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Stressless Maui for Teens

In one day Maui can leave your family speechless with a spectacular sunrise from the summit of a volcano, give heart-pumping thrills through the rainforest, and tumble them head over heels in the surf while they learn about Hawaii’s culture, history, and precious ecosystem.

Sunrise at Haleakala, “The House of the Sun”
Preparation: Temperatures can drop below freezing. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala is the highest elevation on Maui. Wear your warmest clothes and jackets. Bring blankets from your hotel. A thermos of coffee, bottled water and snacks help during the wait because you must be at the summit at least a half hour before sunrise. Call the Haleakala National Park to verify weather conditions and sunrise.

My teen groaned when we packed up at 3 a.m. but within minutes he rolled up in his blankets in the back seat. He slept all the way to the summit. The park rangers will guide you to the best parking. Wrapped in your blankets, head for the rim of the crater and secure a spot at the rail which protects the delicate ecosystem. You can also watch the sunrise from the glass-enclosed ranger station.

Note: If anyone tries to go beyond the rail, the park rangers will haul the offenders back to a respectful distance.

Just before sunrise one of the rangers will welcome all visitors and explain what you are going to see. When the ranger chants the mele oli, everyone hushes in what we locals call a chicken-skin moment. This chant is the legend of Haleakala. Long ago, the Sun was so fond of sleeping he would race across the sky giving the land only a few hours of daylight. The god Maui captured the Sun at Haleakala with a rope of coconut fiber and made him promise to slow down.

After sunrise, our son proudly stamped his National Park Passport with the Haleakala National Park stamp in the ranger station and studied the exhibits there. We found much to explore as the sun rose, revealing the desolate landscape of the crater. Hike the short trails to get a closer look at the towering cinder cones and the shimmering rare silversword plants which grow only in Haleakala.

Phone 808-572-5500

Brunch at Kula Lodge
Locals stop at Kula Lodge, just minutes from the summit, for a hearty breakfast and to view the breathtaking coastline of Maui from this perch in Kula. My men like the stacks of big fluffy pancakes with sausages. I always order the French toast made with buttery Hawaiian Sweet Bread. The endless cups of Kona coffee rev us up for the next adventure.

15200 Haleaka Highway, route 377
phone 800-233-1585
From Haleakala: From Hwy 10, turn right on Haleaka Hwy (HI 377)

Ziplining through the rainforest.
We thought this was expensive and extravagant when we read about it. We had two kids with us who didn’t believe we were going to do it. After all, we were their parents! Each zipline crossing gets longer and more exciting. The views grow more spectacular. We all screamed our way through the rainforest. Afterwards, our kids thought we were so cool! A photo of the family in crash helmets, zipline rigs and harness made a memorable Christmas card.
Haleakala Skyline tour with Skyline Eco-Adventures

Six 2-hour tours daily. Book online ($95 each) at least 2 weeks in advance.

Hookipa State Park
Hookipa attracts the best world-class windsurfers. Their spectacular feats and aerobatics kept us glued to the waves for at least an hour. You’ll hear French, Spanish, German, and many other languages on this sandy beach. The headlands are great for spectators, and the beach is perfect for sunbathing and napping. There are restrooms and a lifeguard.

Directions from Kula: head towards the sea to the coastal Hana Highway 380. Hookipa is 2 miles past Paia going East.

H. P. Baldwin State Park
The locals frequent the long sandy beach of this park, a few minutes away from Hookipa. Although the waves and currents can be hazardous due to strong afternoon winds, there are lifeguards and a shallow area protected by reefs. Your teens will enjoy bodyboarding and swimming here. Shady areas, restrooms, and showers are available.


Old Lahaina Luau
I like to take the family ‘home’ to shower off the sand in their hair and layers of sun tan lotion before the Old Lahaina Luau, the most authentic Hawaiian luau on the island, but you can come here straight from the beach.

When the runners blow their conch shells, the air is filled with visible tension. No matter how many times we’ve seen this, we’re always excited to watch as they unearth the kalua pig, accompanied by billows of fragrant smoke, from the imu pit, the traditional Hawaiian underground oven. Guests have the opportunity to learn from the locals about local culture before the luau feast which features many traditional Hawaiian foods as well as the familiar steak, chicken and fish so no one goes hungry.

When the sun sets, the show begins. Everyone is captivated by the drummers and chanters explaining the history of the islands, the primal rhythm of the traditional Hula Kahiko, and the graceful modern Hula Auwana celebrated by King Kalakaua, our Merrie Monarch. They never get enough of the dancers. No one wants to leave when the cast comes out bid you their final ‘ALOHA!’

1251 Front Street, Lahaina
Advance reservations necessary. Call: (808) 667-1998
Starts at 5:15 pm or 5:45 pm depending on the time of the year
Adults: $92.00 + $3.83 tax = $95.83
Children: $62.00 + $2.58 tax = $64.58

If your teens still have energy, walk the wooden sidewalks along the Lahaina wharf. Imagine what it must have been like from 1825 to 1860 when British and European whalers harpooned humpback whales in these Pacific waters. The fresh ocean breeze and trade winds will soon be swaying your family to sleep after a very full, day in Maui, the Garden Isle.