Family Bonding, Maui Style
There's plenty of family fun to be had on the island of Maui. Read on for some fabulous ideas for family bonding in Maui.
Maui Ocean Center
Recognized as one of the most beautiful aquariums in the world, Maui Ocean Center has everything the family needs for an entire day's entertainment! Visitors will see, feel, hear and smell hundreds of marine life forms in over 60 exhibits. Gorgeous corals, interesting invertebrates, fabulous fish and hundreds of other species live in the displays. Eat a sit-down meal at the Seascape Ma'alea Restaurant or grab a quick bite from the Reef Cafe to spend more time on fun and educational activities. Experience the Shark Dive in Maui Ocean Center's gigantic open ocean exhibit, where you can dive with over 20 sharks, sting rays and thousands of tropical reef fish. In-person shark sightings are guaranteed!
Ali'i Kula Lavendar Farm
Nestled in the uplands of Maui, over 55,000 lavender plants waft their fragrance over visitors. Families will find adventure through the Lavender Treasure Hunt, offered every day the farm is open with prizes for completion. Walking tours enable you to create mini bouquets, or Tussie-Mussies, gathered from the 45 different varieties of lavender on AKL along with other herbs. Enjoy an outdoor picnic lunch provided by AKL — select from a scrumptious wrap or sandwich finished with a lavender-infused dessert. Ladies will love the "Ladies Day Out" special — a walking tour with lavender tea and a lavender scone to be taken at leisure. Fresh lavender cosmetics, herbal supplements and other lavender wares are for sale in the gift shop. AKL is a truly unique place worth visiting for any family on Maui.
Sugar Cane Train
Indulge many a child's train fantasy by going for a ride on Maui's Sugar Cane Train. Reminiscent of trains from old Hawaii sugar plantation days, the Sugar Cane Trains gives a six-mile ride through scenic Maui county, with views of other islands and perhaps a glimpse of humpback whales from December through April. A Hawaiian-style narrator entertains you throughout the ride, pointing out sites of interest along the way. Each open-air car allows plenty of breathing room and space for photographic documentation of the train ride. The Sugar Cane Train is just a blast of steam and a whistle away!
Maui Tropical Plantation
Discover the rich agricultural history of Maui through this 60-acre working plantation. Taste free samples of the produce and purchase plenty of Maui-grown goodies while there. A fun tram ride takes visitors on a tour of the tropical fruits and flowers grown on the plantation. Wait for the special stop in the coconut trees for a demonstration of coconut husking. You may see and taste papaya, mango, sugar cane, guava, bananas, macadamia nuts and more at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Lunch at the on-site Waikapu Grill or grab a snack from the Country Store.
Take the family exploring through the dense rain forest of Iao Valley. The famous Iao Needle, which stands at 1,200 feet, is a worthy hiking destination if you're in the trekking mood. Historically significant and a popular landmark in the Iao Valley, the Iao Needle is a lava remnant covered in lush vegetation. Iao Valley is known as the final resting place for the remains of many Hawaiian royalty, the exact whereabouts of which remain a secret to this day. In Kepaniwai Park, visitors can see a homage to Maui's multicultural history. Scale model buildings from Hawaiian, American missionary, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipino origins proudly stand in the park. Park hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 pm. Contact Hawaii Nature Center (see website) for more information.
Cabin fever? Not if the cabin stay is voluntary! Located along the rugged shoreline of Hana, the cabins at Wai'anapanapa sleep up to six people and offer basic comforts such as furniture, electricity and running water. Some kitchen utensils are provided, but bring your own linens and towels. The layouts vary, but all cabins have a kitchen-living room, one bathroom and one or two bedrooms. No childhood is complete without at least one stay at a cabin in the woods! Reserve the cabins through the Hawaii State Parks website (see link).
Surfing Goat Dairy
Agri-tourism takes a kick at the Surfing Goat Dairy, where gourmet goat cheeses churn out year-round. Families who book the Grand Dairy Tour will have the firsthand experience of feeding and milking a live goat and the privilege of sampling the many cheeses produced at the Dairy. Of the 20 cheeses offered at the dairy, 18 are national award winners. Other tours offered daily include the Evening Chores and Milking Tour, the Daily Casual and the Tea Time. The Grand Dairy and Maui BBQ tour are offered by reservation only on a monthly basis. Check the website for booking details and special events.
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