Looking for accommodation? The Royal Lahaina Resort is a gorgeous choice for honeymooners; lush cotton sheets, dark wooden shutters, friendly staff (it always felt like I was coming home and being greeted by family when we arrived at the lobby), access to delicious smoothies and ice cream from The Royal Scoop, a kick-ass buffet breakfast (with so much local fruit!), an onsite luau and limitless access to the beach. Prices are a little steep though, and there are plenty of resorts just like it close by, so shop around. If you want an awesome pool, try the Sheraton (but why choose a pool when you have an endless beach)?
Looking for cheap Maui accommodation fit for a family?
Check AirBNB and VRBO for villas in Lahaina or a few minutes north of the big resorts in Kaanapali. Families with young ones are better off finding a villa that has a kitchen and separate living/sleeping areas. When we went back to Maui with Mr 2, we stayed at the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas in a 1 bedroom apartment. It had a full kitchen, spacious open living and dining area and an enormous bedroom. The grounds were beautiful and we spent an entire day sunning ourselves at the pool and on the beach.
2. Go snorkelling and find yourself a turtle
Snorkelling and beach hoping is, hands down, the best way to enjoy the sunshine in Maui. It’s almost irrelevant where you go snorkelling in Maui – you’re going to bump into some crazy marine life and get wrinkly skin while you spend hours chasing turtles (seriously, it’s addictive). Black Rock is meant to be an awesome location if you want to stay close to the mainland and is a good option if you’ve got kids that aren’t going to enjoy being stuck on a boat for a few hours. But if you can fork out the cash and can escape the kids for a half or full day, then go on a snorkelling tour. Our experience snorkelling on the Teralani catamarans was magical (we went in April, which also happened to be perfect whale-watching season).
3. Get on a boat and go for a cruise
The toddler-friendly alternative to spending a whole day on a snorkel tour is to go on Teralani’s sunset dinner cruise. Because who wouldn’t want to spend a gorgeous evening eating, drinking and chilling out on a luxury catamaran?
4. Hang out at Whalers Village
If you’re going on a cruise it’s likely you’ll end up at Whalers Village anyway, since that’s the boarding point for a lot of providers. It’s a handy place to do some shopping (I bought my favourite swim suit there, they have Sephora, and if you really want to you can splurge on some Prada). There’s beach access right next to the stores so you can go for a swim, or (if you’re game) go pool hopping in the nearby resorts. It’s also a great lunch or dinner destination if you get sick of resort food and don’t have a car (there’s a free shuttle service to nearby resorts). We ended up at Leilani’s several times – their fish tacos and cocktails rock.
5. Go to the Old Lahaina Luau
The Old Lahaina Luaua is said to be the best luau in all of Hawaii. Whether or not that’s true, it’s still one of the best things to do in Maui (and most likely the best luau on the island). This is a stunning demonstration of the beauty of Hawaiian culture and history. Oh, and the buffet food is amaaaazzzing.
6. Chill out in Lahaina town
It might seem like a simple town, but I could live here. There are markets on the weekend under the banyan tree, gorgeous boutique shops along Front St (where one of my girlfriends ended up buying her wedding dress), and lovely places to dine (I was going to suggest Moose McGillycuddy’s for all your can eat shrimp and cheap long island ice teas but it turns out they closed down earlier this year… boo!). Check out Sunrise Cafe (which is on the north edge of Banyan Tree park) for an awesome breakfast menu and intimate view of the water.
7. Hire a scooter and explore the West Coast for a day
This is obviously not a toddler-friendly activity, but is one of my favourite memories from my first trip to Maui. After a 10min lesson in how to operate these scooters (no bike license needed), we sped up the highway and spent the day finding lookouts and secluded beaches. I can’t remember if you could hire scooters overnight, but this would be a kick-ass way to get around if you can’t be bothered hiring a car.