Fun Family Activity Ideas on Maui

Published on July 2, 2024


As you plan your long awaited and well-deserved family trip to Maui, it’s likely you have pictured yourself playing for hours on end on a pristine beach with your kids happily jumping in the ocean or building sandcastles. You could probably almost feel that warm glisten of the Hawaiian sun bouncing off the Pacific. There can never be enough beach days, but once you arrive on Maui you may feel the call of the other countless adventures offered around the island. Browse through our list of family friendly activities you can try (other than spending the day at the beach) when vacationing on Maui.

Visit the Maui Tropical Plantation

This sprawling property at the base of West Maui Mountains has been a special place to visit for visitors and locals alike for decades. In recent years, The Maui Tropical Plantation has undergone a renovation to bring this historic spot into a more modern aesthetic. A guided tram tour through the lush grounds will help you gain a great sense of agricultural history in regard to tropical fruits, flowers, and local coffees. A collection of local artisans and crafters have shops on property that can be a great place to score a unique souvenir. All in all, the Tropical Plantation has a little something for young and old and is an excellent place to spend a few hours with your family.

Those with a wild streak can sign up for a zipline adventure across the grounds. The little ones will enjoy hand feeding a plentiful pack of hungry and lively ducks in a pond that sits directly below one of the zipline runs. The on-property restaurant serves up tasty local cuisine with views out over the tropical grounds.

Explore I'ao Valley

Just up the road from Maui Tropical Plantation is a community park rich with Native Hawaiian history. Adjacent to historical Wailuku town, you will find a road that winds deep into the lush green of this the iconic valley. You may notice a fresh coolness in the air, and a sense of ease on this short drive. A very small number of private residences make up this tight community. You may notice some roadside fruit stands along the drive with selections picked off the tree that morning.

I’ao Valley boasts two state parks, the first you will encounter is Kepaniwai Park, with heritage gardens. Here you and your family can freely meander through the parks many tributes to the diverse ethnic makeup of Maui; Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Korean and more. Pack a picnic lunch to eat at one of the many pavilions that sit on the banks of a meandering stream.

The second park just up the road is I’ao Valley State Park and the iconic I’ao Needle. This small park is located in the heart of lush and deep mountain walls. Once parked, explore the numerous paved trails, read signs about local history and culture, walk through tarot patches and dip your toes in Iao River. Here, you will learn about 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai in which King Kamehameha I defeated Maui’s army in a significant moment for Hawaii’s history. The paved walking paths are perfect for families with kids of all ages and restrooms are available here as well. While the fresh water river is much colder than the Maui ocean, you will often find many locals and visitors splashing in pooled off areas to cool off. Be careful during rainy conditions as this region is know for flash floods after heavy rains.

Plan a Shave Ice Safari

You may know it as a "snow cone", but in the state of Hawaii we call shave ice. No matter what you call it, this is the perfect island treat that makes any child’s eyes light up. No matter where you go on the Maui, a shave ice stand is not hard to find. These days, shave ice is above and beyond a rainbow of flavored syrup. These cold desserts now come with an array of ingredient options such as organic syrups, fresh coconut, ling hing mui, ice cream, and more. Plan to try a different shave ice option each day of your vacation.

Ululani's Shave Ice is usually the fan favorite option but other local options to try include Peace Love Shave Ice, Surfing Monkey, Da Kine Hawaiian Shave Ice, and Bling Bing (located in South Maui Gardens).

Jump for Joy at Ultimate Air Maui

Rainy days happen. Even in paradise. When you and your kids find yourself looking out on a rainy Maui scene, know that fun and adventure can still be had. Located in central Maui, a relatively new trampoline park featuring foam pits, basketball hoops and a dodgeball arena is always teaming with children. A few nights a week turn into a glow theme. Your kids won't want to leave!

Maui Animal Farm

The Maui Animal Farm petting zoo is located on the west side of Maui and is the perfect stop for the animal lover. Their featured animals include miniature horses, donkeys, ram and sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and tortoises. The hours for this interactive farm are somewhat limited to morning hours before the hot Lahaina sun kicks in, so be sure to check their website to book a reservation.

If the kids want to interact with animals, another fun option might be Surfing Goat Dairy located in Kula. Book a tour and experience how a functioning goat dairy farm operates and interact with a family of friendly goats. You may even get the opportunity to milk a goat!

Maui Ocean Center

No matter your age, a visit to one of the world's top 10 aquariums is always a treat. Impressively large tanks are full of colorful reef fish and large labyrinths of coral. Walk through an underwater tunnel where sharks, rays, tuna, and other large fish swim all around you. An interactive touch tidepool allows children to hold sea cucumbers, starfish, urchins and other small ocean creatures.