Maui, Hawaii with Kids-My Top Picks for Things to do on a Budget!

I've had a few requests for me to recap our recent family trip to Maui. We took all three of our kids {15, 12, and nearly 9} for 8 days on one of my favorite islands. I'm no stranger to Maui. This was my third visit in 18 months, however, I don't usually bring the family with me! I was excited to take them and show them around.

Maui, Hawaii: Top Picks for the Family on a Budget

family travel budget vacation

My favorite part of the island would have to be Wailea. Probably because I know it the best.
When I was only 17, my parents took my brother and me to Hawaii and we spent three weeks hopping from island to island.  I remember loving Maui then! 

One of my favorite memories is when my brother {who was 14 at the time} and I wandered down from the beach that we were sitting at {it's now home to the Four Seasons-though there was nothing there on our visit} and stumbled on one of the most amazing resorts that I had ever seen.

We rode the water elevator, went down water slides and floated through the lazy river. That is, until we got stopped for not having guest bracelets!

That resort was The Grand Wailea and though the resort has grown a bit, it really hasn't changed too much in nearly 20 years. Staying at The Grand Wailea was top priority for me, but the prices are crazy expensive!

We felt like one night was more than enough and really all the budget would allow. And quite honestly, after all the fun we had in 24 hours, one night was plenty. The kids will even tell you that.

A few tips if you are staying at The Grand Wailea Resort:

1. Bring your own floaties and water toys. 

The resort charges a ridiculous amount and doesn't provide any floats, even for the lazy river, which for some reason is sort of shocking to me.

2. Ask the bell hop if any boogie boards have been left behind.

Sometimes they have and you are free to use them for your stay.

3. Have on hand lots of $1's.

I've stayed at a lot of upscale resorts and I expect to tip for service, though on this visit, I felt like the valet, bell hops and service staff lingered longer than they should have for a tip.
Long enough that my husband literally felt uncomfortable.

4. Use the free bikes for the most amazing bike ride through Wailea and Makena.

This has been one of my favorite things to do in Wailea, though a resort that caters to families doesn't offer bikes for kids, which is sort of unfortunate.

5. Be prepared for sticker shock!

Fruity drinks from the super fun swim up bar can run you around $22.

If you are staying in Wailea, don't miss out on walking the coastal nature trail. It's a gorgeous walk along the beach and by the resorts. I've seen some amazing things while walking this trail.

Some of my favorite were the huge stingrays playing by the rocks for hours. They looked like sharks in the water.

Some other fun things to do for free in the Wailea area of Maui:

Take a drive to the black sand beach {Naupaka beach} and play in the tide pools. 

Spend some time at turtle town 

Take some time to explore Keawala'i chruch built in 1832.

Drive through the lava fields to La Perouse Bay

There is some great snorkeling at Ahihi-Kinau reserve though the parking isn't great. There is a super delicious Jawz fish taco truck almost always parked outside of Big Beach. I recommend the fish tacos, but if you are visiting Maui with kids, I don't recommend swimming or using Big Beach. It's fun to look at, but the waves break incredibly hard on the shore and people get hurt there nearly every day.

We always make it a habit to stop at Lapart's ice cream at the Shops at Wailea.

And you can't go to Hawaii with out getting shave ice. I recommend Ululani's in Kihea.

The final week of our trip was spent at a condo in Ka'anapali with my parents.

What to do on the Ka'anapali side of Maui:

Bring your own food!

In true frugal form, I found a large suitcase in the free box at a garage sale, and loaded it up with 50 pounds of food and not enough bottles of sunscreen {our family of five went through a bottle of sunscreen a day}.

We paid the $25 check bag fee, but left the bag at the resort for our return trip home.
The savings we got from packing food justified $25, but not $50 had we brought the bag there and back.

Some of the food I brought were bagels, English muffins, peanut butter, jelly, pizza sauce, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce,  cream cheese, crackers, block of cheese, shredded cheese, tortillas, and lots of snack foods like beef jerky, nuts, chips.

The ice packs I packed with the cheese worked great on our 6 hour flight to the island.
And while at the resort on the first night, our small hotel mini fridge held the cheese that we brought just fine.

I have stayed in Ka'anapali before and remembered a few things from my stay. One thing was how much wetter this side of the island is than the south side. There was rain nearly every day, but it was quick rain usually. The longest it rained was a half an hour and it was still fairly warm.

I also remembered how much I loved Kapalua bay.

We spent at least four of our days at Kapalua and snorkeled with turtles every single time.
I liked that the bay was protected by two reefs on the ends forming a cove. It was very calm for the kids. There were shady spots, and lots of sand too.

We also tried Napili bay and black rock beach

Napili bay is another coved bay like Kapalua perfect for first time snorkelers and kids. When we snorkeled at black rock beach, we had to watch out for cliff jumpers and if was far too crowded for my liking, though we did see some pretty awesome fish and sea turtles.

It is fun to head to black rock beach just before sunset and watch the cliff dive ceremony. I love the Kapalua coastal trail! It's an easy trail with amazing ocean views along the way. You can start at Kapalua bay and end at the Ritz Carlton. It's a great place to watch the sunset. And weddings.
In a single night we saw four weddings!

You can also find a few great places off of the bay for cliff jumping. Though jump at your own risk!
There are a lot of coral reefs and the swims to a place to get out of the water can be long.

When the evening cools, I would recommend going into Lahaina to shop around. You can watch the surfers and boats at sunset.

You can also pick up your shave ice at Ululani's. Since we had a condo, we didn't eat out much.
Though I would recommend trying Ono tacos.

We also picked up the most delicious fresh guacamole at The Farmer's Market. We had a fairly low key vacation in Maui. We didn't plan any excursions or activities and every day, we played it by ear.
I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make when traveling with your kids to Maui is over scheduling.

There are lots of activities you could do, but while you are busy doing those, you may be missing out on the amazing little things, like building a sand castle on the beach, or snorkeling with sea turtles.
And those activities don't cost you a dime!

Did I miss anything? Would you add any tips for traveling to Maui? I would love to hear them!

1 comment

Tamara said...

Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

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