Maui is for honeymooners.

You can see couples holding hands in Lahaina, cuddling up in a private cabana at the Four Seasons, and getting up early to see the sunrise on Haleakala.

Haleakala Crater at sunrise. (Photograph by Jeremie Schatz, My Shot)

And let’s be honest: the last thing these newlyweds want is for everything to be ruined by someone else’s kids.

We know, because we took our kids to Maui. We took them shopping in Lahaina (our first mistake), visited the Four Seasons (our second), and then dragged them up to Haleakala (numero tres).

I’m kidding.

But there were a few moments when we felt as if our kids — who are not known for being quiet and demure — were in the wrong place.

As it turns out, that wasn’t quite true.

Upscale — and that’s the way they like it

Maui is one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands. If you don’t believe me, take a drive along Highway 360, which runs from Kahului to Hana, on the eastern side of the island. Around each hairpin turn, you’ll see impossibly beautiful seascapes, lush rain forests and waterfalls you thought only existed in the movies.

Along the famous Hana Highway in Maui. (Photograph by Anthony Burton, My Shot)

But if you have young children, you’ll need a stiff drink once you reach Hana. Want to make a rest stop to buy banana bread from a food truck? Better keep an eye on your youngsters or they could slide down a steep embankment into the Pacific.

Our kids didn’t worry about any of this. But we did.

It’s not that Maui doesn’t try. We dropped by the Four Seasons to visit a friend, and the hotel offered not only a children’s menu in its restaurant, but also a menu for teens. Among its “kid-friendly” amenities were a game room and goodie bags for kids when they check in. They even had a kids pool. But that didn’t make it any easier to escape the stares of the other guests — the ones that said, “You brought your kids here?”

Is there anything for children?

It’s a fact that finding things to do with kids in Maui, an island with a well-deserved reputation for being exclusive and expensive, isn’t always easy. Even the attractions you’d assume would appeal to the little ones aren’t really ideal for children, especially very young ones.

(For example, don’t even think of taking your toddler to the waterfalls at the lower Kīpahulu entrance of Haleakala National Park. It requires hiking boots, a good sense of balance, and swimming skills. I almost lost my balance a few times trying to negotiate the slippery rocks.)

The main drag in Lahaina. (Photograph by Roberta Niver, My Shot)

But turns out Maui does have a few kid-friendly attractions. The educational Maui Ocean Center, for instance, is well worth a visit with the little ones (and conveniently located near restaurants that serve yummy soft cookies and shave-ice). On our last visit to Maui, we also went horseback riding in the upcountry, and felt right at home and welcome.

But this time we stayed in Lahaina, on the southern side of the island — which is a historic but hopelessly touristy town that reminded us a lot of our hometown, Orlando — surrounded by honeymooners and newly disembarked cruise ship passengers in search of souvenirs. Not a person under 21 to be seen, save our children. We probably should have known better than to take them into an art gallery (and shouldn’t have been surprised when its owner scolded our son for being too loud).

The tepid welcome continued as we walked through town. Some merchants on Maui are crystal clear about their preferences: they have signs outside their stores warning parents to attend to their children or (the more lighthearted version) promising to present unsupervised kids with “an espresso and a kitten.”

Boo!

Just as we were about to give up on Maui and spend the balance of our visit doing homeschool lessons and visiting the pool at our vacation rental, we heard about the Keiki Halloween Parade. The Hawaiian word for child is keiki, and at first we could hardly believe there were enough kids on Maui to hold an event like this.

But, boy were we wrong!

Suddenly, downtown Lahaina was overrun by kids in Halloween costumes — and some of the same eagle-eyed merchants who held a kitty and a cup of coffee at the ready were offering them candy. Our kids marched right alongside them, never hesitating to climb up on stage to receive a bag of candy from Maui’s mayor. (Hey, it’s free candy, right?)

Had we not seen the keiki parade with our own eyes, and been part of it, we would never have believed Maui could be so child friendly.

But once you get past the tourist traps and dodge a honeymooner or two, this place really loves kids.

Comments

  1. Rohit
    November 28, 2012, 12:47 am

    My girlfriend just said, awww!! And for me… Hana Highway is where I want to be at

  2. TONI ARNAU
    SPAIN
    November 28, 2012, 3:17 am

    In global world destination has to be different, need to focusing in a concerte market.

    Maui i s a honeymoon paradise not a child holidays paradise

    Toni
    http://www.servifans.com

  3. Exploring Morocco
    November 28, 2012, 1:43 pm

    What a beautiful place that is. I wish i can be there!, indeed being away is being home.

    http://www.ExploringMorocco.com

  4. Valley Isle Excursions
    Maui
    November 29, 2012, 2:28 pm

    There are a lot of things to do on Maui with kids. We are not talking about the theme park stuff but the natural parks are incredible. Keiki love to explore through the forests, go on boat rides, hit the seaside parks and of course the beaches.

    We host lots of children on our tour (http://www.tourmaui.com) next to newlyweds and seniors. They liven up the tour and everyone enjoys their excitement and fascination with things they have never thought existed. They bring out the child-like joy in all of us.

  5. Richi & Mandy
    December 3, 2012, 2:31 pm

    We love Maui and the hawaiian beaches (http://www.beachusa.info) are the best beaches!!!

  6. Christian Rene Friborg
    Germany
    December 5, 2012, 7:28 pm

    I like Maui a lot! Me and my wife really had a fantastic time there during our vacation last year, and we would definitely go back.

  7. Yolanda Oglesby
    Corona, CA
    April 29, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Where exactly is that heart formation? I see it says Lava fields, North Shore… Could you email me direct to eventsuppleisgalore@gmail.com. Thanks in advance!

  8. Darinda Kunkel
    September 9, 2013, 12:57 am

    I would like to know where the heart shaped lava rock is please. Thank you

  9. Sarah
    Lahaina, Maui
    September 21, 2013, 5:04 pm

    I’m so spurprised that you didn’t see keiki before the parade. And hwo you descibed this place not kid friendly.

    Maui, and Hawaii in general, is THE BEST natural playground for kids and they are everywhere – beaches, pools, parks and yes even our “hopelessly touristy Lahaina,” where we live. (ha!)

    Next time hit story time at the coffee shop in Kahana or Barnes & Noble. Come to our public pool to swim with local kids, head to baby beach where, well, there are kids galore including babies. And check out my site to find things to do with kids… http://www.TheOhanaMama.com

  10. Sarah
    Lahaina, Maui
    September 21, 2013, 5:05 pm

    The heart shaped rock is in West Maui, past Honolua, near the blowhole http://www.hawaiiweb.com/maui/nakalele-blow-hole.html#detaileddescription

  11. Tonya Brazil
    September 22, 2013, 11:41 pm

    The heart shaped lava rock is in the location of the blowhole. After you hike down to area of the blowhole look to the right, across the lava and you will see the heart.

  12. Allyson
    Toronto, Canada
    April 2, 2:47 pm

    Shave ice, upcountry picnics, playgrounds with gorgeous views, luaus, watching the surfers at Ho’okipa Beach Park, fun food, Lahaina’s giant banyan tree, Iao Valley, beaches galore, swimming pools, Maui Ocean Center… We spent two weeks in Maui (splitting our time between condo rentals in Kaanapali Ali and Kihei) with our 18 month year old and ran out of time to go to Haleakala and Hana. We found it to be a fabulous

  13. Allyson
    April 2, 2:48 pm

    … destination with kids. Everyone was very welcoming!