Story by Sara Smith
Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden who’d breeze off to the beach on a whim, bearing no more than a gauzy pareu and a good book. So effortless a task ’twas, that choosing a sandy stretch to adorn was given nary a thought.
Yeah, well, after having two kids, those days are over.
As parents, planning a family beach day can get so exasperatingly detailed, I’ve nearly resorted to a spreadsheet; my husband to the survival-skills training he took back in college. And once you gather all the gear (having kids does make you both a parent and a pack mule), there’s deciding where to go. Its wildly varied coastline makes Maui a sun-worshiper’s paradise, but the island’s beaches are not one-size-fits-all, and good thing. As your kids grow, their idea of an epic beach day is ever-changing. Nearly a decade into this mom thing, I have a few pearls of wisdom to share on that topic.
Under Three: A Tidepool’s Fit for Thee
Maui’s north shore is famous for big-wave surfing and the whipping trade winds that fuel an international windsurfing destination. Would you believe it’s also home to the island’s best-kept-secret baby beach? Kū‘au Cove, also known as Mama’s Beach because it fronts the idyllic Mama’s Fish House restaurant, is a sweet-as-can-be spot for your littles.
The tiny cove offers natural shelter from the prevailing wind, and the exposed reef fronting the coast blocks surf and swells. The water here is the baby lagoon dreams are made of — shallow, sandy-bottomed and perfect for wading and splashing. Sorry, parents, there’s little for you here in the way of swimming or snorkeling. Of course, as sleep-deprived as you likely are at this stage, just be grateful for the respite of being able to lie on the warm sand and watch your keiki safely splash about without fear of them being dragged out to sea by a rogue wave, or clobbered by a boogie boarder. (See? I’m setting you up for success!)
When the tide is low, surrounding pools are left exposed, providing inquisitive young minds the opportunity to peek into hidden habitats and explore for critters. Wondrous moments like these kindle a lifelong love of the ocean, sparking the familiarity and comfort that prepares kids for more adventurous beaches ahead.
While the beach itself is public, the grassy area and coconut grove below Mama’s Fish House are private property. The restaurant’s parking lot is for Mama’s customers, with a few spaces set aside for local fishermen. For public parking, turn left from Hāna Highway onto Kaimao Street, just after Kū‘au Store, then right onto Lana Street. Lana ends at Aleiki Place; turn right on Aleiki to the end.
NOTE: There are no public bathrooms or showers, but hey, you have to be home for naptime anyway, so this likely won’t be a problem.