SPRING BREAK IN MAUI
Having lived on Maui as a professional photographer for close to 20 years I am happy to share a few tips about enjoying spring break on this amazing island!
Families from all over the world love to treat their children to a well deserved spring break and the creme a la creme of spring break family getaways is the island of Maui! Here families enjoy relaxing on the beach and horse playing in the surf. It’s the most obvious thing to do… but do be careful! Strong currents and waves can hurt even people in top physical condition, much less someone who’s been sitting inside all winter!
Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world…but it also has so much more!
Spring break in Maui has changed over the years. In the past vacationing college kids and their families all showed up in just a few weeks towards the end of March. Nowadays the mainland schools have staggered there spring break weeks and there is a much better flow and availability for young people and their families to really enjoy all Maui has to offer.
Since spring break in Maui isn’t really know for beach parties (open container on the beach is illegal) or a huge night club scene, this has not deterred people from traveling to Maui during this time of year. With so much to do it can be a bit overwhelming for parents trying to keep up with their excited young travelers. Plus all these activities, not including meals and transportation, cost money – and plenty of it! Don’t despair though because here are few options and to help you get the most out of a Maui spring break family vacation.
Exploring Maui by Car
Drive upcountry from the beachside hotels and condos to experience where many locals call home.
Driving in Maui has its challenges. Loading up a car, much less a car full of young people, is not always a relaxing vacation idea. However it is totally worth it in a number of ways… and not so much in others. I always recommend finding tours and activities that include transportation.
Rental cars can be expensive in Maui and parking is a bit of an issue especially in Lahaina. Blinkers are often an afterthought here and not everyone uses the passing lane for passing (ie: rolling roadblock). Thus the local bumper stickers says, “Slow down, this ain’t the mainland”, which is a good reminder of why you’re here…to relax!
If you’re a young person vacationing on your own for spring break in Maui the Maui Bus can get you around quite nicely and is only a couple bucks to ride.
For us who live on Maui Hana is for relaxing… for visitors who decide to drive it themselves? Not so much. This is one of the top 5 scenic drives in the world. It’s also 617 hairpin turns along jungle cliffs and close to 60 one lane bridges. If you’re doing the driving yourself the fondest memory of this road will be that you did not scrape the side view mirrors off the car!
This road also has the ability to amplify any backseat driving tendencies. This may result in multiple involuntary shrieks which can result in a “let’s go back” attitude. Give yourself or your family a break… book a van tour. Ask any resident on Maui if they love going out to the Hana side. “Yes!” will be the answer followed by “as long as I’m not the one driving”. For the visitor not sure where their going, a Hana tour is a great way to learn about the culture and lifestyle of Maui’s most precious gem – the culture! A guide can share the stories associated with the black sand beaches, rainforests, waterfalls and the ancient culture of Hana! You would have to read a pile of books to gather the same info. However if you must do it yourself leave early and be sure to check out some of our road etiquette tips. Leaving early is important so you can take your time – 6am from the west side or 7am if you’re in Kihei… it’s a 10 to 12 hour day!
There is so much to do at the beach with the kids in Maui that you will want to prep yourself for those beach days. There are so many beaches in Maui to choose from so check out this beach guide for some inside info. Also dig into the closets of that condo you’re in and see what kind of beach toys are in there. Almost every vacation property on Maui has a stash of these. Beach chairs, boogie boards and various floaty things are everywhere in Maui and snorkel gear is cheap and plentiful in the many dive shops of Kihei and Kaanapali. Other popular beach activities might include surfing, stand up paddle lessons, kayaking, and outrigger canoe paddling.
Stuffed in that same closet may be a squeaky styrofoam cooler or maybe even a plastic one. This will be the most important and useful travel tool of your stay in Maui! With it you can enjoy food and beverage no matter where you end up going in Maui. Most people stop at Costco near the airport when they arrive. Costco has a wonderful selection of fresh fish and local food and the prices are the best you’ll find. I would hold off on buying fruit at Costco though… the fruit stands in Maui are fantastic with a better selection and fully ripened flavor!
Try to plan for the number of meals and beverages you’ll be having while on the island and buy only as much as what you will use. Buying too much at Costco is the norm here for visitors so be careful! It kinda sucks to have to leave food and beverages behind when you leave. Have some room left on your meal schedule for nice dinners out and items like fresh fruit that you may find as you travel about the island. Make sure your cooler is secure in your car and don’t load it up so that it’s difficult to move around. Smaller collapsible coolers are great to load up out of a larger one for beach cruising and they can be packed easily for the return home. Costco or Long’s Drug Store has nice Hawaiian print coolers in various sizes.
And that’s just the beginning! There are so many wonderful and amazing things to see and do here that it just keeps getting better!
Maui Boat Trips
Spring break is an especially fun time out on Maui’s ocean. The whales are still here and you can enjoy plenty of whale watching while heading to the many amazing snorkeling and diving locations all around the island.
Sunset cruises are wonderful and often include live music on board with plenty of food and drink. Again, find boats that provide transportation so you can enjoy libations without worrying about driving. Ask around also about the best snorkel locations on and off shore…
Maui Zipline Courses
Zipline courses have been on Maui since the first one in North America opened here on the slopes of Haleakala in 2002. Today there are 6 companies and close to a dozen courses that range from shorter line courses for young kids to side by side zips over valleys and tree to tree canopy tours including one zipline you can drop yourself into a pond from! Many of these zipline courses are located in upcountry Maui with several large and stunning ones on the west side above Lahaina and Kapalua. Book these tours before you get to Maui though…they book out weeks, even months, in advance.
At sunrise, a view from the summit of Haleakala makes such an impression that it should be on your bucket list
At 10,000 ft elevation this dormant volcano is one of the seven wonders of Maui. I say that because I think it’s a cool number. I could have said “top 10” or “best of” Maui, all of which would be true, but aside from the road to Hana and the many wonderful beaches, you should consider making the long and winding ascent up this incredible landscape. There is also plenty to do on this mountain’s western slopes.
Locals know it as Upcountry Maui. As you drive from sea level to 10,000 ft in just 37 miles (from Kahului) the view grows to include 4 to 5 islands (depending on the weather) and changes from towering forest to moon like lava barrenness in this 1.5 hour drive. Driving up for sunrise is popular… if you’re into getting up at 4 am. I have done it several times and the Haleakala sunrise is amazing but I will tell you this little secret… the sunset is amazing too! While you’re upcountry you may wish to look into the fastest growing attraction in Maui right now… ziplining!
Well there you have it! Hope this gives you an idea of the many ways to enjoy spring break in Maui. Just to let you know… it’s like this in Maui year around and visiting anytime of the year is an amazing experience!
Aloha Nui Loa