Editor’s note: this article is the second in a two-part series on Maui travel for families. Be sure to check out the first post about the outstanding Napili Kai Beach Resort.
It’s hard to find a vacation spot that has a wide variety of activities to satisfy every family members’ tastes and needs. Whether you want to surf, see nature or experience amazing food, finding a place that has all these facets is tough. That is, until you find Maui.
The island of Maui has the ocean, amazing cuisine, fantastic vistas of desert landscapes, high mountain adventures and of course outdoor activities for kids of all ages.
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In our visit to Maui recently, my wife and I had three varied and amazing experiences that made huge impressions on our kids and us too. 🙂
We had the opportunity to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy, the Maui Ocean Center and go stand up paddle boarding (SUP) with Hawaiian Paddle Sports.
Starting with turf
Some may not realize, but Maui does have an area that’s considered desert. On the flanks of Haleakala, Maui’s 10,000 foot volcano, is the Surfing Goat Dairy. This family owned goat dairy is the only one on Maui and is the largest in the Hawaiian Isles. Surfing Goat encompasses 41 acres, giving the goats plenty of room to roam and be happy little tropical goats.
They offer daily tours that are totally laid back. Just show up and a tour starts at specified times. I’d suggest coming at 3:00 PM as we did because there’s a lot happening at the dairy between moving and feeding goats, milking the young doe or watching the young kids with their moms.
Our four and seven year old daughters loved feeding the goats and seeing the milking process that is done both by machine and by hand. The dairy farm is almost entirely operated by solar power and makes goat cheese and over 40 varieties of truffles. We were able to sample cheeses and truffles, play with the goats and roam around the dairy.
Hands on with green sea turtles
Maui is home to some very unique marine wildlife including green sea turtles, reef sharks and fishes of all stripes. The Maui Ocean Center, located on the central part of Maui next to Ma’aleah Harbor, is dedicated to educating the public on Hawaii’s rich marine population.
The Ocean Center is not a typical aquarium, it’s more of a research facility that doesn’t keep any animal captive for more than a year. The staff of marine biologists display and rehabilitate animals and release them on a regular basis.
We were able to take the Finns and Flippers tour which takes a group of 15 visitors behind the scenes of the Ocean Center’s operations. Guided by a naturalist, you get to feed baby sea turtles and learn how marine life is managed at the Ocean Center. My daughters were able to ask questions and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with our guide!
Ending in the Pacific
On our last full day on Maui, we took to the sea! Our friends at Hawaiian Paddle Sports started the experience off right when I called to schedule the standup paddle boarding tour. The owner of the small company asked me exactly who’d be coming along and their ages, paddling background and amount of comfort in the water.
Hawaiian Paddle Sports does things a little differently than most tour companies. Each session is private in an area and time of day that’s designed to avoid large crowds. This approach is perfect for families or any group that wants to really get comfortable stand up paddleboarding.
We met at Makena Beach in west Maui and went through a brief lesson on shore to make sure we knew the basics of boarding and how to stay safe. We then entered the water and paddled around. To our surprise, no one fell in! During our time in the Pacific, we saw amazing views of the island, a pair of green sea turtles and amazingly: a Hawaiian monk seal (a species that’s becoming rare, unfortunately).
Our guide, Peter, was perfect. Each member of my family including my wife and our 4 and 7 year old daughters, felt comfortable the whole time. One thing Hawaiian Paddle Sports does that’s unique is the guide is constantly snapping photos with a waterproof camera to help capture the memories you are creating. Then, within a few hours of returning, they email you a link to to all the photos. This was VERY slick.
What are your favorite things to do on Maui?