Maui for Beginners

By Lisa Gofberg March 10, 2015
The island of Maui is one of those places where no matter where you stay or what you do, it is pretty much a guaranteed good time. That being said, if you have never visited Maui before, you might be wondering where to start with questions like where should we stay? What is the best time of year to visit? Will my kids enjoy it? We’re here to fill you in on all you need to know about Maui to make it a trip you and your family will never forget!

A great spot for families in the Lahaina/Ka'anapali Beach area is Kaanapali Alii Resort, a luxury apartment-style hotel that boasts fours times more space than the average hotel room. That can come in handy after a long day at the beach! And, as someone who has visited Hawaii many times, I can tell you that having more than one room to “live” in during your vacation stay is a nice bonus as not everyone in the family adjusts to the time change as quickly as others. If you feel like splurging, check out the ever-popular Grand Wailea which is located a bit farther south than Ka’anapali Beach but still on the drier, sunnier coast of Maui. The Grand Wailea has every amenity you and your family could want on a true Hawaiian vacation - 9 pools, water slides, ocean sports, a world-renowned spa, amazing dining options plus the resort has just gone through a major renovation.

The eastern side of Maui is the more rainy side but home to many spectacular sites. While there are far fewer accommodation choices, there is plenty of “must-sees” on this side of Maui.

Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson

The road to Hana is famous for its 620 turns along its beautifully breathtaking path. You will see waterfalls, amazing ocean views, rainforests and more that will have you stopping over and over again along the way. A trip to Hana is an all day affair taking approximately 2-4 hours to drive the road to Hana. The town of Hana itself is full of Hawaiian history including Hale Piilani, the state’s largest Hawaiian temple and Waianapanapa State Park, a beautiful black sand beach with great snorkeling. Continue past Hana and visit the eastern-most visitors’ center located in Haleakala National Park where you can hike to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls.

Haleakala National Park is also home to Maui’s tallest mountain peak, Haleakala. Haleakala is an ideal spot to check out a Maui sunrise so plan a day to wake up early and head out to make the most of your day. Once the sun is up, spend the day in Haleakala horseback riding, hiking, biking or driving through to see the best sights of Maui. Don’t forget to have your kids complete the Junior Rangers program at Haleakala - a program put on by the National Parks Service where kids get a chance to explore and learn about the park through age-appropriate activities.

Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson

Maui has some other great activities that will excite the kids and having them learning at the same time (don’t tell them that though!). The Maui Ocean Center, located in Wailuku, houses more than 60 exhibits to entertain the kids with. The Sugar Cane Train, north of the aquarium, has been operating for over thirty years and gives families the opportunity to take a six-mile train ride while listening to a narrative by a local islander.

And, what’s a trip to the Hawaiian isles without a little beach fun? Check out Honolu'a Bay for an ideal snorkeling spot and Cove Park for the perfect surfing spot. Makena Beach, located  on the south side, is one of the best beaches not only in Maui but in the world!

Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson

Finally here’s a couple of pearls about Maui that you should add to your bucket list while on the island.

    - Breakfast at the Gazebo Restaurant: Located poolside at the Napili Shores condos, it takes a little exploring to find this gem. The Gazebo is known for their out-of-this-world pancakes with your choice of macadamia nuts, pineapple, bananas or whatever combination sounds good to you. While the wait for a table can be long, it is definitely worth it!

    - Enjoy a true Hawaiian tradition and visit Ululani’s Shave Ice - hey, shave ice is a part of Hawaiian history and you should definitely learn about the island’s rich history!

    - No first trip to Hawaii is complete without a luau! The Royal Lahaina Luau is the longest running luau on Maui and offers a low price option which is great for your vacation budget. If you are looking for something a little different, make reservations for the Ulalena, an indoor luau with a modern flair.

    - Whale Watching is ideal from mid-winter to early spring when you can choose from a variety of whale watching tour options and see humpback whales playing in the waters. Not a fan of boats? Don’t worry - you can often see whales just standing on the beach. The best spots are on Maui’s western and southern shores.

Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson   
   - Maui is great to visit at different times of year for different reasons: April-May and September-November offer great weather and smaller crowds; winter is ideal for the surfers in your family; and summer is great for kids because the waters are a bit calmer.

Aloha and enjoy!