Aloha! My husband and I are from opposite sides of the world and with my parents living in Canada and us living in Australia, our perfect halfway meeting location is Hawaii. We are fortunate enough to have visited these beautiful islands many times. While all of the islands are wonderful and unique, our favourite island to visit is Maui. This idyllic island has so much to offer, including gorgeous beaches, scenic hikes, a crater, waterfalls, rainforest, delicious food, great restaurants, and beautiful green landscape and mountains. It's a great destination for a family holiday, and I have put together a few of my best tips to help you plan and enjoy your trip on Maui.
For Australians, the most economical way to fly to Hawaii is with Jetstar, and book when they have a seat sale. Not including extras, we usually pay $250 each way to fly to Honolulu. Book ahead your domestic connection to Maui with Hawaiian Airlines, leaving enough time between flights to clear customs, collect luggage, check in and go through security for your next flight (we allow 3 hours to be safe). While waiting for your domestic flight after clearing security, you can grab breakfast and walk around outside to get some fresh air. You can easily spend two weeks in Maui, or combine it with a visit to Oahu** since you have to fly in and out of Honolulu, and visit the famous (and very populated) Waikiki Beach and shopping strip. Before you leave on your trip, don't forget to apply for your ESTA (visa to the USA), which costs $14USD/per person and is valid for 2 years.
**If you do visit Oahu, I highly recommend renting a car for a day and visiting the gorgeous north shore and eastern side of the island - beautiful, picturesque, stunning beaches and far less populated than Waikiki Beach. Make sure to stop for lunch at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck - THE best garlic shrimp!
Where to stay:
There are so many different and beautiful parts of the island where you can stay. Many tourists like to stay in Ka'anapali, a stunning 3 mile beach lined by large resorts. We have stayed in a few resorts in this area short-term, with our favourite being The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Staying in a resort definitely has appeal to many, and might work best for a shorter holiday. With children, we find it more convenient and economical to stay in a condo where we have the option to prepare our own meals and have a larger living space.
Renting a car:
In Maui, it’s best to rent a car if you plan to tour the island and not be confined to your resort. The best prices I found have been with Discount Hawaii Car Rental, which includes insurance in the rentals (great for Australians). Book far in advance to get the best price (you can always change/cancel at no cost). It’s easy to drive around the island and there are many different guidebooks with maps free of charge. You can pick up your car as soon as you arrive at the airport. Stop by Walmart just past the airport to pick up some food, alcohol, beach toys, toiletries….all at great prices! There is a Costco there as well. ABC shops are located everywhere in Hawaii and are great for picking up souvenirs, sunscreen, snacks, and drinks – very reasonably priced!
Our favourite beaches:
• Our favourite beaches to visit with kids are in Wailea. Ulua Beach Park is our favourite, followed by Polo Beach. Both are beautiful, with shade, calm water and a shallow entry.
• A must see is the beautiful Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach) just past Wailea. The water can be unpredictable and rough at times, so it might not be ideal for swimming with little ones, but it's definitely worth a visit.. Be prepared for a short walk from the parking lot and across the very wide beach. There is no shade by the water.
• On the west side of the island, Ka'anapali Beach is a beautiful 3 mile stretch of beach. It gets deep very quickly and water can be unpredictable at times with big waves, while on other days it’s beautiful and calm. At Black Rock in front of the Sheraton, you can often see huge turtles in the water and experience some good snorkeling.
• Shipwreck beach is off the beaten path west of Kaanapali, if you’re out exploring the west part of the island which is a nice drive. It has large waves and is very private.
• North of the island, near Paia, is Baldwin Beach Park. We go to this beach to walk and enjoy the breathtaking scenery as the water is usually too rough for us. There are some calmer beaches along the north shore worth visiting as well.
You really can’t go wrong with any beach in Maui!
There are so many things to do and visit around Maui! Here are a few of our favourites:
• Exploring the North Shore
We love to spend a day touring around the North Shore - home to many beautiful beaches including Baldwin State Park, gorgeous scenery, great surfing, picturesque look out points, and the laidback town of Paia. About 30 minutes drive past Paia is our favourite short but gorgeous walking trail which leads to some gorgeous waterfalls - Twin Falls. Depending on recent rainfall, you may get to see the twin falls via the trail to your left, or you can keep going straight and see the waterfall at the end of the trail. You'll need watershoes if you want to swim in it. They are beautiful and worth a visit. You can also grab some delicious Hawaiian fruit and treats including homemade banana bread and coconut banana smoothies from the truck at the entrance - I never miss it!
• Drive up the Haleakala Crater
Breathtaking scenery, beautiful walks, and a very unique experience! Most people make the trip at sunrise (bookings required) but it’s beautiful to see it at any time of the day. It’s a long drive up and down the mountain – at sunrise it will be cooler at the top so pack a jumper!
• Hikes and Walks
So many different trails you can take including the beautiful walk in Wailea overlooking the water, and the oceanside trail including Dragon's Teeth in Kapalua.
Favourite food and restaurants:
There are so many amazing places to eat in Maui! We love being able to cook at our condo as well as go out to restaurants or get delicious local take away. Here are a few of our favourites:
• Paia Fish Market – now 3 locations in Maui (Paia, South Kihei, and Lahaina) – casual, reasonably-priced, and absolutely delicious! Try the fish burger, fish plate, or fish tacos! Great with kids – grab a picnic table and order your food at the counter.
Dinner and Show at a Luau
A trip to Hawaii would not be complete without an evening at a luau! It's a fun evening for the whole family with local Hawaiian food and a Polynesian show. The luau includes the pig unearthed from the “Imu”, a traditional Hawaiian underground oven. Not all luaus are created equal, The Old Lahaina Luau provides a more traditional performance, while other luaus held at various resorts across the island include the very popular fire performance, a favourite with my young boys. Two other luaus that are highly recommended are Drums of the Pacific just near Kaanapali Beach, and The Grand Luau at Honua'ula in Wailea.
Maui has so much to offer – great year-round weather, gorgeous beaches and sunsets, wonderful locals, delicious food, a laid-back atmosphere, and so much to see and do. It’s an incredible destination, perfect for families with young kids, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
I would love to hear your thoughts! What are your favourite things to do in Maui? Did you find this article helpful? Mahalo!
Does the thought of flying with kids seem too daunting?
To many, the work involved in flying with babies and toddlers feels like too much. For our family, however, it’s a part of our life. It’s a necessity because we have families living on opposite sides of the world – but also for the essential joy we get from travelling.
I’m not going to say it’s all a bed of roses, but for the long flights, I have some tips that will hopefully make it a little bit easier for you.
If you have a 24-hour trip and you have small children, I can’t recommend enough breaking up the journey with a layover. It can be just for the day or for overnight, but being able to take a break in between flights, and ensure everyone gets much-needed showers and sleep, makes a huge difference to your sanity and overall experience. We’ve done it both ways and we will never go back!
This might sound obvious, but when booking flights make sure to ask for the bulkhead to get a bassinet or extra leg room.
If we are driving at our destination, we always pack our booster and car seats (free to check in when travelling with small children). It’s more economical and although it’s more to carry, we find it’s worth the small trouble. We wrap our pram and car seats in big thick-plastic travel bags. Airlines such as Qantas provide them on international flights. Save them and reuse them on future flights. It saves your items from getting dirty and potentially damaged.
Once our boys were old enough, we bought them each a small pull bag at Kmart that they could pack themselves for the plane. Items such as: sleeping comfort item, a drink bottle, a few reading and activity books, small toys, head phones, and a few snacks. They love packing their bags and pulling them around in the airport.
A baby carrier is really useful for carrying around an infant hands-free.
In my bag I pack:
• Lots of snacks for everyone. Often, the kids don’t like the plane food (who does?!) and my bag of snacks comes in handy. It also helps to pass the time and keeps them busy. I pack trail mix, dried fruit, muesli bars, sultanas, homemade muffins, veggie sticks and fruit (to be consumed on the aircraft before landing), Baby Mum-Mums, cheese and crackers, cheerios, snack sizes of fruit in a cup or applesauce (such as the applesauce from Aldi with no added sugar). The important thing is for the snacks not to have too much salt or sugar!
• Water bottles and sippy cups, with extra water bottles purchased at the airport after security as some airlines don’t offer or sell bottled water (I have never enjoyed the taste of plane water!). I fill the kids’ water bottles up before the plane as well.
• A few extra activities the kids didn’t pack like play-dough, a card game such as Uno, a small new toy such as beading or a sticker/colouring book. Lego might seem like a good idea, but this can mean spending your flight rummaging between the seats for that missing piece!
• Change of clothes for each child including/especially socks and underwear (two sets for a baby/toddler) – accidents happen! Often I bring pajamas for the baby to make her feel more comfortable sleeping on an overnight flight.
• For an infant – I bring double to triple the number of nappies and wipes I expect I’ll need – one nappy for each hour is a good rule of thumb. The one time you don’t bring enough is the time they will need them! I pack a very small satchel nappy bag (I love my Babymel Change Station) with a change mat, nappies, wipes, and baggies which I can leave under the seat and easy to grab, with the extras in the overhead.
• Lots of dummies for the baby as they do go missing. A dummy strap is ideal for travelling, as well as other baby items such as bibs, bottles and milk if needed (flight attendants can warm it up), etc.
• Jumpers, blankets, small neck pillows, and socks to keep feet warm while sleeping
• iPads loaded up with kids TV and movies, phones, headphones, and a charger (portable battery recharger recommended)
• Headphones for yourself in case you get a blissful hour to yourself to watch a movie!
Always give yourself extra time when travelling with babies and young children. Everything takes longer. You’re travelling with so much stuff! We have had to repack our bags a few times to distribute weight, or wrap up our car seats and pram, carrying them to large item drop off, etc.
Be bold but not pushy – ask nicely if there are any empty seats on the plane and see if you can get seated next to one. They might be able to put a temporary hold on it. We have been able to get an extra seat for our lap-held baby a few times and it’s been a life-saver! You can use your capsule on the airplane if you have the extra seat, which is a God-send for overnight flights!
After security and before boarding the plane – walk, walk, walk! Let the kids run around and get as much exercise as possible. We don’t give any sugar before or on a long journey – it doesn’t help them to sit still.
Board the plane last! Sometimes we have one adult board the plane early so we can get fit everything into the overhead compartments, and the other adult stays with the kids so they can run around that little bit longer – anything to help them sit better on the plane.
On the Plane
If you have a toddler, especially between ages 1-2, you will be walking up and down the aisles a LOT.
For taking off and landing, make sure you get your baby sucking on a dummy or having a feed to help stabilize the pressure in their ears.
If you are travelling alone with an infant, the flight attendants will help you - whether it’s bringing you water, helping get items out of the overhead, or holding/watching your child while you use the toilet.
Hopefully baby and kids will all sleep if it’s an overnight flight!
Relax, it will be over soon!
If you are flying with a baby, toddler, or multiple young kids….before you get on the flight, tell yourself that the next 12 hours will not be pleasurable and it will be a lot of work, but the end result will be worth it! The memories you create with your family on holiday, especially in a different country, are ones with which you will carry forever.
Parenting, Travel, and Family Blog
Treads & Threads sells high quality, stylish and practical footwear for babies that stay on feet: Trumpette baby socks and Robeez Soft Soles shoes for babies and toddlers.
Blog articles focus on parenting, travel, and family, written by a Canadian mother of three living in Melbourne, Australia - owner of Treads & Threads.