Story by Jody Robbins
MAUI, HAWAII — Hawaii is a no-brainier for families. You know you’re going to get great weather, reliable food and it just feels safe. I’m kicking myself for not getting here sooner with my eight-year-old, but we made up for lost time during a 10-day escapade this winter. Here are our favourite activities in Maui, as rated by one of the world’s most discerning travel critics: my daughter, Eve.
Horseback Riding at Piiholo Ranch
Beaching it everyday can get a little boring, so to shake things up we headed upcountry to the Piiholo Ranch near Makawao. There’s quite a strong cowboy culture in Maui, ever since Spanish-Mexican vaqueros were invited to round up wild herds of cattle in the 1800s. Eve loves anything to do with horses, and heading to the cool, upland plains makes you appreciate the beach that much more when you return to sea level. Our two-hour walking ride had us moseying under canopies of towering eucalyptus trees, past natural waterfall pools and through a valley that runs parallel to Mt. Haleakala. The lush land is abundant with fruit, so kids will get a kick out of plucking guava and passionfruit straight from the trees. Spotting herds of cattle, deer and families of wild pigs scurrying past is also a delight.
Tip: Wear long pants and close-toed shoes
Rates: $120 per person
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:30-11:30 am or 11 am-1 pm
Address: 325 Waiahiwi Road, Makawao
Telephone: (808) 270-8750
Boogie boarding in Hawaii
You can get in the water a number of different ways. Snorkelling is popular, but not all kids like the sensation of gear on their face and being out in the open water. To stay above the waves, pony up for a boogie board — the only outlay required for this activity. You can find beaches suitable for babes many places, but we spent our mornings riding the gentle surf at Polo Beach in Wailea. This area is also ideal for whale watching, snorkelling and ordering fancy cocktails from handsome waiters.
Tip: There’s a walking trail that runs from the shopping plaza to the end of the resorts. It’s stroller-friendly and from January to April, is the perfect vantage point to see whales breaching along the horizon.
Maui’s Fishy Attractions
Most kids are obsessed with animals, so it would be a shame not to learn more about the marine life of the Hawaiian archipelago. We heard the Atlantis Submarine ride in Lāhainā was fantastic (this from other kids), but our ride was cancelled due to rain. Instead, we got our fish fix at Maui Ocean Center, an indoor and outdoor aquarium complex between Lāhainā and Kehei. Here, stingrays slide overhead and sharks look you in the eye as you walk under a 54-foot-long acrylic tunnel. A kiddie favourite is the tide pool exhibit, where wee ones can get a hands-on understanding of starfish and other invertebrate inhabitants.
Tip: Excursions for whale watching and snorkelling depart from the docks a short walk from the aquarium, so it’s a good idea to combine both activities on the same day.
Rates: $16.65 for children aged 3-12; $22.95 for adults
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm daily
Address: 192 Ma’alae’a Road, Wailuku
Telephone: (808) 270-7000
Cheap Eats for Kids
One of the best ways to expose kids to a new culture is through their stomachs. Food trucks and juice shacks on the side of the road dish out Hawaiian favourites like shaved ice and spam musubi. Traditional plates include a hearty serving of meat (usually doused in teriyaki sauce), rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. At around $10 a pop, you won’t find a more budget-friendly meal.
Tip: Portions are massive, making it’s easy to share a plate between two people.
Experience Hawaii’s Cultural
There’s a reason iconic Hawaiian activities are so famous — they’re that much fun. Staying at Travaasa Hana was like being transported back to 1950’s Hawaii. Riding city bikes around the property, our days revolved around ukulele lessons, playing outdoor games and hula dancing. The most engaging activity turned out to be traditional throw-net fishing. Winding up and tossing the net into Hana Bay never lost its luster, especially with the promise of catching dinner (even if the only thing we caught was an errant snorkel and mask).
Tip: A round trip down the 80-kilometre (50-mile) winding Highway to Hana (with its 600 hairpin turns), is best not attempted in one day, especially if anyone is prone to car sickness.
Travaasa Hana Rates: From $350 per night
Address: 503 Hana Highway (see map below)
Contact: (808)-359-240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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