This way to the beach.
Of all the destinations you could take a family to, Maui is going to be one of the favourites. Each of Hawaii’s islands off the west coast of the U.S. has that year-round sunshine and warm climate, but it’s Maui in particular that has the best mix of Hawaii’s rugged beauty, plus a full suite of dining and family-friendly accommodations. Road trips to historical Hana, sightseeing to Maui’s hidden waterfalls, relaxing poolside at the resort while the kids play water basketball and you get a foot massage—Maui has quite a lot of something for everyone. And here are 10 essential tips to make your family trip planning a breeze.
1. Choose the Right Accommodation for Your Family’s Needs
Is your youngster only eating macaroni with ketchup these days? Then booking an Airbnb or a resort suite that comes with a kitchen is going to be essential for accommodating picky eaters. And as Maui is an up-market island that has to import most of its food, dining in might save your family a few extra dollars for surfing lessons. Looking to keep kids entertained? Then opt for a resort with a rocking pool and waterslide options. Travelling with your over-60 mom or dad? Don’t look at anything without a hot tub.
2. Bring Essentials That Would Be Pricey to Replace
Everything is more expensive here, unless you’re coming from Tokyo, so you’re not going to want to buy diapers, toiletries, makeup—really anything outside of beach wraps, sundresses and sun hats. The one exception is sunscreen, as on the island it might be easier to buy reef-safe sunscreen that doesn’t damage the coral reefs like the main brands (you’ll often see a large tub of it available on snorkel boats).
3. Pack Layers for Cool Nights
Stuffing the carry-ons with nothing but swim trunks and a button-up for dinner at Merriman’s isn’t going to be sufficient. The island breeze can pick up at night, and the days can start off cool in the early morning—plus if you do any sightseeing at higher elevations the temperature can go down to a chilly 32 F/ 0 C. Brrrrr-ing a sweater!
4. Plan a Few Raintivities
Tropical Maui is prone to showers and even some grey days (particularly June through November), but you can keep the family busy with visits to (indoor) art, history or cultural museums.
5. Early Bird Gets the Worm
If you’re visiting popular places, plan to get there early to beat the crowds (and minimize the stress!). While that’s not always possible when corralling multiple relatives, another good idea is to make reservations so you’re not waiting in line with bored, tired kids. Plus, an early arrival means you can secure the best seats, that either have good sightlines for the shorter kidlings in your party or, easy access to bathrooms.
6. Outsource the Entertainment with an Island Cruise
Bigger cruise vessels are great options for any family members with mobility issues who would rather have a nice seat while sightseeing. Cruises come in all shapes and sizes, too—from snorkel and sailing adventures to whale-watching to more laid-back sunset dinner cruises.
7. Give Kids a Chance to Choose Activities
Avoid over-planning your vacation ahead of time, so you can leave room for flexibility. Travelling to a new destination can be stressful for youngsters, but you can impart a comforting sense of control by offering kids multiple-choice options for activities, based on how they’re feeling. Snuba or helicopter ride, surfing or snorkelling? Getting the opportunity to choose is an instant mood-lifter.
8. The Stroller Dilemma
Many parents wonder if they really need to bring a stroller when travelling to a beach destination and staying at a resort. Plenty of people pack these four-wheeled collapsing transformers on long distances (be sure you check your airline for size restrictions) and while there isn’t yet a stroller advanced enough to effectively plow through sand (we’re waiting on you, NASA!), they can still come in handy. With a stroller, you’ve always got a seat for tired tots, and sightseeing doesn’t have to stop because it’s nap time. It also saves parents having to carry a bag, and acts as a cover during any surprise rain showers. Ultimately the choice is up to you, you could always rent one should you find you need one at your resort, but that can be expensive. Choose the option that induces the least amount of stress.
9. Make an In-Flight Welcome Package
What’s more exciting than a goodie bag of treats and games catered to your trip? This is a great option to keep youngsters entertained on long flights, but also a fun way to get any family members excited about the destination. Maybe you even include some trip goals (spot a sea turtle) or some research materials (Disney’s Moana, obviously).
10. Pack Light (and Leave the Selfie Stick at Home)
You want to get great vacation photos of the whole family together but there are question marks: will grandpa be able to press the right button at the crucial moment, can you depend on strangers passing by, will you just have to take the photo and photoshop yourself in later, will there be room for the selfie stick? Fret not, as you don’t have to bring anything to a Flytographer destination photo shoot, and the photos you get will capture the place and your family memories better than any random passerby ever could. Then you can just relax because the memories have been preserved and you no longer have to worry about getting your camera phone out every other minute.
For a list of family-friendly events to check out in Maui, visit: hawaii.com/events