As a travel writer, I always like to explore new and different destinations. But somehow, we return to Hawaii over and over again. Of all the Hawaiian islands, our favorite island is Maui. I love how Maui has a little bit of everything that makes the Hawaiian Islands magical. From lush tropical rainforests along the road to Hana, beautiful beaches in Wailea and fun nightlife in Lahaina, Maui has it all! Maui is also super family-friendly, and we’ve found so many things do to in Maui with kids.
Since we’ve been to Maui so many times, I am often asked for my top recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, and places to see. We’ve just returned from our latest trip to Maui so I thought I’d update my list of Maui favorites. This is a list I have shared with many friends over the years. On our last trip we added a few new activities to our list of favorite things to do with kids on Maui!
Where to Stay in Maui with kids: The Best Luxury Resorts for families
Grand Wailea with kids:
As you know, I love a good luxury resort. Choosing the right place to stay on a family vacation can make all the difference in your trip. Our absolute favorite place to stay in Maui is the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. We’ve sampled several Maui hotels over the years, and can confidently say that the Grand Wailea is the best place to stay in Maui with kids, thanks to the waterslides and calm, protected beach. We’ve just returned from Grand Wailea and my son fell in love with the new Lava Tube water slide. Our favorite family activity is riding the world’s only water elevator up to the top pool and following all of the the water slides and lazy river around the resort.
My personal favorite part of the Grand Wailea is the Spa Grande, with treatments inspired by Eastern, Western and Hawaiian influences. Every spa appointment includes a complimentary water experience in their out of this world termé hydrotherapy circuit. I love relaxing in the whirlpools before experiencing an amazing Spa treatment.
The beach walk behind the hotel is something we do on every visit, and we can never get enough of the unique spirit of this Hawaiian hotel. Often as we walk along the beach walk we will spot whales spouting out in the distance!
Dinner at sunset at HUMUHUMU is the perfect setting to end the day as a family. This restaurant has a great kid’s menu and is conveniently located right off the beach and overlooking the resort’s luau grounds.
Fairmont Kea Lani with kids:
For families seeking a more laid-back, smaller hotel experience in Wailea Beach, I recommend the Fairmont Kea Lani. We love the swim-up bar, waterslide and the free kids’ club at Fairmont Kea Lani. You can’t beat the pristine beach at this hotel either! It’s the perfect secluded spot to let kids play and watch the sunset. Families will appreciate that all rooms at the Fairmont Kea Lani are suites, giving you a bit of extra room to spread out.
Sheraton Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach with kids:
If you prefer to stay near Ka’anapali Beach, the Sheraton Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach is in an excellent location right next to Whaler’s Village. The hotel is a bit older and less luxurious than our other choices, but the location makes up for it, with snorkeling and turtles right off the hotel beach. The Sheraton Black Rock has a great luau, and you can’t miss the evening cliff diving ceremony.
Where to Eat in Maui with kids
As much as we love relaxing on the beach or in the water, Maui is definitely a foodie destination for our family. Over the years, we’ve curated a list of our favorite places to eat in Maui, and always try to find new places to add to the list as well. YELP has been a huge positive for us in the islands. We’ve tried awesome local restaurants , dives, and food trucks for lunches that we never would have known about! I do recommend having dinner reservations lined up for most nights, because its a small island and things fill up quickly in peak season. We use Open Table for most of these restaurants.
Our favorite Maui Restaurants:
- Mama’s Fish House: Not far from the airport, Mama’s Fish House is usually our first (and last) stop every time we visit Maui. I recommend reserving a table for two hours after you land. My advice is to ALWAYS make advance reservations. We book our flights and accommodations then we book our Mama’s reservation for two hours after we land! This gives you time to claim your bags and get your rental car. (Things move slower on the islands, so this takes about an hour). Mama’s menu is fresh caught and different each day but the same for lunch and dinner, so either meal is great. If you are celebrating anything special, such as a birthday, be sure to note this in your reservation, and ask for a table by the window so you can enjoy the gorgeous ocean views. If you arrive early, be sure to enjoy a walk on the beach and take in the beautiful scenery. I’d also recommend booking a reservation at Mama’s for your last meal before catching a flight home. It’s THAT GOOD that you will want to eat there more than once!! Everything served at Mama’s Fish House is fresh caught and menu items are listed along with the names of the fisherman and where the fish was caught on Mama’s daily menu. I recommend starting with a Mai Tai and some of the yummiest chunkiest macadamia nut crab cakes I’ve ever had. If the macadamia nut crusted lobster & crab stuffed mahi-mahi entree is on the menu when you visit that’s my all time favorite! For dessert I love the Maui pineapple upside down cake…SO GOOD!
- Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar: We love to drive up to Kihei for the sushi at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar Restaurant. There’s also a location in Kapalua, but it’s a further drive from our hotel Wailea. We’ve been to both locations and the food is outstanding at both Maui Sansei restaurants.The menu at Sansei Restaurant is really terrific. I highly advise starting with some saki, ordering up our two favorites the Panko-Crusted Fresh Ahi Sashami roll and Matsuhisa Style Miso Butterfish, and any sushi rolls and specials your server recommends. On our most recent visit this month we tried the Japanese calamari salad and Sansei’s Shrimp Dynamite – both were terrific! Be sure to save room for the fried ice cream for dessert- its delish! Last time we visited Sansei they were running a promotion on Saturday nights where they offered 50% off the menu, and karaoke from 10pm to midnight. They also had an early bird special at 5pm for half off the sushi menu when we visited last time. 50% off delicious sushi is an amazing deal!! (I recommend calling ahead to confirm they still do this and are offering it when you plan to visit!) Even though it’s mostly an adult crowd, we’ve always taken our kid and seen other families there having a blast. If you are dining at the normal, non-discounted times you can easily make a reservation on Open Table.
- Honokowai Okazuya Restaurant and Deli: this is a total dive spot, but it’s some of the best fish and Asian food we’ve had in Maui, not to mention, the best bang for your buck! The strip mall spot is open for lunch and dinner, and you can even take it to go if you want to bring it back to your hotel pool. The fish sampler is a great choice, and I love the Ono in lemon caper sauce and the Blackened Seared Ahi.
- Merriman’s: A beautiful restaurant, and a great place for a fancy dinner. Everything at Merriman’s is farm to table and delicious. Plan to arrive before sunset because it’s a gorgeous place to have a drink and watch the sunset. Everything on the menu is sensational and they have a great kids menu too.
- Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante : When staying in Wailea, we like to follow the beach walk down to the Four Seasons hotel and have lunch at the poolside restaurant Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante. Da Cheeseburger is outstanding, and their bartenders make the BEST EVER forzen Mai Tais served in fresh pineapples!
- Monkeypod Kitchen: With two Maui locations, in Wailea and Ka’anapali, it’s one of our favorite places to eat in Maui. Nothing beats starting off with an appetizer of poke tacos, a Monkeypod Mai Tai or a cold beer from Maui Brewing Company. The Ahi Tuna with mashed potatoes is my go-to meal at Monkeypod, and you can’t leave without trying the strawberry pie for dessert – sooooooo good!!!!!!
- Slappy Cakes Maui: Amazing breakfast place where you make your own pancakes right on your table. It’s really fun for kids, and naturally, my son Harry loves it! We always visit at least once when we’re on Maui.
- Leilani’s on the Beach: In the Whaler’s Village, this is a great spot for lunch, happy hour or dinner on the beach. Don’t miss the Hula Pie for dessert…it’s legendary!
- Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice: You can’t visit Maui without treating the family to some Hawaiian Shave Ice. Our favorite is Ulani’s because they shave it so thin it’s like eating flavored snow. Try adding a little ice cream to the bottom – you will thank me later!
- Lappert’s Hawaii: With several locations including Whaler’s Village and Lahaina, we always make several stops for Hawaiian homemade ice cream. They make their own waffle cones and ice cream, and it’s all delicious. They also have DOLE WHIP!!!
Things to Do in Maui with Kids
There are so many things to do in Maui with kids, you’ll soon see why we keep coming back! Before you go, grab a copy of Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. It’s the absolute best Maui guidebook for reliable tips on what to do. It has great recommendations on drives, beaches, waterfalls, restaurants etc. This guy’s never steered us wrong for sightseeing or restaurants or stuff to do. Here’s our list of faves!
- Snorkeling: Plan a morning or afternoon family snorkel trip. We had a great time snorkeling on the Four Winds II afternoon snorkel adventure to Coral Gardens. The Four Winds II boat was great because not only could the whole family snorkel but they also have a glass bottom room, a water slide and offer snuba. We especially liked this boat because the afternoon snorkel offers a freshly grilled bbq lunch and open bar too. On the way back we had time for a little whale watching and got lucky to see a few whales!
- Beaches: there are so many amazing beaches in Maui for kids its worth leaving your hotel to explore. That’s the best way to meet locals and maybe even learn to surf. If you go to Wailea during the day you should really walk on the beach walk that goes behind all the hotels and go sink your toes in the sand a bit.
- Whale Watching: If you are visiting from December- April be sure to book a whale watching excursion. Our absolute favorite Maui whale watching tour is the Whale Watching trip with the Pacific Whale Foundation. If you visit Maui in winter, plan this for early in your trip in case there is a weather cancellation. This way, you’ll still have time to re-book before you go home. For the best luck book a morning trip when the water is usually much more calm than the afternoon.
- Luau: In my opinion the Old Lahaina Luau is the best luau in Hawaii. As soon as you have your travel dates, decide which night you want to attend the Old Lahaina Luau and make reservations ASAP. The luau grounds are amazing, and they have all kinds of Hawaiian props and photographers ready to take awesome pics of you and your family. The drinks are amazing, too! I’m not a huge fan of authentic luau food, but the show is the best and so worth it!
- Lahaina Town: plan an evening to stroll around Lahaina town. There are lots of cool shops and galleries, bars and restaurants. One of our favorite stops is the rooftop bar at Fleetwood’s on Front Street. About 30 minutes before sundown, grab a seat and a drink for their sunset ceremony. Every night, they will have either a Scottish bagpiper or a Hawaiian kumu performing. (On Saturdays, they have both performers, so we recommend going on a Saturday if you can.)
- Road to Hana – This ride is amazing and totally worth doing if your kids are into hikes and scenery. My husband and I have enjoyed the trip twice before kids and loved every minute. We took my son when he was 3 and he got carsick and passed out. It wasn’t much fun with him so miserable. I’d honestly only recommend this trip for families with older kids who are up for beautiful scenery, a long winding ride, and lots of awesome hikes!
When we stay at Grand Wailea that we always walk the beach walk down to visit The Shops at Wailea. It’s a mall with all sorts of designer shops. Our favorite place to shop in Maui is at Whalers Village in Ka’anapali Beach.
More Maui Travel Tips for Families
Just a few more tips as you begin to plan your Maui family vacation:
- Car Rental: You really want a car to be able to explore Maui at your own pace. As soon as you have your flights, make sure you reserve a car as prices go up as it closer to your arrival date.
- Plan to stop for groceries and snacks upon arrival! Pop into Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway or Costco before you head to your hotel. These stores are all near the airport, and are a great place to stock up on water and snacks before heading to your resort. You’ll save a ton of money by shopping here, rather than the resort communities. Your hotel will most likely have a fridge, so it’s nice not paying out the nose for water and food all day, every day. These shops also have some of the best souvenirs, often the same ones you see in the resort gift shops, for much lower prices.
Despite all the amazing things to do in Maui with kids, my best advice is: don’t over-schedule! It’s great to just enjoy an island day and see where your day takes you. Make sure you leave some slack in your schedule to just enjoy your vacation.
Like this post? Pin it!