Whale Watching, Lei Making, and Boogie Boarding: Family Fun Adventures at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua Resort in Maui

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“Oh my goodness! Look at those cute piggies!” shrieked my four-year old daughter. Not the first words you might expect to hear when arriving at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua Resort, but sure enough, Loco and Moco are the resident pot-bellied pua’as (pigs) at this lovely Maui property. The two were munching away on their afternoon snack just outside the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassador Centre. A staff member handed our kids some carrots from the botanical garden to feed the adorable brothers and assured my kids that Loco and Moco are friendly, love kids and are not the source of the resort breakfast buffet bacon.

Whale Watching excursion with Ambassadors of the Environment program

Whale Watching excursion with Ambassadors of the Environment program

The Ambassador Centre is conveniently located on the hotel grounds, making it an easy process to check in for our family whale watching excursion offered by the centre’s environment program. The centre also hosts several activities and education programs for kids and parents, allowing both to interact with the environment on Maui. Naturalists lead tide pool explorations, sea kayak coastal tours, whale watching expeditions, among many more activities. There are weekly camps, games, activities and themed parties for kids ages 5 and up, keeping them busy making new friends and creating lifelong memories.

Originally, these environmental programs were geared for kids, but proving that in some areas, you never completely grow up, parents seemed to enjoy the cool outings and adventures as much as the kids, so the program opened its doors to adults. The programs are designed strategically to inspire guests gain a greater understanding of the relationships between land and sea, humans and nature, people to people and present to future. The theme of the Jean Michel Cousteau Centre is sustainability, and that theme extends to the rest of the Kapaula property,  seen in areas such as the onsite Botanical Garden. The garden saves the hotel thousands of dollars annually by growing it’s own herbs that are served in the resort’s restaurants.

There is no shortage of other fun activities to enjoy at the Ritz-Carlton. A daily activity sheet outlines plenty of opportunities for exercise, education and fun. Some of them are offered for a fee, others are complimentary. In additional to the Jean Michel Cousteau activities, there is an never-ending list of classes and programs to enjoy. From sunrise to dusk, there is a plethora of fitness classes including laughter yoga and barre fitness.

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On my personal Maui bucket list was a lei making class and fortunately for us, there was a complimentary class offered during our stay. All ages are welcome and my kids were pumped to make these beautiful pieces of art. I think their biggest thrill was getting to handle the world’s longest needle (under my watchful eye) that would normally be off-limits to them. Both my kids participated and were so proud of their creations. The floral leis made our room and rental car smell heavenly. You just can’t reproduce those intoxicating scents.

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D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua

When we arrived at the property, we learned that when first constructing the hotel, the excavators discovered ancient remains buried along their coastline. The hotel chose to set this land aside and create a preservation site in its place and let the ancients rest in peace. For this reason, the Ritz does not have it’s own private beach, however, there is a shuttle to the award-winning DT Fleming Beach nearby, or you can walk down to it in about five minutes (if you aren’t carting all your water wings, boogie boards, and other beach accoutrements required when you have kids). DT Fleming Beach is of the rare beaches with lifeguards in Maui. Not that you would let your kids out of your sight near the ocean, but it’s still reassuring to have an extra pair of eyes scanning the water while your land-locked, prairie-raised husband and son are out on their boogie boards attempting to conquer the ocean waves.

Because the shuttle is offered, we assumed the beach was quite far, however after arriving and discovering how close we were to the hotel, we decided to forego the shuttle and walk back with boogie boards and kids in tow. However should you have children who complain of exhaustion after 200 metres of walking, the Ritz offers all guests a shuttle to most of the surrounding areas as a courtesy.

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The Ritz-Carlton sprawls 55 acres in Kapalua, the most northern resort area on the west side of Maui. Stunning jagged cliffs and golf courses flank the resort. This is the perfect area to visit if you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of Lahaina and Kihei. With just 463 guest rooms and suites on this expansive property, we never felt overcrowded or surrounded by a ton of people.

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During our busy stay, we managed to spend one glorious afternoon lazing by the pool. The resort features a stunning 10 000 square foot three-tiered pool connected by waterfalls.

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Right next to the large pool area is one of the loveliest tot pools I have ever seen. My kids are at the age where they turn their noses up at the “baby” pools, but they still spent some time standing under the gentle waterfalls pouring off the rock formation surrounding that pool and trying to stop the stream of water from the jets with their hands. Conveniently, there is a little kiosk next to the pool where we purchased some inflatable toys for our kids to goof around in the pool. You won’t find dollar store prices here, but it’s a trade-off for the convenience.

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To the left of the tot pool, we found a great little playground that the kids enjoyed when they were waterlogged and wanted to dry off for awhile.

The candy and cookie bars were a huge hit with my kids

The candy and cookie bars were a huge hit with my kids

I wish I could offer feedback about a fabulous dining experience at any of the seven restaurants on the hotel property, but my family stayed in a Ritz-Carlton Club® Level room where we had access to the Club Lounge. The Club Lounge offers complimentary snacks and beverages, including cocktails (pina coladas anyone)? There are five food presentations offered during the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and two rounds of snacks. You won’t find a five course full meal served, but we are pretty light eaters and found the food to be the perfect amount for our appetites. My kids loved the candy bar and the fresh baked cookie selection. My husband and I took advantage of the self-service cappuccino maker, a necessity to keep up with our energetic kids.

You can get access to the the Club Lounge by booking a Club® Level during your stay or by purchasing access, based on availability, when you check in.

The rope swing at Windmills Beach

The rope swing at Windmills

On our last day, we visited one of the beaches that was on the top of our Maui beach wish list, Punalau Beach, also known locally as Windmills. Windmills is about a 10 minute drive north of the Ritz-Carlton. While not a great swimming beach, it is still a great spot to watch surfers, chill and watch your kids enjoy the rope swings. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also stunningly beautiful.

The Kapalua Resort offers the beauty and beaches you expect from Hawaii with the unique twist of the ambassador centre, that parents and kids alike will enjoy.  Just be prepared to spend the long flight home fielding requests to adopt a pot-bellied pig.

The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua Contact Info:

Reservations: 1 (800) 262-8440
Phone: (808) 669-6200
Address: 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr. Kapalua, HI, USA
Website: www.ritzcarlton.com

A big thank you to The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua for hosting our family at their gorgeous resort.

For more great ideas of family fun things to see and do in Maui, be sure to visit www.gohawaii.com/maui.

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