Family Travel Idea: Maui

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By Bekah Wright

A visit to the island of Maui is no mere beach vacation. It’s an unforgettable experience with Hawaii’s incredible culture, landscape, activities, food and activities all coming together for the perfect getaway. Add a stay at Kapalua Resort to the mix and the result is an extra dose aloha.


As difficult as it may be to tear away from seaside accommodations with their prime snorkeling and fantastic beaches, taking in the island attractions is a must. Here are just a few that should top family itineraries.

Known as the “House of the Sun,” it’s only fitting to schedule a visit to the summit of Haleakala volcano for sunrise or sunset to truly revel in its wow factor. Prior to departing, pack something warm to wear while at the summit and phone 1-808-572-4400 to check for possible road closures. Allot a good amount of time for the trip as well, as there’s much to see and do in Haleakala National Park from hiking and horseback riding to stargazing.

Stop on the way up at the Visitors Center for little ones to get info about participating in the Junior Ranger program during their visit to the 30,183-acre park. Parents can pick up maps for some of the 38 miles of public hiking trails here, too, with their sights set of discovering some of the unique aspects of the park like cinder cones and cloud forests. The ultimate destination, though, is the summit located at 10,023 feet. Standing amongst the clouds above the Manhattan-sized crater is nothing short of dazzling.


Haleakala is located in an area known as of Upcountry Maui. There are myriad farms in the area offering tours and great eats. A few to try include the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm for an informative tour, tea (the scones are divine), cooking demonstrations and wreath making. Nearby is the Surfing Goat Dairy where, among other things, visitors can feed and milk the goats. Better yet – cheese tastings. Further down the road is the Tedeschi Winery at ‘Ulupalakua Ranch. This is a great place to pair a bottle of wine with cheese from the Surfing Goat Dairy and have a picnic under the shade of century-old trees.

Produce purchases in hand; make plans for other picnics while on Maui. A great picnic pairing is a driving tour of the 52-mile Road to Hana aka Route 360. Family members prone to motion sickness may want to forego this twisty trek that takes two and a half hours one way. The rewards, though, are vast with Pacific panoramas and landscape lush with waterfalls, bamboo forests and verdant gardens. The small community of Hana is a treat unto itself; though plan to arrive early before the town’s few establishments close for the day. One to catch is the Hana Cultural Center and Museum with its authentic Hawaiian living complex and gardens.

Other noteworthy sites for visiting – Maui Ocean Center, the local aquarium where kids can get hands-on with several exhibits and `Iao Valley State Park for rambling around the grounds. A town that stays open late is historic Lahaina. The harbor is the jumping off point for many ocean outings. It also has a great boardwalk for strolling while enjoying ice cream cones. Fun, too, is the town’s massive banyan tree, the roots of which are a big hit with toddlers. And then, there’s Kapalua…


According to Hawaiian lore, Kapalua is the spot where heaven meets earth. Stay for a while and what may sound like a myth becomes reality. Located on the western tip of Maui, Kapalua was once a pineapple plantation overlooking the Pacific. Pineapple still abounds in the area and tours of acreage where Maui Gold pineapple is grown are available to visitors. Mostly, though, the land welcomes guests with the promise of outstanding beauty that makes the heart sing and activities that will cement memories of a lifetime.

A portion of the idyllic, 23,000-acre property is devoted to two, 18-hole championship golf courses with ocean views – The Bay and The Plantation. Guests looking to hone their skills can sign up for lessons at the Kapalua Golf Academy. This includes young students, too. Further helping little ones to embrace the sport are junior tees on the front nine holes of The Bay Course, where youth can play nine holes for free (when accompanied by a paying adult) each day starting at 2:30 p.m..

Kids can also get into tennis action with lessons through Peter Burwash International at the Kapalua Tennis Garden. As for parents, they’ll want to reserve time on the ten plexipave courts paired in tiered clusters; four lighted for night play.

Families can come together to explore the resort’s 100 miles of trails with ocean and mountain panoramas. Take in views of the coast and its magnetic draw is inescapable. Luckily, there are numerous beaches at the resort that are ideal for all ages. Fronting the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is D.T. Fleming Beach where snorkeling, kayaking and boogie boarding can be done. Nearby, too, are Honolua Bay, Oneloa Beach and Mokule’ia Bay.

A great way to get in touch with both the surrounding sea and mountains is through Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment (AOTE) program (see sidebar). The local landscape serves as a living laboratory for naturalists and cultural advisors who lead activities ages five and up in activities from underwater digital photography while snorkeling in a Green Sea Turtle habitat to learning how to navigate the sea by the stars. Of course, kids will have their own favorite activities. Among them – dissecting owl poop.

Those ready for more communing with nature can embark upon one of Kapalua Adventures’ outings. Providing thrills-a-minute is the company’s zipline tour, available for participants 10 years or older, weighing between 60 lbs. and 250 lbs. The tour commences from a mountain outpost within Pu’u Kukui Preserve. Here, guests harness into parallel ziplines, traversing a two-mile span about the West Maui Mountains with views of Hawai‘i’s eight outlying islands. More adrenalin pumping can be had at the six-station climbing tower and high ropes challenge course. Not to be left out is a two-seater “swing” that goes aloft between two 60-foot telephone poles and above the valley. Backyard swing set experiences will never be the same.



When it comes to accommodations with components just right for families, Kapalua Resort has several that fit the bill. Making the entire resort accessible no matter which property guests choose is a complimentary, resort-wide shuttle service.

Fans of turndown service and club level lounges should check into the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Ideal for guests with little ones are the Residential Suites that range from 900 to 2,550 square feet. Each Residential Suite has its own kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher. Cribs are available upon request.

Those looking to circumvent having to prepare their own meals may prefer club level accommodations where guests have access to a lounge with culinary offerings available throughout the day including breakfast, light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, beverages and dessert. When hankering for a meal out, six dining venues on property are there to serve (see dining section).

Beyond time on D.T. Fleming Beach, families can relax in a cabana at the resort’s three-tiered, swimming pool and nearby children’s pool. A high-tech fitness center is open 24 hours a day for those seeking to fit in a workout. Perhaps a more luxuriant use of time can be had at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Kapalua, where elements of bamboo, river rock and taro leaves beginning a calming process that culminates with a spa treatment. One to try – the traditional lomilomi massage in a treatment room with its own private outdoor shower garden.

Right next-door are the Bay Villas. These condo/townhomes come with oceanfront, ocean view and fairway view options. The cream of the crop are the Gold Villas with their state-of-the-art appliances, fine linens, and granite countertops. All villas range from 1,200 to 2,400 square feet and feature private lanais, full kitchens and in-unit laundry areas. Cribs are available upon request. Those requiring a cool dip can board the shuttle for the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s swimming pool.

Families looking for a home away from home during their vacation getaway will find their hearts’ desire at Kapalua Resort’s newest offering, The Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Kapalua Bay. Indeed, this fractional ownership property is ideal for those who have fallen in love with Maui and plan regular sojourns back.

An open-air lobby greets guests, the structure of which “frames” a stunning view of the Pacific and outlying islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. Leading up to the ocean is another body of water, the resort’s 8,500-square-foot lagoon pool with waterfalls and bridges. Great for grown-ups needing to decompress are in-pool loungers for relaxing over cocktails from the pool bar.


Beyond the pool, little ones will clamor to spend time in the Discovery Room, a place set aside just for them with games and arts and crafts. At times when numerous children are in residence, structured activities supervised by instructors are available. On property, too, is the Kapalua Spa. A cutting-edge fitness center allows for fitting in workouts and a hidden away infinity pool provides adult quiet-time. Best of all, though, are treatment hales, where deep-tissue massages can be had along with views of the Pacific.

Before the pampering begins, first things first—checking into accommodations. VIP treatment begins with a dedicated concierge who’s happy to arrange everything from having the kitchen stocked with necessary groceries to reserving activities. After check-in, guests arrive to their front door via a private entryway. Inside, club residences range from 1,912 to 2,257 square feet with two or three-bedrooms in cheery colors. Cribs are available upon request. Also included is a gourmet kitchen with upscale appliances, among them, a wine fridge. Equally exciting is the unit’s own laundry area. The place for lounging is the great room with a dining area that spills onto an expansive lanai, another great spot for family meals with Pacific vistas.


Though the accommodations at Kapalua Resort make it easy to prepare family meals during a stay, the restaurants on property call for indulging in meals made with local, farm fresh fare. Six dining venues are located within the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Best for breakfast is The Terrace Restaurant. Return visits for dinner should be made for entrees like the Volcano Spiced Baby Back Ribs or Cilantro and Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi. Sushi lovers can make reservations at Kai Sushi for its 20 varieties of sushi and sashimi, as well as Japanese cuisine. Sophisticated romance by tiki light calls for a parental date night at The Banyan Tree. Here, bites of farm fresh contemporary cuisine can be shared such as the Grilled Lamb Loin or Chorizo Crusted Opah.

Proving that meals needn’t be a dressy affair is the Honolua Store. A short walk from the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, the plantation-style venue serves breakfast and lunch as well as selling sundries, t-shirts and groceries. The place to enjoy mixed plates and entrees like Teriyaki chicken, Kalua Pork and Baked Mahimahi is the wrap-around porch.

Fans of flavors will be in heaven at the resort’s other three restaurants with their diverse menus. The Pineapple Grill serves Contemporary Pacific Island Cuisine for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch with signature dishes from Maui native, Chef Ryan Luckey like Maui Gold Pineapple-Miso Marinated Wild King Salmon and Pistachio & Wasabi Pea Crusted Rare Ahi Steak. Hawaiian Mediterranean Cuisine highlights The Plantation House’s menu. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served with prime seating overlooking the Plantation Golf Course. A few dishes to try along with weekly specials direct from Kapalua Farm—Seared Pacific Prawns and Roasted Muscovy Duck. Pacfic Rim and Japanese specialties are the order of the day at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar with everything from Hawaiian Moi Rolls and Roasted Japanese Jerk Chicken.

A stay in Hawai‘i is incomplete without partaking in Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine. Lucky for Kapalua visitors, a restaurant owned by of one of the movements founding members is right on property – Merriman’s Kapalua. The views from the restaurant are so enchanting, senses may initially be caught up in the atmosphere. Once entrees like Organic Kapalua Farms Beet and Red Wine Risotto or Butter Poached Keahole Lobster tastebuds definitely kick in. Not to be left out, kids have their own menu with dishes like Broiled Fresh Island Fish with Steamed Veggies and Mini Maui Cattle Cheeseburgers. After dinner, a firepit fronting the ocean calls. Even better, diners can take a moonlit walk on a path along the ocean.

To learn more about Maui visit or phone 1-800-525-MAUI (6284). For information about Kapalua Resort visit or phone 1-800-527-2582.


With a passion as strong as his father’s, Jacques Cousteau, for the environment, Jean-Michel Cousteau has been working over 15 years with Dr. Richard Murphy, the Ocean Futures Society and Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to bring the Ambassadors of the Environment (AOTE) program to the masses. “How can you protect what you don’t understand?” Cousteau says of one of the many reasons AOTE was created.

Kapalua is just one of three Ritz-Carlton resorts offering the Ambassadors of the Environment Program (AOTE). Others can be found at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and most recently, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. One reason the resorts work so well as hosts of the AOTE are their nature-made “laboratories” and seaside locations. Participants register for hands-on adventures led by naturalists such as sailing, underwater digital photography, hiking and gardening.

The program is available for ages four to adults (depending on location). As for youth who enroll in AOTE, Cousteau sees much promise. “We share our passion and concerns with young people in a very positive and constructive way,” he says. “When they leave AOTE, they know they have a job to do and we provide them with tools to do it, whether in school or at home.”

As for the fate of the planet, Cousteau says there’s more than hope, particularly when it comes to today’s youth. “They’re the ones who are going to carry the baton.”


Want to do something different this summer? Say “Aloha!” to Hawaii.

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