I’ve just received emails from two friends who have used the recommendations below, and have some additions and edits. I’ve edited this blog post accordingly. As always, please add any of your faves in the comments section so we can try them out too!
So now the contributors to this post are Narda, Debbie, Tracy and Steve, Tracy and Sean, Kevin and Jolene… and us.
Before / as soon as you arrive:
– If you are heading to Maui at a peak time – Christmas, spring break, summer… make dinner reservations in advance. I’m always amazed at how hard it can be to get tables at some of these restaurants, particularly if you’re looking for sunset views. At sunset.
– Costco – if you’re staying in a condo hotel with a kitchen and barbeques, do what everyone does… stop at Costco in Kapalua right after your plane lands. You’re sure to see half the people that were on your flight there. And hear Canadians screeching about the low prices of booze. If you’re really thinking ahead, you might also want to grab some fold-up chairs here to take with you to the beach, if you’re not at a full-service hotel.
– For some reason, the babysitting services in Maui always have great, professional sitters, who make even the most cautious parents feel at ease. They are typically around $18 an hour, in our experience, but worth it. We like Happy Kids – 1-808-667-5437 – probably wise to call in advance and block a few times. We had Lisa, and loved her, but I really think they’re all good. Also great is the Nanny Connection – http://thenannyconnection.com – we’ve used them and loved them, and you can even book online.
Things To Do:
– Ziplining – https://www.mauizipline.com/ – this is the most family-friendly zipline company; they take kids as young as 5 years old as long as they are at least 50 lbs
– Surf Lessons – Tracy and Steve like http://www.mauiwaveriders.com/ in Lahaina. Tracy says “these guys will bring your surf boards to the beach…a lot of companies make you carry your own!”. Our friends Jolene and Kevin like Goofy Foot, also in Lahaina, I think – Jo says this guy’s great with kids. Not sure exactly where they’re located though. Jo?
– Aquarium – http://www.mauioceancenter.com/ – great on a rainy day. If you’re an ‘elite’ member of your rental car company, they’ll often give you free tickets. You might want to try Leoda’s for lunch when you’re there – see dining recommendations below.
– Day trip to Paia – cute, quaint town with cool shopping. One of Tracy B.’s favorite shops is Alice In Hulaland. Go to Flatbread Company (http://www.flatbreadcompany.com) for lunch and/or Mama’s Fish House (see below) for dinner.
– Rent a Harley – this is NOT my suggestion, but if you’re feeling adventurous like Tracy and Steve, get a sitter and check out http://www.yelp.com/biz/maui-harley-davidson-rentals-lahaina
– Wandering around Lahaina is one of my favorite things. Make sure you get Shave Ice at Ululani’s on Front Street (although Debbie says she preferred Breakwall, near the Banyan Tree). If you’re looking for Tom’s shoes, they have about a million at the ice cream shop next to Cheeseburger in Paradise. There’s an art market under the Banyan Tree on Saturdays. Debbie also recommends Ono on Front Street for gelato. See dining recommendations below.
– Shopping at Whalers Village – lots of great shopping here. Tommy Bahamas, Croc store, Volcom, and lots of boutiques (Tracy B keeps Maggie Colombe in business on her own; I prefer slightly lower end Cinnamon Girl). Plan to grab lunch at the Hula Grill (see below)… and don’t be surprised if you end up there ’til dinner.
– Road to Hana? – I vote no. I think Tracy B. does too. This road is LONG and if you have kids they will hate it. If you really want to do it, I’d suggest finding a tour company that can take you home. If you’re like me, you won’t want to drive back. The helicopter will take you above Heleakala, and the drive will take you through Paia. Blue Hawaiian Helicopers are great – http://www.bluehawaiian.com/maui – and they also have tours that have a bus drive one way.
– Magic Show – if you’re staying in or close to Kaanapali, we enjoyed Kupanaha (http://www.kupanaha.com) – it’s a cheesy dinner show, and they involve the kids a lot.
– Luau – Debbie recommends the Old Lahaina Luau, and says it was very authentic and told the history of Hawaii. She says to book ahead, and get seats on the ground. Interesting that her kids were a bit disappointed that there were no fire dancers or flame throwers. If fire is what you’re looking for, we’ve done the Kaanapali Beach Luau, as well as the luau at the Westin Hotel near Whaler’s Village. Both were good and family friendly, and both had flame throwers. The Westin was quite a bit more ‘sterile’ and touristy, but both were good.
– Whale Watching – Both Narda and Debbie highly recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation. Proceeds go to the Foundation’s research, and tours use ‘real’ marine biologies. They also do snorkling/dolphin watching trips to Molokini, but they are 5 hours. Narda put her kids into a camp for only $65 for the day! She says, “the kids had a 3 hour surf lesson and then lunch, and then spend the afternoon learned about Beluga whales. They loved it.(Located by the Maui Ocean Aquarium)”. Sounds cool.
– Sport Fishing- Lucky Strike Charters (Narda’s recommendation – sounds like they got a lot of fish!)
So many restaurants, so little time! This is the best thing about Maui. Here are our faves:
– Dukes in front of Honua Kai – casual but good food, nice view. Very kid friendly. Owned by the same people as Hula Grill.
– David Paul’s in Lahaina – really good food, pricey. Kids are welcome but you might prefer to go without.
– Humahumanukanukaapua at Grand Wailea Resort – if you want to do a day trip to Wailea, it’s fun and picturesque. Park at the beach access lot to the west of the Grand Wailea Resort (right past the resort, when the resort is on your right). Show up a bit early, walk next door (to the right, or east) to the Grand Wailea Resort. Walk around a bit a see this amazing resort – Wedding Pavilion, in-cave swim up bar with TV, water elevator, etc. Pretty cool. This restaurant has a great view, and this is where they ‘catch’ your lobster and cook it for you. Fun.
– We really loved Merriman’s. Make sure you’re there at sunset. The food is great, and the view is almost not to be believed. You won’t want to take the kids. Book in advance – this is a busy place.
– Mamas Fish House in Paia is one of those “Must Dos”…. it gets great reviews every time. Beautiful location, and it is kid friendly, although you’d have lots of fun there without kids too.
– Sean D. recommends Nick’s Fish Market in the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. Says it has awesome service and great wine. Book in advance.
– One of Sean’s favorites is Joe’s Bar and Grill in the Wailea Tennis Club for sunset views – need to book ahead and ask specifically for a seat to view the sunset. A lot of locals go there – casual but great food and ambiance. http://bevgannonrestaurants.com/joes
– We always like Roy’s in Hawaii, but on our last trip we didn’t like the new location in Kaanapali. It’s on a golf course now and really feels like a clubhouse. But the food there is always good, so might be worth a try.
– Kevin and Jo introduced us to the Pineapple Grill in Kapalua. I think they have deals on bottles on wine on Wednesdays?? Ask anyway. Food was good, and it’s kid friendly – http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/menu-restaurants/the-pineapple
– Hula Grill – Bob and I call this place “home” when we’re in Maui. We can – and do- spend all day on the barefoot grill here. Feet in the sand, girls choosing from the kids’ menu (and using their markers and coloring sheets), eating coconut calimari, drinking Liliquoi Mojitos… why have we been going anywhere else?
– For casual, quicker bites, Bubba Gump’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise are always easy; both in Lahaina. For fantastic pizza, go to Lahaina Pizza on Front Street.
– For breakfast, Tracy B recommends The Gazebo in Napili… says they have pancakes the size of your head!
– Although I’ve never been there, an acquaintance I trust highly recommended the Plate Lunches, pie and sandwiches at Leodas, near the acquarium. http://leodasmaui.com
– In Kehei, Narda recommends Coconuts in Azeka’s mall (NE side)- says they have the Best Fish Taco’s in North America!
– Also in Kehei, Debbie recommends Fred’s for Mexican food – just like she used to get in San Diego!
– In Lahaina, Debbie highly recommends Cool Cat Cafe on Front Street for yummy burgers and shakes.
Please comment with your recommendations!