Aloha friends! I had a couple of real life requests about traveling with kids so here I am tapping out how we Hawaii. We’ve been to Maui (with a short stop to Honolulu to visit Pearl Harbor) three times and taken the kids twice. We’ve always stayed on Maui because it is super family friendly. I’d love to do Kaui or Oahu when the kids are older for the adventure excursions but Maui is sort of our pace (beach/pool/repeat) right now.
Stay + See
There are more than a few options for staying on Maui and almost all of them are lovely. We’ve always found that a condo or hotel with a kitchenette works best for us when traveling with children. Our kiddos wake up early and are hungry immediately. No one wants to be changing out of jammies to trudge down to the coffee shop at 6:15 am to pay $200 for breakfast for a family of 6. Do yourself and your sanity a favor and stay in an Airbnb or hotel with kitchen. This time we stayed a HonuaKai on Kaanapali and we’ve also stayed on the Lahaina side at the Outrigger (booked through HomeAway).
Cute, shopping (dare I say touristy?) side of Maui. You’ll find restaurants, shops, and the Old Lahaina Luau here. We also like baby beach on this side of the island. It’s shallow, peaceful water with plenty of parking. It’s not the best beach on the island but you also won’t have to worry about your kids getting swept away in the waves. You’ll need to pack a picnic as there aren’t hotels and restaurants within walking distance as in Kaanapali.
If you are doing a snorkeling or whale watching excursion, your boat will leave from the port here. It’s worth going a little earlier to see the cool Banyan tree on the square.
We have done the Road to Hana twice. Once with kids and once without. For our kiddos (four under six) it’s a pass. The scenery is amazing, the waterfalls and hidden pools are worth it, and the black sand beach is magical. For the kids, it feels like a 6-8 hour car ride. Add in buckling and unbuckling of carseats anytime we stopped (and there are lots of reasons to stop!) makes for a weary day of travel. Particularly if you aren’t staying in Hana and try to make the drive back in one day. Parents only trip? Go for it! Don’t forget to stop at Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream!
This is the resort side of the island. Probably what you think of when you think Hawaii. Big stretches of beach with hotels dotted along the coast. We stayed here this time and it was wonderful to walk out our hotel doors to the beach (something you don’t have staying on the Lahaina side).
Black Rock + Cliff Jump
This is where everyone is going to tell you to go snorkeling! It’s a great spot with fish, turtles and coral. Our kids aren’t good enough swimmers (and mom has no chill for 4 non-swimmers in open water) for us to tackle this yet. When we went solo we made the trek and it was worth it. The Sheraton puts on a cliff jump nightly (for free!). The announcer explains the history behind cliff jumping while a ukulele strums and Hawaiian dancer performs. Totally worth it if you’re in the area!
Nakalele Point and Blowhole
We’ve stopped here on every trip! It’s just far enough from the resorts to feel like an adventure but not a huge car ride for the kiddos. The view is amazing and the blowhole is fun. I didn’t take the kids all the way down the path because #neuroticmom. It’s windy and a little chilly here so bring a jacket!
Napili Farmer’s Market + Honokowai Beach Playground
Matt found this little gem of a beach. It’s along Honoapilani Hwy with the Farmer’s Market and coffee shop on one side of the road and the beach and playground on the other. The beach was great for kiddos. A rock/coral reef created a little protected pool for the kiddos to splash around in. Matt hopped the rocks and snorkeled around.
Whale Watching: We’ve done the sunset dinner cruise without the kids and were in the middle of whale season (Nov-March). It was amazing and one of my favorite traveling experiences, ever. We’ve also taken the day cruise with kids in the beginning of the season and it was fiiiine. The kids were happy to see dolphins but weren’t quick enough to catch the whale snouts and tails. It is also pretty choppy getting out there and more than a few people looked a little green. SO…tl;dr- if you’re probably only going to Maui once and in the whale season, take the cruise!
Luau: An expensive but a fun dinner (they average $100pp). We’ve only been to one, the Feast at Lele. The dancing was wonderful and the food was mediocre (which I’ve heard is pretty standard across the Luaus). The drinks were included so enjoy that rum punch. I wouldn’t say it was that kid friendly as they start around 7 pm (our bedtime). When we went I ended up walking the kids in the stroller around the grounds until they fell asleep.
Haleakala Volcano: Another awesome view and once in a lifetime view in Maui. The views alone are amazing and if you love hiking, this is your spot. You now need to make reservations before your visit date for sunset or sunrise viewing. A word to the wise, the drive is a commitment (probably 3 hours) and it is really cold up there. Make sure to pack warm clothes or you will enjoying your view from the heated car. We haven’t taken the kids here but would love to next time.
Eat + Drink
Like I mentioned before, we stay in condos when traveling to Hawaii so we have access to a full kitchen (and laundry-bless!). We make it a point to stop at Costco before heading to the hotel. It’s an easy stop, right across from the airport! We usually pickup breakfast fixings, snacks, and drinks. We usually plan on cooking dinner at home once (usually grilling burgers or chicken). There are grocery stores closer to the hotels but you’ll be paying a premium for the pleasure of shopping there, so if you’ve got a Costco membership, it’s worth the stop.
Taking four children to a restaurant three times a day is the tenth circle of hell for me so if we can cut it down to once a day, we’re all happier for it. That said, Hawaii has some great restaurants and plenty of little roadside snacks that are a must try! Here’s a few of our faves.
Hula Grill: A nice, family friendly option in Whaler’s Village in Kaanapali. We lucked out getting a spot on the patio during happy hour with live music.
Kimo’s: Another waterfront spot in Lahaina. Get the Hula Pie!
Lahaina Grill: Great date night($$) if you’ve brought along a babysitter for the kids.
The Gazebo: Worth the wait. Amazing macadamia nut pancakes in a cute gazebo overlooking the water.
Cheeseburger in Paradise/Duke’s Beach House: Pretty basic American burgers and fries but an easy way to grab dinner without stressing about kids being cray. Duke’s was our on-property restaurant so we ordered from lounge chairs a couple of times. Also, get the MaiTai. You’re going to need it to stomach ordering $17 cheeseburgers.
Leoda’s Pie Shop: A little blip on the highway that you might just drive on by. Don’t though, you’ll be missing out on some of the best food we’ve had on the island. The pies are wonderful (key lime! chocolate macadamia!) but their menu selections deserve a round of applause too.
The Cinnamon Roll Place: Another potential drive past gem. Hidden in a strip mall it would be easy to miss. Make sure you don’t, it’s worth the stop!
Ohana Tacos: We happened upon this little place on our way back from the beach. Great tacos (easy beach picnic)!
Ulani’s Shaved Ice: A Hawaiian staple! Make sure to get the ice cream at the bottom and a snowcap top.
I’d love to hear your travel tales! Anything I missed this trip? I’ll add it to our to-try list.
road trip with kids|Babies on a plane