Visiting Maui with Kids:
We just got back from visiting Maui and Hawaii and we couldn't have had any more fun. Day after day was spent playing in beautiful Pacific waters, swimming in some of the prettiest pools, and of course, enjoying some of the yummiest food ever.
I can't stop thinking about all of the flavorful, thoughtfully crafted food that we ate while we were away. Because Hawaii is so far from everything else, each and every chef features local ingredients. Fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, macadamia nuts, and of course pineapple are on every menu! And let me tell you, visiting Maui with kids, and having some incredible meals, is definitely possible!
As someone who focuses quite a bit of my time on where to find the best shave ice, or which restaurants people love the most, I spent a lot of time choosing the most loved restaurants on Maui. Unlike some of the other places that we have visited, in Hawaii, even the nicest restaurants expect children to be joining their parents for dinner. Each restaurant creates special menus that are both kid friendly and feature local fish, meats, and produce. Most also have fun word searches, coloring activities, and even Wiki Sticks (Mama's Fish House), guaranteeing that the kids are occupied while their parents enjoy their Pineapple Mojitos.
Below are some of our favorite restaurants from our trip to Maui. These restaurants are well suited for both kids and adults, and truly offer remarkable meals for everyone. These restaurants kept us all well fed and offered each of us new adventures in dining. They met my most important criteria - the food has to be better than what I can make at home. Nothing bothers me more than going out for dinner and thinking “I could have made this better at home”. New recipes inspired by our favorite meals in Hawaii will be coming to Maple and Thyme soon!
Where to Eat:
There is no question about it here. This was our favorite meal in Hawaii. Everyone had something they loved. The cocktails were unique and refreshing, the herb butter served with the fresh, warm bread was so flavorful, and the main courses were out of this world. I won't mention specific dishes here because their menu changes often, but you literally can't go wrong. The staff was warm, accommodating, and treated the kids with extra love, offering them numerous flavored candies as they left for the night. The restaurant is not ocean front, but don't let this deter you...the food usurps any view you might have elsewhere.
The kids menu featured beef tenderloin from the Big Island, fresh caught fish, and of course, pasta with butter and parmesan. ?
This place is all that it’s talked up to be. I’m not even sure where to begin here. The location is just incredible. The property is expansive, ocean front, and features some of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. When the kids get bored, you can go off gecko hunting or you can walk around inside of the restaurant and check out all of the cool art work and wood craft. Each fish on the menu is fresh caught that day. The menu tells you both where the fish was caught, and who brought it in, giving you a sense of both the freshness of your meal, and the connection of your food to the local fishermen on Maui.
This was also where I had my most favorite dessert of the entire vacation…it was a Maui Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp. Cinnamon flavored bananas were topped with what seemed to be a combination of shortbread cookies, macadamia nuts, brown sugar and butter. Once it was baked, the crisp was topped with a big scoop of handmade vanilla bean ice cream. There are not even words to describe this dessert and I will be trying to replicate it once I lose the five pounds that I gained on vacation.
For the kids, there was an extensive children’s menu. John ordered the Kalua pig and Nate had fresh fish. Both boys loved their dinner and their fancy mocktails. Our waitress brought the boys bowls of fresh pineapple to snack on while they waited for their dinners. Definitely make reservations ahead of time as they can be hard to get.
This restaurant is literally on the water in Lahaina. As you sit down, your waiter will warn you. Anything that you leave on the table is likely to end up in the Pacific. Our waiter then proceeded to tell us stories of husbands jumping in after their wives' pocket books and sunglasses. The location is mind-boggling and the food is just as good. Fresh island fish and produce are the stars of the menu here.
Again, I won't mention specifics here in terms of menu items but you can't go wrong. I do want to mention the kids' meals here. Nate ordered a burger that truly rivaled Shake Shack which is saying a lot. Fresh, local beef on a grilled brioche bun with lots of cheese...yum! We actually didn't order dessert here because the kids were dying to go across the street to Ululani's for Shave Ice.
The location is great for watching a jaw dropping sunset. You can either watch the sun disappear from your ocean side table or you can walk over the the bridge and watch the show from there.
Shave Ice is seriously the best treat going on the islands, and no one does it better than Ululani’s. We aren’t seasoned enough shave ice eaters to order anything other than the shave ice with two or three flavors. But I have to tell you, we watched people leave with all sorts of cool flavors and toppings. In addition to the incredible flavors, they have the friendliest help I’ve ever met. Every time we went, the person making our shave ice made great conversation with us. It’s as if they hire people who are super friendly and really good at making really good conversation with strangers. They also have little stands for holding your shave ice up. You don’t want to knock it over and lose your whole treat. Brilliant!
The kids thought the best part was sticking out their tongues when they were done eating to see what color their mouth had turned. Plan on visiting Ululani's multiple times when you are visiting Maui with kids, there are five locations on the island and one just opened up on the Big Island.
I am mentioning Duke's primarily for its location, right on Kaanapali beach. The food is pretty good, but definitely not as good as I can make at home. Somehow that doesn't matter at Duke's though when you are staring at the turquoise waters of the Pacific. Walking through the resort where Duke's is located is an adventure of its own. I definitely prefer Duke's for lunch and dinner and the Hula Pie is a true treat as are the cocktails! The sunset here is just beautiful and the kids can play on the beach when they need to stretch their legs.
We loved visiting Maui, and loved visiting all of the restaurants that we dined at. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Maui, definitely make your reservations soon! We can't wait to go back! If you are visiting Boston, check out my post VISITING THE BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM – WHERE TO EAT WITH KIDS for ideas of yummy places to eat near the Boston Children's Museum.
If you too are off on a kid friendly, summer time adventure, be sure to check out ThinkBaby.org for additional resources on traveling with your kids. This blog is written by three moms, Zoe, Angela and Josephine, who have lots of experience traveling with kids. I found their post on sunscreen to be particularly useful for our Hawaii trip, you can read it here - BABY FUN IN THE SUN: WHAT ARE THE SAFEST BABY SUNSCREENS FOR YOUR BABY & TODDLER? I recently learned that high quality, "safe" sunscreens are not just good for humans, they are better for the coral reef systems too! By choosing a good sunscreen for your family, you are also supporting the local ecology of the oceans.
If you're looking for more travel ideas, check out my blog about Visiting the Boston Children's Museum & Where to Eat With Kids
Some of Our Favorite Books and Foods From Hawaii:
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