Dreaming of Travel: Maui
Maui is the second biggest island in the Hawaiian Island chain and has quickly become one of the most popular islands for families, honeymooners, and travelers of all sorts!
From black sand beaches and sea turtles to waterfalls and volcanoes, Maui could quite possibly be considered one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is an incredible trip that you will not soon forget and will be craving to return again and again. Check out our tips on what to do, where to stay, and how to make the most out of your trip to Maui!
We can't talk about Maui without talking about beaches. There are more beaches than you can explore on one vacation, but here's a rundown of the best beaches in Maui.
- Kaanapali Beach - this beach is three miles long with soft white sand and gorgeous water. It's an excellent beach for families and easily accessible from the lines of hotels and condos that flank it. The famous black rocks are popular for jumping off of older kids.
- Makena Beach - this is a great beach for playing in the sand and hanging out for the day. The surf is too strong and dangerous for kids to swim, so use extreme caution here.
- Ho'okipa Beach - this is a great beach for the whole family. This beach is a favorite with locals for windsurfing, which is a blast. There are also calm areas for swimming and a lifeguard on duty. The best thing about Ho'okipa is the late afternoon when many green sea turtles swim ashore to bask in the sunshine. It's an incredible sight.
- Kamaole Beaches - you'll see them referred to as Kam 1, 2, and 3. They are all along the same stretch of beach across from condos and restaurants in Kihei. There are lifeguards on duty, grassy areas, volleyball nets, and bbq areas. These are popular, lively beaches where you can spend fun family time together.
- Honolua Bay - a great snorkeling beach, and oh so beautiful! There are no lifeguards here, and it requires a bit of a walk to access the beach.
- Wai'anapanapa Beach - this is my favorite beach, not just in Maui, but anywhere! You must visit this beach! You'll need reservations from the Hawaii State Parks, but it's worth the trouble. This black sand beach sits in a small cove protected by huge rocks and cliffs. The black sand creates gorgeous scenery next to the blue water and green cliffs. If you go at low tide, you can even walk through a lava tube to see the beach from a different perspective.
Things to do in Maui that aren't the beach
You can spend your whole vacation on the beach if you want to, BUT Maui has a lot more to offer too!
- Drive the Road to Hana - this iconic drive is a gorgeous drive that you can customize to fit your family's needs. The drive will take a full day or even two days. You'll want to start as early as possible to avoid traffic. The road is windy, so keep that in mind if kids in the back seat get carsick quickly. There are numerous beaches, waterfalls, and sights to see. You can stop at as many or as few as you wish along the way.
- Visit Iao Valley - this won't take all day, but it is worth visiting. Walk up to the lookout to view the incredible Iao Needle that rises over 1,000 feet off the valley floor.
- Go to the Aquarium - Maui Ocean Center is located halfway between Kihei and Lahaina and is an excellent way to spend a day.
- Old Lahaina town - you can walk through the streets of this charming old fishing town and enjoy food, shopping, and people-watching. Be sure to walk through the park to see the famous Banyon Tree. It's HUGE and was planted In 1873! You can also watch the boats coming in and out of the harbor.
- Visit Haleakala National Park - this is worth doing on your trip to Maui. Haleakala National Park is divided into two sections, and you won't be able to do them both on the same day, so plan accordingly. The summit district is your chance to get above the clouds and see the volcanic crater (and on a clear day, the other islands). Believe me, when I say, you will feel like you have landed on another planet when you get to the summit! Bring a jacket, though. It's cold and windy here! Some minor nature walks here are all-ages friendly, but some intense hikes should be reserved for adults. The other section of Haleakala National Park is called Kipahulu. You'll find it at the end of the road to Hana. There are great nature trails here, some with historical and cultural educational opportunities. You can also see the seven sacred pools of Ohe'o here.
- Snorkel - okay, it is still in the water, but it is not a beach! So instead, book an excursion to the Molokini Crater for epic snorkeling!
- Sunsets! - Maui sunsets are legendary. Don't miss them. There's not a "bad" spot, but we make a point to see the evening from a different beach every day of vacation!
Where to Stay in Maui
The most popular places in Maui are either Lahaina, Kaanapali, or Kihea. You really can't go wrong with either for food, shopping, and nearby beaches. Kaanapali is the most family-friendly location with the most accessible attractions and beaches nearby. There are numerous resorts to choose from and many condos you can rent.
What to Eat in Maui
- Dukes on Kaanapali Beach - the laid-back vibe, open-air seating, beach views. Get the fish tacos and the hula pie (you'll want to share the pie, it's HUGE).
- Food Trucks - there are many food trucks in Maui, offering any food you can imagine. Some are located in lots with many trucks, so everyone in the family can eat something different if they want.
- Paia Fish Market - the original is in Paia town, but there are locations too. Come for the fresh fish and local beers. Get the pasta. It's incredible.
- Shaved Ice - Hawaii's famous shaved ice! Get it with cream!
- Da Kitchen - located in Kihei. Don't let this little hole in the wall deceive you. It's the best food you'll find on Maui. Home-cooked, authentic Hawaiian food in portions that you can share. Try the sampler platter.
- Mamas Fish House - this iconic restaurant is hard to reserve and expensive but worth checking out for the delicious food and incredible atmosphere.
- Nalus - located in Kihei. This is a super chill place to eat either outside or inside. They often have live music, and the food is so good! Get the ribs, or the chicken and waffles, or the salads, or breakfasts, you can't go wrong.
Other Maui Tips
Everything is expensive here, so be prepared. If you want to do more than stay on the beach, you should rent a car. Right when you leave the airport, there are food trucks in a parking lot. You can eat here and then head across the street to Costco. We like to buy breakfast foods, snacks, and anything else we might need here before heading to our hotel or condo. We grab sunscreen (reef safe, please), snorkel gear, and beach toys here too! It will save you so much money and stress in the long run. There are ABC stores all over the island where you can pick up sunscreen, aloe, beach towels, snacks, and souvenirs for a reasonable price. You can also ask around to see if the Maui swap meet is happening and pick up locally made souvenirs there.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Let us help you plan your Maui trip! Head over to our happyly app and check out all the great parent-reviewed spots! From Haleakala National Park and how to climb Haleakala summit at sunrise to the Kenae Outlook and the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm! We have a ton of local ambassador advice all over Maui as well as other Hawaiian Islands!
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Have you been to Maui before? What are your favorite spots you've been with your family? Let us know in the comments and be sure to tag us with your photos on Instagram @gethappyly! We love to hear from you!!