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5 reasons West Maui is great for families

Matt Villano

After nearly two weeks of our month-long sojourn in Hawaii, my wife, daughters and I are chilled out, tan and ready to relocate permanently. We have West Maui to thank. This is our favorite part of our favorite island. And now, after experiencing it with two kids (instead of only one), I safely can say it has catapulted to No. 1 on my personal list of best family travel destinations ever. Here’s why.

The beaches
Yeah, that cheeseball, Dr. Beach, has dubbed Ka’anapali Beach one of the best beaches in the world. But I don’t need his endorsement to know beaches here rule. The beaches are sandy. They stretch for miles. And the water is so clear you can spot sea turtles and other sea creatures from shore. Younger kids, including babies, will love digging sand forts and lolling in the waves. Big kids will love snorkeling and Stand-Up Paddling out at sea.

The fauna
Wildlife abounds on this part of Maui (and, really, all of Hawaii). The usual, year-round suspects: birds, geckos, sea turtles and more. Seasonal (February through April) suspects are humpback whales, some of my personal favorites. If your kid is like my kid, anything that moves on its own will entertain him or her for hours. That means extra time for you grown-ups to get your tans on (or to down those Mai Tais).

The flora
It’d be challenging to find a more colorful travel destination than Maui. Hibiscus plants here grow like weeds; as a result, their resplendent flowers are everywhere. Plumerias are everywhere, too. And birds of paradise. And other flowers. We have daughters, and both of our girls are obsessed with the local plant life (our toddler requests to go on a “flower tour” at least once a day). The flowers make every day special.

The free stuff
For a high-priced destination, West Maui has plenty of free stuff. The shops at Whaler’s Village, at the center of the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, offer hula shows and free hula lessons three times weekly. Farther north, on the grounds of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, there’s a free outpost of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment. We swung by the Cousteau place this past week; L found herself face to face with a pair of piglets.

The culture
Hawaiian culture is omnipresent when you visit the Islands of Aloha, and West Maui is no exception. Luaus are great for experiencing this culture; at a modest one such as the Old Lahaina Luau, you and your kids actually might learn a thing or two about Hawaiian myths and legends. Another fun (and unassuming) way to feed kids some culture: The Cirque du Soleil-like, ‘Ulalena, which puts history to song and dance.

We love West Maui for everything it offers our young family. Hopefully, with these few pointers, you’ll feel the same about it, too.