A few fun things on Maui sans kids
June 29, 2017 3:46 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun things my husband and I can do on vacation in (mostly south) Maui this summer that would be best enjoyed without children?

My husband and I are vacationing in Maui for a week this summer (staying at a house in Kihei) and we are going with a couple of dear friends and their two small children (think 3 and 1 year old).

We are happy to spend the majority of time with our friends and the (absolutely lovely) kids doing easy, low-key stuff like hanging at the beach and doing kid-friendly outings like the Maui Ocean Center (actually really excited about that!), but will probably go off and do our own thing for a day here, an afternoon there, etc. So I am looking for a few ideas for fun things that my husband and I can do that would best take advantage of this limited child-free time (especially because later this year, we are planning on starting a family of our own!)

We like good food, are active, and love nature, so I am seeking suggestions for things like nicer (quiet) restaurants, challenging hikes, snorkeling in more remote locations, and places that are nice to wander around leisurely that would probably bore kids (like botanical gardens), etc. but am really open to any ideas at all! Thanks in advance :)
posted by lovableiago to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Haleakala bike tour. You get up at o'dark thirty in the morning and either climb into a van which eventually gets to the top of Haleakala, or drive yourself to the top of Haleakala..

You're freezing.
You're tired.
Then the sun comes up and it's pretty good.

Then you get on a bike and mostly coast downhill ten miles/16 kilometers through all the different terrains, from above the tree level to tropic rain forest. It's a lot of fun. Search for "Haleakala bike tour".
posted by blob at 5:22 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ziplining - we did Kapalua Ziplines and had a lot of fun.

If you want to do the Road to Hana, this is your best chance.

The Maui swap meet is more fun without having to keep an eye on little ones.
posted by mogget at 6:25 PM on June 29, 2017

Best answer: A few of my favorite hikes on Maui are close to Kihei -- Lahaina Pali and Kings Highway.

Lahaina Pali is 5mi (2.5 miles up, 2.5 miles down; ~1200ft elevation change each way) - you can either go up and back down the same way, park a car on either end, or hitch from one end back to your car (I've done all of these methods and they've all been fine). There is no shade and on most days it's pretty windy on the trail, so bring plenty of water and have sun protection. You get a great view of Haleakala, central and south Maui, the ocean, etc.

Kings Highway is out past Wailea, I think it's ~3mi out and back. You have to walk along lava rocks, so don't do this if you have weak ankles; again, no shade/shelter for most of the trail. It "ends" at a secluded beach (it actually goes on to the back side of Hana but beyond the "end" the trail is dangerous, unmaintained, and across an area of the island with no services or cell reception).

If you're up for a bit of a drive, you could check out Maui Wine in Ulupalakua. This looks close to South Maui on the map, but you have to drive through Kahului and up Haleakala Hwy to get there (~60 mins depending on traffic and where exactly you're starting from). The wines are pretty good, and the location is amazing. There's a little general store across the street. If you continue on just beyond Maui Wine, you get to the back side of Hana - some cool views if you have the time and don't mind driving - the road is decently paved (and not super twisty/cliff-y) for another 15 or so miles beyond the winery (yield to locals).

Haleakala Nat'l Park is cool, but again, it's a drive from where you are. You can hike portions of Sliding Sands or Halemau'u in a single day (the latter is cooler, IMO). If you prefer a waterfall hike, Twin Falls is the westernmost trail on the Road to Hana; Bamboo Forest is more challenging (depending on how deep in you go), but has cooler waterfalls. For both, you have to cross/wade through streams, so don't bring anything you don't want to get wet. Check the recent weather on the North Shore before you go, flash flooding is serious and happens FAST on these trails. Waihe'e Ridge is another waterfall hike, in the West Maui mountains just past Wailuku (you'd drive through Kahului to get there).

I personally don't think doing the Road to Hana is worth it if you can't stay out in Hana for at least a night - rushing through the drive and worrying about it getting dark and whatnot is not fun, especially for the driver (you can't really take your eyes off the road to look at the scenery). If you're looking to splurge for a night, though, Travaasa Hana is pretty spectacular.

Food-wise, fish everywhere is outstanding. Sansei sushi in Kihei is awesome; Kojima's in Pukalani is also amazing, if you're going to be upcountry. The poke at the Foodland in Pukalani (yes, the grocery store) is known to be some of the best on the island (I concur). Monkeypod in Wailea has the best mai tais; Gannon's in Wailea has a great happy hour with good drinks, tasty bar food, and a view (and it's rarely busy). Leoda's in Olowalu serves a great breakfast. I think the adults-only swim-up bar at the Four Seasons in Wailea is open to the public. If you do a beach day in Ka'anapali (for variety), consider renting a cabana from one of the hotels for the day (e.g., Hyatt) - it's surprisingly affordable.

Pick up a copy of Maui Revealed, if you don't have one already. Have an awesome time!!!
posted by melissasaurus at 9:24 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend the Bamboo Forest Trail (Yelp, surprisingly, has the best directions) which is about 30 minutes east on the Road to Hana from Paia. It's not an incredibly hard hike (I did it 5 months pregnant, feeling pretty sick), but the combo of climbing ladders/scrambling up rocks/climbing up a (small) waterfall/swimming makes it not small-kid-friendly. It's very much worth it! Bring ziplock bags to double bag your phones/keys/wallet, since you do need to swim to get to the end.

Maui is fantastic for kite-boarding on the north shore. If you're interested, you'll need to commit to at least one 3-hour lesson, and two or three would be better to get you actually going. It's a super fun sport!

There are two ways to mountain bike down Haleakala - the paved road, or the actual mountain bike single track. I haven't done either (pregnant), but my husband did the single-track and said it was pretty awesome. You don't have to have a ton of mountain biking experience, but being comfortable on a bike is definitely a prerequisite (less so for the paved road - it's very nicely graded so not that challenging). Only a few bike shops on the island will let you take their gear down the single track - just call around. We went to a shop near the airport to outfit my husband.

No food recs, since I was only eating super-bland food while I was there. Yelp is good for finding the poke places and the acai places.

Maui is a pretty chill island, and most things are kid-friendly (which is why everyone goes there to hang out on the beach with their kids!).
posted by Jaclyn at 9:51 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the hike down into the Haleakala crater. 11 miles round-trip through amazing landscapes.

The bike ride was fun, but in retrospect I rather would have done more hiking.
posted by canine epigram at 9:58 AM on June 30, 2017

Best answer: Most of the normal tourist attractions in Maui aren't great for a 1 and 3 year old. I'd go with:
* Halekala - Be aware that the summit may cloud in for significant periods. Try to scope this out before you leave. Make sure you stop at each of the three overlooks before you hit the summit. I would also recommend hiking either the Sliding Sands or Halemau'u trail. They're both pretty mind blowing.

I've heard mixed reviews of biking down the road. The road can be foggy and wet and definitely has a ton of hairpin curves. You're going to be going pretty fast, so keep that in mind if you decide to do it.

* Road To Hana. A couple of tips:
1. If you're in the continental US, you're at least three hours ahead. Use this to your advantage and do the road early in your trip, when you're up before dawn anyway. Very little traffic on the road if you leave Kihei at 5:30 AM.
2. Rent a Jeep at Kihei Rent a Car. Unlike the other rental cars on the island, you can take the Jeep all the way around the road instead of having to stop 2/3 of the way and backtracking. It took us about 12 hours. If you rent the Jeep the day before, leave early as described above, and go all the way around, you can do with a one day rental.
3. It's about the journey. There's nothing specific *in* Hana. There are lots of great stops on the way. Stop Keanae Peninsula for a quick picnic breakfast. (Bring your own breakfast). Waterfalls along the way. Lava tube. Black sand beach. There are fruit and banana bread stands along the way. The Pipiwai Trail above O'heo Gulch is one of the best trails in the world.

There is great snorkeling off of Wailea and Makena beaches. "Turtle Town" for the Molokini boats can be reached fairly easily from the coast. I've had good luck at the south end of Maluaka Beach, but there are lots of other spots along the coast. I really enjoyed the Molokini boat and snorkeling. Note that the water is colder there, and if you get seasick at all, you're very likely to need bonine or dramamine, even if the water seems calm.
posted by cnc at 10:43 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would add a kayak snorkeling trip to the above suggestions-we've done this three times down south of Wailea and it's been fabulous.
posted by purenitrous at 6:07 PM on June 30, 2017

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