Haleakalā National Park with Kids
Haleakalā National Park is considered one of Maui’s most visited destinations and is one of the two dormant volcanoes that make up the island itself. It’s known for its breathtaking views, awesome hiking trails (35+ miles of trails throughout the park), endangered species, and sacred Hawaiian traditions.
We highly recommend adding it to your Maui bucket list. That said, if you are planning on bringing the kiddos with you, make sure to follow these guidelines. It will be an amazing experience for the entire family, and you’ll definitely want to be prepared!
Here’s our top 10 tips and tricks for enjoying Haleakalā National Park with little ones!
1. Avoid the rush when visiting Haleakalā National Park.
Your research might tell you to book a Sunrise reservation at Haleakalā National Park. And while we definitely agree that sunrise at the crater and in the park is amazing, we recommend you skip that if you’re bringing little ones. The drive to the park is long and winding, so take your time and avoid waking up at 3AM to make it for sunrise. Save that for an adult only vacay! The park is just as pretty during the day. You could also go later in the afternoon and pack a sunset picnic dinner.
2. Participate in the Junior Ranger program.
The park is designed mostly for kids ages 7 and up. The elevation peaks at over 10,000 feet so the littlest adventurers (under 7) might have a harder time enjoying it. That said, you can always opt for less hiking by renting a hiking backpack, so you can bring babies and toddlers! For the older kids, make sure you stop by the ranger station so they can participate in the Junior Ranger programs. There’s lots of learning activities included and they will feel super cool getting to do extra special stuff!
3. Dress for weather changes!
Keep in mind, Haleakalā National Park is a volcano, so weather changes quickly and drastically at times. Make sure you are dressed for several seasons! Wear layers, bring rain jackets and pack sunscreen. One minute it might be hot and sunny, and the next may be cold and windy. The weather changes are part of enjoying the geographical monument and experiencing life at 10,000 feet!
4. Wear appropriate shoes and make sure to bring them from home.
When you’re packing for your Maui vacation, chances are you think you may only be barefoot in the sand or in flip flops strolling through Lahaina. But if you are planning a trip up to Haleakala, make sure to bring a pair of outdoor friendly hiking boots or shoes. You’ll want to be comfortable in the elements and comfortable logging some miles. Make sure to pack some for the kiddos too. The last thing you’ll want to hear while you’re at the park is, “my feet hurt!”
5. Make it a full day at Haleakalā National Park and stop along the way!
As we mentioned, the trip up to the park from the beachy areas can take several hours, so we recommend that you stop along the way and make a day of it. Especially with kids. They’ll need some potty breaks and to get out and stretch. Make sure to pit stop at Surfing Goat Dairy. It’s an awesome goat farm in lower Kula on the way to Haleakala. You can take guided tours, eat some cheese, and play with goats!
6. Prepare for motion or car sickness.
We may sound like a broken record, but we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible so you can enjoy your Haleakalā National Park adventure! So, as we’ve already mentioned, the roads to Haleakala are long and windy—sometimes two lane curvy roads. If your kiddos (or you or grandma or auntie) have motion sickness, it’s best to pack extra water, some dramamine or other natural remedies. Maybe even throw in an emergency barf bucket!
7. While we are on the topic of what to bring….
Make sure you pack all of the snacks, drinks, water, etc. you’ll need because there are no services that offer those items in the park. Fill up your reusable water bottles and slip them in your backpack. Make sure to have your kid’s favorite travel snacks on hand too. That way you don’t have to rush back to the car and leave sooner than expected because they are hungry.
8. Think about making Haleakalā National Park an overnight adventure!
This is a great idea if you’re wanting to break up the drive! Why not camp at the park?! That way you can take your time getting there, exploring and going home (or back to your hotel, etc). Check out these drive up camping options on both sides of the park. Remember, you’ll be in nature! Embrace the elements and be prepared.
9. Go to the observation deck.
At the summit visitor center, there’s an indoor observation deck. Trust us, you’ll want to stop there! Not only for the beautiful views and picture perfect surroundings, but also because it’s the perfect place for an indoor rest stop with the kids. You can also warm up a bit if it’s chilly outside.
10. Take a tour of Haleakalā National Park and get a ride.
Looking for a more structured experience? Opt for a guided tour and you won’t have to be in charge! Just make sure your kids end up in the bus at the beginning, during the tour, and at the end, and you’ll be able to experience Haleakala and the Upcountry without being “Momager”. There’s only a few tour companies that are allowed to operate guided tours to the park, so your options are limited. We think this one is great by Valley Isle Excursions. They will drive you and your kids, feed you and your kids, and educate your children! What more could you ask for?
Enjoy one of the most memorable Maui experiences.
There you have it! However you decide to explore Haleakala, make sure to soak it all in and be as present as possible. It’s a remarkable natural landscape and ecological wonder. We know you and the entire family will treasure the experience forever!
Kaylee Garcia is a BabyQuip IQP in Washington state, a mama to one sweet boy, a wife to an awesome husband and BabyQuip recruiter too! Kaylee and her son (he’s not even two!) have completed over 13 trips via air travel (thank you, Alaska Airlines!) on over 30+ airplane rides! They love sharing travel tips with other families since they’ve learned a lot in the last 2 years. Kaylee enjoys spending time with family, researching baby gear, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.