Mommy Needs A Mai Tai

Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by Florabeth Coble

A graphic that says "Things to do On Maui with Kids" with an ukulele in a hammock.

If you are curious about fun things to do in Maui with family, you’ve come to the right place!

I’m a mama raising two kids on the island of Maui, and we’ve learned a lot about what to do for fun with family (and what to leave out)! We’ve tried everything on this list, so you don’t have to. Pick and choose what’s best for you!

Aside from staying in the best Maui resorts for families, these are our favorite things to do in Maui.

Some of these links are affiliates, meaning I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Your trust is always my priority. Without it, this wouldn’t be any fun.

A dad holding a toddler while pointing to a rainbow on Maui.

Visit a Kid-Friendly Beach

When deciding which Hawaiian island to visit, people chose Maui because it has some of the most epic beaches in the world. Maui Beaches can range anywhere from sweet little tide pools to waves big enough to surf on. If you’re traveling with littles, visiting beaches with small swells is crucial to keeping everyone safe and accounted for.

Check out The Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on Maui to avoid wasting precious vacation time figuring out where to go.

A woman standing on the Haleakala Summit bundled up in a blanket.

Watch the Sunrise on Haleakala Crater

Visiting Haleakala is the most popular activity on Maui, and it’s easy to see why. At 10,023 above sea level, this dormant volcano allows you to hang out above the clouds and experience one of most epic sunrises or sunsets of your life.

If you expect to be jetlagged upon arrival, visit the crater on your first morning on Maui, as you will probably be waking up before the sun anyway! Sunrise reservations are required.

Be sure to bring lots of layers and wear closed-toe shoes, as it is surprisingly cold at the summit, with temperatures often dropping near or below freezing.

Haleakala Sunrise is one of those activities you should consider booking a tour for, especially if you’re not planning to rent a car. I prefer Skyline Hawaii because they pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel/condo. They also provide a warm jacket and breakfast at the historic Kula Lodge. This tour does require you to bring a child safety seat for kids under 4.

Kids on a whale watch on Maui, looking out at the ocean.

Go Whale Watching

Maui is hands down the best Hawaiian island for whale watching, and November to May is the only time to do so before they migrate back to Alaska. Peak whale season is January-March, a perfect time to see them breach from shore. I’ve lived on Maui since 2016, and seeing this still takes my breath away!

Pacific Whale Foundation’s eco-friendly whale-watching tour is the best way to experience these magical creatures up close and personal with your family. While there are many whale-watching tours on Maui, I love this one because it offers an Onboard Jr. Naturalist Program for kids. They also provide underwater hydrophones to hear whale songs! And if you don’t see any whales (unlikely), they promise to take you out again for free.

Try Ziplining

If you have big kids in tow who roll their eyes about being dragged to paradise with their family (rough life), impress them with a ziplining adventure!

Combining the rush of adventure with views you can’t get anywhere else, ziplining is the quintessential tropical vacation experience! There are multiple places to zipline on Maui, but NorthShore Zipline is my favorite because they are terrific with kids.

This adventure provides an excellent opportunity to venture off the beaten path and check out Maui’s North Shore. This 7-zipline course occurs at Camp Maui, a historic WWII site, and provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Children must be at least five years old to participate. Be sure to bring cash and closed-toed shoes.

Play on a Maui Playground

We spend a lot of time on playgrounds in this family, and I’ve got two picky little experts to help decipher which ones are the best.

In order of importance (via my six-year-old):

Giggle Hill

When visiting Maui’s North Shore, check out 4th Division Memorial Park, known to locals as “Giggle Hill.” This 40-acre park has a massive wooden play structure with many nooks and crannies to explore. There are also pavilions with barbecues and ample space to fly a kite or play soccer. There are no bathrooms here, but there’s always a portapoddy, and Haiku Town is only a short drive down the way.

Kalama Park

Located in Kihei, next to one of the best beginner surf spots on the island, this park offers a terrific playground with a picturesque backdrop. A giant canopy covers the play structure, which we always appreciate because Kihei can be HOT during the day. We love to grab something to go from across the street (Paia Fish Market is a great option), lay out a blanket while we eat, and watch the sun dip into the ocean as the kids roam free. There are bathrooms, showers, and paved parking available.

Hui Aloha Playground

Located only 15 minutes from the Kahului Airport, this giant playground could be the perfect place to encourage littles to get their wiggles before a long flight. Hui Aloha offers two play structures, one for toddlers and another for bigger kids. There are swings, bathrooms, and plenty of parking.

A dad wearing a baby on his back while walking on Thompson Road, Maui.

Walk Thompson Road

Thompson Road is one of my favorite hidden gems on Maui. If you are exploring Maui’s upcountry region with little ones, bring a stroller, park near Grandma’s Coffee House, and walk up the way to a little slice of heaven. Here, you will find breathtaking views of Maui’s rolling hills and other sweeping views of the island. The walk is a bit hilly and almost 3 miles roundtrip. Send a selfie to your best friend in front of Oprah’s house!

Visit Maui Brew Co

Maui Brewing in Kihei is one of our favorite places to hang out. The beer, food, and cocktails are delicious, and the outdoor area is equipped with games like bags and Jenga, with plenty of room for little ones to run and play. (You can find more kid-friendly restaurants on Maui here.)

Note: There are two other Maui Brew Co locations on Maui: Lahaina, which did survive the August 2023 fire, and Ka’anapali, which has postponed its grand opening until further notice. Both sites are great, but without the ample outdoor space, we find them less kid-friendly than the Kihei location.

Two kids eating ice cream and laughing at a cat on the road to Hana.

Explore the Road to Hana

Even if you’ve never been to Maui, you’ve probably heard of the Road to Hana because it’s legendary. This 64-mile-long highway leads to a small, remote town on Maui’s Eastside. While the town of Hana is pretty sleepy, the road to it includes waterfalls, hiking trails, 59 bridges, and 620 hairpin turns on cliffside roads.

I highly recommend hiring a driver to avoid the crowds, explore some hidden Maui gems, and keep your marriage intact (yes, the drive really is that crazy).

Two kids holding hands and wearing overalls in upcountry Maui.

Visit a Farm in Upcountry Maui

I love visiting Maui’s upcountry region whenever my nervous system kicks into overdrive. Without fail, I instantly feel my shoulders drop and notice a smile return to my face.

I love the big, beautiful quiet paired with that big, open sky. I love the sweeping views of the island while pesky chickens try to steal my lunch. It’s as if time slows down upcountry, and towns like Makawao and Kula feel frozen in time.

A visit to a kid-friendly farm is a perfect way to experience the upcountry region. Pick strawberries at Kula Country Farms, take in the aroma at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, try fresh goat cheese at Surfing Goat Dairy Farm, or score some Maui honey for folks back home at Maui Bees.

It tends to be much cooler upcountry, so bring a jacket, especially if you’re visiting in the evening or during Maui’s coldest months, December and January.

A woman holding a surf board at Ho'okipa Beach on Maui.

Take a Surf Lesson

The first question you will likely be asked after returning home from a trip to Hawaii is, “Did you surf?” Make this vision a reality with Maui Waveriders!

I love Maui Waveriders because they’re great with kids and teach lessons at a location with manageable waves. Learning on small waves allows you to play, bond, and learn something new with your kids without the stress of keeping everyone safe.

Try Shave Ice

Shave Ice is more than just a tourist treat. It’s our family’s go-to whenever we celebrate something or need a little pick-me-up. If you’ve never tried shave ice, don’t mistake it for a snow cone!

The ice is shaved so incredibly thin that it melts in your mouth. After being dowsed in various fruit syrups and placed on top of ice cream, it’s hard to describe how positively sinful this experience is. The sugar coma is worth every bite. Ululani’s is our family’s go-to.

A pregnant woman staring out at the water on the island of Maui.
Fen’Amber Photography

Book a Photo Shoot

If you ask me the one thing you should splurge on while in Hawaii with your family, my answer is easy: book a photo shoot! Vacation is temporary, and so is this time with your kids. But beautiful photos freeze memories and last a lifetime! I may not always feel up to bribing kids and coordinating outfits, but I’ve never once regretted it.

My favorite photographer on the island is Fen’Amber Photography. She’s our go-to girl and has captured all the professional photos you see on this site. I love how she sees the world and has a way of marrying the magic that is your family with Maui’s beauty in such a unique way. In addition, she’s terrific with kids and has a way of making them (and you) feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Fen suggests booking at least 1-2 months for family photos (6 months to a year for weddings). But it’s still worth putting in a request if you’re booking a last-minute trip!

Transform into a Mermaid

Every kid in Hawaii wants to be a mermaid (or merman)! Make this dream a reality with Maui Mermaid School. You can partake in a mermaid makeover, tail-on swim lessons, or a special mermaid photoshoot! Just the thought makes the ten-year-old inside of me extremely jealous.

Maui Mermaid School also provides a great way to support small Maui businesses, and it’s one of those bonding experiences your kiddo will remember for years to come. My kid’s loved it.

A dad putting a snorkel mask on a toddler on Maui.

Snorkel

Before moving to Hawaii, I had no idea how much I would love snorkeling. It’s my favorite activity of all time. It doesn’t matter what I see or how often I snorkel; the ability to breathe underwater and marvel at giant sea turtles and breathtaking coral is pure magic (more about how to do so respectfully here).

Snorkel gear is cheap and easy to rent on the island. Understanding the ocean’s conditions and the best places to explore on any given day can be trickier. Because of this, I love to snorkel with the experts at least once a year.

Pacific Whale Foundation has the best family-friendly tour. This non-profit is doing so many cool things for Maui, and this tour to the world-famous Moloini Crater is just one of them. Their certified marine naturalists provide gear, snorkel instruction, and breakfast and lunch for your crew. They even have a Junior Naturalist Program for kids!

A family smiling at each other in Iao Valley in Maui, Hawaii.
Fen’Amber Photography

Explore Iao Valley

Visits to Iao Valley State Park are regular for our family. Located just outside of Wailuku Town, it’s as if one minute you’re wandering around this historic town and the next, on the set of Jurassic Park (not really, but it does feel that way).

Iao Valley has a deep history that is felt immediately upon arrival. Reservations and a small entry and parking fee are now required for out-of-state residents.

Take a Helicopter Ride

There is no better way to see the island of Maui than on a helicopter ride! While many companies provide tours, Maverick Helicopters has been providing upstanding service on Maui for over 20 years. This is the only helicopter service on Maui I recommend.

If you want to skip driving the road to Hana, choose the tour that lets you see this famous highway from above! This experience includes a 30-minute landing where you can walk through a lush rainforest to pick bananas, coconut, and wildflowers! If you want to splurge on something while visiting Maui, this may be just the thing.

Maverick Helicopters requires you to purchase a seat for kids over two.

Show Your Kids Who’s Boss in a Game of Putt Putt

Maui Golf and Sports Park provides an excellent opportunity to break up your beach days on Maui. They have two different 18-hole putt-putt courses, a 25-foot rock wall, a giant bungee trampoline, and bumper boats enclosed in a lava rock lagoon! They offer pizza and snacks, with a few food trucks outside if you’re hungry.

Maui Golf and Sports Park is next to the Maui Ocean Center, so you may want to marry these experiences together if you’re feeling up to making a day of it.

A young boy holding up a shaka on a SUP board in Maui, Hawaii.

Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding

In my mind, I’m a badass surfer girl. But in reality, stand up paddle boarding is way more my style. I love to coast out into a calm sea (close to shore) and decide to stand up whenever I’m ready.

Stand up paddle boarding is also a great activity with kiddos, either on their own SUP board or in front of you on your board. There are numerous SUP gear rentals on Maui.

South Pacific Kayaks Maui offers a two-hour SUP tour out of Makena Landing, also known as “Turtle Town.” Makena Landing is a great location to see green sea turtles, dolphins, tropical fish, and manta rays!

Stand up paddle boarding is an activity for confident, older kids in your crew. South Pacific Kayaks requires everyone to be a strong swimmer to participate.

A woman wearing a "free" hat while holding up a peace sign in front of Twin Falls, Maui.

Swim in a Waterfall

Listen, I grew up in the Midwest and can hardly believe that waterfalls are a part of my reality today! My kids have no idea how lucky they are. I will never get used to this magical experience!

Twin Falls provides an easy, family-friendly waterfall experience that includes convenient parking and a hike that is totally doable for kids. They even have a refreshment stand with banana bread and other treats.

If you want a more curated experience, hire a local guide! Hike Maui is well known for being great with kids and taking visitors off the beaten path. We love them because they ensure you leave Maui with a wealth of knowledge about your adventures and their cultural significance.

Kids must be four and up to participate.

Two kids stare at fish at the Maui Ocean Center in Maui, Hawaii.

Explore the Maui Ocean Center

We love Maui Ocean Center so much! It’s a great place to hang out if you need a break from the hot Maui sun. Spend a few hours up close with sharks, green sea turtles, and manta rays. Pet a real starfish, enjoy the 3D humpback whale experience, or snack on poke nachos at Maui Seascape Restaurant.

A young boy stands in front of the Maui Butterfly Farm sign in Maui, Hawaii.

Visit a Butterfly Farm

This unique Maui experience is perfect for those visiting Maui’s Westside (Ka’anapali). The Maui Butterfly Farm has a lot of heart. They are actively trying to save Maui’s declining butterfly population and have had a lot of success in doing so over the years!

Located in Olowalu, this 45-minute hands-on experience lets you get up close and personal with caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies. I dare you to try and have a bad day with a butterfly on your nose! Wilder and I loved our recent visit. This place is awesome.

Have Dinner Outside at a Distillery

I’m a busy mama. And that means I am on the never-ending quest for a place to sit and enjoy a place to eat without wondering if my toddler will knock the table over. You know how it is.

Ocean Vodka may not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to places to bring kids, but whatever. I’m here for it. The open outdoor space mixed with wood-fired pizza and perfectly balanced cocktails makes everyone in our family happy.

Ocean Vodka also offers live music, tastings, and tours of the sugarcane farm. Walk-ins are accepted, but reservations are highly encouraged. More kid-friendly restaurants found here.)

Explore the Ocean on a Kayak

Kayak with experts while exploring South Maui! Makena Landing is also known as “Turtle Town” and often lives up to its name, allowing you to witness green sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and even humpback whales (December-April)!

I love this company because the guides are great with kids (5 and up), and they let you choose between two different tours; both include epic snorkeling spots.

I suggest going in the morning for the calmest ocean conditions.

Jump at a Trampoline Park

You can find us at Maui’s only trampoline park whenever it rains. My boys are active and love to stay busy, and this place provides the perfect opportunity to get their wiggles out while I relax in one of the many massage chairs and smile and wave from afar.

A woman wearing a lei and holding a baby in Maui, Hawaii.

Volunteer

Hawaii is a magical place that has a beautiful way of matching your intentions. Showing up with aloha in your heart and giving back to the community will make your time in paradise much more memorable.

Maui’s been through a lot lately. There are many terrific ways to help support doing this time, like shopping local when you’re here to support small businesses.

Consider volunteering with the Maui Humane Society while you’re here. They love it when kids join! Pacific Birth Collective is another terrific place to give a couple of hours of your time. And as always, participating in a beach cleanup is a great way to give back to Maui, a place that continues to provide for so many.

Up Next: Maui with Kids: The Ultimate Guide

Graphic: Bookmark this page to revisit when you're here! Cheers, Mama!
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.