Maui's Kapalua: Hawaiian Playground - My Family Travels

Kapalua starts with a glorious, green mountain range; pristine, white-sand coastline and a working pineapple plantation that surround a 1,650-acre resort community. Shade is provided by Cook Island pine trees 200-feet-tall, perhaps the most striking feature on Maui's stunning Northwest shore.

I chose the perfect travel companion to check out the Islands of Hawaii "grand-travel" appeal: my Dad, grandfather extraordinaire, novice but avid golfer and fairly artistic guy (although he won't admit it). He was just delighted to see how golf, beach, the arts and great condos work together in an ideal tourist destination.

Activities & Attractions for All Ages in Kapalua

Kapalua's main draw is golf. Home to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Kapalua boasts three courses that extend from oceanside to mountainside. The state-of-the-art Kapalua Golf Academy is a duffer's dream, with an enormous learning center for classroom instruction and strength-flexibility training. There's even an 18-hole putting course that's sort of a grown-up mini-golf course (yes, kids can use it, too).

The teaching staff, one of the largest in the world, has over 30 PGA professionals. The instructors customize sessions for individuals or small groups, including clinics for juniors age 7-17. My Dad and I really enjoyed the digital video instructional bay where pro golfers' swings were superimposed over our own. It clearly demonstrated that Tiger must change his posture and follow-through if he wants to play like me.

The Art School of Kapalua offers instruction for children (ages 5+) and adults in painting, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, photography, ballet, dance and yoga. Drop-ins are welcome. Artist-in-residence Lady Van Tiger instructed us in the art of charcoal still life– frankly, we were amazed at our results. There's also a studio for paint-your-own-ceramics, a nice diversion when you need to get out of the sun.

Active families should consisder the Maui Explorer Pass, which enables you to save 15% on regular admission prices to the top attractions. Guests at any of the resort properties can enjoy surfing, snorkeling, and other water activities at the nearby communities of Kapalua and Ka'anapali.

As we packed to leave, my Dad and I agreed that we must return with the grandkids, perhaps during whale-watching season (November through April) — although it might be difficult for Dad to see the whales from the Village Course.

Where Families Can Stay & Play in Kapalua

There are lots of different types of accommodations on this wonderful coast. We loved the Residences at Kapalua Bay, at 1 Bay Drive, Lahaina, HI 96761, a very high end condo complex. In August 2013, Montage Hotels announced that they were taking over the property and doing a total renovation. Once upgrades are complete, it will be known as Montage Kapalua Bay — a 50-suite hotel with 56 condo/residence units managed by this classy West Coast hotel group.

For families who prefer an equally luxurious hotel accommodation, there's the nearby Ritz Carlton Kapalua, and it has a popular supervised kids club in the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program.

The low-rise yet spacious two and three-bedroom units extend from the stunning, multi-tiered, open-air lobby and many have full ocean views. There are not many programs for young children, but the on-site Kapalua Adventures Center, an activity booking desk, promises many recreational challenges for older kids including zip lines, hiking, tennis and watersports. For a night out sans kids, stop by the the open-air Bay Club with its Pac-Rim cuisine and glorious sunsets.

There are other oceanside vacation rentals, complete with a fully equipped kitchen, all the household essentials, and a private lanai or patio from which your family can view the breath-taking sunset.

For example, the Sands of Kahana, nestled on the Kahana Beach, is a great spot for families seeking a fun-filled getaway with the comforts of home. This resort with one-, two- and three-bedroom units has something for each family member. There is a children's swimming pool and play area for the young ones. The older children and adults can take advantage of a large freshwater swimming pool, Jacuzzi, a volleyball court, and three tennis courts.

The entire family will have tons of fun cooking and eating in the barbecue areas. Just poolside, the Kahana Terrace Restaurant and Bar is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kahana, just minutes away, offers many family-style restaurants and value-oriented shopping. One bedroom units, ideal for four, start at under US$250 per night and range upwards if you want a two-bedroom fit for six, or a three-bedroom, accommodating up to eight; all rates depending on the view and the season.

Villas at Kapalua are Great Family Option

Large groups may prefer the Villas at Kapalua (800/837-0767), located at 2000 Village Road, Lahaina, HI 96761 in the nearby Kapalua Resort. Families have the choice of staying in the Bay, Golf, or Ridge Villas, or the Ironwoods. Here, there's access to the Kapalua Resort restaurants, boutiques, and recreational facilities, which includes three championship golf courses and a 10-court Tennis Garden. There is also complimentary shuttle service between the villas, WiFi, golf courses, Tennis Garden, and the Kapalua Bay hotels. The one-bedroom and two-bedroom units are in the same price range, and rates depend on the view, season, and your choice of resort. The three-bedroom units handled by Outrigger Resorts cost more, require maid service and have a different pricing structure.

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