Things to do in Maui with kids, a one day Maui itinerary for families

Maui is Hawaii’s renowned resort destination and a popular vacation spot for many tourists. We couldn’t think of a better place to start our Hawaii island hopping adventure and recover from our jetlag. But did you know there’s plenty of things to do in Maui with kids other than lounging by the pool? And the best thing is that most of these Maui attractions aren’t too far apart. You could easily plan them on a single day, making this the ultimate Maui day trip for families.

For your convenience, you’ll find a map indicating all these stops in the second last paragraph of this post.

Keep it cool

If you’re like us, you prefer exploring a region on your own. In that case, you need a car. You might have one available during your entire Maui vacation or rent one for the purpose of this Maui day trip. Either way, don’t rent just any car but make it a special one to set the mood. You’re in Maui, after all! 🙂 We picked up our Jeep Wrangler from Kapalua airport, which is often closer to the main resorts than Kahului airport. We used Discount Hawaii Car Rental for all of our car rentals in Hawaii: It offers the best rates and doesn’t even require an advance payment.

Two little sisters cheering through the roof of our Jeep Wrangler, a road trip is one of the things to do in Maui with kids

8 AM: Feel the wind in your hair

Drive up north to the Nakalele blowhole where surf and wind create a powerful spectacle. This drive will give you a taste of the curves that you might experience should you plan on seeing some Road to Hana stops on another Maui day trip. The Nakalele blowhole is actually a lava tube that works like a geyser. There’s a reason we recommend you to do this stop first, being the increased chance of seeing rainbows. Keep the kids close at all times. The views are stunning but it can get dangerous on the rocks.

The Nakalele blowhole, a great starting point for your Maui day trip

9 AM: Take a hike

First up on our list of things to di in Maui with kids, is a hike with stunning panoramas. Just a short drive away, you can walk the accessible Kapalua Coastal Trail. There’s a convenient parking lot in Kapalua Bay, next to the Napili Kai beach resort. The trail will lead you all the way to DT Fleming beach, a distance of just under 2 miles (about 3,5 km) and mostly flat. Plan your hike in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat.

Kapalua Coastal Trail is a great hike and one of the top things to do in Maui with kids, a great start of every Maui day trip

10.30 AM: Beach bum bliss

Time for a break after this intensive start of the day. And why not have a rest right where you started the hike, on Kapalua beach? It’s one of the best beaches in Maui. We especially liked the outer south-side, near the rocks. Take your time to unwind: the next stop is only a 20-minute drive away.

Little girl enjoying Kapalua beach in Maui

11.30 AM: Hug the banyan

In the heart of the historical Lahaina, a magical sight awaits: the largest banyan tree of the United States. The tree, which was planted in 1873, is over 60 feet high (about 18 m), its crown is 225 feet wide (about 70 m). It looks as if it’s more than one tree but the aerial roots actually formed 16 new trunks that act as a support for the ever-growing tree. This leads to the tree not only growing vertically but just as much horizontally. Isn’t it incredible that what you see on this picture is actually just a small part of the banyan tree?

Two little treehuggers in Lahaina Banyan Court Park during a Maui road trip with kids

Take a stroll down the streets of Lahaina, once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Lahaina Historic trail is a self-guided walk along 62 historic Lahaina sites which takes about 1 hour to complete. Just head to the Lahaina Visitor Center in the Old Lahaina Courthouse, right next to the banyan tree, to find out more.

You could have lunch right here in Lahaina but we have a better suggestion. Check out the next stop on our list of things to do in Maui with kids.

1.15 PM: Eat your heart out

Maui Tropical Plantation sits in the lush Waikapu Valley and is a great place to spend an hour or two. Indulge in the freshest treats at the Farms Stand or in restaurant The Mill. Oh, and let’s not forget the delicious ice-cream from The Scoop. 🙂 See, that’s why we prefer this spot for lunch over Lahaina.

It’s a wonderful place to spend some time. The girls loved exploring the grounds and spot flowers and fruits. Pineapple, mango, papaya, macadamia nut, starfruit and avocado are just some of the deliciousness you can find on the plantation (depending on the season).

A pineapple on the Maui Tropical Plantation
Source: Maui Tropical Plantation

There are two options to explore the grounds:

  • Take the Tropical Express Tram Tour takes visitors on a 45-minute tour through the plantation. There’s usually only one stop and that’s where you’ll see a coconut opening demonstration.
  • Download the free app and explore the plantation on a self guided walking tour. Every flower and animal you encounter are explained in the app.

Two little girls exploring Maui Tropical Plantation, one of the top things to do in Maui with kids
Two little girls exploring Maui Tropical Plantation

Have another ice-cream before you go, you’re on vacation, remember? The next stop on our list of things to do in Maui with kids is just a 15 minute drive away.

3 PM: Enjoy the view

If you’re looking for spectacular scenery, then this place should be on your list: ‘Iao valley State Monument. The famous Kuka’emoku or ‘Iao Needle rises 1200 feet from the valley floor or 2250 feet from sea level. The Needle is the result of millennia of of erosion by the streams and waterfalls and is also known as the phallic stone of Kanaloa, the god of the ocean. 🙂 The valley itself is a sacred place.

Two little girls having fun at 'Iao Valley, one of the stops on our Maui road trip with kids
The needle at 'Iao Valley State Park

The scenic viewpoint is within easy reach from the parking lot and has a steep paved pad and 133 steps leading to the observation deck, making it suited for all ages. You’ll first find a small botanical garden with plants brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesians and cultivated here long ago by the Hawaiians. There’s also a small pool below the bridge where local daredevils try to catch your attention. A visit to the ‘Iao Valley State Monument is one of our favorite things to do in Maui with kids because it offers such a dramatic change of scenery.

'Iao Valley views

4.45 PM: Meet the fish

Make your Maui family vacation extra memorable for the kids by teaching them how to snorkel. It’s an experience they’ll never forget. There are plenty of family-friendly snorkeling spots on the island, making Maui an excellent choice for first-time snorkelers. We saw some pretty colorful fish along the rocks in the shallow waters of several bays. To add this stop to your Maui day trip, we recommend picking a spot near your accommodation.

  • If your resort is located near Ka’anapali, then you could check out Black Rock beach and Napili beach.
  • If you’re staying near Waimea, then Coral Gardens might be your best bet to admire Maui’s underwater world.

Snorkeling is one of the things to do in Maui with kids

5.30 PM: Wear something special

If you travel with two little girls, like we do, there’s no escape: lei-making will be one of your things to do in Maui with kids. Most resorts offer the possibility to participate in a lei-making class, sometimes for a small fee. Since the oil on the skin affects the flowers, a fresh flower lei is only good for one-time use. Keep it in the fridge during the day and wear it with pride at night.

Girl making a fresh flower lei, one of the things to do in Maui with kids

6.30 PM: Watch the sunset

When do we ever take the time to watch the sun go down? That’s right, only when on vacation! No better place to enjoy a sunset than this tropical Valley Isle.

Two girls relaxing in a hammock during sunset, the perfect ending of a Maui day trip

7 PM: Dance the night away

Attending a Maui luau is one of the most memorable things to do in Maui with kids. The tropical setting, the exotic music and the exquisite food all contribute to the magical atmosphere. The Wailele Polynesian Lu’au in the Westin Maui is one of the most celebrated ones on the island. What a great experience to share as a family and the perfect ending for your Maui day trip.

One of the most memorable things to do in Maui with kids is attending a Maui luau, dancers on stage against a nightly sky

Map of West-Maui’s North shore day trip

For your convenience, we’ve created this map with all mentioned things to do with kids on West-Maui’s North Shore. Feel free to use this map and build on it when you’re planning your family trip.

Looking for more things to do in Maui with kids?

These are some of the family adventures we enjoyed the most. Of course there’s plenty more on Maui to explore. Just have a look at following options:

Where to stay in Maui with kids?

Most Maui family resorts are located in West Maui and South Maui. We’ve dedicated an entire article on the best places to stay in Maui to help you pick your favorite resort. We opted for the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, mainly because of the swimming pool with slides.

What are your favorite Maui family activities?

Have you been to the Valley Isle before? Then tell us all about your top things to do in Maui with kids or your favorite Maui day trip. Please do! We always love having plenty of reasons to return to our favorite destinations.

Pinning one of these images would be much appreciated!

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    1. Sarah

      The variety of landscapes will keep kids interested all day long. The luau was indeed spectacular and comes highly recommended. Hope you get the chance to attend one soon! Thanks for passing by, Arnold!

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