It’s no secret that Maui is one of the best year-round, vacation destinations for Seattle families. With beautiful beaches and lush tropical landscapes, fantastic weather and activities galore—this island playground has a little something for everyone. If you’re ready to feel the sand between your toes, we’ve got the inside scoop on where to stay and play on Maui. From luxury hotels, to affordable condos, to private villas and cottages, there’s a place for every family’s style and budget.

Napili Bay, Maui, Hawaii

photo: Douglas Peebles

Napili Kai Beach Resort
Located on 10 beachfront acres on beautiful Napili Bay in West Maui, Napili Kai Beach Resort is the perfect place for families looking for a friendly, laid-back vibe. The resort offers 163 hotel rooms and condos including studios and one- and two-bedroom suites (most with fully equipped kitchens) in 11 low-rise plantation style buildings. If an oceanfront room is on the top of your priority list, you’ll be glad to know that nearly all of Napili Kai’s accommodations offer ocean views.

In addition to the spacious and comfortable accommodations, kids will love the four swimming pools, the kids-only 18-hole putting green, the complimentary beach gear, the crescent-shaped bay perfect for snorkeling and swimming and the complimentary (and totally awesome) “Keiki Club” program for ages 6-10. During mid-June to late August and major holidays, kids can enjoy fishing, lei-making lessons, snorkeling and Hawaiian-themed activities while mom and dad enjoy a little R&R at the resort’s boutique spa or world-class golf or tennis in the adjacent Kapalua Resort community. For the 12 and under set, Napili Kai also offers a Keiki Eat Free program which means kids eat free from the kids’ menu (breakfast, lunch and dinner) when accompanied by an adult at the resort’s award-winning Sea House Restaurant.

Napili Kai Beach Resort

photo: Napili Kai Beach Resort

Napili Kai’s philosophy has always been “we don’t nickle-and-dime our guests” which means in addition to complimentary parking, you will receive free in-room wireless, no resort fees and complimentary services and activities including Polynesian song and dance performances, lei-making lessons, daily Hawaiian cultural presentations and a morning coffee hour in the beach cabana. Check their website for special rates and seasonal specials including book six nights and get the seventh night free.

Good to Know: If a family reunion is in your future, Napili Kai offers special amenities for family reunions which include a guarantee of specific unit locations at the time of booking, tropical flowers in each unit upon arrival, a complimentary group photo session and Napili Kai t-shirts for everyone in your crew.

Play: At Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay—two of the best snorkeling and swimming beaches on Maui; D.T. Fleming Beach Park for boogie boarding and body surfing or watching surfers hang ten; Nakalele Point and Blowhole to see powerful geyser-like water spout with the waves and tides; and Kapalua Coastal Trail for an easy family hike with amazing views.

Napili Kai Beach Resort
5900 Lower Honoapiilani Rd.
Lahaina, Hi 96761
800-367-5030
Online: napilikai.com

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
Recognized as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel,” the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is located on the world-famous Ka’anapali Beach along the sunny western shores of Maui. This three-mile stretch of white sandy beach is an ideal setting for families looking to spend their days playing in the crystal clear waters of Maui and relaxing on the beach. The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is an older hotel so you aren’t going to find a lot of bells and whistles here, but you will find a 432-room oceanfront property with a large pool, multiple dining choices, an easygoing vibe and extremely reasonable rates (starting as low as $174 a night). For families who like to walk or need to burn off some early morning or late night energy, the Ka’anapali Boardwalk—which starts north of Black Rock in front of the Honua Kai and runs south from there all the way to the Hyatt Hotel—runs directly in front of the property and along Ka’anapali Beach for approximately 4-5 miles.

In addition to be extremely family-friendly, The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is also one of the only hotels on the island that offers a variety of free cultural activities for the entire family. From live music and hula shows, to free hula lessons and lei-making classes, to ukulele lessons and language classes, families can be immersed into the Hawaiian culture during their stay.

Kaanapali Beach Hotel

 photo: Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel

Good to Know: Kids 12 and under will receive a passport at check-in which will guide them throughout the hotel to learn about Hawaiian culture and will reward them with special treats. Guests and non-guests can enjoy free Hawaiian entertainment from 6 p.m.-9 pm every Tuesday through Sunday in the courtyard. Psst! Get there at 6 p.m. sharp to see the torch lighting ceremony.

Play: At Ka’anapali Beach—perfect for swimming and boogie boarding; Whaler’s Village, an open-air shopping plaza home to 90 fine shops and restaurants, a renowned whale museum and free Hawaiian entertainment; Black Rock for daily cliff diving ceremonies; Lahaina Front Street for shopping, art galleries and gelato; Banyan Tree Park for photo opps; the Maui Ocean Center, an educational, three-acre, state-of-the-art aquarium and marine park; snorkeling at Molokini from Maalaea Harbor; and the Lahaina Animal Farm, Sugar Cane Train and Old Lahaina Luau.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Pkwy.
Lahaina, Hi 96761
800-262-8450
Online: kbhmaui.com

Kaanapali Beach Hotel

photo: Kristina Moy

The Fairmont Kea Lani
If you really want to knock your kids’ socks off, book your stay at The Fairmont Kea Lani located on the Maui’s south shore in Wailea. The Fairmont Kea Lani, Hawaii’s only all-suite and villa oceanfront resort, recently completed an extensive $70 million renovation project that has touched every corner of this 22-acre property—resulting in a luxurious vacation experience. Highlights of the remodel include a $5.1 million rebuild of Kō restaurant, featuring plantation-inspired cuisine; the expansion of Willow Stream Spa, a state-of-the-art facility voted Top Spa in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure Magazine; and a remodel of its 413 one-bedroom suites which boast an impressive 860-square feet of living space and the largest lanais on Maui.

In addition to one-bedroom suites, this stunning property also offers newly renovated two- and three-bedroom villas steps from Polo Beach, Wailea. These villas are perfect for families since they offer two-stories of living space, a private terrace with plunge pool, full kitchen, barbeque gas grill, washer and dryer and all of the amenities of one-bedroom suites, plus premium amenities such as complimentary daily breakfast buffet at Kea Lani Restaurant, wireless Internet and valet parking.

Fairmont Kei Lani

photo: Fairmont Kea Lani

To keep everyone in your crew happy and relaxed (two things every parent wants to hear), The Fairmont Kea Lani offers two activity pools connected by a 140-foot waterslide, a swim-up bar, an adults-only pool, two spa tubs and a year-round kid’s club for ages 5-13 as well as private childcare, a 24-hour fitness center and private beach. Additional dining options on the property include buffet-syle fare at Kea Lani Restaurant, seafood at Nick’s Fishmarket, homemade sandwiches, salads and locally produced culinary treats at Caffe Ciao Deli and poolside dining at Ama Bar and Grill. And speaking of poolside, while your little water bugs race up and down the waterslide or shoot hoops in the pool, you can enjoy Willow Stream Spa services without ever leaving your lounge chair. Treatments include foot reflexology/massage, head, neck and shoulder massage, scalp massage and tropical foot scrubs.

Good to Know: The Fairmont Kea Lani charges a $30 resort charge per room, per night (plus applicable tax) that includes access to self-parking, basic internet access, local and domestic long distance calls, one-hour snorkel equipment rental and more. Families dining with kids can take advantage of the hotel’s Keiki Dining Program at Kō and Kea Lani Restaurant which allows tykes 5 and under to eat for free when ordering off the keiki menu and dining with an adult. Kids 6-12 can either order off the keiki menu or order a half portion from the regular dining menu for half off menu pricing.

Play: At Keawakapu Beach—perfect for swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding; Makena Beach State Park aka “Big Beach” one of the largest beaches in Maui at 1.5 miles long; The Shops at Wailea, a premier shopping complex with more than 70 upscale shops, boutiques, restaurants and galleries; Sugar Beach in Kihei; the small and charming town of Paia in the heart of Maui’s North Shore; and Piiholo Ranch Zipline in Makawao for canopy, hiking, and zipline tours.

The Fairmont Kea Lani
4100 Wailea Alanui
Wailea, Hi 96753
808-875-4100
Online: fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui

fairmont kea lani waterslide

photo: Fairmont Kea Lani

Travaasa Hana
If the road to Hana is on your vacation to-do list, consider booking a night (or several) at Travaasa Hana—formerly known as Hotel Hana Mau. Located in the town of Hana on the eastern tip of Maui, this hotel is set amid rolling grass fields and palm trees above Kaihalulu Bay. Travaasa has gone through several renovations, and some are still taking place, so if it’s been awhile since your last visit you will be pleasantly surprised. The hotel vibe is extremely low-key and serene, keeping with its philosophy to provide an escape for those looking to experience something new, enrich their lives and immerse themselves in local traditions. If your family is looking for an easygoing, quaint hideaway coupled with a culinary experience, a bit of Hawaiian culture and fitness and spa/wellness, this is the hotel for you.

Travaasa Hana

photo: Kristina Moy

Travaasa offers spacious, private accommodations that are limited in size to ensure that you have an undisturbed and exclusive stay. The low-rise bungalow Garden View Suites are family-friendly and offer both indoor and outdoor sitting areas. If you have a large family, the Waikoloa Family Suites can accommodate up to six people and offer a large dining area and full gourmet kitchen. The Sea House Cottages are located across the street from the main hotel and are reserved for adults 16 and older, with the exception of special family weeks starting in July 2015. Since this hotel is designed to be a place to “unplug” you won’t find televisions, radios or clocks in the rooms, with the exception of a television in the living rooms of the Waikoloa Family Suites.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to keep your crew busy in this isolated community, Travaasa offers several daily complimentary activities (think lei making, ‘ukulele lessons, snorkeling, throw net fishing and fitness classes such as outdoor yoga, pool aerobics and guided meditation) as well as an array of massages, healing rituals, beauty treatments and personalized services at its award-winning spa. There are also two pools on site—a family pool in the main hotel and an infinity pool next to the Sea House Cottages. Families will also find authentic Hawaiian dining options in the main hotel which focus on in-season, farm to table dishes.

Travaasa Hana pool

photo: Kristina Moy

Good to know: There’s no shopping nearby other than the down-home Hasegawa General Store, so pack food, snacks and essentials before you hit the Hana Highway. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop at one of the fresh produce or food stands along the Highway. Many spots offer plated lunches and dinners for $10 to $20 (cash only). Since Travaasa sits on the edge of beach cliffs, the ocean is not accessible, but the hotel does offer complimentary shuttle service to Hamoa Beach—one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui and just two miles from the hotel. For families who prefer not to drive the Hana Highway, Travaasa Hana and Mokulele Airlines started operating three daily flights from Maui’s Kahului Airport to the Hana Airport aboard a nine-seat passenger plane. Ticket prices start at just $59 per person each way and Travaasa offers complimentary shuttle service between the airport and hotel.

Play: At Hamoa Beach—perfect for swimming, body surfing and boogie boarding; Red Sand Beach; Wai’anapanapa State Park, a 122-acre park with a black sand beach, walking trails, freshwater caves, a blowhole and picnic areas; Hana Bay; and ʻOheʻo Pools aka the “Seven Sacred Pools.”

Travaasa Hana
5031 Hana Highway
Hana, Hi 96713
888-820-1043
Online: travaasa.com/hana

Where is your family’s favorite place to stay on Maui? Tell us about it in the Comments below.

— Kristina Moy

feature photo courtesty of The Fairmont Kea Lani