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Maui Family Vacation Ideas - Catch a Wave, Walk the Rim, or Bike Down Haleakala. Surf Lessons for Kids on MauiWatch whales from the beach; ride down mountain slopes; snorkel over a volcano; surf the wind; ride a sugar train, the fun is waiting. The island offers miles and miles of  pristine uncrowded beaches, marvelous surf and dependable sea breezes. Do nothing and experience the warm embrace of the island or do everything  and rest when you return home. Maui has the good stuff for families.

Catch a wave. Scan the waves, feel the energy, catch a wave. Surfing is popular with all ages and Maui offer the perfect surf for every skill level. For islanders it is the ancient sport of kings, for visitors it is a high energy adventure a.k.a. a blast. On the list to try “The Slaughterhouse,” at Ho'okipa Beach and “Sand Box” – the name is deceiving. For beginners, sign up for surfing lessons at your resort. Bonus Points: Maui Surfer Girls offers a surf adventure for families - a wonderful blend of personalized surf instruction, aloha spirit and Maui adventure. The day begins at 9 a.m. at Maui’s premier long boarding break, “1000 Peaks,” with a two-hour surf lesson. For families interested in capturing all the live-action of their surfing adventure, Maui Surfer Girls has a professional sports photographer on call. (Maui Surfer Girls. P.O. Box 1158 Puunene, HI 96784808 280-8165. Toll-free 1-866 MSG-2002, (808) 250-2019 or
Go to the rim. Haleakala means “House of the Sun” in the Hawaiian language. The description fits the regal mountain cresting at 10,000-plus feet. Haleakala National Park tempts visitors to arrive before dawn to witness the sunrise. If you are with teens willing to pull an all-nighter, the sunrise junket is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Do it. But if you are with small children, sleep in. The crest is cool, almost cold before the sunrise. Even later in the day be sure to take jackets or sweatshirts. Start at The Visitors' Center and do the Junior Rangers stuff. The activities required for a badge will take about two hours and provide an often need focus for children ages 5 to12. (Haleakala National Park. P.O. Box 369 Makawao, Maui, HI 96768. Visitor information (808) 572- 4400 or  If your family is planning a trip to the park find out more about it before you arrive at Haleakala Keiki

Bike down Haleakala. Fast, fun and energizing the descent from the rim is exhilarating, for teens just plain cool. The half-day adventure begins with a van ride up to the top. The bike ride down usually includes a stop for lunch. 
Biking Down Haleakala
No matter what time of day the views include distant glimpses of Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokini, Maui’s Central Valley and the Pacific Ocean  The downhill glide weaves around 29 hairpin turns and offers adventuresome spirits hours of fun.  Obviously it is ideal for active parents and children 12 years of age or older who are able to follow directions. This is not a mountain biking route, the road down is the same road used by tourists so there is traffic. Maui Downhill offers sunrise, mid day and sunset. (Maui Downhill.  199 Dairy Road, Kahului, 96732. 24-hour toll free reservation 1-800-535-BIKE, (808) 871-2155 or

Catch the wind.
It’s never too early or too late to learn to ride the waves. Ho'okipa Beach is the windsurfer's mecca, and the charming town of Pa`ia is its "cool" capital.  The perfect waves and brisk onshore breezes are ideal for the fleets of neon-bright sails streaking across the waves.  Spectators can watch from a convenient hillside lookout.  Rentals and instruction are available in Paia and other locations around the island.  Once a plantation town, Paia now has gotten hip. It now has boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and some very good restaurants, in addition to its windsurfing shops. For novice windsurfers (usually not local teens) the place to start is “Dig Me Beach” in Kaanapali -- a natural teen gathering place. The skilled windsurfers may be found at Mokuleia Beach, dubbed by locals as "The Slaughterhouse."

Swim little fishy, swim if you can. The Maui Ocean Center is a marine park and  aquarium dedicated to indigenous Hawaiian marine life. Visitors are able to pass along an acrylic tunnel through the park's 750,000-gallon tank. The 240 degree view from inside out provides visitors the chance to observe almost nearly 2,000 sea creatures, native to the waters surrounding the islands. The resident marine life is fed according to their needs. There are no shows, instead throughout the day trained Ocean Naturalists share their knowledge through presentations at the Living Reef, Turtle Lagoon, Hammerhead Harbor, Discovery Pool, and the Open Ocean. Bonus Points: The Maui Ocean Center offers several marine scavenger hunts to help kids explore the center and interact with its underwater inhabitants, as well as downloadable activities and coloring pages for budding marie biologists. (Maui Ocean Center. 192 Ma’alaea Rd.Wailuku, HI 96793. (808) 270-7000 or

Dive but stay dry. Atlantis Submarines offer daily diving excursions off the island Maui. Everyone has a front row seat on the surreal voyage.  See schools of tropical fish, green sea turtles, sea fans and giant coral. This is the perfect outing for three generations. Atlantis Submarine also offers combo packages, allowing families to add snorkeling or ziplining to their day of adventure and marine exploration. Bonus Points: Audio headset narrations are presented in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. (Atlantis Submarines. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii USA. Toll-free 1- 888-349-7888, local/international (808) 356-1800 or

Ride with a paniolo? Maui Family Beach TimeOff the road and along the slopes of Haleakala it is possible to ride Hawaiian style with a paniolo, a Hawaiian cowboy, as guide. The up-country area includes tropical cane fields, flowers and hundreds of shades of green. At an elevation of 4,000-plus feet about midpoint to the rim, the horseback adventures offer cool views along pastoral routes sometimes blanketed by mist. Routes depend on the outfitter. Bonus Points: Several companies offer horseback trips into Haleakala's crater, along moonscape pathways. (Pony Express. Post Office Box 535, Kula, Maui, 1(808) 667-2200 or Thompson Ranch. Thompson Road, Keokea, Maui, (808) 878-1910 or

Ride the “Sugar Train.” The Lahaina-Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad provides one-of-a-kind rail journeys on a replica of the 1890 Hawaiian railroad. Along the way a singing conductor entertains passengers and provides information, local lore and history points about Maui's west shore. (Lahaina-Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad (a.k.a. “The Sugar Cane Train”). 975 Limahana Pl. Suite #203 Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761. Toll-free 1-800-499-2307, (808) 667-6851 or
Snorkeling is top notch. Everyone has their favorite spot and always on the short list Honolua Bay, a Marine Life Conservation District, and Kapalua Bay. Better yet: about an hour's launch from Maalaea Harbor is Molikini, a half-submerged volcanic crater. A masked swim over the crater will awe even seasoned divers. The variety, numbers and size of the fish cannot be imagined. Don’t go without a fish card.
For more information on traveling to Maui check out 

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files from a family trip and from information provided by Maui Visitors’ Bureau. Images supplied by Maui Visitors’ bureau. Copyright 2014.
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