Friday, September 23, 2011

Traveling with kids: 10 fun things to do in Maui

Pu'unoa beach, near Lahaina.
I've been thinking a lot about Maui lately, and wishing I was there again. Maybe it's the fact that fall has arrived here on the Wet West Coast with a heavy rainfall warning, drizzle and clouds. I loved our trip to Maui with the kids, and I'm hoping we will all get to do it again sometime in the not too distant future!

Here are a list of 10 of my favorite things to do on Maui:

  1. Enjoying the sea life at DT Fleming Beach Park - This was definitely one of my favorite beaches in Maui. I swam with a turtle while snorkeling just off the beach, the kids loved playing in the sand in the shade of the rocks and trees, we saw clams and shells and other sea life on the rocks, and the sand was great for digging and playing in. Some nice waves too, but that also made the water a little too rough for younger kids.
  2. Having some lazy, safe beach time with the kids at Pu'unoa Beach, aka Baby Beach - The reef protects the beach from rough water and big waves, and the water is perfect for little kids, even babies. The sandy part of the beach isn't that wide, but there's a lot of room in the grass under the palm trees. Nice place to go with little kids and not have to worry about rough water. Also spectacular when the tide is out because you can see coral and other undersea life exposed!
  3. Spending the early mornings at any beach - If you're bringing smaller children, mornings are fantastic at most beaches because the water is generally more placid. By the afternoon, the winds and waves are usually up which is fun for adults and bigger kids.
  4. Eating dinner at Mala Ocean Tavern - The food is spectacular and the view just can't be beat: if you're seated on the deck the ocean is right next to you (and might even splash you!). Also, there's a very nice kids menu and very friendly staff.
  5. Having lunch at the Sea House Restaurant in Napili Bay - Another place serving fantastic food in a beautiful, ocean-view setting. There's a great kids' menu (my kids especially loved the cheese pizza) and I fell in love with the fish tacos. The nearby beach is great too, though the waves can get rough depending on the time of day and the winds.
  6. Visiting the Iao Valley - A beautiful spot that shows a different side of Maui than just the sandy beachfront. It's a nice, easy, kid-friendly hike along the river and then up the stairs and paths to the viewpoint where you can see the Iao Needle. Bring a bottle of water along though: any hiking can make you thirsty in Maui-weather!
  7. Eating fresh fruit - The fresh fruit is amazing in Maui. Pineapple, mango, papaya, avocado... it all tastes so much more and so much better than it does anywhere else. Let your kids go fruit-crazy. Bring home some of those pineapples too!
  8. Having a barbecue and eating out on the lanai - There is lots of beautiful, yummy produce on Maui. The meat, the Maui onions, the fruit, the sea food: throw some on the barbecue and just enjoy an easy dinner with the kids. Of course, first you have to make sure your accommodation has barbecues!
  9. Visiting the Maui Tropical Plantation - Take the guided tour on the train and you get to see a lot of tropical plants, and learn about the many things that grow and thrive in Maui. It's fun and educational, and you get to learn how to properly crack open a coconut!
  10. Taking a ride on the Sugarcane Train - This is an honest-to-goodness steam train that runs between Lahaina and Kaanapali. It gives you a good view of some areas you probably would never see otherwise, and if you have kids, a steam train ride is hard to beat for entertainment.

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