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Fun Places To Go on Maui


Maui is a hugely popular island for family visits to Hawaii. Wherever you're staying -- resort, condo, vacation home -- be sure to get out and explore the island, either by a tour or on your own with a car rental. Below are suggestions for fun things to do.

1. Haleakala Volcano: Maui's Highest Peak, and a National Park

Fun Places to go on Maui-  Haleakala Volcano. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright .
Click for larger image.
Haleakalā-- the world's largest dormant volcano-- has a vertiginous altitude of 10,000 feet. The name means "house of the sun": in Hawaiian myths, the crater at the summit was home to the grandmother of the demigod Māui; she helped him capture the sun and slow down its journey across the sky, so people had more daylight hours. Legends also say Haleakala was home to Pele, goddess of fire.

Visit in your own rental car or by escorted tour. Clouds and wind at the peak change quickly; bring warm layers of clothes. Take time to do some hiking trails. Tip: the road to the summit is steep and winding; if your child is prone to carsickness, be prepared. Also, watch out for the groups of mountain bikers riding down!

2. Whale-Watching Outings and Snorkeling Outings

Photo ©  Teresa Plowright
Visitors to Maui have some great choices for boat outings. The link above is for Trilogy Tours, which departs from several locations, and has been honored with a Living Reef Award. We sampled a Trilogy Snorkel Sail, and got beautiful snorkeling, great service, good eats, and even some bonus whale-spotting en route.

Trilogy does Whale Watching tours as well; humpback whales start arriving in the Maui area in October and stay until April, when they start their 3500 mile return to Alaska.

3. Do a Luau: Old Lahaina Luau

Luau feasts are a Hawaiian tradition but tourist luaus have taken on a life and style of their own. Old Lāhaina Luāu is recommended as a more Hawaiian experience; location with ocean view and sunset is a bonus. About.com's Guide for Hawaii Travel has all the details about this experience.

4. Visit the Town of Lahaina

Fun Places to go on Maui - Lahaina, Wing Ho Temple Museum. Photo courtesy of John Fischer.
Wing Ho Temple Museum, Lahaina. Photo courtesy of John Fischer, About.com's Guide for Hawaii Travel.
The second most-visited spot on Maui (after the beaches), Lahaina was the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, and later was home to missionaries, whalers and immigrant laborers. Walk the Lahaina Historic Trail; drop into the Lahaina Heritage Museum. Or just browse the many shops that line Front Street; be sure to try the locally-made ice cream.

For visitors staying at Kaanapali Beach: a bus service runs from Whalers' Village shopping area to Lahaina.

5. Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center - Photo ©  Teresa Plowright
Hands-on Tide Pool; click to enlarge.
Voted "Hawaii's Top Rated Family Attraction", according to a Zagat survey; with ocean-side location, outdoors eateries, a hands-on tide pool, and excellent aquariums. Enjoy the air-conditioned galleries on a muggy or rainy day. You won't find dolphins in captivity here (-in fact, that's illegal in Maui County), but if you need a thrill activity, sign up for the "shark dive": dive into the 750,000 gallon Open Ocean, with the stingrays and sharks!

6. Ulupalakua Ranch

Fun Places to go on Maui - Ulupalakua Ranch - Photo ©  Teresa Plowright .
This giant ranch -- with 20,000 acres on the slopes of Haleakala volcano -- dates back to 1845, and was once a major sugar producer. Today visitors can have lunch and shop at the laid-back Ranch Store and Grill; taste wine at Maui's only winery; go horseback riding. (Make a day of it: see Driving Tour Upcountry.)

7. Best of Maui

Photo courtesy of John Fischer, About.com's Guide for Hawaii Travel.
Photo courtesy of John Fischer, About.com's Guide for Hawaii Travel.
About.com's Guide for Hawaii Travel has many more suggestions about where to go and what to do on Maui: Top Things to Do, Best Free Things to Do -- such as driving the road to Hana, the Sugar Cane Train, and more.
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