Maui With the Kids

Article by Martha Rosenquist

You’ve booked your flights for your family, arranged the hotel, and dusted off the flippers. Now, are you ready to make a lei, pick a pineapple, play giant checkers with coconut shells, and dive into the charm and special ambiance of Maui life? Armed with our treasure trove of affordable, family-friendly tips, you’re on your way to creating an unforgettable holiday without squandering the kids’ college funds.

Keiki Discount! Keiki Menu! Keiki Welcome!

When you see the word “keiki,” pay attention! “Keiki” is the Hawaiian word for “children.” In Hawaii, the spirit of aloha is affectionately extended to little ones. The number of free activities offered to keiki visitors to Maui is but one indication of this gracious hospitality.

The number one keiki-friendly excursion? Whale watch. Kids go free when accompanied by a paying adult on many of Pacific Whale Foundations’ award winning trips, including the Wild Dolphin and Snorkel Eco-Adventure, Molokini/Lanai Dolphin Encounter, and the Wild Whale and Dolphin Adventure. Food, drinks, and junior naturalist posters are included in the free deal.

Even before they arrive in Maui children can learn about the world of whales via the Pacific Whale Foundation website. They are invited to listen to the “song” of a male whale, submit whale-centric artwork, and read the enchanting book entitled, “Willie the Whale. The Maui Ocean Center has a marvelous Whale Discovery Center, more extensive in scope than any exhibit on Maui.

Once the kids have witnessed whales in the wild, it may be difficult for them to imagine that humpbacks were once nearly extinct. A visit to the free whaler’s museum exhibit at Whaler’s Village will develop further appreciation for the giant cetaceans that now thrive in Maui’s waters. This fascinating exhibit focuses primarily on the Golden Age of Whaling during the 1800’s. Tales of young men who were cast unwary to the oft-times wretched life at sea will hold school-age visitors’ attention, while the information about the myriad former uses of whale components may astound sophisticated adults.

Although it’s tempting to see and do it all while you’re in Maui, authentic island time connotes taking it slow. Spend quality time with your ohana (family) and leave behind the hectic demands of mainland schedules. Settle into this laid-back pace by becoming familiar with uniquely Hawaiian activities and culture. Most resort hotels offer keiki classes in lei-making, poi pounding, lauhala weaving, ukulele strumming, and hula dancing. Check with your hotel concierge for a schedule of events.

Maui’s shopping centers are perfect places to experience free Hawaiian-style activities and entertainment. The Cannery Mall offers Hula Shows at 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursdays, Whaler’s Village boasts hula shows Monday and Saturdays 6:30 – 7 p.m., and The Shops at Wailea presents entertainment 6:30 – 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului, Maui’s largest shopping mall, also hosts regular performances. Check the Maui News for specific information on what’s on tap during your stay.

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