Learning to do the Hula at the Old Lahaina Luau with the kids

Maui is well-known for its beautiful climate, sandy beaches and warm water. But as any parent will admit, visiting with children means planning in advance, and being prepared to do more than just lie around in the sand.

The good news is that Maui has several new and unique places to visit that will make it memorable for both parents and children alike.

Restaurants

One of the best new child-friendly restaurants on the island this year is Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. This fun and funky restaurant boasts some of the most creative and delectable comfort food I’ve ever come across.

It’s located along the Honoapi’ilani Highway, and easily accessible for a quick bite or stop off with the kids.

Our lunch included hot dogs with pineapple, ahi tuna sandwiches, and deep fried macaroni bites with a secret dipping sauce (which brought the kids back twice during our stay). My favourite was the deep fried brussels sprout leaves with vinaigrette (even the kids loved it!). Hint: Do not leave without trying one of their incredible home-made pies (they come bite-sized too).

Moderately priced, your kids and your wallet will thank you.

MonkeyPod Kitchen was a great find for us in the heart of Wailea (on Wailea Gateway Place), as it offers a diverse menu for children and a relaxing atmosphere for adults. If you’re up for an early dinner (or late lunch) the best time to go is between 2:30 and 5:30 because appetizers are half price.

My children loved the pizzas, which they were able to watch being made in the wood burning oven, while my husband enjoyed making a selection from the 36 craft brews on tap. I couldn’t get enough of their truffle oil parmesan cheese fries and calamari. We opted to sit outside for dinner, and were able to watch one of Maui’s famous sunsets from the deck.

Activities

My daughter & son (with friends) horseback riding on the Haleakala Crater

If you want to have a truly memorable experience with your children, then the Piiholo Ranch is the best place to visit. Located on the Haleakala Crater, the ranch provides horse back riding with the gorgeous back drop of Maui and its crystal blue Pacific ocean 2,000 feet below.

The horses are unbelievably patient and gentle with novice riders (Note: The ranch is one of the very few that caters to children under the age of 10).

Our guide, nicknamed “Frenchy”, was both knowledgeable and entertaining. We were joined by another family which allowed the children to engage in fun banter along the ride. A wild boar was seen, as was a stampede of cattle (behind the safety of gates).

The ride was spectacular from the high vantage point, and made for a great afternoon experience. The horse rides can be tailor-fit to accommodate any budget and duration (recommended time is one hour). And if your children are a bit older and up for more adventure, the ranch also offers zip lining and canopy tours.

Feeding the goats at Surfing Goat Dairy

For a truly unique experience, the Surfing Goat Dairy is a must-see. It’s located at the bottom of the Haleakala Crater. Although it’s been around for over nine years, it’s a place that may not be on the typical tourist’s radar.

As a real working goat dairy farm, visitors can choose from a variety of different tours ranging in price from $10 for a casual tour, to $25 for a grand dairy tour.We opted for the “Evening Chores and Milking Tour“, which allowed our children to get up close and personal with the goats. They were able to learn about what goats eat by hand feeding them sweet hay and even tried their hand at milking them (which they loved).We were able to try a selection of goat-milk cheeses which are sold at the farm and took home some delicious goat-milk chocolates and hand-made goat-milk soap for souvenirs.

Resorts

Gorgeous view from our room at Napili Kai

The Napili Kai Resort, located in Napili, has undergone some tremendous upgrades. The condo-style lodging allows families all the comforts of home including a kitchenette and dining area. Set along the Napili Bay, guests can engage in some of the complimentary activities such as Mai Tai parties, hula lessons, lei-making and horticultural tours. The resort also features a free mini-golf green, which will keep kids occupied for hours.

They also provide a kids eat-free program, which is always good news for parents.

The snorkeling in this area is spectacular and the children had an amazing time swimming alongside some large, resident sea turtles and brightly coloured fish. Snorkel masks and gear are free if available, or can be rented up the road at Snorkel Bob’s for the week.

The resort also hosts a weekly evening slack-key concert with various music legends that play the well-known music of the islands.

Makena Beach Resort’s Atrium


Makena Beach and Golf Resort
makes you feel welcome right from the start, with welcome lei in the lobby, and sand pails in the room for kids. The resort is conveniently located in Wailea, on Maui’s south side.

The atrium of the hotel is completely outdoors, containing an elaborate koi pond in the middle. During the winter season whales can be seen breaching; which the kids enjoyed watching from the comfort of their room each morning.

The hotel provides many programs and activities for families including complimentary bicycles, evening star-gazing with a guide (including s’mores around a fire), and snorkel lessons.

The hotel also offers packages such as movie night which consists of chocolate bars, gummies, popcorn and drinks, with an in-room movie. It’s a perfect end for a family who is looking to unwind from a full-day of activities.

Special Note: The Sunday brunch in the Molokini Bar and Grille in the Resort is not to be missed, as it was voted best buffet on the island for a reason. Trust me when I say it’s a dining experience that will be enjoyed and lovingly remembered by every member of the family — even the picky ones. 😉

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