Maui Family Attractions – Sheraton Maui, Lahaina and Volcanoes

Genie Davis December 8, 2010 2 Comments

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There are so many wonderful things about Hawaii and the island of Maui in particular, that families can easily spend ten vacations on any one island and still be eager to come back for more. Maui has diverse climates – the green, wet Hana area with its wonderful to explore switch back highway; the dry southern end with its cheerful, family friendly resort destinations, Kaanapali with more resorts and mountain views at the northern end, and the funky, fun town of Lahaina in between. Add the sugar can and pineapple fields mid-island, cowboys, and the awesome volcanic splendor of Haleakala and you can see why Maui is a destination many families return to over and over again. 

Maui Haleakala Volcano

We loved exploring Maui's beautiful volcano.

Without the urban center of Honolulu that graces Oahu, Maui is more laid back and has less hustle and bustle in its towns. Still, Maui is a tourist paradise, and the balance between its pristine natural side and the large resorts and condo rentals is carefully maintained. With many visitors composed of family groups, there are children’s menus at most restaurants and many activities at resort hotels and island attractions that focus on the kids. It’s an easy trip for adults because the island opens its arms to your ohana (Hawaiian for family). 

Our first look at that natural side of island life was driving from the airport to the Maui Sheraton Resort and Spa, our chosen resort for a recent trip. En route, off the coast – whales! In migration season they’re clearly visible from a variety of pull out view points. Spotting humpbacks in the gorgeous aqua sea made us swing into a guide-book recommended spot: the Whalers Village Museum in Kaanapali. This free admission attraction focuses on a less benign form of whale-centric activity: hunting rather than watching the humpbacks in all their magnificence. Whale hunting was a major industry in Hawaii in the 1800′s, and this museum depicted it well, including recreated crew quarters, examples of carved scrimshaw, and hunting harpoons. 

Maui Sheraton Resort and Spa

Maui Sheraton Resort and Spa

On to the hotel. We’d had a difficult time choosing a resort out of many options, but the Sheraton Maui won out because of the family suite accommodation combining a bedroom and living room for plenty of space. We were also impressed by kid’s activities such as junior snorkeling, hula lessons, sand castle building, and lei making. The snorkeling is in a sheltered jetty, and available for ages 5 and up. Best of all, there’s a one foot deep children’s pool perfect for toddlers. 

The resort is located near Lahaina, a funky, fun town from which you can take a ferry to the completely laid back island of Lanai, attend a stellar luau, or take a sunset tour in a glass bottom vessel. Once the capital of Hawaii, there are historical buildings worth an afternoon stroll, plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops; and bars from which the music spills pleasantly. We browsed galleries, bought a few tee shirts, and took a ninety minute ride on a submarine. The sub was a great hit for its view of a sunken replica of a whaling ship, and a plethora of multi colored fish. While the sub tour requires kids to be three feet tall, the catamarans that offered whale watching and harbor cruises did not. 

Our favorite restaurant in Lahaina is the Lahaina Grille. This is an upscale restaurant with cordial, special-diet accommodating staff, and a laid back vibe. Our kids were treated to samples of a variety of appetizers, and their warm chocolate cake was absolutely amazing. As we loved the goat cheese and mango salad, the server recommended we make a visit to the goat cheese purveyor, the Surfing Goat Dairy perched at the entrance to Haleakala volcano. Not only are there free tastings, there are excellent tours for all ages, where kids are invited to try both milking and herding the goats. You can also buy a bag of hay for a dollar and just feed the baby goats — all with a view of the magnificent volcano. 

When you’ve tired of gazing up at the volcano, then it’s time to take a drive. The curving road leads up ten thousand feet, and many tourists tackle the drive early in the morning to watch the sun rise from the summit, while others pay for a hotel pick-up and a ride to the top followed by a bicycle adventure all the way down. We didn’t rise early or rent bikes; instead we took a lesiurely late afternoon drive. The view of ocean and island greenery below is still spectacular, and at the windy summit, clouds wafted around our heads. Easy trails lead from parking lots across the harsh volcanic rock to view points; although our kids were content with viewing the lush coast line. 

Exploring Maui Hawaii

Exploring Maui took us from the beach to the volcano to the sugar cane fields.

Another great attraction is also located mid island, in the Iao Valley. Here you’ll find the Maui Nature Center, featuring excellent and interactive exhibits about the Hawaiian ecosystem.  A short drive away is the Iao Needle, situation in a deep green valley. This twenty two hundred fifty foot stone pillar is a rock pinnacle once used as an altar. Located in Iao Valley State park, the needle is impressive, and the park itself is lush with native flora. Easy hikes make this a great location for families to explore. 

Another great family spot: the Maui Ocean Center. This aquarium is focused solely on native Hawaiian marine life, and if you or your kids are going to snorkel, it’s a great introduction to just what fish you’re seeing there in the sea. Our kids enjoyed the massive tiger shark on display, too, and hoped not to meet him or his peers personally. 

Along with pleasant beach relaxation and the balmy warm Maui waters, these activities will easily fill one Maui vacation for you as it did for us. We’ll explore other Maui adventures in upcoming blogs. Aloha!

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avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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2 Comments to “Maui Family Attractions – Sheraton Maui, Lahaina and Volcanoes”
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