Family Vacation

Planning the Perfect Day Around Iao Valley

No visit to Maui is complete without exploring the historic, lush grounds of Iao Valley State Park.

Located centrally near Waikapu and Wailuku, this is the perfect day activity for all members of the family. With walking trails, plenty of places to relax and a wide variety of tropical flora and fauna, we're help to help you plan the perfect day around Iao Valley.

planning the perfect day around iao valley
planning the perfect day around iao valley

Lunch at The Mill House Restaurant

Take a short drive to The Mill House to enjoy a rotating menu of lunch items with a scenic view of the mountains and Maui Tropical Plantation. Open daily for lunch from 11am to 3pm, we offer freshly roasted Maui grown coffee, local produce and creative dishes from Executive Chef Jeff Scheer.

best lunch spots maui
best lunch spots maui

The view from our new outdoor seating area is a lovely preview of what you'll see deeper within the West Maui Mountains, and paired with current lunch specialties like the pork tacos with avocado salsa, pastrami sandwich with kimchi, and classic cheeseburger with aioli, it's guaranteed to be a great start to your adventure.

best place to eat lunch maui
best place to eat lunch maui

Tour Iao Valley State Park

Visitors are often stunned at the natural beauty surrounding the State Park. The steep, lush mountains, puffy clouds and bright green plant life are mesmerizing, and learning about the historical significance of the land only makes it that much more remarkable.

Stop at the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens (located on the left side of the street on the way to Iao Valley) for a scenic walk through garden displays celebrating Maui's diverse heritage, including Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean, and take a minute to appreciate the serenity of the area.

Entrance to the park is free for residents and $5 per car for visitors, and we definitely recommend packing a few items to make the most of your visit!

Best Items to Bring to Iao Valley:

  • Pancho or raincoat
  • Slip-resistant, closed toe shoes, especially if you plan on doing any hiking or walking down by Iao Stream
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Swimsuit (if you plan on taking a dip)
  • Towel and dry clothing
  • Water bottle
what to do around iao valley
what to do around iao valley

The 4,000 square foot park's most prominent landmark is Iao Needle, the 1,200 foot lookout point for Maui's Army during the famed 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai, when King Kamehameha landed on the shores of Maui in an effort to defeat and unify the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. Visitors are encouraged to climb the 130+ steps to get a better vantage point of this historic Hawaii landmark.

Follow the paved pathways around the park to enjoy serene views of the garden and jungle landscape, as well as the healing waters of Iao Stream, which makes for a refreshing dip on a sweltering day in paradise.

Browse Market Street in Wailuku or the Bailey House Museum

things to do wailuku
things to do wailuku

After you've had enough fun exploring the grounds of Iao Valley, head back through Wailuku Town to make a pit stop on Market Street, a cozy street of funky shops and friendly locals.

Spruce up your record collection at Request Music, or browse local artwork while enjoying a caffeinated afternoon pick-me-up at the charming Wailuku Coffee Company. If you happen to be in town during the monthly Wailuku First Friday celebration, definitely stop by for live music entertainment and unique items from local vendors, and keep an eye on the historic Iao Theater calendar for upcoming local performances.

For those interested in learning more about Hawaiian history, a visit to the conveniently-located Bailey House Museum is in order. Originally built in 1833, the Bailey House is now home to the largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts in Maui County, a surfboard and canoe that belonged to Duke Kahanamoku, an interesting museum store, and more that history buffs will truly appreciate.

Shop at To & From Boutique & All Good Things Maui

To & From Boutique, located conveniently near The Mill House next to Waikapu on 30, is one of our new favorite places to shop on Maui. Doubling as a full salon, make a quick stop in this adorable boutique to enjoy clothing items at exceptional prices, BodyHI locally-made soap bars, and fun jewelry.

All Good Things Maui, if you're lucky enough to catch it on Wailuku First Friday or parked near the Maui Tropical Plantation Coconut Station, is a mobile boutique of island-inspired swimwear, jewelry, bags, hats, and more.

perfect day iao valley
perfect day iao valley

Happy Hour at The Mill House Restaurant

After all that adventuring, you deserve a cocktail!

The Mill House now offers daily happy hour from 3 to 5pm, including $5 beers like Kihei Kolsch, Stone IPA and Bikini Blonde, an assortment of wine by the glass, and a couple of our signature and classic cocktails.

best happy hour central maui
best happy hour central maui

If you've worked up an appetite, we also offer happy hour pupus like the fried chicken with buttermilk dressing, beef kalbi ribs, scallop crudo and more. The regular dinner menu begins at 5pm for those of you who wish to stay for dinnertime, when the sunset views behind the mountains are truly breathtaking! Either way, be sure to come back to try our inventive Mill House cocktail menu.

Sunset Stroll on Sugar Beach

sunset beach walk maui
sunset beach walk maui

Only a 10 minute drive south of The Mill House, Sugar Beach offers one of the lengthiest, and most peaceful, walking areas for a beautiful Maui sunset. Parking along the side stretch of road near Ma'alaea Wharf can be limited, but North Kihei offers a few more opportunities for a convenient beach walk starting-point.

While you may want to keep your slippahs on due to the surrounding kiawe trees (and their pesky thorns), you'll enjoy some of the best sunset views on the island, all with a nice ocean breeze to top it off. The perfect way to end your Iao adventure day!

We hope you enjoyed our tips for planning the perfect day around Iao Valley! Mahalo for reading, and we hope to have you join us soon for a delicious lunch, happy hour, or dinner, Maui-style.

what are some other great things to do around iao valley? comment below!
what are some other great things to do around iao valley? comment below!
All photography was either taken by Mill House staff, from owners that have given us written permission, and/or purchased for use. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.

Bailey House Museum

If you're looking for a family activity that doesn't include slathering on sunscreen or sand between your toes, the Bailey House Museum is your ticket to some historical fun!

the bailey house museum wailuku
the bailey house museum wailuku

The History of the Bailey House Museum

Constructed in 1833, this lava rock and koa wood structure was built at the bottom of Iao Valley.  This location is the former royal compound of Kahekili II, who was the last ruling chief of Maui.  This house was originally meant to be a mission for adults and children, however, in 1837, it was transformed into the Wailuku Female Seminary.  This boarding school was known for teaching their students Christianity, domestic skills like sewing and housekeeping.  Their academic undertaking included the three R's, which are reading, writing and arithmetic.

Reverend Jonathan Smith Green and Theodora were the managers of the establishment, and in 1844, Missionary teachers Caroline and Edward Bailey took over shortly after they arrived in Hawaii.  Since this was one of the first western-style houses in Wailuku, the “Old Bailey House” is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Edward Bailey and his family stayed in this house until 1888.  The Bailey House opened its doors as a museum in 1957.

Maui Activities
Maui Activities
Bailey House Museum
Bailey House Museum

What the Bailey House Museum Offers Today

The Maui Historical Society lovingly runs the Bailey House Museum.  Some also know this house by its Hawaiian name, Hale Hoikeike, which mean House of Display.  When vacationers go to visit this house, they can find anything from Pre-European Hawaiʻian artifacts to 19th century paintings by Edward Bailey.

1st Floor

Here you'll find utensils, tools and weapons that date back to Pre-European contact.  Many of Edward Bailey's landscape paintings are shown here, totaling over 100 oil paintings.  One of the prized possessions is the only wooden statue on Maui that remains after the 1819 purge of the indigenous religion.  The Hawaiian demigod, Kamapua'a, was built before annulment of native Hawaiian religious art.  It was hidden in an upcountry cave for over a century, which makes this statue a highlight at the Bailey House Museum.  There is also a snail and mollusk collection, and a replica of an ancient Polynesian-style sailing vessel, modeled after the Hokulea.

2nd Floor

The second floor is designed to represent a house in the early 19th century in Hawaii.  Each room showcases the furniture and belongings that were common, letting each visitor step back in time and appreciate the history of this residence.  There are also a great deal of historical papers available for anyone interested, researchers and visitors alike.

Outside

The gardens are reason enough to come visit the Bailey House Museum.  Rolling with native Hawaiian plants, including a few endangered species, this lovely property is a perfect photo opportunity.  The garden is also home to plants that were typical of the missionary era.  There is also a 22-foot Honaunau, which is a outrigger canoe from the 1900s.  Carved out of a single koa log, this fishing canoe is one of the last boats of its kind to be made in Hawaii.  And check out Duke Kahanamoku's 1919 redwood surfboard, which you'll find displayed in an outlaying shelter on the property.

Gift Shop

Make sure to finish up your tour with a visit to the Museum Gift Shop. Located on the south of the Old Bailey House, you'll find locally handcrafted artisan items and books on Hawaii and its history.  You'll find tropical wedding presents, Maui coffee, soap and Hawaiian sea salts to take home as a souvenir.

Bailey House Museum
Bailey House Museum

Location

Bailey House Museum (808-244-3326) is located at 2375 Main Street in Wailuku and is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 to 4. From Kahului follow Kaahumanu Hwy. (Hwy. 32) west from Kahului toward Wailuku. The road becomes Hwy. 320 and you will see Bailey House Museum on the left just after Kehalani Parkway.

have you been to the bailey house museum? comment below!
have you been to the bailey house museum? comment below!

If you're looking for a unique Maui activity, the Bailey House Museum is a great place to start!  

All photography was either taken by Mill House staff, from owners that have given us written permission, and/or purchased for use. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.

Best Family Activities on Maui

If you're bringing the whole crew to paradise, this is your guide for a fabulous family vacation!  From ziplining to helicopter riding, everyone will leave their tropical vacation with a smile on their face.

best family activities on maui infographic
best family activities on maui infographic

Maui Tropical Plantation

This one-stop shop has something for everyone in your group!  The young at heart always seem to steer themselves straight to the lagoon,  where the very friendly and hungry ducks are always waiting for their next hand out (duck food is sold in the country store).  The tram ride has everyone's name written on it, as the guided tour takes you around the whole plantation while your guide shares the vibrant history of this property.  Have a train lover in the group?  You're in luck!  The Maui Tropical Plantation is the temporary home to The Claus Spreckels, which was the second locomotive ordered by Maui railroad magnate T.H. Hobron for the Kahului & Wailuku Railroad in September, 1881.  They also have bragging rights to housing the Kalakaua Coach, which is also known as "The King's Car." Any shoppers in your crew will find their happy place in the Country Store, the Moku Pua Soap Factory, the Ron L Design studio and the Rebecca Lowell Art shop.  Gardeners and nature lovers will be drawn to the well-tended tropical paradise that surrounds the plantation.  With the West Maui Mountains framing the property, every angle is picture worthy!  And if there are any foodies that are looking for a mouth-watering meal, The Mill House Restaurant and Bar is an award-winning establishment that prides themselves in excellent and beautiful dishes.  And if one of you could use a stiff drink, this 5-star bar has everything you could need to get back into the paradise state of mind!

Maui Tropical Plantation
Maui Tropical Plantation

Maui Ocean Center

While many people make their way to this Hawaiian aquarium on rainy days, it's even worth the trip on a sunny day!  This beautifully designed aquarium is mapped out to take you from the shallow reef to the open ocean.  Each step along the way is replicated to showcase the true nature of the ocean and living environment of the marine life.  With over 60 indoor/outdoor exhibits, you'll be able to discover Hawaii's magical underwater world in one day without getting your feet wet! One of the biggest thrills here is the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit featuring a 54 foot walk-through tunnel.  Make sure to check the scuba divers schedule and get a front row seat as the diver mingles with the sharks and answers any questions you might have.  The main purpose of the Maui Ocean Center is to honor the ocean and the long-standing relationship that Hawaiians have with the sea.  This peak into Hawaiian history and the beautiful inhabitants of our ocean will bring a new appreciation to your vacation in paradise!

Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours

There is only so much you can see from sea level, and many of Maui's treasures are well hidden.  Thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours, you can sneak a peek from the sky.  Cascading waterfalls, towering cliffs, stunning coastlines and the ever popular Haleakala, Maui's highest peak at 10,023 feet above sea level.  You don't need to lug your family around in a car trying to see the sights when an hour-long helicopter ride will thrill everyone!  And now you can have pool time on the same day!

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours

Pride of Maui Whale Watching Tours

It's a well-known fact that everyone loves coming to Maui once the winter weather hits, including the humpback whales.  This gentle giants come in pods, and make Maui their playground.  The Pride of Maui makes sure your whale watching experience is nothing less than fantastic.  From aboard their spacious and stable boat, you'll enjoy amenities like a glass bottom to view the marine life without getting wet.  If you feel like taking a dip, feel free to use the waterslide!  This is a snorkeling tour, and warm showers are available to you after your excursion.  Being out in the open sea always gets an appetite going, so this tour provides a freshly prepared bbq lunch as well as an open bar.  There is nothing more spectacular than seeing a whale breech while sipping on a Mai Tai in Maui.

Pride of Maui
Pride of Maui

Maui Zipline

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Known for being the most family friendly zipline company, Maui Zipline is an obvious addition for family fun on Maui!  This tropical course has 5 side-by-side ziplines, ranging from 300 to 900 feet.  With each line you zip, your guide will share their knowledge of Maui's unique flora, fauna and culture.  After swooping over the tropical lagoon, your adventure ends in a tree house!  This will be one of those memories that lasts long after your vacation has ended!

Maui Zipline
Maui Zipline

Hawaiian Paddles Sports Surf Lessons

There is nothing more classic than surfing in Maui.  We've got plenty of waves, but you'll want to know when and where to surf if you want to maximize your enjoyment.  Thankfully, Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers private surf lessons in one of the best beginner locations on the island.  These expert guides will cater to your every need and level of expertise, and they guarantee you'll surf on your first lesson!  You'll get to take away the thrill of surfing and the bragging rights that you did it in paradise!

Hawaiian Paddle Sports
Hawaiian Paddle Sports

Te Au Moana Luau

To truly experience Maui, connecting to the culture and the history is a must.  The most entertaining and delicious way is to attend a ceremonial luau.  Te Au Moana offers a lavish celebration of the Hawaiian culture, from their fresh flower leis to their hula and fire dancers.  Their spectacular storytelling is made even more enjoyable with the sunset and ocean in the background.  Put this luau on your vacation to-do list!

Te Au Moana Luau
Te Au Moana Luau

Fairmont Kea Lani

For some families, they really want to relax.  There is nothing more relaxing than a hotel that has your every need accounted for.  At the Fairmont Kea Lani, they go above and beyond to make your vacation in paradise perfect!  The Kea Lani is a pool paradise with their award-winning 9,000 square foot Willow Stream Spa, three swimming pools including an adults only pool and two activity pools connected by a 140' waterslide.  If the kids are looking for some entertainment while the parents soak up the blissful quiet of the adults only pool, send them over to the ever popular Kid's Club!  If you'd prefer some family time on the beach, this oceanfront resort is sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches on the island!  And let's not forget room service and a freshly made bed every morning!

Fairmont Kea Lani
Fairmont Kea Lani

Surfing Goat Dairy

Cheese lovers unite!  The Surfing Goat Dairy is home to many award-winning varieties.  If you're intrigued by their 1st place National Award Mandalay Goat Cheese (which has apple bananas and curry), their  Cheese and Specialty Shop is happy to hand out a tasting or two (or three!).  And if you'd like to get a little closer to the goat cheese process, make sure to sign up for their Grand Dairy Tour, which is every Saturday at 9am (call for dates). This 2-hour experience allows you to feed and milk a goat, see the cheese making process and you'll even get to simply most of the cheeses produced at the dairy (there are over 30 varieties!).  Who doesn't love cute animals and delicious cheese?

Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy

Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice

Some people think that shave ice is the same thing a snow cone.  If you are one of those people, you are about to experience the rainbow magic of Hawaiian Shave Ice.  The reason Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice  has become world-famous is their dedication to having the best shave ice with the taste of aloha in every bite.  Their syrups are made from using 100% pure cane sugar, premium purees, natural fruit juices and extracts, carefully selected concentrates and local ingredients.  Their ice is made in-house from their filtered water system and their add-ons make this sweet treat even better!  With flavors like picked mango, calamansi lime and liliko’i, they have cornered the market on unique and delicious flavors!  A local's tip for anyone new to shave ice:  get the Maui-made Roselani’s Premium Haupia Ice Cream on the bottom of your cone!  You will never look at dessert in the same way again.

Ululani's Shave Ice
Ululani's Shave Ice

Now that you have a fabulous list of the best family activities on Maui, all you need to do is get here!  Until then, we'll keep the whales breaching and the shave ice cold for you!   

What are your favorite family activities on maui? Comment below!
What are your favorite family activities on maui? Comment below!

All photography was either taken by Mill House staff, from owners that have given us written permission, and/or purchased for use. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.