Mommy Needs A Mai Tai

Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by Florabeth Coble

Are you planning a trip to Maui, Hawaii, with kids? I am a mom raising two kids on the island on Maui. This guide will ensure that your trip is a huge success!

Our Maui-specific pages include more straight-to-the-point information on where to stay, what to do, etc. I recommend starting here and then heading over that way to start digging into the fine points of planning.

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Baby in a stroller looking at the ocean in Maui, Hawaii.
View from Wailea, Maui

Is Maui Kid-Friendly?

Yes! Maui is one of the most kid-friendly islands that Hawaii has to offer. In fact, it is so kid-friendly that we chose to stay and raise our own kids here!

Between the number of baby-friendly beaches, toddler-accommodating restaurants, and big-kid-approved activities, Maui has you covered. It’s an excellent choice for families looking for a slower pace with plenty of modern-day amenities.

Home to desert, rainforest, and mountainous microclimates, it’s hard to get bored here if you’re willing to venture out a bit. It’s the best Hawaiian island for whale watching (Dec-April) and home to Haleakala, the largest dormant volcano in the world. As a bonus, there isn’t much traffic on Maui, so you don’t have to listen to kids whine in the car for hours while sightseeing! Hallelujah.

For those in need of some long-awaited downtime, Maui has numerous world-class resorts that will keep your kids occupied so you can enjoy that much-needed cocktail and massage.

Woman sitting on a rock in resort pool in Maui, Hawaii.
Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali, Maui

Is Maui Expensive? 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Yep. Maui has become much pricier over the years. In fact, it has a reputation for being the most expensive Hawaiian island. It’s not uncommon for a family of four to pay $10,000 for a week-long stay.

Oahu might be a better option if you’re on a strict budget. But with some proper planning, anything is possible. Simple things like staying in a condo, opting out of renting a car, and making your own food can make a big difference.

Dad holding baby in front of the West Maui Mountains in Maui, Hawaii.
West Maui Mountains

Is Maui Safe? 

Compared to many places, Maui is a very safe place. Your biggest threat will probably come from not applying enough sunscreen.

The crime on Maui is relatively low, but things happen here just as they do anywhere. Stay in popular areas, don’t veer off designated trails, and respect posted signs. Lock your rental car, and don’t keep your valuables in plain sight when parked.

Additionally, caution is essential when playing in the sea. While there are some beaches on Maui with smaller waves for kids, it’s a good practice to never turn your back on the ocean, even if things feel relatively calm.

Pay attention to posted signs and lifeguard towers. If people aren’t swimming in a particular area, it’s probably for a reason. There may be an exposed reef that could cut the bottom of your feet or a strong tide you can’t spot from shore. “When in doubt, don’t go out.”

Woman looking out at the ocean in Maui, Hawaii.
Veiw from Launiupoko beach park, Maui

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Maui? 

I recommend Maui during its “off-season.” The months of April, May, September, and October will give you the best opportunity for fewer crowds, availability of accommodations, and picture-perfect weather.

Humpback whales visit the islands yearly to mate and give birth. Watching them play in the distance and teach their babies how to breach is one of the highlights of my life. If you want to see them while you’re here, be sure to visit during “peak whale season:” January-March. 

Kid eating shave ice in Maui, Hawaii.
Ululani’s Shave Ice

What is There to Do on Maui With Kids?

There are countless activities to do with kids on the island of Maui! Our What To Do page has everything you need to plan out your days.

Here are ten things that I love to do with my own kids on Maui:

  1. Take a Snorkel Cruise to Molokini Crater
  2. Explore the Road to Hana
  3. Visit the Maui Ocean Center
  4. Play in Waterfalls
  5. Visit a Kid-Friendly Beach
  6. Watch the Sunrise on Haleakala’s Summit
  7. Visit a Butterfly Farm
  8. Ride in a Helicopter
  9. Take a Surf Lesson
  10. Try Zip-lining
Kid running in front of an Aloha sign at a resort in Maui, Hawaii.
Wailea Beach Resort, Maui

What is the Best Kid-Friendly Resort on Maui?

Most resorts and condos on Maui are kid-friendly!

Resorts, while more expensive, are popular because they offer kid’s clubs, camps, waterslides, baby pools, and, let’s be real…. housekeeping. Many resorts also allow kids to eat for free.

There’s a good chance that most of your Maui budget will be eaten up by accommodation, so it’s important that you don’t settle when choosing a place to stay. Luckily, the options are bountiful. Our Where To Stay page simplifies your research and will help you find the right fit for your whole crew.

Here are my top five family-friendly resorts on Maui.

  1. Wailea Beach Resort
  2. Fairmont Kea Lani
  3. The Grand Wailea
  4. Westin Ka’anapali
  5. Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali
Woman on Thompson Road in Maui, Hawaii
Thompson Road, Maui

What Part of Maui is Best For Kids?

While visiting Maui, people will refer to the different parts of the island as the West Side, South Side, Central, North Shore, Upcountry, and Hana. Every region has a different climate zone, a different vibe, and a different kind of pride.

As Maui continues to recover from the Lahaina fires of August 2023, I highly recommend staying on the island’s Southshore (Kihei/Wailea). This side of the island welcomes tourism and is far from the burn zone. Wailea is hot, sunny, and a gorgeous resort area.

But deciding where to spend your time depends on your family’s wants, needs, budget, and personality. There are so many beautiful parts of the island to explore. Keep reading to decide what part of Maui best suits your family.

Dad with a baby on his shoulders in a resort pool in Maui, Hawaii.
Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali, Maui



45min-1hr to Kahului airport

(After the destructive fires of Lahaina in August 2023, the Westside of Maui opened back up in October 2023. However, people remain divided on whether it was too soon or a responsible decision.)

Once reserved for Hawaiian royalty, the west side of Maui is hot and sunny, providing jaw-dropping sunsets, world-class restaurants, hiking trails, and some of the best beaches. With convenience at the forefront and the majestic West Maui mountains as your backdrop, it’s easy to see why this part of the island is the most sought-after tourist destination. 

Popular with families of young children, it boasts numerous resorts and condos close to the kind of creature comforts that early childhood demands. If you are coming to Maui with kids, this part of the island may be the perfect fit.

Staying on Maui’s west side does require driving a (gorgeous) winding cliffside road known as “The Pali.” It’s a relatively easy drive (nothing like the Road to Hana), and if your family wants to stay put for the most part, this drive shouldn’t be a problem. But if you want to explore various parts of the island, it can become cumbersome, especially at night when the road is not well-lit. And if you have one of those kids that hates the car, staying on the south shore might make more sense.


Once you make your way over to the west side from the Kahului airport, you’ll first spot the small community of Olowalu: a beautiful spot just off the road to grab a bite and stretch your legs. Stock up on some essentials at the giant farm stand, check out the butterfly garden, and start your vacation off right with too much sugar at Leoda’s Pie Shop.

Great snorkeling is available at mile marker 14, although you do have to swim pretty far out.

Olowalu is also home to one of the few campgrounds on Maui. We are borderline obsessed with their we-prefer-to-glamp “tentalows.”

Mom, baby, and dog in front of Camp Olowalu's tentalows in Maui, Hawaii.
Tentalow at Olowalu, Maui


On August 8, 2023, wildfires ripped through Lahaina Town, destroying everything we once knew and loved. Lahaina was once the capital of the Hawaii Kingdom and a place where kings were born. Over time, it transformed into a hub of restaurants, art galleries, cultural heritage, and live entertainment.

The people of Maui are currently reimaging a new Lahaina Town that not only serves its visitors but the soverign people of Hawaii as well. While the grief here is still palpable, hope begins to arise.


Ka’anapali is Lahaina’s sister town, just a five-minute drive north on the Honoapi’ilani highway. Luckily, Ka’anapali was spared by Maui’s recent wildfires.

Most people prefer to stay here, as it offers the most resorts and condominiums. Many are nestled along Ka’anapali Beach, a crowded but gorgeous three-mile stretch of blue water and fluffy white sand.

Many visitors settle into Ka’anapali for the entirety of their stay. This busy little resort town strives to give you everything you could ask for: accommodating resorts and spas, many of Maui’s top chefs, shopping, golfing, and luaus, all a stone’s throw away from the beach.

Some of the best snorkeling on the island happens at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach at a place most commonly known as Black Rock. Here you’ll spot many local kids showing off their cliff-diving skills into the sea.

Naplili and Kapalua

Continuing North, you’ll find yourself in Napili and Kapalua. Napili is a quaint little resort town, and Kapalua provides a more luxurious Maui escape and some of the best golf courses in the world. In addition, Napili and Kapalua have protected little bays, great for families and those wanting to snorkel.

Past Kapalua, you can check out the infamous snorkeling spot, Honolua Bay, and the Nakalele Blowhole, both great spots on Maui for adventurous, older kids. The road gets trickier and rather winding past this point. If attempted, you will likely encounter locals who will throw a few glances your way to convey that they aren’t keen on tourism.

Dad pointing at sunset while holding baby in Maui, Hawaii.
View from Kihei, Maui



25-30 minutes to Kahului airport

The Southside of Maui is great for families wanting to stay in a resort area but with easier access to the rest of the island. The vibe here is more relaxed and less congested. It also tends to be more expensive

This part of Maui can all but guarantee you lots of sunny days. It’s the driest part of the island, only collecting a few inches of rainfall a year.


As the highway intersects with North Kihei Road, you can either continue to your destination or take South Kihei Road, which runs along the beach and offers you a front seat to the lively little fish-hooked-shaped town of Kihei.

Kihei is a great option for families who prefer to stay on the Southshore without paying the hefty resort fees that Wailea requires. There are countless condominiums with beachside access here. 

Dad with a baby on a paddle board in Maui, Hawaii.

Kihei is a very convenient place to be, as numerous grocery stores, restaurants, food trucks, and activities are offered. In addition, many beach parks here have shade, bathrooms, and showers to rinse off a sandy baby bum. One of our favorites is Kalama Park, which has a great playground covered from the midday sun. 

North Kihei (Sugar Beach area) houses many Maui residents and gets rather windy in the afternoon. South Kihei (Kamaole Beach Parks 1-3 area) will cater more to tourism. It’s also a perfect place to watch the sun dip into the ocean after a few drinks.


At the end of South Kihei Road, you will be veered into the land of Wailea, a posh little resort community occupied mostly by visitors and retirees. 

Wailea delivers a lot of elbow room, spanning over 1,500 acres (three times the size of Waikiki)! It has some of the best golf courses, restaurants, and kid-friendly resorts. I have spent many mornings pushing a stroller on the path along the beach-front hotels here. It is a perfect way to start any day.

The beaches accessible from this walking path are picturesque and tend to have smaller waves that are perfect for the whole family. 


The road will end south in the Makena area, where you can expect tranquil beaches, great snorkeling, rocky terrain, and much bigger waves. Fair warning that the stunning Makena Beach, more popularly known as “Big Beach,” can boast a huge, unexpected swell. If you go, please be careful. Visitors break their necks here every year.

Kid standing in the middle of Market Street in Wailuku, Maui.
Wailuku, Maui



5-15 minutes to Kahului airport

You won’t find many tourists in Central Maui, as this is where many long-time local residents live. But, it can provide a much cheaper option for families on a budget who want to experience “real Maui” and meet the community. There are many Airbnb’s and smaller, more affordable hotel options here. 

The best part about central Maui is its easy access to anywhere on the island. This part of Maui lies between the west Maui mountains and the dormant volcano Haleakala. Because of this, it’s warm here year-round, with higher humidity and less wind than the west and south shores. Wailuku tends to be rainier than Kahului because it sits at the base of the west Maui mountains.


Kahului (referred to as “town” by most locals) is where the airport is located and where many residents live and run errands. If you’re a Costco member, this is where you’ll stock up on food and fill your tank. (Gas is far more expensive everywhere else on the island. Be prepared to wait in line.) Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, and other convenient mainland stores are also located in Kahului.


Wailuku Town is the cultural center of Maui and also the county seat. Market Street feels like you’ve simultaneously stepped back in time and are also receiving a preview of what’s to come. You will see plenty of Maui’s young artsy crowd here, sipping coffee and chatting about a morning yoga class. There are some great boutiques to check out here. The historic Iao Valley State Park is only five minutes away and makes for a great little day trip for kids of all ages. Reservations are required.

A mom holding her baby on Baldwin Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
Baldwin Beach Park, Maui

North Shore


15-35 minutes to Kahului airport

The Northshore is a vibe all to itself. This part of the island is where most of Maui’s surf culture exists, and with that comes a laid-back scene, youthful crowd, and lack of catering to high-end tourism. This is a great place to rent a house and experience Maui with your kids in your own unique way.

While the north shore exhibits plenty of sunny days, this side of the island does experience more wind and rain, so be sure to pack a jacket.


Just before Paia town becomes visible, you’ll pass Baldwin Beach Park, a long stretch of breathtaking shoreline popular with local families and home to the “other Baby Beach,” a protected cove on the west end of Baldwin perfect for littles. I suggest going in the morning, as it can get pretty windy here in the afternoon.

Paia was once a plantation town. These days, it is a colorful, hippy surf town and what you might imagine a beach town in Hawaii to embody. There are many eclectic stores, galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants to linger in and enjoy the day away.

A mom wearing a baby with sunglasses in Paia, Maui.
Alice in Hulaland in Paia, Maui

Without the increasing traffic slowdown, it would be easy to blink and miss Paia Town entirely. Most people find themselves passing through on their way to Hana. (Fair warning that it is your last place to grab gas if that’s where you’re headed.) Paia has become more crowded over the years, but it’s still worth checking out. Parking can be tricky. My advice: don’t come in a hurry.

After passing through Paia, you’ll encounter Mama’s Fish House, possibly the most iconic restaurant on the island. Mama’s features mouth-watering food, impeccable service, and show-stopping views. Reservations typically must be made 3-6 months in advance. While I recommend hiring a local sitter (if you’re able), they are kid-friendly.

Next up, you’ll come across Ho’okipa Beach. Maui is the windsurfing capital of the world, and Ho’okipa is center stage. Because of the exposed reef here, it’s not great for swimming, but it is an opportunity to post up and watch some experienced surfers charge some waves. You’ll often see many Hawaiian sea turtles (honu) basking on shore here, and there are little tide pools for small children to play in when the conditions are right.


Continuing on Hana Highway and then two miles inland, you’ll stumble across the quaint little town of Haiku. You can expect a dirt road, trucks packed with surfboards, and a laid-back local community. There’s also a small market, a few places to grab a bite, and the largest playground for Maui kids (Giggle Hill).

Once you’re back on Hana Highway, you may want to check out the easily accessible Twin Falls located in Haiku. The lower falls on this property are relatively easy to access from the (paid) parking lot, including a swimming hole and snack stand for when you get hungry. It’s busy here. If you want to seek out some waterfalls that are off the beaten path and aren’t as crowded, I recommend going with a guide so you find the best places, stay safe, and don’t get lost.

Haiku is also the perfect play to try zip-lining! There are many companies to choose from, but Camp Maui is hands down the best option for kids.

Dad wearing a baby on his back on Thompson Road, Maui, Hawaii.
Thompson Road, Maui



30-40 minutes to Kahului airport

While many only think of sand and sea when planning a trip to Hawaii, anyone who has visited Maui’s upcountry region can tell you that there’s far more to it than that. This magical and often unknown part of Maui bestows cooler weather and rolling hills with grazing cattle. The mornings are dewy and slow. The roosters are loud. The views are spectacular.

When someone says “upcountry,” they typically refer to the string of towns that nestle up the side of the dormant volcano, Haleakala. Exploring this region can be worth it in its own right, but most people find themselves here after catching a sunrise on Haleakala’s summit.

Upcountry is, well…country. It’s very rural, and this is where most of Maui’s agriculture is grown. You’ll meet many Maui residents who prefer to stay far away from tourism.

While the days up here still bring plenty of heat, the cooler upcountry temperatures can make for a nice reprieve after spending countless days at the beach. The winter months are straight-up cold at night (by my standards), and it’s not unusual for temps to dip into the 40s. You never really know what the day might bring, so pack a jacket and be ready for anything.

Toddler watching the sunset from behind a fence in Maui, Hawaii.
Pukalani, Maui


A sunny residential community, Pukalani is one of the first towns you will encounter as you make your way up the mountain. There’s a golf course and a big, grassy park with a playground and a nice skate park. The clouds tend to open up daily, making it the sunniest place upcountry.


Across highway 37 is the adorable town of Makawao, where you will begin to get a feel for real cowboy (paniolo) country. Visiting Makawao is like stepping back into the town’s plantation days while also getting a peek into Maui’s extensive artist community. The local businesses on and around Baldwin Avenue are a lovely way to sip coffee and enjoy a morning or afternoon. Be sure to check out The Maui Cookie Lady, my kids are obsessed!


Baldwin Ave eventually turns into Olinda Road, home to the Olinda Pine Forest and Waihou Springs Trail. The forest is 186 acres, covered in pine trees and cool mountain air. The trail itself is a loop and only about a mile long. It’s an easy “hike” for the whole family. 

Toddler walking a dog in Olinda Pine Forest in Maui, Hawaii
Olinda Pine Forest, Maui


Onward and up state highway 37 is a gorgeous drive with sweeping views that will eventually take you into Kula Town. This is an excellent place for kids, with many wide open spaces for them to run. Pick strawberries at Kula Country Farms, try a lavender scone at the Ali’i Lavender Farm, or sip on a stiff drink at Ocean Vodka while the kids play outside and you take in some killer views.

There is no better view than the one you will take in from the top of the Haleakala summit at 10,000 feet elevation. Haleakala National Park can be reached from Haleakala Highway in Kula. It can be very cold at the top, so be sure to bring warm clothes. This sunrise tour provides complimentary jackets and breakfast at Kula Lodge. They even pick you up from your hotel, which is appreciated in the wee hours of the morning. If you want to catch the sunrise on your own, you’ll need a reservation. While there is plenty of hiking to do in the park, the summit is easily reached from the parking lot.


After Kula, you’ll find the small, rustic town of Keokea. There’s a nice little park with a playground, a small eatery, and the notorious Thompson Road: a 3-mile round-trip walk that features one of the best vantage points on the island. The road is paved, albeit a bit hilly, and a leisurely enough stroll. Oprah lives here! I’ll let you guess which house is hers. 


Your last stop upcountry leads to the region of Ulupalakua, a 20,000-acre ranch at 2,000 feet elevation. Visit the tasting room at Maui Wine (kids are allowed but discouraged…insert eye roll here), or treat yourself to one of the best locally sourced burgers of your life at Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill

If you drive the road to Hana, you will either begin or end that journey with this string of upcountry towns, depending on what direction you choose to drive the loop.

Mom sitting at a picnic table with a toddler at Wainapanapa State Park in Maui, Hawaii.
Wainapanapa State Park in Hana, Maui


2+ hours to Kahului airport

Hana is a small, picturesque town in eastern Maui. Many consider it to be one of the last authentic towns that Hawaii has to offer. It’s sleepy, lush, muddy, and in a natural sense: wild. Hana laughs at your smudged eyeliner. Hana is made of magic.

Home to Waianapanapa State Park, Hamoa Beach, Ohe’o Gulch, and so many sacred cultural sites, its natural beauty will take your breath away. 

The town itself is small, with less than 1,000 residents. It’s the most isolated town in Hawaii, and many fight hard to keep it this way. As a result, the pace is slow, and the terrain is not overdeveloped. If you’re in a hurry here, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. 


The road to Hana is an adventure, to say the least. While Hana is only 52 miles from Kahului, it can sometimes take all day to drive. It was not built for anxious drivers (or queasy passengers), and you do not want to be on this road at night.

You will be led through rainforests, waterfalls, one-lane bridges, and 600+ hairpin turns that overlook steep mountain cliffs. There is no guardrail, there are no street lights, and there is no cell signal. It’s as if the road to Hana is here to remind us that: 1. Life is about the journey, and 2. Contrary to popular belief, Hawaii is not a theme park.

Knowing where to pull over and what conditions are suitable for hiking and swimming can be challenging. In addition, waterfalls, streams, and trails can be very dangerous, especially after heavy rains.

Family hiking Bamboo Forest, barefoot with a baby in Maui, Hawaii.
Bamboo Forest on the road to Hana, Maui

Instead of attempting to navigate all of this yourself, I recommend taking a tour. Picture this: plenty of legroom and not having to worry about what to eat, where to pull over, or what to spend your time seeing. And as a bonus, you get to leave Maui with your marriage still intact!

Wear a swimsuit, bring a daypack, be respectful, and be ready for whatever the day brings.

Sunset in Maui, Hawaii.
Kamaole Beach Park 1 in Kiehi, Maui

Maui No Ka Oi


Are you dreaming of spending your days poolside with a drink in hand? Sounds like Ka’anapali or Wailea is the place for you. Hoping for something more unique and off the beaten path? Paia or one of the towns upcountry might be calling your name. On a budget and want to explore different parts of the island in your own unique way? Kahului or Wailuku might provide the perfect mix for your family. 

Any day spent on Maui is a day spent in paradise. Wherever the paved path or dirt road takes you, it’s the perfect place to be.

Helpful Resources

Flights: Expedia

Rental Cars: Discount Hawaii Car Rental

Baby Gear Rental: Baby Quip

My Favorite Family Photographer: Fen’Amber Photography

Maui Babysitting Service: The Nanny Connection

Follow us on Instagram to watch these adventures in real-time.

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Picture of Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Most people call me Flo. I'm a busy mama raising two young boys in Hawaii. We share our adventures, travel tips, itineraries, and honest reviews so that you can plan your own family-friendly trip to Hawaii.