My Top Maui Travel Tips!
We are back from three blissful weeks in Maui and I miss it already. I can honestly say that Maui is my favourite place to travel. It’s just so full of life, relaxing, colourful, beautiful, and magical. Every time I visit there’s a part of me that feels like I’m “coming home” as I just feel so comfortable there.
While I was away I shared a post on Instagram asking what Maui travel tips I can share and I received lots of comments and messages with suggestions for what many of you want to know about travelling to Maui and specifically with little ones. This was my second trip to Maui with Hemsley in tow and I’ve come back with a ton of tips to share! I’m going to talk about packing, the flight, where to stay when you’re there, and mostly child/baby friendly activities. Whether you are traveling or planning to travel to Maui with little ones or not, I believe these tips should be helpful!
What To Pack…and What To Rent:
When it comes to travelling to Maui with little ones, babies or toddlers, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to packing. If you have small kids you’ll know that it’s easy to feel like a packhorse with all the stuff you/they need. Pack N’ Play, highchair, stroller, car seat, diapers, monitor…etc. What should you really bring and what should you just get while you’re there? Here’s what I suggest:
Clothing: If you are staying in a vacation rental that has laundry machines (I highly, highly, highly recommend this for travel with little ones), then bring a minimal amount of clothing. Trust me, it’s Maui – you don’t need a ton! You’ll spend most of your time on the beach in a bathing suit and running around in shorts and a tank top. I suggest keeping your own clothing to a minimum and same with your little ones. We were away for 3 weeks and for Hemsley I brought a few bathing suits (made with long sleeves and sun protective material), a few tank tops, a few pairs of shorts, a couple dresses, a couple PJ sets, and a pair of leggings and a sweater for the flight. For myself, I packed very similar to this packing list, except instead of jeans (I never wear jeans in Maui, it’s too hot and humid), I brought my favourite Levi’s jean cutoff shorts and a few tank tops. I was able to pack all of my clothing and Hemsley’s into 3 packing cubes and I wore every item I brought, often more than once! Tip: Set aside all of the clothing you plan to pack then remove half of it. You likely won’t miss it and if you really, really need to get a certain article of clothing while you are there, you can buy it!
Pack N’ Play: If you are renting a condo/house check to see if they have a Pack N’ Play or crib available as many vacation rentals have these so you won’t need to bring one. Most hotels also have cribs available upon request. If there isn’t one, consider getting a travel Pack N Play. We use this one from Amazon and it’s really nice and light and easy to travel with. You can also rent Pack N Play’s/Cribs on Maui for around $40/week from Maui Baby Rentals or Maui On The Fly located in Lahaina.
Highchair: Check to see if this is already at your rental or available upon request at a hotel. If not, we use this travel highchair from Amazon and absolutely love it, it’s also the main highchair we use at home. You can also rent a highchair from either of the rental stores I mentioned above. Another option is to use one of these chair harnesses from Amazon which are super lightweight and easy to pack!
Car Seat & Stroller: I recommend bringing your own carseat and checking it at the airport with your baggage. It’s expensive to rent car seats in Maui and it’s nice to have one you feel comfortable using. As for a stroller, we used this awesome lightweight travel stroller from Amazon for Hemsley this time around as we don’t need to put the carseat on the stroller like when she was a baby. On our last trip with Hemsley she was only 10 months old so we brought our own stroller and checked both the stroller and the car seat at the gate before boarding the plane. You can also rent a stroller in Maui from either of the rental stores I mentioned above.
Diapers: Save the room in your suitcase and pack only what you need for the flight in your carry on/diaper bag and then buy them there at Walmart by the airport, you can buy swim diapers there as well.
Baby Monitor: I recommend you bring your own.
Snorkel Gear: I recommend saving the room in your suitcase for other things and purchasing your own snorkel gear in Maui at Costco or Walmart if you plan to go snorkelling a lot on your trip. It’s actually not expensive to buy there, around $30 for a set, and you’ll pay at least $10/day to rent good snorkel gear from Boss Frog’s or Snorkel Bob’s (locations all over Maui). Boss Frog’s does rent other snorkel sets for $1.50 per day but they are what they call “archaic” (think Jacques Cousteau style). Side note: I actually did rent the archaic gear for a few days at the end of our trip because we knew we wouldn’t do too much snorkelling and although somewhat retro, it worked just fine!
Beach Toys/Chairs/Umbrella: These are all rentable from Boss Frog’s or Snorkel Bob’s as well and most vacation rentals have these already, so check first before renting them! You also have the option of buying Tommy Bahama chairs and an umbrella and beach toys from Costco (relatively cheap vs. renting) depending on how long your trip is. If you are staying for 2 weeks or longer and do not have these available at your vacation rental or hotel, I’d recommend buying them from Costco. We used our chairs and umbrella every day at the beach!
Tips For The Flight:
If you are travelling without kids, lucky you, I relish in this memory – enjoy your flight, sit back, drink some wine, watch movies and give a compassionate smile to the mamas or dadas who are sweating profusely trying to wrangle a toddler or calm a crying baby on your flight. IF you are flying with little ones, here are my tips:
Use The Holy iPad: Judge me if you want, but the iPad saved our life on our last flight with Hemsley. When she was a baby on our previous trip to Maui we managed to luck out and have an extra seat open beside us so we brought our car seat on the plane and she slept for most of the flight there and back (praise the Lord!). I also nursed Hemsley a lot during the flight as I was breastfeeding at that time, and we kept her busy with little baby toys and walking up and down the aisles with her in the baby carrier. As for toddler Hemsley, we stocked our iPad with lots of Clifford, Daniel Tiger, Elmo, and Paw Patrol shows and she watched a lot. Too much for my liking, but we did what we needed to do.
Stock Up On Dollar Store Toys: Before we left on our vacation I made a little trip to the Dollar Store to pick up some toys and books for Hemsley’s little travel backpack (Thank you to my sister for this tip!). I spent about $20 and filled her backpack with dolls, hatchimals, books, crayons, play dough (yes, apparently you can take this on planes) and every 30-minutes or so of our flight, if she was getting antsy, I would surprise her with a new toy that kept her occupied. I’ll also mention that Hemsley is a very “spirited” and high energy child, so if your little one is a little more chill you might not need so much in your arsenal.
Pack a “Snackle Box”: I came across this idea on Pinterest and it was really great for us. I bought these little tackle boxes on Amazon and filled them with berries, dairy free cheese, sliced cucumber, puffies, pretzels, and more of Hemsley’s favorite snacks and she never got hangry and enjoyed eating all of her little treats out of the special boxes! I got a lot of questions when I shared about these boxes on Instagram regarding being allowed to take food on my flight and I want to share that I had no issues going through security or customs with the food!
Have a Drink and Go With The Flow: At the end of the day, a long flight with a baby or small child can be challenging. Luckily most people are understanding and those that aren’t – too bad for them. Hemsley’s naps were disrupted due to our flight schedules and so she was a bit out of whack but ultimately we made it to our destination and it wasn’t terrible. I’m not a great flyer so I like to have a glass of wine before the flight to chill me out (I only do this if I’m flying with someone else as well – not just Hemsley alone, FYI!), and just remember that the flight is simply a blip in the whole trip, it will eventually be over!
Where To Stay On Maui:
There are a few key areas where most people stay when visiting Maui and I’ve stayed in almost all of them. I honestly believe there’s no bad place to stay in Maui, I mean it truly is paradise, but each area does have it’s pros and cons and it really just depends on what you are looking for. Here’s what I’ve learned about the areas and which is my favourite to stay in:
Kihei & South Maui: The Southern part of Maui consists of Kihei and Wailea/Makena area. I haven’t stayed far south in Wailea or Makena but it is absolutely beautiful there and that’s where you’ll find a lot of the higher end hotels including the Fairmont, Four Seasons, and the Andaz. The beaches in this area are gorgeous (my favourites are Ulua beach, Keawakapu Beach, and Mokapu beach), it’s almost always sunny, and the water can be pretty calm depending on the wind. I can imagine staying in Wailea would be really nice as it’s quiet and more private but still just a stone’s throw away from the bustling area. Kihei is definitely the busiest area of Maui (aside from Kahului which isn’t really a place that tourists stay). There are lots of shops, tons of beaches to choose from and it’s very walkable but the traffic can be a little hectic along South Kihei road. If you like having restaurants in walking distance and the convenience of shopping nearby and don’t mind the extra people, cars, and noise, then this would be a great area for you. We enjoyed having a condo just a short walk from the beach for convenience with the little ones when we stayed in this area but also found it to be a little less relaxing compared to other areas of the island. Kihei is also typically very sunny and gets lower amounts of rain so if you vacationing for a shorter period of time there’s a good chance you’ll get great weather here. Tip: There’s a small beach called Kalepolepo Beach Park on the north end of Kihei that is protected by and has virtually no waves so very good for little babies/toddlers although I wouldn’t say it’s the nicest sand beach (it is clean though!) on that side of the island.
Ka’anapali: Located on the west side of the island, Ka’anapali is more of a resort area. There are lots of hotels lining Ka’anapali Beach and there’s also Whaler’s Village, a great outdoor shopping centre with lots of nice stores and restaurants. There’s golf courses in this area and you can find vacation rentals as well. This area is beautiful and the main beach is huge and kid-friendly but it can get rather busy and has a more touristy feel than a little farther north. When we stayed here a few years ago we rented a condo at the Ka’anapali Royal located on one of the golf courses. It was a great condo, perfect for families, and we enjoyed the area but we did have a 10-minute hike to the beach. Lahaina is a town about 15 minutes south of Ka’anapali and there you’ll find even more shops and restaurants so there’s a lot do to and see in this part of the island. One thing to note is that in this area there’s more of a chance of getting rain but then again, even rainy days in Maui are nice!
Napili-Honokowai & Kapalua: This is my favorite area of Maui. It’s super quiet, laid back, lush, and has a bit of a local vibe to it and also has some of the most amazing views. We have stayed in the Honokowai area a few times (here and a couple other places) which is really relaxed and has many beaches nearby as well as a little store called the Farmer’s Market that I love. It’s also just a short drive to Ka’anapali so if you want some shopping or more dining choices it’s not far to get there. Although I should say that there is a decent amount of restaurants in this area too. If you are travelling with little ones there are a lot of vacation rentals in this area and many beaches to hang out at including Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay, two of my faves. On this last trip we stayed in Kapalua (here) which honestly is magical. It’s on the northern point of the west side and has spectacular views, a very quiet and laid-back feel and has my favorite snorkelling spot, Honolua Bay (I wouldn’t recommended this bay for little kids though as it has a rocky shore and you have to swim quite far out to get the best snorkelling, best for older kids and adults). While these northern areas of Maui are known to get more rain, this latest trip we had lots of sunshine so it’s could go either way! If you are into shopping and like to stay busier on your holiday you might not like this area as much, but it’s definitely beautiful so even if you don’t stay here it’s worth a day trip to visit Kapalua Bay and see the views!
Paia: This is the one main area in Maui we have yet to stay but we always love to visit it for a day. You’d be hard pressed to find a single large chain hotel in Paia and even vacation rentals are slim. There is a big local vibe here and it’s definitely a laid-back, hippie-filled, relaxed place. Paia town does have a lot of cute shops, organic stores, and small healthy restaurants and cafes, but it doesn’t have as many beaches to choose from. I’m not sure I’d recommend it for families but then again I haven’t actually stayed in this area. There is one beach though that is an absolute must-visit in Paia especially if you have babies or toddlers, called Baby Beach (Sprecklesville Area). The beach is stunning and protected by a long stretch of reef so it’s completely calm (no waves) and perfect for little ones to play in. You’ll also likely see a couple snoozing turtles up on the shore!
What To Do In Maui:
If you are looking for things to do in maui with kids, toddler friendly activities, or even free things to do in Maui, there’s a lot to choose from!
Beach, beach, beach: Not only are all the beaches completely free, there’s so many to choose from, and honestly they are all just so beautiful! In my opinion the best beaches in Maui for kids are these: Ulua, Keawakapu, Kalepolepo, Kamaole 1, Kapalua Bay, Napili Bay, or Baby Beach in Paia. That being said it always depends on the the wind and the weather as the tide changes often so the waves can get intense at times. Sure bets would be the protected beaches Baby Beach and Kalepolepo.
Maui Ocean Center: This is the Maui aquarium and it’s one of my favourite spots to go on a rainy or cloudy day. Children under 4 years old are free and adult passes for the day are $30/adult. You can spend a few hours walking through the different areas checking out the fish, sea creatures, sharks (they have a shark tunnel!), turtles, and stingrays. It’s always lots of fun!
Lahaina Town: As a free activity you can just mosey along Front Street in Lahaina town, checking out the stores and historic sites, or you can book a snorkel or whale watching tour or do some shopping and dining with all the selection there!
Snorkelling or Scuba: If you have really little ones (ages 4 and under) this likely won’t work but if you have kids age 5 and older snorkelling is a great activity, and if you can manage a day without the littles, scuba diving is amazing in Maui! I love, love, love Honolua Bay for snorkelling as well as Kapalua Bay and Napili Bay (there’s always plenty of turtles and sea life), and if you can swing it, I’ve heard snorkelling tours out to the Molokini Crater are amazing and child friendly!
Açai Bowls: There’s no shortage of places that have Açai Bowls in Maui and my daughter loves food so tasting Açai Bowls all through Maui was a thrill for her! Check out the bowls at Choice Health Bar (in Lahaina, Whaler’s Village, or Paia), Farmer’s Market in Honokowai, the deli at Hawaiian Moons or Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade in Kihei, or Paia Bowls in Paia.
Other Ideas: While we have yet to do one I’ve heard a Luau can be a lot of fun for both adults and kiddos, there’s Luaus in both Lahaina and Kihei. A visit to Whaler’s Village is another fun idea as there are lots of stores to check out, a large children’s play area for the little ones to run around in, events (hula lessons, hula shows, live music, and even a free movie night), restaurants, and the huge stretch of Kaanapali beach right there too!
There’s even more to do in Maui but really, in my opinion it’s best to do less – soak up the sun, hang out on the beach, and actually relax getting into that true Aloha Vibe. You won’t regret it!
Wow, this was a long one, if you’ve made it to the end…amazing! I hope this post has been helpful and I’d love to know if you have any tips of your own for travelling to Maui with little ones, or without, tell me in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below to save this post for later and of course, share the love!
I have also written a few other Maui posts that you can check out below:
Have a wonderful Sunday,
Christal // NITK
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