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Review: LEGOLAND Hotel California

LEGOLAND Hotel California

LEGOLAND® California Hotel

The LEGOLAND® Hotel is a unique, family-friendly resort located in Carlsbad, California. The deluxe 250-room hotel opened in April 2013. 

For any true LEGO fan, a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel is an absolute must. A stay at the hotel includes themed rooms, free buffet breakfast, nightly children’s entertainment, and an in-room treasure hunt with LEGO surprises.

LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel vs the LEGOLAND® Hotel

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

There are two LEGOLAND® hotels, the LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel and LEGOLAND® Hotel, both located a few steps from the park entrance. They both offer similar benefits: LEGO-themed rooms, exclusive early morning access to the park (when you book a package including tickets), free breakfast, nightly entertainment in the lobby and a daily in-room treasure hunt with LEGO surprises.

Both hotels are three-story with 250 rooms, so have the same amount of guests in each.

LEGOLAND Hotel
LEGOLAND Hotel

Compared to the LEGOLAND® Hotel next door, the LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel is a bit smaller and quieter. The lobby and play area is smaller, the evening entertainment a lot quieter and there is one restaurant vs two and a cafe at the LEGOLAND® Hotel. Both are excellent hotels, however, and guests can use the restaurants and facilities at both quite easily.

Both hotels have swimming pools but only the Castle Hotel has play equipment and an outside movie theatre. The Castle Hotel’s pool is also considered the better of the two pools with its zero-entry and interactive water play features.

Both hotels offer package deals to stay that include park tickets. 

Read about our stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel.

LEGOLAND Hotel themed rooms

The hotel offers five choices of themed rooms, each with an added “deluxe” option. 

Pirate

LEGOLAND Hotel California

Ahoy there, mateys!  A breath-taking step into Captain Red Brick and his first mate’s pirate cabin. Your whole ship will be decked out with pirate bedding, curtains, wallpaper and even Polly, a LEGO parrot, can be found watching over you as you sleep! After a jolly adventure on the rides in the Park, send your junior shipmates up to their private bunks while you relax in the king-size cabin. So, me hearties, book your pirate room today for an unforgettable family treat. Shiver me timbers!

Adventure

LEGOLAND Hotel California

Spend the night where the adventure never ends! Dare to follow in the footsteps of the famous LEGO hero adventurer, Johnny Thunder, and explore this adventure themed room… Send your junior explorers off to their very own bunks for a well-deserved rest as you kick off your desert boots and settle down in your comfy king-size bed, safe in the knowledge that Johnny is guarding all exits! Get ready for the ultimate adventure!

Kingdom

LEGOLAND Hotel California
A royal welcome awaits you in the Kingdom themed rooms, fit for a king and his court.  Bask in your luxurious surroundings and relax in your king-size bed, while your junior royals head off to their own sleeping quarters. With bunting, shields and flags above the bed, this LEGO kingdom is certainly up to royal standards. Little knights and maidens will love the LEGO models dotted around the room, but remember… whatever you do, don’t let them kiss the frog!

Friends

The LEGO Friends have invited you to the ultimate sleepover! Step into the world of Heartlake City where the girls are awaiting your arrival. After you and your friends spend the day in the Park, stay the night at Heartlake Stables with your favorite Friends. With a king-sized bed for parents and private bunk bed for the kids, it is sure to be a sleepover your family will never forget!

NINJAGO

Welcome young Ninja!  Step into the temple courtyard, the cliff top overlooks all of NINJAGO as far as you can see. The bed lies at the bottom of a large shrine that holds all four of the epic elemental weapons. After a day in the Park, send your little Ninjas to their own private Dragon Cave while you relax in your king-sized bed.  Ninja alike will love exploring the different powers of each Ninja… Which power will you choose?

Lobby

LEGOLAND Hotel

The LEGOLAND® Hotel lobby is a sensational space with a castle play area and giant pit of LEGO bricks. 

LEGOLAND Hotel

This is also the area where the evening entertainment happens. Expect bright lights, lively hosts, plenty of music and dancing games.

LEGOLAND Hotel

The lobby is also filled with amazing little LEGO details like minifigures, and the merchandise store.

LEGOLAND Hotel

Bricks Family Restaurant

LEGOLAND Hotel

This fun restaurant is filled with cute restaurant-themed LEGO sculptures. A buffet breakfast at Bricks is included for hotel guests which features fresh fruit, smoothies, omelet station, bacon, sausage, hot and cold cereals and more.

LEGOLAND Hotel

Bricks is also open for dinner with a fab buffet for anyone who wishes to dine there. We loved the buffet because it had a huge range of food, including plenty of healthy options.

LEGOLAND Hotel
Kids’ buffet

The dinner buffet includes homemade soups, a California fresh salad bar, carved meats sliced to order, a variety of hot and cold entrees, side dishes, desserts and sweets and a “Just for Kids Buffet”. As a vegetarian I found loads of food to choose from. Children 2 and under eat free.

LEGOLAND Hotel

There is plenty of entertainment throughout the dining period too. We had a photo opp with a LEGO character on arrival, and a hilarious act by a few of the LEGOLAND® Hotel Heroes as we dined.

Skyline Cafe

LEGOLAND Hotel California

This bright little cafe is a great spot for a casual meal or snack, offering a variety of made-to-order appetizers, lunch and dinner options. You can also order tap beers, wines and spirits here. We really liked the decorating – the cafe features a LEGO® skyline.

Mini’s Lounge

LEGOLAND Hotel

The lounge is located right next to the play area, so it’s the perfect spot to grab a coffee or snack while the kids are playing. Mini’s Lounge offers hot and cold beverages, fresh fruit, pastries and snacks.

Swimming Pool

LEGOLAND Hotel California

The LEGOLAND Hotel features a large, heated swimming pool.

On-Site Amenities

LEGOLAND Hotel California

24 Hour Front Desk and Security
Check-In: 4:00pm
Check-Out: 11:00 am
Concierge Desk
Full Breakfast Buffet Included
Bricks Family Restaurant
Skyline Cafe
Room Service 7am-10:30am, 12pm-10pm (Children’s Options Available)
Wi-Fi Included
Outdoor Heated Pool
Poolside Cabanas
Nightly Children’s Activities
ATM
Gift Shop
24-Hour Fitness Center (Treadmills, Elliptical, Weights, etc.)
ADA Accessible Rooms Available
Suites Available
Video Arcade

Resort Fee

LEGOLAND Hotel California

All reservations are subject to a nightly Resort Fee of $28 plus applicable tax which is not included in your reservation total and will be collected upon check-in. Resort Fee includes nightly in-room refreshments, nightly surprises for the kids, luggage service, standard wireless internet, children’s entertainment, fitness center, pool access, pool towels, and local and domestic long-distance phone calls. Subject to change without notice.

Parking

Self-Parking: $25 / night
Valet Parking: $28 / night

Read about our visit to LEGOLAND California Resort.

LEGOLAND Hotel California

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad,
California USA
legoland.com

Additional photos care of LEGOLAND California Resort.

Review: LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, California

A stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, California

Hotel Review: LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is located at LEGOLAND California Resort, Carlsbad. The deluxe 250-room hotel opened in April 2018. 

A stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is a must (in our opinion) for anyone visiting LEGOLAND California Resort. With every room given a LEGO theme and 2,100 LEGO models made out of more than three million LEGO bricks scattered throughout the hotel, an overnight stay turns a park day trip into an immersive LEGO experience.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel vs the LEGOLAND Hotel

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

There are two LEGOLAND hotels, the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel and LEGOLAND Hotel, both located a few steps from the park entrance. They both offer similar benefits: LEGO-themed rooms, exclusive early morning access to the park (when you book a package including tickets), free breakfast, nightly entertainment in the lobby and a daily in-room treasure hunt with LEGO surprises.

Both hotels are three-story with 250 rooms, so have the same amount of guests in each.

LEGOLAND Hotel
LEGOLAND Hotel

Compared to the LEGOLAND Hotel next door, the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is a bit smaller and quieter. The lobby and play area is smaller, the evening entertainment a lot quieter and there is one restaurant vs two and a cafe at the LEGOLAND Hotel. Both are excellent hotels, however, and guests can use the restaurants and facilities at both quite easily.

Both hotels have swimming pools but only the Castle Hotel has play equipment and an outside movie theatre. The Castle Hotel’s pool is also considered the better of the two pools with its zero-entry and interactive water play features.

Both hotels offer package deals to stay that include park tickets. 

What you can expect during a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel California.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is shaped like a castle on the outside, which makes for an exciting experience from the moment you pull up into the car park. Note that parking is NOT included in the stay, nor is the daily resort fee.

Grand Hall

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Inside the lobby, called the Grand Hall, the fun begins, with a large Merlin-themed brick pit and fun features to be discovered while waiting for your room key. The brick pit is also excellent for entertaining kids if it’s raining outside.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

There are great photo ops in the lobby and up the stairs including tiny jail cell and a silly chair that makes funny comments. There is also a knock-knock wall that tells jokes and a Harry Potter located chair up the stairs.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

The slide is a really fun way for kids to get back down to the lobby instead of taking the stairs. We suggest taking the elevator at least once as they’ve put a lot of effort into make the elevator ride itself a fun experience.

Themed Rooms

There are three different themed rooms to choose from: Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess or Magic Wizard. 

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
(PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland)

Knights and Dragons Room: Guests will defend the King’s Castle and help protect the King’s treasure from the approaching bad Dragon Knights and their fire-breathing dragons!

(PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland)

Royal Princess Room: The Princess is no damsel in distress and she uses the help of the jester to prepare to sneak into the tournament and compete with the knights.

Magic Wizard: Full of curious potions, spell books, wands and magic mirrors, kids can use their imagination to believe their help is needed to protect these treasures and keep them safe from any bad Wizards or Dragon Knights.

Magic Wizard Room

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

We chose the Magic Wizard theme and loved our room, which was filled with spell books, wands, potions and even a magic mirror. 

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Each standard room as two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and one with single bunk beds. Both rooms have their own LCD TV screen.

The main bedroom has a light-up headboard that can be turned off thankfully at bedtime.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

The room with bunk beds has a cool feature that, when turned on, shines stars onto the roof like a night light. 

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

In between the two bedrooms is a bathroom. The bathroom had one sink and a combined shower/bath.

The room was a tight fit for the three of us with our luggage, but the theming was just incredible.

If you have a larger family, you might look into one of the 20 family suites at the hotel. The suites are roughly one and a half times larger than the standard rooms, sleeping up to seven people and including a lounge area with sofa bed, children’s sleeping area with a bunk bed and trundle and a king-sized bed for the adults.

The bathroom features two sinks and a separate bath and shower. There are closing doors for the children’s sleeping area and adults’ – something the standard rooms don’t have.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

A cute added bonus of staying at the hotel is a daily treasure hunt. Reception hands over a map with four clues that are located around the lobby and restaurant. Find the answer to each clue and you will receive the code to the in-room safe. The safe is filled each day with a different LEGO surprise.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Also included in each room is a box of bricks and a cute LEGO ice bucket.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Dragon’s Den Restaurant and Bar

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

There is one sit down restaurant located inside the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, the Dragon’s Den Restaurant and Bar.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Dragon’s Den Restaurant and Bar is a full-service sit down restaurant. In the evenings guests can choose from an a la carte menu.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

There is a large brick play area in the restaurant which makes is a great choice for families who want to linger over a meal while the kids play happily.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

In the mornings there is a full, hot buffet breakfast on offers featuring fresh fruit, smoothies, omelet station, bacon, sausages and pastries.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Entertainment is offered inside the restaurant including singers and actors.

The Royal Courtyard

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
The Royal Courtyard area is located directly outside from the Dragon’s Den Restaurant. It has a DUPLO play area for younger kids, play structures movie screen for nighttime movies, a stage for live plays and shows, a gradual incline pool and hot tub. 

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

The zero-entry pool has interactive water play features and whirlpool spa. For those that like to dine by the pool, Castle Pool Bar & Grille will offer smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel Amenities

24 Hour Front Desk and Security
Check-In: 4:00pm
Check-Out: 11:00am
Concierge Desk
Full Hot Breakfast Included at Dragon’s Den Restaurant
Wi-Fi Included
Outdoor Heated Pool
Hot Tub/Jacuzzi
Poolside Cabanas
Nightly Children’s Activities
ATM
Laundromat
Gift Shop
Fitness Center
Service Animals Only
ADA Accessible Rooms Available
Suites Available

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Resort Fee

All reservations are subject to a nightly Resort Fee of $28 plus applicable tax which is not included in your reservation total and will be collected upon check-in. Resort Fee includes nightly in-room refreshments, nightly surprises for the kids, luggage service, standard wireless internet, children’s entertainment, fitness center, pool access, pool towels, and local and domestic long-distance phone calls. Subject to change without notice.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Parking

Self-Parking: $25 / night
Valet Parking: $28 / night

Read about our visit to LEGOLAND California Resort.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

A stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, California A stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, California

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad,
California USA
legoland.com

12 reasons to visit LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort

12 Reasons to Visit  LEGOLAND California Resort

Have a LEGO-lover in your family? Then a visit to LEGOLAND California Resort in absolutely has to be on your family’s bucket list. 

LEGOLAND California Resort is located in Carlsbad, about 30 mins north of San Diego or just under two hours south of LA. The resort has two official LEGOLAND hotels attached to it, however visitors are able to self-drive or get a day tour from San Diego or LA for a day at the park. 

It’s designed for little kids

LEGOLAND California Resort

This is an excellent theme park for little kids. LEGOLAND California is aimed at 2-12 year olds, with the “sweet spot” being 4-9 year olds. What this translates to are rides and facilities geared towards this age group throughout the whole park, so kids who are at the older end of the age bracket will be able to go on every single ride and enjoy every attraction.

It’s really nice for little kids to have a park geared towards their needs and entertainment. We found as a result the whole atmosphere of the park was calmer, a result of the younger aged visitors (mostly families with kids under the age of 8), easy to manage, and also very do-able to see all the attractions in one day.

Big kids will love it too

LEGOLAND California Resort

If you’re an adult who loves LEGO, then you will enjoy your experience at the park, too. When we visited in December there was a dedicated Star Wars-themed Miniland area (which has sadly since been removed) which my Star Wars-loving husband absolutely geeked out over. As adults we also appreciated the incredible work that goes behind building the LEGO masterpieces. They are such works of art!

There is LEGO literally everywhere

LEGOLAND California Resort

There are 30,000 LEGO models scattered all around the park. We wanted to stop and take photos of or with basically everything. 

Inside the front entrance, visitors meet Bronte, the dinosaur. Bronte is made from 2 million bricks, the most of any model in the park. In total, sixty million LEGO pieces have been used throughout the park.

Ride your heart out

LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort is filled with more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. There are rides to suit kids of all ages and interests, from very gentle rides to thrilling rollercoasters. 

LEGOLAND California Resort

Our daughter’s favourite however was the new Deep Sea Adventure, an interactive ride featuring more than 2,000 life sea creatures. We spotted sharks, rays and plenty of fish interspersed with sea-themed LEGO models. 

LEGOLAND California Resort

Burn off steam in the play areas

LEGOLAND California Resort

There are several play areas around the park for kids to run and climb, as well as a dinosaur dig area and the popular LEGOLAND Build-a-Boat – a water play area where kids (and adults!) can build a LEGO boat and sail its around a water play table.

LEGOLAND California Resort

Get tiny at Miniland USA

LEGOLAND California Resort

It’s hard to tell who loves Miniland USA more, kids or adults! The incredible detail in the recreated famous buildings appeals to big and littles alike. 

Around 32,496,352 LEGO bricks have been used to recreate landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the capital building in Washington D.C., Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Grand Central Station in New York and the strip in Las Vegas. 

LEGOLAND California Resort

Also in Miniland USA is the Model Shop, home of the LEGO builders and more than three million LEGO bricks. The workshop is the headquarters for maintaining and repairing the models in the park, as well as the creative centre for developing new models and displays.

Cuddle up to a character

LEGOLAND California Resort

The LEGO character meet and greets are adorable! We met a very cute gingerbread LEGO character when we visited and it made for a very cute photo opp.

Enjoy seasonal delights

LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort is even more fun during the holidays. We visited at Christmas for example and enjoyed the special LEGO decorations, builds and character meet-and-greets at that time of year. Halloween would be an amazing time to visit.

Get a driving licence at Driving School

LEGOLAND California Resort

Driving School is technically a ride but it was the absolute favourite activity at the park for our daughter, so it deserves its own mention. Kids ages 6-13 can drive their own car and earn your own LEGOLAND Driver’s license. 

Make a mini figure (or 10!)

LEGOLAND California Resort

Make mini figures to your hearts’ delight at the Minifigure station!

Go under the ocean at SEA LIFE® aquarium

LEGOLAND California Resort

Attached to LEGOLAND California Resort is SEA LIFE® aquarium, a great option for kids who love aquatic creatures. SEA LIFE® aquarium is a combination of active hands-on learning with up close encounters with sea creatures including sharks, octopi and rays. SEA LIFE® aquarium also has a new exhibit, Sea at Night, where visitors can stroll in a gentle surf under a starry sky, and frolic in a simulated bioluminescent tide.

SEAL LIFE Aquarium LEGOLAND

Admission to SEA LIFE® aquarium is included in a LEGOLAND SEA LIFE Park Hopper ticket, or any LEGOLAND ticket can be upgraded to include SEA LIFE Aquarium admission for $25.

Splash in the water parks

LEGOLAND California Resort

During the warmer months, a visit to the LEGOLAND and CHIMA Water Parks are a must! There are plenty of slides and rides to enjoy – admission to the water parks is an additional $30. 

Tips for visiting LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort

Buy tickets online in advance. If you book through Klook you can get a discounted rate.

Plan your visit by looking at the height restrictions map for attractions at LEGOLAND California Resort.

LEGOLAND California Resort

Pack lunch or try one of the restaurants.

LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort

We found plenty of healthy choices throughout the park including salads and toasted sandwiches.

LEGOLAND Hotel

Stay at a LEGOLAND Hotel for the full experience. We loved staying at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. You can also drop into the lobby of either hotel and play in the brick areas if you’re not a guest of the hotel.

Read about our stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel.

If it look like rain, take a poncho and wear waterproof shoes! Rides can stop running during the rain however that are still plenty of inside rides that can be enjoyed, plus the SEA LIFE® aquarium.

LEGOLAND California Resort

Visit the LEGOLAND store! They have the most amazing LEGO merch, including some LEGO sets that are only available in LEGOLAND California Resort.

If you’re visiting with a disability, get tips on LEGOLAND California Resort’s accessibility from my friend Julie at Have Wheelchair Will Travel.

LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California Resort
1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad,
CA 92008, United States
+1 888-690-5346
https://www.legoland.com/california/

We received admission tickets to LEGOLAND California Resort for reviewing purposes. Additional images thanks to LEGOLAND.

Top Tips for Visiting San Diego Zoo

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

Top Tips for Visiting San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park, San Diego California, is a world-renowned, innovative zoo, with a strong conservation focus.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals from over 650 species and subspecies. It’s often described as having set the standard for modern zoos with its natural habitats for animals, often with different species living together, and lush landscaping.

San Diego Zoo is 100-acres in size, making for a big day out if you want to see everything on offer. 

San Diego Zoo Conservation Focus

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

Both San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park are havens for endangered species where animals are cared for and breeding programs are in place to help protect them against extinction. Studies of animal behaviour and health are also conducted at the zoos which would be difficult or impossible to perform in the wild, which provides invaluable information on these species that is shared with other zoos and wildlife parks globally to aid animal conservation in the field. 

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research generates, shares, and applies scientific knowledge that is vital to the conservation of animals, plants, and habitats worldwide. You can read about their excellent work online.

Plan your visit to San Diego Zoo

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

The zoo is absolutely huge, so good planning is a must. Take a good look at the map in advance and plan what animals are a must-see and plot your path. The very helpful volunteers at the entrance will let you know if there are any babies at the zoo and where you can find them.

I also suggest wearing good shoes for walking, arriving when the zoo opens to make the most of the entire day and pack sunscreen and a hat.

San Diego Zoo

Click here to see a large Zoo map.

Save your legs with the Guided Bus Tour

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

The easiest way to see the zoo is with a 35-minute narrated tour on a double-decked bus. The Guided Bus Tour presented by Go San Diego® Card is included with all admission tickets.

Hop on and off the Kangaroo Bus

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

A great option if you want a lift between stops around the zoo but want to see most of it as close as possible with some walking here and there. The Kangaroo Bus lets you hop on and off at four different stops throughout the Zoo.

There are well-signed stops around the zoo – simply wait at one of the stops for a bus with a yellow Kangaroo Bus banner to arrive. The buses run roughly every 15 minutes. All admission tickets include the Kangaroo Bus. You may bring an empty, folded stroller on the Kangaroo Bus, space permitting.

Catch the Skyfari Aerial Tram

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

We loved the Skyfari Aerial Tram. It’s a convenient and fast way to get from one side of the zoo to the other, as well as giving a beautiful view of the zoo as you go. The Skyfari Aerial Tram is included with all admission tickets. Note however that jogging, oversized, and double strollers cannot be accommodated and children younger than 8 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

Skyfari Aerial Tram will be closed for renovations during early 2020 so check the website for updates if taking it is a must for your visit.

Enjoy a show

The zoo runs some fun shows that are perfect for kids in particular. At time of writing the Dr Zoolittle Explores Australia show is running weekends at 12pm and 1pm. 

Get the most recent information on shows online.

Let the kids play

There are three play spaces for kids spaced throughout the zoo.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

The Elephant Play Yard is a hands-on play and exploration area for anyone who loves fossils. Enjoy the fossil dig play area, puzzles and maze of elephant satellite tracking collars in this space. Located at Elephant Odyssey

The Koala Klimber lets visitors snap some fun selfies with replica koalas in the Australian Outback section.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

The Polar Play area has some super shiny polar bears to get up close to, plus a polar bear den that kids love crawling through. Located in Northern Frontier

Plan your meals

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

There are an overwhelming number of choices for dining at San Diego Zoo. Options range from casual to restaurant dining and quick bites. You also have the option to keep costs down by bringing your own lunch and snacks, however that’s always a challenge if, like us, you’re visiting and don’t have a kitchen to make your own meals.

Each of the dining options has a different menu and price point, so I highly advise taking a thorough look at the website in advance and exploring the dining options available before your zoo day, particularly if you have any dietary requirements or fussy eaters.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo
Kids’ Meal

Try and upgraded experience

If you want to make your day even more special, try an upgraded experience, which lets visitors get even closer to the animals.

Animals in Action

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

We loved the Animals in Action interactive experience. The one-hour experience took us behind the scenes to feed, touch and observe some of the Zoo’s animal ambassadors up close. 

It was a fantastic opportunity to not just meet some animals that we would never have otherwise been able to see up close, but to hear stories from the keepers on the animals, how they ended up at the zoo, the part they play in animal conservation, and fun facts that we didn’t know. Some animals are only able to be viewed by attending the Animals in Action experience.

On our Animals in Action experience we met a rhino, flamingoes, hedgehog, zebra, cheetah and armadillo. The animals change in each experience based on their health.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

Tips for guests with disabilities

San Diego Zoo have several services to help guests with disabilities. The Zoo provides special parking, rest rooms, and access to shows, tour buses, and exhibits for guests with disabilities.

Please note there are steep grades in parts of the Zoo. Free shuttle bus service operates inside the Zoo for those with limited mobility. Guests who use wheelchairs are not able to use the moving walkways.

Find the Zoo’s guest disability services and policies online.

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo Tips for visiting San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego
Hours: Daily, 9am-5pm
zoo.sandiegozoo.org

We received general admission tickets as guests of San Diego Zoo. We paid for the Animals in Action experience ourselves.

The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids

The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids, Hawaii

The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids

Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands. It’s a wonderland of fun for families, with Haleakala National Park, thrill-seeking adventures, 30 miles of beaches and aquatic wildlife galore. There are plenty of things to do in Maui with kids!

Family-friendly Activities

Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Surfing Goat Dairy is a dairy farm located on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala Crater in lower Kula, Hawaii. It produces more than two dozen goat cheeses, many of which have won national awards and are used by hotels and restaurants on the island.

The dairy was was established in 1998 by German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack.

Visitors are welcome to drop by the dairy and try the cheeses or meet the goats near the main office. I highly recommend taking a daily tour. The walking tours last for 30 minutes and take visitors around the working farm and dairy and includes petting and feeding the working goats and meeting the dogs and cats.

Read more about our experience visiting Surfing Goat Dairy here.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali'i Kula Lavender, Maui, Hawaii

A sweet-smelling place to stop on the slopes of Haleakalā, Ali’i Kula Lavender grows 45 varieties of lavender. It’s a gorgeous spot to wander through the different lavender plants and smell the differences. There is a kids’ trail on offer. Try the lavender ice cream for something different!

Get more info on visiting Ali’i Kula Lavender here.

Haleakalā National Park

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakalā, or the East Maui Volcano, is a massive volcano that forms more than 75% of Maui. Haleakala is home to some of the world’s rarest and most endangered plant and animal species. The mountain summit is one of the few easily-accessible parts of Hawaii where their rare and endemic species can be found to survive and thrive.

Driving to the summit takes 2-3 hours. Sunrise is the most popular time to visit, however any time of day is beautiful. 

Read about driving to the summit of Haleakalā here.

Napili Beach

Napili Beach, Maui, Hawaii

A gorgeous spot with sloping sand and plenty of trees for shade, Napili Beach is a top spot for families. The enclosed bay keeps the beach protected from waves, making it a gentle, flat beach, perfect for kids and snorkelling. With plenty of reef areas to the left of the beach, Napili is a great spot to float around looking for fish.

Napili Beach, Maui, Hawaii

There is an outdoor shower at the exit/entrance to the beach and restroom amenities. parking however is a challenge and we had to park a long way down the road. Bring a picnic lunch as there is nowhere to buy food and set up for the day in a shady spot.

Ka’anapali Beach

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

This gorgeous beach is home to seven resorts (we’ve stayed here twice!) and plenty of restaurants. The key attraction however is the beautiful golden sand that stretches for three miles and the soft waves that crash upon it.

There are plenty of trees not far back from the waters edge so there is plenty of space to set up towels or chairs for the day. Morning is the best time to visit to get shade. 

Ka’anapali Beach is a fantastic snorkelling spot as there is a reef just beyond the wave break. Take along a snorkelling set and spot beautifully coloured fish and even the odd green sea turtle.

There are outdoor showers to rinse off at several spots along the beach near the resorts. Kahekili Beach Park has outdoor showers and restrooms to change in. 

Whalers Village

Whalers Village, Maui, Hawaii

This beachside mall has it all! Plenty of boutique shops, restaurants, a whaling museum, cultural activities such as lei making and hula lessons, free movie nights, live music and a kids play area featuring a climbing structure and splash play area. 

Whalers Village, Maui, Hawaii

Get more info on Whalers Village here

Maui Ocean Centre, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium and oceanography center located on the island of Maui, Hawaii, and is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The Maui Ocean Center mission is to foster understanding, wonder, and respect for Hawaii’s marine life with local residents and visitors from around the world. The center is home to many of Hawaii’s unique marine life, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. The Maui Ocean Center is at the top of our list for things to do in maui with kids. 

You can read more about our visit to the Maui Ocean Center here.

Ziplining

Ziplining over the beautiful island of Maui is a popular activity for visitors to the island. If you want to take kids ziplining, try Maui Zipline Company, who offer side-by-side zip lines over a tropical plantation for kids ages 5+ and adults.

Get more info on ziplining with kids here.

Horseback Riding

Kids need to be aged seven and up to horseback ride at most ranches on Maui. Try Ironwood Ranch – they have an excellent location and offer rides of various lengths.

Get more info on Ironwood Ranch here.

Ho’okipa Beach

Hookpia Beach, Maui, Hawaii

A world-renowned windsurfing destination, Ho’okipa Beach is also a prime turtle-spotting location. Hawaiian green sea turtles can usually be found at the north end of the beach near the rocks. Be mindful that they are wild animals and stay 6-10 feet away. 

Pa’ia

Paia, Maui, Hawaii

This little town on Maui’s north shore is big on charm. It’s a great spot to stop for lunch and to check out the little art galleries, boutiques and street art. 

Paia, Maui, Hawaii Paia, Maui, Hawaii

We dined at the Flatbread Company, who serve hand-made pizzas cooked in clay ovens. Kids can watch the pizza dough being stretched and toppings being added.

Luau or hula show

Westin Hula

An absolute must on Maui is a hula show or luau. The Whalers Village at the Kaanapali Beach Resort has free hula shows, as do some hotels such as the Westin Ka’anapali Beach Villas. If you have a dancer in the family like we do, catching a hula show should be at the top of your list for things to do in Maui with kids.

Soak up a true Hawaiian experience at the Old Lahaina Luau.

Lahaina Banyan Court

Lahaina Banyan Tree, Maui, Hawaii

Kids will love running underneath the famous banyan tree in Lahaina. Measuring over 60 feet high, and looks like a mini forest with several tree trunks.

Maluaka Beach: Turtle Town

Turtle Town, Maui, Hawaii

Stronger swimmers will love seeing Hawaiian green sea turtles in their natural habitat at Maluaka Beach, also called “Turtle Town”.  Maluaka Beach is located adjacent to the Makena Beach & Golf Resort and has nearby amenities like a grassy park area, bathrooms and snorkel gear rentals on site. The entrance to Maluaka Beach and Turtle Town are both unmarked and easy to miss. 

Early morning is the best time for snorkelling as the water is calmest then. The reef at the south end of the beach is where you’ll find marine life including angelfish, butterfly fish, moray eels, octopus, trumpet fish, triggerfish and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Maluaka Beach has a sandy-bottom, shallow area that is ideal for swimming with young kids. There is shade, picnic tables and an excellent view of the Molokini crater in the background.

More things to do in Maui

Have older kids? Try the Road to Hana – get info here

Where to eat with kids

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

Ululani's Shave Ice, Maui, Hawaii

Shave ice is an iced-based dessert made by shaving a block of ice. Flavoured syrups are added to the top. Ululani’s can be found in a few locations across Maui.

Ululani's Shave Ice, Maui, Hawaii

The first store is located on Front Street at the Lahaina Market Place.

Get more info on Ululani’s here.  

Island Cream Co.

Island Cream Co. Maui, Hawaii

A delicious spot for gelato and ice cream, at the Lahaina Gateway. Add fun toppings like gummy bears for some extra fun.

Get more info on Island Cream Co. here

Hula Grill

Hula Grill, Maui, Hawaii, Whalers Village

A fun, beach-side eatery in Ka’anapali at Whalers Village, we loved dining at their barefoot bar, which was reminiscent of eating at the beach thanks to the sand underfoot.

Hula Grill, Maui, Hawaii, Whalers Village

The excellent kids’ menu with activity sheet left the little one happy, while the adults loved the cocktails, fish tacos and goat’s cheese pizza (cheese from the local Surfing Goat Dairy).

Hula Grill, Maui, Hawaii, Whalers Village

Hula Grill, Maui, Hawaii, Whalers Village

Get more info on Hula Grill here

Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop

Leoda's Maui, Hawaii

Famous for their pies and sandwiches, Leoda’s is so good we could have eaten there every single day.

Leoda's Maui, Hawaii

The little one liked the grilled cheese on brioche bread while the adults enjoyed the massive, freshly made sandwiches. Don’t leave without a sweet pie, they are delicious!

Leoda's Maui, Hawaii Leoda's Maui, Hawaii

Get more info on Leoda’s here

Kimo’s Maui

Kimo's Maui, Hawaii

Home of the original Hula Pie, Kimo’s is a Lahaina institution.

Kimo's Maui, Hawaii

A seafood restaurant, Kimo’s has vegetarian options and a great kids’ menu. We ordered a vegetarian sandwich and burger for the adults and mac and cheese for the little one.  The view is impossible to beat.

Kimo's Maui, Hawaii Kimo's Maui, Hawaii

Order the Hula Pie to share!

Kimo's Maui, Hawaii

Get more info on Kimo’s here

Flatbread Company

Paia, Maui, Hawaii

We dined at the Flatbread Company in Paia, who serve hand-made pizzas cooked in clay ovens. Kids can watch the pizza dough being stretched and toppings being added.

Paia, Maui, Hawaii

Get more info on the Flatbread Company here.

How to get around on Maui

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

I think car hire is a must on Maui unless you intend to never leave your resort or only plan to do so with guided tours that pick up at your hotels. We used our car every day to pick up groceries, head to a new spot for lunch and visit attractions. There are many different car rental providers at Maui airport that are all quite similar. You can get a free shuttle bus between the car hire places and airport. I would suggest booking car hire in advance.

Where to stay on Maui with kids

Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, HawaiiWe chose the Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas because all rooms or “villas” have a full kitchenette as well as excellent resort facilities including six outdoor pools. 

You can read more about our stay at the Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas here.

Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel

Ka'anapali Beach Resort, Maui, Hawaii Often called the “most Hawaiian of Hawaiian hotels”, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers an authentic Hawaiian experience with plenty of aloha warmth from staff. We loved the hotel’s location and friendly staff.

Ka'anapali Beach Resort, Maui, Hawaii

Read more about the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel here.

More things to do in Maui

Find great hikes on Maui here.

The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids, Hawaii The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids, Hawaii The Best Things To Do In Maui With Kids, Hawaii

 

Haleakalā National Park: Driving To The Summit

Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii: Driving To The Summit

Haleakalā National Park, Maui Hawaii: Driving To The Summit

Haleakalā, or the East Maui Volcano, is a massive volcano that forms more than 75% of Maui. Haleakala is home to some of the world’s rarest and most endangered plant and animal species. The mountain summit is one of the few easily-accessible parts of Hawaii where their rare and endemic species can be found to survive and thrive.

Driving to the summit

Depending where you get started from on Maui, it can take two to three hours to drive the Haleakala Highway (HI 37) and then up the winding Haleakala Crater Road leading to the summit of Haleakala.

Kahului1.5 – 2 hours
Kihei1.75 – 2.25 hours
Kaanapali and Lahaina2.25 – 2.75 hours
Kapalua2.5 – 3 hours

The Park Visitors Center is located at 7,000 feet. Continue past it to the Haleakala Visitors Center at 9,740 feet.

Visitor information 

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except during severe weather closures.

There are 24-hour available restrooms at the two visitors centres.

Park Headquarters Visitor Center (7,000 feet/2,134 meters) is open 8am-4pm. Haleakalā Visitor Center (9,740 feet/2,969 meters) is open sunrise to noon. Kīpahulu Visitor Center (coastal) is open 9am-5pm.

The visitors centres have naturalists are on duty during business hours to answer questions.

Entrance fees

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Daily passes are required to enter the park. Have a credit card handy to use for payment of entry fees at the Summit and Kīpahulu entrance stations.

Private Vehicle: $25. Valid for 3 days. Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (14 pax capacity or less) and all occupants to Haleakalā National Park including both the Summit and Kīpahulu Areas.

Motorcycle: $20. Valid for 3 days. Admits a private, non-commercial motorcycle to Haleakalā National Park including both the Summit and Kīpahulu Areas.

Per Person: $12. Valid for 3 days. Admits one individual with no car to Haleakalā National Park including both the Summit and Kīpahulu Areas – typically used for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.

If you arrive at the park at a time when the entrance station is closed, please pay the entrance fee at the automated fee machine using cash.

Sunrise and sunset at Haleakalā

Haleakala Sunrise, Maui, Hawaii

Watching the sunrise over Haleakalā is an incredibly special experience, one which now requires reservations to keep the crowd numbers down. If you want to visit at sunrise, reservations open up online 60 days in advance at recreation.gov.

Sunset at Haleakalā is just as beautiful and requires no reservations.

Before sunrise and after sunset the temperatures plunge dramatically, so you will need to pack extra layers like coats, beanies, gloves and possibly even blankets if you plan to visit then.

Get more information about sunrise at Haleakalā here.

Haleakala Visitor Center and Pa Kaoao Trail

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Elevation: 9,740 ft. (2969 m.)

Features: Ranger Station, Wheelchair Accessible, Restrooms, Water
 

This small Visitor Center is perched right at the edge of a cliff. Leave your car here to walk the Pa Kaoao Trail, which leads 100 ft. (30 m.) up to an overlook with a remarkable view. The change in altitude on this short trail is very noticeable.

 

Puu ulaula Summit

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Elevation: 10,023 ft. (3,055 m.)

 
Features: Wheelchair Accessible Drive up to Haleakala’s highest point, Puu ulaula Summit, to enjoy 360-degree views of the alien Haleakala landscape. This is the spot to stick around and watch the sun set from.

Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Important information before driving up to Haleakalā

  • Dress warmly. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Temperatures at the Summit are at least 20 degrees colder than at sea level and often drop below freezing.
  • Fill up your gas tank and bring food. Neither are available in the park.
  • Bring water, sunscreen, and wear sturdy shoes.
  • Pay the entrance fee with a credit card.
  • Always respect speed limits. The park road goes through endangered species habitat.
  • Please leave natural resources and cultural artefacts, rocks, and structures alone.
  • No climbing/ walking off the marked trails as this can destroy habitats and scare wildlife.
  • Please be quiet and respectful. The Summit is sacred to Native Hawaiians.
  • The Summit is remote. Emergency medical assistance is at least one hour away.

Safety information care of nps.gov

Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii: Driving To The Summit

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui Hawaii

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy is a dairy farm located on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala Crater in lower Kula, Hawaii. It produces more than two dozen goat cheeses, many of which have won national awards and are used by hotels and restaurants on the island.

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

The dairy was was established in 1998 by German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack.

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Visitors are welcome to drop by the dairy and try the cheeses or meet the goats near the main office. I highly recommend taking a daily tour. The walking tours last for 30 minutes and take visitors around the working farm and dairy.

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Meet the working dairy goats, dogs, and cats, see the modern milking machines and try some goat cheese. The most fun of course is feeding and petting the goats.

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii
When we visited in November 2018 the tour cost $8 for kids 2-12 years old & $12 for adults. Reservations are recommended however we just showed up and went on the next tour. It certainly is a very unique Hawaiian experience!

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

We also bought extra cheese platters to sample while we were visiting, which included some highly unusual flavours of hard and soft goat cheese.

Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui, Hawaii

Surfing Goat Dairy
3651 Omaopio Rd, Kula
surfinggoatdairy.com

Hotel Review: Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas
Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas

The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas is located on Maui’s Kā‘anapali’s North Beach. The resort offers studio and one bedroom villas, which can be combined to make a two bedroom villa, and amenities that provide guests with a home away from home.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

We stayed in a Studio Island View room with a king bed and sofa bed. An additional rollaway bed can be added for $30USD per night. The room was extremely large, with huge bathroom and oversized bathtub plus seperate shower, double vanities, a light-up mirror and hair dryer.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The big drawcard for us with Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas was their amazing kitchen, washing machine and dryer, making it it the perfect place to base yourself for an extended stay, cool your own meals and wash your own clothes. There’s even an ironing board and iron in the cupboard, and a vacuum!

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The kitchen features coffee maker / tea service, refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, dish cleaning supplies, silverware, pots, pans, and serving dishes, dishes and glasses. We found our supplies topped up during our stay as well.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas offers six outdoor pools, with two dedicated to children’s pools and one for adults only.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The resort is absolutely massive, spread over 25 acres and divided into north and south towers. The main lobby and facilities are in the south tower however the north tower also has a lobby, booking desk, restaurants and its own pools.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Outside each lobby is a decorative pool with koi carp fish that are entrancing to watch. Guests can watch the fish being fed daily.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

We were in the north tower near the car park and it did take quite a long time to walk from our room down to the pools or lobby and other facilities.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Guests are able to use the facilities in either tower, and we had a lot of fun trying the different pools. At each pool there is a store offering free towels and sunscreen for guests, beach rentals such as snorkels and free pool items like floats and noodles. They also sell items like sunglasses and goggles.

North Lobby pools below

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

South Lobby pool below

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

A highlight for smaller kids is the children’s pool with a pirate ship which is located in the south tower. There is a children’s playground near the pool, and the Westin Family Kid’s Club is also located nearby.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Family Kid’s Club features daily activities for an additional fee. Activities include arts, crafts and learning about Hawaiian Culture.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

The Westin also celebrates Hawaiian culture at their Pu’uhonua Cultural Center where a series of fun programs are run for guests by a team of resort Cultural Specialists. Lessons include lei-making, chanting, tapa design, talk story sessions and Hawaiian language classes. Some lessons are free and some attract a fee. We took the hula dancing class which was free and really fun.

We also caught a hula dancing performance one afternoon, performed by local children studying Hawaiian dancing. It was great to see entertainment such as this at the resort.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from around the resort. We chose to dine in our own room for much of our stay, but we did try Auntie’s Kitchen for breakfast one morning, a casual poolside restaurant next to the South Lobby. The restaurant serves meals all day, specialising in traditional and island-style comfort foods made from local, farm-fresh ingredients. Breakfast is a buffet affair.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

We also tried Pailolo Bar & Grill, one evening while watching the sunset over the beach. The Grill is a casual, oceanfront sports bar, serving meals such as burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

The resort features other amenities we discovered such as outdoor games areas and BBQs. There are two small general stores on the property, one in each lobby, where guests can buy basic items, pre-made food and coffee and souvenirs.

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

The next resort on the beach the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, the newest property in the set. Guests at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas are welcome to use the resort facilities at Nanea as well. We thought the pools at Nanea were the best of the three resorts so used them several times.

Westin Nanea Ocean Resort Villas

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii

A breathtaking backdrop to the resorts is Ka’anapali Beach. It’s a long stretch of beautiful coast, with a reef right off it that offers fantastic snorkelling. Lots of fish and even turtles can be seen right outside the hotels.

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas
6 Kai Ala Dr, Lahaina
Online

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Top Tips For Visiting The Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium and oceanography center located on the island of Maui, Hawaii, and is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.

The Maui Ocean Center mission is to foster understanding, wonder, and respect for Hawaii’s marine life with local residents and visitors from around the world. The center is home to many of Hawaii’s unique marine life, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Take the behind the scenes tour

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The one-hour guided tour takes you into the Aquarium Lab to learn about sharks and turtles and how the centre cares for marine life. We touched coral, jelly fish and learned about how the centre will be evolving in the future to become a turtle rescue facility. The highlights were assisting in turtle feedings both behind the scenes and at Turtle Lagoon in the aquarium, plus feeding the fish at Nursery Bay.

Appropriate for ages 5 and up. Space is limited to 12 guests, advance reservations recommended.https://mauioceancenter.com/product/behind-the-scenes-tour/

Meet the barracuda

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

This fish who loves shiny things can be found in Nursery Bay. He really does love shiny objects and loves to stalk visitors observing him.

Visit the Turtle Lagoon

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Our favourite part of the aquarium! This is the spot to meet Hawaiian green sea turtles, with a top and underwater view. Native to Hawaii, the green sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world. Up to six sea turtles on display at all times. The centre is part of a breeding program and receives turtles as babies to grow in the aquarium until they are old enough and big enough to be released into the wild.

Learn about Hawaiians and the sea

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

We really enjoyed this educational area. The “Hawaiians and the Sea” exhibit celebrates the culture and traditions of early Hawaiians and teaches visitors about the history, culture, and unique traditions of the early Hawaiian villages.

Immerse yourself under water

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

We were mesmerised by the “Open Ocean” exhibit, a 750,000-gallon exhibit with 240-degree view acrylic tunnel. The exhibit features up to six species of sharks, numerous stingrays, and hundreds of fish.

Go into the reef

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The “Living Reef” exhibit is home to one of the world’s largest display of live rare and endemic Pacific corals, with over 40 Hawaiian coral species that range from the shallow to deep reef environments.

Get educated about Kaho‘olawe

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The smallest of the Hawaiian islands, Kaho‘olawe is a sacred place to Native Hawaiians. The  “Kaho‘olawe: A Story of History and Healing” exhibit gives insight into the island’s history, its role in navigation and the marine life that inhabit its waters.

Encounter Humpback whales

An immersive new exhibit, “Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & Sphere: An underwater encounter” takes visitors under the sea to explore the their world, learn their secrets, and discover the dynamic life, journeys and social bonds of these intelligent and spiritual creatures.

Collect a Kids Passport

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

The free passport was a lot of fun! It takes families on a scavenger hunt around the aquarium to find the various Hawaiian symbols and rub them into passport. Upon completion kids can collect a small prize, but honestly the collection of the symbols and learning what each meant was so much fun the prize wasn’t necessary.

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii
192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku
Hours: Daily, 9am-5pm
mauioceancenter.com
Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii

We were hosted at the Maui Ocean Centre. All opinions are my own.

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

When visiting Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center, located on the northern shore of Oahu, is a must-see to fully experience the cultural diversity of the Pacific Island community.

The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is a Polynesian-themed theme park and living museum, featuring six Pacific Island villages, exhibits and activities. The PCC offers an authentic luau dining experience and award-winning evening show “Hā: Breath of Life”, making it an all-day educational and entertaining experience that is perfectly suited for the entire family.

Set on 42 acres, tThe six island villages representing the unique island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga, tied together by a vibrant daily Canoe Pageant.

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center

Arrive early and visit the Hukilau Marketplace 

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

The Hukilau Marketplace is located outside the PCC and is packed with food stalls and souvenir stands. It opens at 11am and is free to enter – and the parking is free, too. Inside the PCC the food options are snack stands or the luaus, so if you need proper food and aren’t doing a luau or want lunch, the Hukilau Marketplace is your best bet.

Hit up the Polynesian Cultural Center when it opens

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultual Center Oahu Hawaii

The PCC opens at 12pm but most people arrive a few hours later, which makes it hard to fit in all the activities. Arriving at 12pm not only means that you have enough time to experience everything, but also that the first few hours are free of crowds.

Grab a Passport to Polynesia for kids

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

A great way to engage kids, the free Passport to Polynesia is a guidebook to the PCC aimed at little ones.

Look at the schedule – and don’t freak out

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

If you’re a planner and organiser like me, looking at the very detailed schedule of events at the PCC is likely to cause a panic attack. Take a few deep breaths and head around the villages in some kind of order, knowing you will see a lot but not everything, and be ok with that.

Each village alternates a show with activities. We found that you can participate in the activities after the shows, so timed our visits to each village in time to see the shows and then do a quick activity or two before heading to the next. The villages are open from 12-5:30pm.

Go native!

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

The real fun at the PCC is trying your hand at traditional activities such as throwing a spear or learn to cook in an umu (Samoan aboveground oven).

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

We particularly loved learning the Tahitian dance, twirling poi balls and sampling the incredible Tahitian coconut bread. It was so good we went back twice. The “Go Native” experiences let guests try traditional Polynesian aspects of daily life, including games, crafts, cooking and ceremonies.

Take a canoe ride

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

The canoe ride is included in entry and goes from one end of the PCC to the other. You can also paddle your own canoe at the Tongan village. Canoe rides are available from 12-5:30pm.

Watch the spectacular canoe pageant

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

The canoe pageant, which runs daily from 2:30-3pm was a highlight for us. The show is filled with dancing and storytelling, with the cast in incredible traditional dress. We were absolutely wow’d. Note: go to the platform seating area at least 15/20mins ahead of the pageant as otherwise you could struggle to find a seat.

Talk to the performers

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

We highly enjoyed chatting with all of the amazing people who staff the PCC island villages. Many are students from the islands who are studying at the university next door and perform at the PCC as part of an exchange program.

Be prepared for the weather

It can be hot, cold or raining, and the show will go on. Bring a hat, plenty of water and sunscreen and a poncho/umbrella if it looks even slightly like rain.

Witness a wedding

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Another highlight for us was watching the traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony that is on during the afternoons.

Enjoy a traditional luau

There are three luaus to choose from. The Ali’i Luau features traditional Polynesian food and entertainment. Other options include the Prime Rib Buffet, with fine dining in a casual atmosphere, and the Island Buffet, which is served in a dining hall reflecting the islands of the Pacific.

End your day with a bang

The PCC day finishes with the spectacular live show “Ha: Breath of Life”, featuring over 100 performers and Samoan fireknife dancing.

“HA:Breath of Life” Show runs from 7:30pm-9pm, with seating commencing at 7pm. All seats are reserved and advance reservations are highly recommended as this is a very popular show.

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii

The Polynesian Cultural Center
Hours: Monday – Saturday (closed Sunday), 11:45am -9:30pm.
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie
polynesia.com

Looking for more things to do on Oahu? This list of free activities and attractions will help.

We were hosted at the PCC. All opinions are our own.

Top Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Hawaii