Like the other principal Hawaiian Islands, Maui has plenty of sand beaches, great snorkeling areas and surfing opportunities. For the beginning surfer, a great place to learn is the Maui Surf Clinic in Lahaina. Welcoming novice surfers of all ages, Maui Surf Clinic teaches the basics of surfing as well as etiquette and ocean awareness. Typically, first-time surfers are on their feet riding waves by the end of their two-hour lesson. Maui is home to many great golf courses. Kapalua Resort hosts the annual Mercedes-Benz Championship on the PGA Tour.
The historic waterfront town of Lahaina is a great base for exploring Maui. Located just south of Maui’s most famous beach resorts, Lahaina itself retains a decidedly small town look. Packed with shops, restaurants and art galleries... Front Street is Lahaina’s center of activity. The buildings are typically no more than two stories and some are over a century old.
Before annexation by the United States, Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The town was also once the center of the whaling industry. During the winter months, whale sightings remain common near the town. Today, countless tourist boats and pleasure boats are anchored there, offering many opportunities for visitors to enjoy the ocean. You may hop aboard the Reefdancer, an odd-looking yellow glass bottomed boat. The Reefdancer will take riders out to the coral reef to view the sea life without the bother of snorkeling equipment. You may ride aboard America II, a racing yacht that once contended for America’s Cup. Many sunset dinner cruises, snorkeling excursions and whale watching excursions depart from the Lahaina waterfront.
Just a few miles down the road from Lahaina is one of Maui’s premier family attractions, the acclaimed Maui Ocean Center. This clean, beautifully-landscaped state-of the art facility features an abundance of sea creatures as well as fascinating presentations. The aquarium displays species from around the world, BUT the aquarium’s primary focus in on native Hawaiian creatures. Centrally located at the confluence of Maui’s major roadways, Maui Ocean Center is easily accessible from anywhere on Maui. Maui Golf and Sports Park is located right next door to the Maui Ocean Center. Here families can play miniature golf, ride the bumper boats or try their hand at rock climbing or the extreme trampoline in the midst of palm trees, colorful vegetation and artificial waterfalls. Maui Golf and Sports is an enjoyable family stop before or after the Maui Ocean Center.
Maui has many luau choices. The Maui Sunset Luau at the Makena’s Maui Prince Hotel is a good one. The landscaping and location at the Maui Prince Hotel allows for exceptionally beautiful sunsets. The luau maintains the Hawaiian tradition of the imu as well as traditionally Hawaiian food like kalua pig, lomilomi salmon, and poi. They offer a variety of traditional American choices for children and less-adventurous visitors. The Maui Sunset Luau is ideal for families. Before the meal, they provide activities for kids and parents to enjoy together including lawn games and Hawaiian fashion demonstrations. The show is terrific, featuring singing, hula dancing and the ever-popular fire dancing. This seaside luau does not have a covered stage and the grounds are very large, presenting a sensation of openness.
For an unusual and unique evening out with the kids... The Kupanaha Magic Show Dinner fits the bill. Located in the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel just north of Lahaina, the evening begins with Hawaiian song and dance and tableside magic, followed by a gourmet meal delivered to your table. Then the show begins. World-class illusionists Jody and Kathleen Baren present a series of mystifying illusions... and present them very well. You’ll see old standards like levitation complete with the hoop to prove there are no strings... Jody saws his wife in half, then magically puts her together. He even borrowed a guest’s watch... made it disappear, only to re-appear inside an unopened can of pork-and-beans that was inside a locked box that had been suspended from the ceiling from the beginning of the show. The Kupanaha Magic Show at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel is entirely family-friendly. In fact, at one point, Jody brings all of the children onstage to involve them in the program. The dimly lit dining room has blacklights and colorful decoration reminiscent of the 60s and 70s. The food is great and the magic show is something that you and your kids will remember for years.
With the exception of the Road to Hana, it is easy to drive around Maui and parking is seldom an issue. Maui is filled with activities that families can enjoy together. - Mike Bechtol 2008