Parents’ Travel Guide: What to Do in Maui
Enjoy festive luaus, scenic drives and delicious food finds as you explore Maui with the whole family.
With near-perfect weather throughout the entire year, pristine beaches, districts packed with art galleries and boutiques and so much more, there’s something for everyone in Maui. With so much to do in one destination, the best part for families is the assistance from Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Whether you’re looking for a good dose of history or haute cuisine and kitschy food trucks, the Resort knows just how to create bespoke travel experiences for your time together.
You’ll be surprised by the spacious feel of Maui. The district of Wailea is made up of beautiful homes, scenic golf courses and incredible crescent-shaped beaches that make for the perfect vacation spot. Between the high-end retail of The Shops at Wailea and nearby surfing beaches, you’ll find something to entertain everyone in the family.
- Scenic drives. Driving through Maui allows you to take in historic towns, waterfalls and pristine beaches. Even the most remote corner is only 53 miles away.
- Activities for everyone. The Resort’s amenities make it possible to create custom experiences so families can enjoy time together and separately. You can enjoy a couple’s massage in a thatch-roofed hale while your kids go on gecko hunts, make leis and learn Hawaiian bowling.
- Family-friendly accommodations. Down to offering Pack ‘n Plays in poolside cabanas so families with infants can enjoy the pool, the Resort ensures you can pack light. Also available are car seats for transfers, baby monitors, singing baby swings, bathroom step stools and pop-up tents. Staff will even baby proof the balcony for you. Room service includes kids’ meals, and kids aged five and under eat free at DUO Steak and Seafood and Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante.
- The quintessential luau. One of the best luaus is nearby in Lahaina. Though most are buffets with the requisite Kalua pig, poi, lomi salmon and haupia (coconut custard), Feast at Lele elevates the experience with gourmet courses that correspond with storytelling and dancing from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa.
- The Resort pools. Two family-friendly swimming pools for excited kids, surrounded by shaded cabanas, are just steps away from the beach. In addition, attendants pass out goodies such as fruit pops throughout the day, and towel huts are stocked with plenty of sunscreen.
What the kids will love
- Shell leis. The kids will love this souvenir to remember their trip to Maui.
- Howie Goes to Maui. The Resort has commissioned its own online comic book, Howie Goes to Maui, written by Danny Zuker, executive producer of the TV comedy Modern Family. A fun story written from the point of view of young Howie, the comic explains features of the Resort and gives tips for stress-free family travel.
- Endless games. A lower lobby games room has ping-pong, pool, video games, iPods and Kindles on loan, a big-screen television and board games. Just ask, and the Resort will set up a beach volleyball net for your big game. Tennis courts, a putting green and daily fitness classes are also available.
- The Waterfall Pool. Little kids will love the mini-slide just long enough for a tiny tot to get a thrill, and a separate shallow pool for toddlers.
- Opportunities for adventure. Horseback riding, helicopters, eco tours, zip-lining through the jungle and tours of incredible Haleakala volcano, to name a few. Ask the Concierge for more details.
What you will love
- A custom itinerary. Let the Concierge know what you want from your vacation, from date nights to quality family time, and the Resort will create an entire vacation around your preferences.
- An oceanside couples’ massage. Visit the Spa for a break from the chaos, where you can enjoy a rhythmic and fragrant lomi lomi Hawaiian massage with the sound of waves in the background.
- Romantic strolls. There are few vistas that can surpass this beach walk, with the island of Kaho’olawe and the Molokini Atoll in the distance. If you visit during the wintertime, you’re sure to see humpback whales playing offshore.
- Underwater adventures. The Resort will provide complimentary snorkelling gear for you to enjoy the coral-free waters surrounding the area. You can also go scuba diving—for beginners, complimentary introductory lessons are available in the pool in the morning and afternoon. Maui Undersea Adventures also offers opportunities for lessons.
- Serenity pool. You’d hardly know this tranquil pool is on property, separated as it is from the action by a set of stairs. Book yourself into one of the Missoni home-decorated cabanas, as perks include a bottle of Champagne, oversized lounge chairs and a flat-screen HD television.
- Stylish shopping. Visit the Resort’s 22 Knots for carefully curated pieces from Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and Missoni that line the shelves. Also, every day from 8 am to 1:30 pm, local artisans display— and sell—their paintings, sculpture and jewelry in the open-air lobby.
Traditional outrigger canoes. The Resort’s champion paddling team takes guests out four times daily around the reefs of Wailea Bay, which makes for a simultaneous history lesson and workout.
Breakfast is a major event at DUO Steak and Seafood, which has one of the best buffets we’ve ever seen. It stretches from bread and pastry stations to chefs making Belgian waffles, omelettes and anything else you can think of. Don’t miss the daily smoothies, served in beakers to every table.
The restaurant completely transforms at night. Steak and seafood are elevated by careful preparation of beautiful local ingredients from the fertile Maui soil. Try the simple-but-elegant Haiku tomatoes three ways, with saffron, parsley and tomato aioli, and pickled Maui onions. The restaurant caters to kids, too—extra points for the server who asked my permission before bringing my daughter the complimentary post-dinner cotton candy.
Have at least one night alone at Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante, and ask for a table overlooking the ocean. Simple Italian preparations tapping local ingredients are superlative—neon-red and orange local tomatoes came with a silky burrata, and the chicken involtini, with goat cheese, basil and tomato confit over creamy polenta made for an unforgettable meal.
Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant at the Resort is a fun combination of the Asian-inspired Spago you know from his flagship restaurant and Hawaiian dishes. A delicious choice, with a nod to retro Hawaiian cuisine, is the grilled Mahi Mahi with pineapple, ginger barbecue and sweet Maui onions.
Roadside dining is a fun choice all throughout the island. Kids will love the shrimp trucks, like Geste Shrimp in Kahului, where you can order a dozen shrimp (try Hawaiian scampi or spice pineapple) right from the truck.
Maui Tacos, with several locations in the area, serves the best grilled fish tacos around.
About a 14-mile drive north from Wailea Beach, you’ll find some of Maui’s most authentic eats between Wailuku and Kahului. Stop in at Sam Sato’s, a noodle palace serving saimin, chow fun and other specialties here since 1933.
5 family to-dos:
1. Go for a drive. Motor along the spectacular, curving, 53-mile Road to Hana, looking for its waterfalls, hiking spots and vistas. Stop at the Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach at mile marker 32. Kids will love Coconut Glen’s, a little outdoor shack that serves incredible ice cream made with coconut milk and served in coconut bowls, complete with coconut spoons.
Young historians will be entranced by the hard-to-find entrance to the resting place of aviator Charles Lindbergh on a windswept cliff overlooking the ocean, with a little chapel that is occassionally open for visitors.
2. Milk goats. Surfing Goat Dairy, on the slopes of Haleakala Crater in lower Kula, gives tours of its goat farm and gives you the opportunity to milk a goat. Be sure to order one of the amazing goat cheese truffles at the dairy before you leave.
3. Explore Lahaina. Stroll down lively Front Street in Lahaina, a historic 19th century whaling town, that’s now teeming with art galleries, restaurants and eclectic shops. History buffs will love the U.S. Seamen’s Hospital, Lahaina Prison, the Pioneer Inn and the Lahaina Historic Trail. Banyan Tree Park is filled with amazing and huge trees, dating back to the 1870s when they were imported from India.
4. Celebrate the culture. Music festivals, Japanese culture shows and pop fashion are on tap at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, which always has something going on within its two indoor theaters, outdoor amphitheater and art gallery.
5. Have a beach day. Every night at sunset on Kaanapali Beach in western Maui, a cliff diver lights torches along the beach’s northernmost cliffs and dives off Black Rock, a dramatic ceremony that reenacts a feat by revered 18th century King Kahekili.