Family Travel Question:

Q | Maui or Kauai: Which is better with a young child?

Which island is better for a five year old? Maui or Kauai? -Eric, FL

A | Which Hawaiian island is best for family travel

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One of the best things about the Hawaiian islands is their diversity. If I were seeking a wholeheartedly outdoorsy vacation in Hawaii, I’d book a Kauai vacation. It’s the least developed of the main, touristy Hawaiian islands, and my older kids had a great soft adventure there, kayaking and hiking to a secret Kauai waterfall. But when my children were younger, like your five-year old, we returned again and again to Maui. Since you’re trying to decide between Maui and Kauai for your family vacation, I’ll recommend Maui.

Best-Tropical-Winter-Vacation-Destination-Maui-Jennifer-MinerMaui is considered the best Hawaiian island for a vacation with younger children because there’s a lot of flexibility regarding kid-friendly activities. The coastline along Wailea, which is home to several of the island’s top resort hotels, is known for its soft sand and light surf. My children learned to snorkel in Maui, there when they were around five years old themselves. Maui also has a fun, active area called Whaler’s Village in Lahaina (a short drive west of Wailea). There are some touristy shops here, sure, but there’s also lots of easy fun things for kids.

The Maui Ocean Center is near Lahaina, and this Hawaiian aquarium is very child-friendly (it’s a small aquarium, so don’t plan on spending your whole day here). If you feel like really going all-out for your family vacation in Hawaii, I’d also consider the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua. While this area is further from Wailea and Lahaina than you may like, the Ritz’s Ambassadors of the Environment, created by Jacque Cousteau’s son Jean-Michel, offers a selection of child-friendly, interactive, and amazingly fun programs that blow mere “kiddie camps” out of the water.

You and your family will have a terrific, memorable vacation in Hawaii. Maui may be more easily manageable for parents of young children, but hopefully in a few years you’ll return, and experience Kauai as well. And Oahu. And the Big Island. Heck, they’re all wonderful!

Photo courtesy of The Vacation Gals and Jennifer Miner.

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