Maui or Oahu for Family vacation? An honest comparison to HELP you choose!!

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Maui or Oahu for family vacation? 
If you are also stuck in this dilemma, then you are not alone. The majority of Americans face this dilemma when deciding on the ideal family vacation destination in Hawaii.

Maui and Oahu are the most well-known Hawaii islands for family vacations. Every year, thousands of families visit these two islands for a vacation and return with wonderful memories. In reality, both Maui and Oahu are great destinations for family vacations but are quite different from each other and offer quite different experiences.

If you’re searching for a cosmopolitan vacation packed with urban luxuries, stunning family-friendly beaches, and countless cultural and historical sites, consider Oahu over Maui for your family vacation. If you want an authentic tropical vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where your family can enjoy an abundance of adventure activities and gorgeous natural scenery, choose Maui over Oahu.

Maui or Oahu for Family vacation?

Why you should choose Oahu over Maui for Family vacation?

Oahu beach

If you’re looking for a cosmopolitan vacation full of urban amenities where you can explore endless touristic activities with your family along with beautiful family-friendly beaches, high-end shopping centers, and restaurants, and numerous cultural and historical sites, choose Oahu over Maui for a family vacation.

Oahu is an ideal family vacation for people who love urban vacations and bustling beaches.

Why you should not choose Oahu over Maui for Family vacation?

Oahu’s major tourist attractions, including Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, are heavily commercialized. It is ideal for people who enjoy urban vacations, but if you prefer a more tranquil atmosphere and want to explore Hawaii’s beautiful natural landscapes, Oahu is not the best choice.

Another major issue in Oahu is that its beaches are overcrowded. Since Oahu is the most visited and populated island in Hawaii, its beaches are more congested than those in Maui.

Why you should choose Maui over Oahu for Family vacation?

Maui beach

If you’re looking for an authentic tropical vacation where you can explore abundance of adventure activities with your family while immersing yourself in the breathtaking scenery and the relaxing atmosphere of Hawaii, then Maui is a better family vacation than Oahu.

If you and your family are interested in nature and adventure and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then Maui is the ideal place for you.

Why you should not choose Maui over Oahu for Family vacation?

According to Hawaiian Tourism Authority data, Maui is the most expensive of Hawaii’s islands, while Oahu is the most affordable. So, if you are on a budget, then Maui is not a better option.

Maui vs Oahu: Which has family-friendly beaches?

When it comes to family-friendly beaches, there is no clear winner between Maui and Oahu. Both Maui and Oahu boast some of the best family-friendly beaches of all Hawaiian islands.

Whether you are on a honeymoon, a family vacation, or a solo trip, Oahu has a diverse range of beaches that are suitable for all types of visitors. There are numerous family-friendly beaches on Oahu that are suitable for kids.

You can go to the infamous Waikiki beach where your kids can take surfing lessons. Waikiki beach has calm water and that’s why it is safe for kids of all ages. Lanikai Beach is a great place to go if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach.

Locals say Lanikai Beach is one of the most kid-friendly beaches on Oahu. We would personally recommend Kailua Beach. The sea at Kailua Beach is rather quiet, and the ambiance is very pleasant. On Kailua Beach, there is a large tide pool that is suitable for small children.

Maui’s biggest advantage is its pristine and calm beaches. As a result, Maui’s beaches have a tranquil and soothing ambiance. Additionally, Maui’s beaches are renowned for their gentler waters, making them an ideal destination for family vacations. The beaches of Wailea and Keawakapu, in particular, are ideal for family vacations due to their incredibly calm waters.

Winner: Maui. Although both Maui and Oahu have family-friendly beaches, Maui’s are less congested, more tranquil, and hence more suited for family holidays

Activities

Oahu

Oahu is unquestionably the best island when it comes to activities. Oahu provides an excellent cosmopolitan vacation experience with an abundance of tourist attractions. 

You can take your family to Waikiki’s shopping malls and world-class restaurants. You may take your children to well-known cultural and historic attractions on Oahu, like the Bishop Museum, the Pearl Harbor Memorial, and Iolani Palace. When it comes to water sports, Waikiki Beach is unrivaled in Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach offers surfing, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and canoeing. It is especially well-known as a surfing destination. In other words, if you love cosmopolitan vacation and bustling beaches then there are endless opportunities for you in Oahu.

Related: Is Oahu worth visiting? You Bet! 9 Good Reasons to Go

Maui

On the contrary, Maui is a place for families who love nature and adventure. Maui is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Maui’s lush green forests and mountains provide ample opportunities for sightseeing and adventure. The historic “Road to Hana” is a big draw for families visiting Maui.

The “Road to Hana” runs through some of Hawaii’s most stunning landscapes and also offers various adventure opportunities for those with a spirit of adventure. Maui offers a wide range of water sports activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, kite surfing, and whale watching.

On Maui, in particular, whale watching and snorkeling are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In other words, Maui is a great place for families who love adventure activities and nature.

Related: Is Maui Worth Visiting? 9 reasons Why You Must Visit!!

Winner: Tie. If you’re looking for cosmopolitan activities, head to Oahu; if you’re looking for adventure activities, head to Maui

Accommodation

Accommodation is a critical factor for every type of traveler. Particularly when comparing super-expensive destinations such as Maui and Oahu for family vacations, accommodation costs become much more important.

The below table shows, the Average Daily Rate for Hotel rooms in Oahu and Maui in May 2021

IslandsAverage Daily RateAverage Cost for
6 Nights and 7 Days
Oahu$245$1715
Maui$596$4172
(Source: The Hawaii Tourism Authority)

Average Daily Rate for Vacation Rentals (July 2021)

Islands Average Daily Rate
Oahu$259
Maui$282
(Source: The Hawaii Tourism Authority)

Maui is regarded as Hawaii’s most expensive island, while Oahu is considered the least expensive. So, it’s unsurprising that Maui has more expensive lodging than Oahu.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports that the average daily rate for hotel rooms on Maui and Oahu is $596 and $245, respectively. According to the same data, the average cost of a hotel room on Maui or Oahu for six nights or seven days is $4172 or $1715 respectively. Maui is over $2000 more expensive than Oahu, as you can see there is a significant difference.

Winner: Oahu. Oahu offers far cheaper accommodation as compared to Maui

Suggested Read: Is Maui Expensive? Average Cost of a Vacation To Maui

Natural Scenery

Maui

Kaui and Maui are unquestionably the best islands to visit if you want to view Hawaii’s spectacular natural beauty. Maui is endowed with spectacular natural beauty, pristine white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and lush green forests with rich wildlife. It truly oozes the tropical vibes of Hawaii.

Maui, with its lush green woods, mountains, and waterfalls, is the perfect island to discover Hawaii’s natural magnificence. For nature and adventure enthusiasts, the Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park are two of Maui’s most popular tourist sites.

The Road to Hana, in particular, boasts some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in Hawaii. This scenic trip of 50 miles takes you past breathtaking landscapes, lush green jungles, waterfalls, and pristine beaches.

Oahu

The majority of tourists visit Honolulu or the famous Waikiki beach of Oahu. Honolulu and the Waikiki beachfront are two of Oahu’s most commercialized locations. With their diverse selection of top-tier shopping malls, restaurants, museums, and nightclubs, these regions of Oahu offer the best urban holiday experience.

However, if you leave the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, you will discover another part of Oahu that is teeming with stunning natural landscapes. We recommend visiting Oahu’s windward side if you want to experience the natural beauty of the island.

It is a slower-paced part of Oahu with magnificent natural beauty and calm beaches. It’s a whole different world from the busy life of Honolulu. The lush-green rainforests, mountains, valleys, and waterfalls of Oahu’s windward side provide wonderful natural splendor. If you enjoy nature, you will enjoy the windward side of the island.

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Things to do for Families in Oahu and Maui

Oahu

  1. Dolphin Quest (swimming with Dolphins at the Kahala Hotel)
  2. Waikiki Aquarium (Introduce kids with Hawaii’s marine life)
  3. Waikiki Starlight Luau at Hilton Hawaiian Village
  4. Try Oahu’s famous Matsumoto Shave Ice
  5. Kualoa Ranch

Maui

  1. Take a drive to Road to Hana
  2. Whale-Watching
  3. Snorkeling with Turtles
  4. Helicopter Tour of Maui
  5. Visit Maui Ocean Center

Related: Maui or Honolulu for family vacation?

Top Five Family-friendly Beaches in Maui and Oahu

The beaches listed below are our top picks for a family vacation in Maui and Oahu.

Oahu

  1. Waikiki Beach
  2. Hanauma Bay Beach
  3. Lanikai Beach
  4. Kailua Beach
  5. Bellows Beach

Maui

  1. Baby Beach, Lahaina
  2. Kapalua Bay
  3. Napili Bay
  4. Keawakapu
  5. Launiupoko Beach Park

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About the author
Chetan Patil
Hello there, wanderlust. I've been traveling around the world with my friend Aditya for the last three years since finally quitting my job, and life has been a thrilling roller coaster ride so far. Traveling is a spiritual experience for me, not just something I do for fun. Traveling has taught me that "the only certain thing about life is uncertainty." So, embrace uncertainty and make the most out of every moment.

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