When you’re traveling with kids, especially young ones, it’s important to have a sense of their favorite activities weighed and the price tag accompanying them. The Hawaiian islands invite relaxation and beauty and Maui is no exception. The Valley Isle offers plenty of free and fun attractions and ways you can can have a great family experience without spending a fortune on your vacation and will have more money in your budget to splurge on your absolute favorite things!
1 – I’ao Valley State Park: This beautiful, historical spot, located in Central Maui is not only the site where an ancient Hawaiian battle took place, it is so much more! A few well laid out, paved waking trails are surrounded by a lush tropical forest and mountains and make for excellent family “hiking”.
Of course, when waterfalls are running, the local kids come out to play and a daring few will jump off from bridge into the cool water, putting on a bit of a show. I don’ advise trying this yourself or swimming in the rushing water but it is fun to watch!
The 1,200 foot Iao Needle is one of the island’s iconic attractions and rises high above the valley surrounded by rugged and tropical mountains. A small botanical garden along a stream was put in place and is maintained by volunteers and is a wonderful place to learn about the native Hawaiian plants and way of life through a couple of recreated thatched roof huts. It makes a great place for a picnic, with ponds, beautiful scenery and shaded tables.
While the entrance to the park is free, there is a nominal fee of $5.00 per vehicle that goes toward maintenace. Not a bad deal for a great way to spend a few hours!
2 – The Pool and Beach: Kids have tons of energy, and playing in the water is an amazing outlet. A lot of kids can spend the whole day playing in the water, and afterwards, they’ll be tired out enough that getting them to sleep is often easier.
Always remember, Hawaii is closer to the equator, where the sun’s rays are more intense so make sure to re-apply sunscreen often; sunburns are no joke and can make for very unhappy campers!
3 – Kid’s Eat Free: With a little research, you can often find great deals and often places that let the kids eat free! Keep an eye open for these deals and you’ll find yourself saving quite a bit. It is always a good idea to call the restaurant directly and make sure they are participating in the promotion if it’s a chain. Some local franchises may not.
4 – Lahaina Town: Once the State Capitol, this colorful harbor town was once filled with whalers and merchants. Along Front Street is a large square with the impressive and massive Banyan Tree. It stands at over 60 feet high with 12 major trunks and countless branches. This Indian banyan tree was planted here in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the presence of missionaries on Lahaina. While your kids may be tempted to climb, it is considered very bad form and is not great for the tree. It is also the home of a weekly crafts fair, with local artists and craters setting up booths.
Today, Lahaina town offers some historic landmarks and some of the fun shopping along with a variety of restaurants. Front Street is a lovely area to wander around. If you’re here on a Friday night, don’t miss the Gallery Crawl. Artisits may be in house, wine and cheeses are avaioable for adults in most and local musicians can usually be found.
Even if you can’t get though the entire thing, stopby the Courthouse behind the Banyan tree and pick up the free self guided walking tour. This outlines the istorical points of interest and can easily take a whole day. Great exercise and wonderfu Hawaiian history lesson!
5 – Maui Tropical Plantation: This 60-acre working plantation is a treat to visit for the whole family. Coconut, banana and plumeria trees and rows of taro patches are abundant! This is a wonderful way for the kids to see where tropical fruits come from and how they’re grown.
While a tram tour is offered for a fee ($15 adults/$5 kids), there is no cost to walk the grounds and enjoy this beautiful setting. There is a lagoon in the middle of the plantation occupied by numerous ducks and a couple of very entertaining monkeys!
Plenty of benches allow for resting and taking in the tropical flowers, blooming surroundings with the lush green mountains as the ideal backdrop.
If you want to add a litle adventure to your tour, there is a new zipline course that’s great for kids. It’s not free but it is one of the least expensive on the island!
While there are plenty of things to spend money on in Hawaii and on Maui, you’ll find a wealth of inexpensive and even free things to do as well!