Best Maui Beaches for Kids to Visit in 2020

Best Maui Beaches for Kids 2020

There are so many great things to do in Maui. You can be ten thousand feet above sea level at the summit of Haleakala or go off grid along the road to Hana.

In between our adventures, we carved out some time to do one of our favorite things in Hawaii – just hang out on the beach. It’s not hard to find a beautiful beach in Maui, but it can be tricky to find one that’s kid-friendly, especially for kids who aren’t strong swimmers.

Here are my favorite beaches in Maui for kids:

Things to do in Maui with Kids: Hana Beach Park

Hana beach is in Hana, which is the town at the end of the Road to Hana. We came here to unwind after a long drive, close to sunset and jump some waves. It’s a bay, so the waves were fairly calm.

hana beach park
Hana Beach Park
footsteps in the sand at the shore line in Hana.

Kid-Friendly Beaches in Maui: Baby Beach in Paia/Sprecklesville

We made the mistake of coming here in the afternoon when it was SUPER windy and cold, but besides that, this is a great beach for kids. There is a barrier wall in one area that makes the water a little more mellow, which is great for kids who aren’t strong swimmers but still want to enjoy the ocean.

As a bonus, as soon as we walked onto the beach, we saw a giant sea turtle!

This post gives a pretty good description of how to get here.

sea turtle on baby beach in Maui
red sand at Baby Beach in Maui
View walking from the street to Baby Beach. I love the color of the red dirt.

Maui Family Activities: Black Rock Beach in Ka’anapali

There are lots of great beaches near Lahaina and Ka’anapali on the resort side of the island. We visited Black Rock Beach in Ka’anapali in the late afternoon until sunset. The current and waves were a little on the stronger side, but there was plenty of sand to run on and my son loved staying by the shore and jumping waves.

Close to sunset, there was a traditional cliff diving and torch lighting ceremony. It’s free to the public – you can learn more about the tradition via this article.

Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali at sunset
Kaanapali Beach at sunset with silhouettes of people and sailboats.
Palm tree silhouette at sunset

Maui with Kids: Ho’okipa Beach on the Road to Hana

I wrote about this in detail in my post on the Road to Hana. It’s one of the first stops, and it’s one of my favorite spots on Maui.

The beach itself is a great spot to see sea turtles, but if you park at the lookout, you can walk down and explore on the rocks. Use your judgement, as rogue waves are always possible and the rocks are slippery. 

hookipa beach
Hookipa Lookout

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Vegan Restaurants in Maui: Acai Bowls and more

Vegan Restaurants in Maui Hawaii

Just like Kauai and the Big Island, Maui has plenty of fresh, locally-sourced vegan options to choose from! Here are the places we had the chance to sample.

Vegan Ramen in Maui: Whole Foods in Kahului

I know what you’re thinking… I’m going to go all the way to Maui to eat at Whole Foods?! However, the location is convenient to the airport, which makes it a great spot to stop and pick up some essentials. Here are some favorites: 

  • Vegan ramen option at the noodle shop in the store
  • Vegan food items in their hot bar 
  • Vegan Chocolate Mochi ice cream in their freezer section
  • Fresh and local produce. They have pre-cut options that you can eat in-store if you want to enjoy them with your meal or just don’t have access to a kitchen or cutlery.

We did most of our food shopping here while we were on Maui. 

There’s also fountains for kids to splash in, a Long’s Drug Store, an arcade, a movie theater and a really great surf shop in the same shopping center!

For more, see the Whole Foods website for information on the Maui Store.

Vegan Sushi for Kids: Genkhi Sushi in Kahului 

This is not even close to being the best sushi you can get on the island, but it’s a fun place to get sushi with kids. Back in the day, Genkhi Sushi used to have conveyer belt that had plates of sushi that you could take off yourself. You could order off the menu if you didn’t see what you liked. I used to eat there all the time when I’d visit my mom on Oahu. There’s something fun about picking your food off a conveyer belt, even for adults.

Things have changed at Genkhi – now, instead of a conveyer belt and waitresses, you have a tablet at the table and you can order from there. There’s a conveyer belt that comes from the kitchen and drops the food at your table. You click the button to send it back when you’ve removed your plate. 

Again, this isn’t the best sushi, but it’s cheap, quick, easy and was one of my son’s favorite restaurant, just for the experience alone!

See more on Genkhi Sushi here.

Vegan Lahaina: Choice Health Bar in Ka’anapali, Lahaina and Paia

Choice Health Bar has three locations, including a kiosk in the Whaler’s Village food court. This was our breakfast (and sometimes lunch) spot for the three days we were staying in Ka’anapali. They had great smoothies and smoothie bowls, all made with local ingredients. 

See more on Choice Health Bar.

Vegan Banana Bread: Ono Gelato in Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali 

The gelato isn’t vegan, but they do have vegan sorbet options that are delicious. As a bonus, they carry a vegan banana bread that was really good. Banana bread is in ample supply on the islands, but most are not vegan, so this was a nice surprise!

For Ono Gelato’s location and contact information, click here.

Vegan Restaurants in Hawaii

There are so many great vegan options on ALL the Hawaiian Islands. See my guides:

What to see in Haleakala National Park with Kids

What to see in Haleakala National Park with Kids

One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to take my son to the Haleakala Summit. I was here on my first trip to Maui in 2000 and again in 2017 with my sister where we came early for the sunrise, which was beautiful (post coming soon!). This time around, I was hoping to do a little hiking. I wanted to stay nearby to minimize the drive to get up the mountain. 

Makaweo Upcountry Maui: Where to Stay if you’re visiting Haleakala National Park

After a little research, I decided to stay in Makaweo in Upcountry Maui. It flies a little under the radar due to the fact that it’s not on the beach. However, it’s up the mountain and about a 20 minute drive from the coast. So, once we arrived, I realized it’s actually really convenient to the beaches on both sides of the island as well as Haleakala National Park. 

From Makaweo, we could easily get to:

  • Kahului and all the shops nearby
  • Paia and Ho’okipa at the start of the road to Hana
  • Baby Beach and other local beaches along the coast
  • Maui Ocean Center (which we did not make it to because we ran out of time)
  • Haleakala National Park 
surfboard gate

What to see in Haleakala National Park

Kid-Friendly Hikes in Haleakala: Leleiwi Overlook

From Makaweo, we made the drive up to the summit at Haleakala National Park. It’s about an hour drive from Makaweo along a winding curvy road. At one point, we literally drove through the clouds so visibility was low, which was a little treacherous. But at long last, we made it!

We made a stop at the , a scenic point, on the way up. There’s parking and it’s an easy 5-10 minute stop. 

Haleakala Leleiwi Overlook
Haleakala National Park Leleiwi Overlook
Ōhi`a lehua at Leleiwi Overlook

Get Acclimated at the Haleakala Visitor Center

When we arrived at the summit, we made a stop into the visitor center to get recommendations. It’s worth noting that the summit visitor center closes at 12:30pm, because the park opens before sunrise. So if you have questions, or want to get your national parks passport stamped, plan to get there early! 

Kid-Friendly Hikes in Haleakala: Pā Ka’oao overlook

They gave us some tips and we did the (very) short hike to Pā Ka’oao overlook.

Haleaka Crater
Haleakala crater
Haleakala National Park Summit view
Haleakala hiking trails
Ōhi`a lehua

Haleakala Summit

After that we drove to the summit (10,023 feet above sea level). 

At the top, you can see the Hawaiian Silversword plant (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum). This plant ONLY grows at the summit and can live up to 90 years. It’s important to respect the park and NOT pick or take the silversword plants. They’re rare and take a long time to grow. You can learn more about them here.  

Haleakala Summit
Haleakala National Park Summit
Hawaiian Silversword Haleakala

Altitude Sickness at Haleakala National Park

Unfortunately, despite hydrating throughout the drive and eating a big breakfast, as SOON as we got to the summit, my son started complaining about a headache. I had done enough research to know that he was experiencing altitude sickness, so we immediately headed back down the mountain to eat lunch and hydrate.

I’d recommend doing some research into altitude sickness if you’re planning to visit, or talking to your doctor who can give professional medical advice (I’m not a doctor). I had done some research prior to our trip to learn that the symptoms can be subtle and come on quickly.

Haleakala Crater with Kids

The park entrance visitor center is only located at 7000 feet above sea level. So that might be a good place to stop and acclimate a bit before heading to the top. We stopped on the way out to get my son’s national park passport stamped. In hindsight, I would have made this my first stop! 

Despite our abrupt exit, the views we experienced at the top were amazing and worth the two hours round-trip drive. 

For more on Haleakala National Park, you can read my post about our visit to the coastal portion of Haleakala and our hike along the Pipiwai Trail.

Road to Hana Guide: Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls and Haleakala’s Bamboo Forest with Kids

Waimoke Falls at Pipiwai Trail

I always thought the road to Hana ended at Hana. Spoiler alert: it does not. 

It continues on. There are a lot of great stops along the way, including Hamoa Beach and the Coastal Portion of Haleakala National Park, which includes the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o and the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. 

We stayed the night before in Hana, so we were able to get up early and drive 45 minutes to the park’s entrance. There’s an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle (see here for other options), but the ticket is valid for three days, so we were able to use it for admission into the Haleakala Crater two days later.

Hana has food trucks, where we stopped for smoothies, banana bread and coffee before we headed out. 

The Drive to Haleakala National Park, Kīpahulu District

The drive was about 45 minutes, and the road is a lot less well-maintained than the road leading up to Hana. Parts are very narrow and not as well marked. We left around 8:30am and hit very little traffic. There was lots of parking available at the Haleakala National Park visitor center. When we left around 3:30pm, the parking lot was packed and it took us about an hour and a half to get back to Hana. So leave as early as you can to enjoy the park! 

Haleakala National Park: Stop in the Visitor Center

We stopped into the visitor center to talk to the park rangers about the park’s current conditions and recommendations. Certain areas of the park are prone to flash flooding, so it’s good to check in before leaving.

Click to see the National Park Service’s website on the the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

Maui Hikes with Kids at Haleakala National Park: Pipiwai Trail and Seven Sacred Pools

When we visited, there were two options: the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o, which is a shorter loop trail, and the Pipiwai Trail that takes you through a bamboo forest, past two waterfall overlooks to the massive Waimoku Falls. It’s about 4 miles round trip. 

We chose the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. Four miles roundtrip is a little ambitious for a six year old, but totally doable.

If you’re setting out on a long hike with kids, make sure you bring:

  • LOTS of water. The trail is hot. It’s mostly under cover of trees, but it’s still hot and humid, so stay hydrated.
  • Bring plenty of snacks – or maybe even some lunch. Kids are always hungry – especially on an uphill walk. Even if your kids don’t eat along the way, a snack at Waimoku Falls can give them the energy they need to make the hike back.
  • Sunscreen. The trail is mostly undercover of the forest, but the sun is strong and bright when you’re in it. 
  • Bug spray. At certain parts of the trail, the mosquitoes are relentless.  

Our Favorite Parts of the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls

landscape at pipiwai trail

Haleakala National Park Waterfalls: Makahiku Falls

There are two spots along the trail that are scenic overlooks to smaller waterfalls, including Makahiku Falls. This a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view – or maybe have a drink or a snack. 

Makahiku Falls on pipiwai trail
view from pipiwai trail

See the Giant Banyan Tree on the Pipiwai Trail

There’s a beautiful banyan tree along the trail. It’s another great place to stop and sit. 

banyan tree maui

Explore Haleakala’s Bamboo Forest

Part of the trail is a boardwalk path through a beautiful bamboo forest. The bamboo is massive, and as you walk through, you can hear the tap-tap sound of the bamboo knocking against each other.

bamboo forest on pipiwai trail
Bamboo Forest
Bamboo Forest Pipiwai Trail
Bamboo Forest at Pipiwai trail

Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail

This waterfall is well worth the hike. Even my son – who asked me “are we there yet?” – was thrilled with the final destination. The pictures, I think speak for themselves. 

Waimoku Falls
Maui waterfall

Haleakala National Park: Pipiwai Trail Review

Roundtrip, the hike probably took us about 4.5 hours. Our pace was steady, but we took breaks along the way. 

Once we got back to the visitor center, we opted to skip the shorter loop to pools at ‘Ohe’o, mainly because my son was exhausted after the hike. If you are traveling with older kids – or happen to visit the park on a cooler day, you could easily squeeze both in.

After our day trip to Haleakala National Park’s Kīpahulu District, we drove the Road to Hana back to Makaweo where we explored upcountry Maui (post coming soon!).

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Maui with Kids: Best Stops on the Road to Hana

Road to Hana with Kids Maui Family Activities

I’m a nervous driver. I get nervous on the highway, I get nervous over bridges and I get nervous on narrow roads. So driving the Road to Hana was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone. 

We flew in from the Big Island and headed right to Hana. I planned to explore the coastal portion of Haleakala National Park, so I wanted to stay two nights in Hana to spread out the driving we would do each day. Even still, it was a LOT of driving compared to the other islands. 

The road to Hana is twisty and turny and NARROW. We stopped at a few spots along the way. I had driven the road before, so I didn’t want to stop at every place along the way – and, since we had time, I wanted to split up our stops so we stopped at a few on the way there and a few on the way back.

Kid-Friendly Road to Hana Tips:

Road to Hana Guide: You don’t have to stop at every stop on the road. 

There’s a point, where every trail, every hike, every overlook, every waterfall starts to look the same. To keep kids engaged and interested, sometimes it’s better to pick a few highlights and spend some time exploring and enjoying them rather than try to see everything.

Road to Hana Guide: Watch out for crowds!

Depending on the time of the year you are traveling the road to Hana, some of the stops can be crowded and the parking lots fill up fast. It’s good to be flexible about where you stop, especially on the drive there. You’ll waste time waiting for spots to open up, when you could be enjoying another – quieter – spot along the Road to Hana.

Road to Hana Guide: Fill up your tank before you leave!

Gas is also crazy expensive in Hana, so fill up your tank before you head out on the road to Hana!

Road to Hana Guide: If you’re staying the night, plan ahead and bring some food!

If you’re staying in Hana, there aren’t a lot of restaurants or stores. I’d recommend buying groceries in either Kahului or Paia if you have a kitchen/fridge where you’re staying in or near Hana. I did not do this and I wish I had!

Road to Hana Stops for Kids

Kid-Friendly Beaches in Maui: Ho’okipa Beach Park (Mile Marker 9)

This is right at the start of the Road to Hana. We skipped it on the way out, but visited on our way back. It was one of my favorite spots. You can park either at the lookout and walk to the rocks and get a great view. If you’re ambitious, you can walk around on the rocks and check out some of the little tide pools (I don’t know that they’re actually tide pools by definition, but my son loved this!). 

You can also park down by the beach. There is snorkeling (which we did not partake in) and there were five or six sea turtles on the beach. 

The ambiance here is amazing. I’d recommend making this stop at some point on your trip.  

Hookipa Beach
rocks and fence at Ho'okipa Lookout
cows in a field and rainbow
waves at Ho'okipa beach

Maui Hikes with Kids: Waikamoi Ridge Trail (Mile Marker 9.5)

If you’re looking for a quick trail to break up the trip, this is a great stop along the way. There are two loop trails with some nice views. It’s definitely worth a stop if there’s parking. 

quiet trees at work sign
person next to a huge tree

Maui Hikes with Kids: Kaumahina State Wayside Park (Mile Marker 12)

I’ve driven the road to Hana twice and stopped here both times. It’s got decent bathrooms and a beautiful view. There are trails in case you want to do a little exploring, but I have not had the opportunity to explore them.  

kaumahina state wayside park
tree at kaumahina state wayside park

Black Sand Beach in Hana: Wai’anapanapa State Park (Mile Marker 32)

This is my favorite spot along the road to Hana. We stayed the night in Hana town and got an early start the next day, so we were some of the only people on the beach.

There are a lot of different things to do here, but each time I’ve gone I’ve just come and enjoyed the black sand beach. My son jumped waves and (tried to) skip stones into the ocean. If you’re more ambitious, you can hike some of the trails, explore caves and even see pictographs and other interesting artifacts. 

The nice thing about this spot is there’s a ton of parking, so you don’t have to fight (too much) for parking spots.

black sand beach at waianapanapa state park
black sand beach and green palm trees
clouds and tropical beach
waianapanapa state park
black rocks at beach

Eat in Hana: Maui Food Trucks

We stayed overnight in Hana town, so we had some time to explore. There’s not a lot to do in Hana – many of the restaurant shut down early. There’s a food truck spot, but many don’t have definitive hours. They close down when the food runs out for the day! 

We ate mostly at the food trucks. In the morning, they had coffee, banana bread and smoothies and I was able to get a vegan bean burrito from a food truck.

(Stay tuned for my post on vegan restaurants in Maui!)

Kid Friendly Beaches in Maui: Hana Beach

We also stopped at Hana Bay Beach Park a few hours before sunset. The water is pretty calm so my son was able to jump some waves and we enjoyed the sunset before heading home!

hana beach park
footprints in the sand
hana beach at sunset

The Red Sand Beach in Hana: Something to Note

One of my “must-do” items for the trip was to see the Red Sand Beach in Hana. However, after a conversation I had with a Hana resident, I opted to skip it. Why? 

The beach is actually very dangerous to access, and a number of tourists have had to be rescued. With that information, I decided that it was not appropriate for us to visit the Red Sand Beach. I’m including this, because I hope other people will take that information into consideration when planning their trip!

Hawaii with Kids

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Road to Hana with Kids: Kid-friendly Beaches in Maui + Family Activities