These incredible islands are a beloved destination for families of all ages. From beach dwellers to adventure-seekers to lovers of shaved ice, Hawaii has something to fit everyone’s taste!
Hawaii is a beloved destination for millions of visitors a year, and there’s never been a better time to visit these stunning islands. Adventurous hikes, serene beaches, a vibrant culture, a booming food scene and the famous “aloha spirit” make this destination the perfect choice for your next family vacation. We’re here to help you decide which island is the right destination for you (spoiler alert: there’s no wrong choice!). Read on for our favourite recommendations on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
Home to the bustling city of Honolulu and the world-famous Waikiki Beach, Oahu has been a classic destination for years. However, there’s so much more to this island than just the touristy spots on the South Shore.
- Hop on the Pali Highway heading north, and within a matter of minutes, towering skyscrapers are replaced by lush mountains.
- After stunning views around every corner and a stop at the amazing Nuuanu Pali Lookout, you’ll arrive in the quaint town of Kailua. We recommend Cinnamon’s for breakfast and ChadLou’s for coffee before heading to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Lanikai Beach.
- While there are tons of hikes around the island, our favourite family-friendly spot is the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, which is a paved 2 mile walk where you’ll be rewarded with beautiful ocean views and, you guessed it, a lighthouse!
- Hanauma Bay is another popular spot with calm waves perfect for snorkeling. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a friendly sea turtle or a colourful school of fish swimming among the waves.
- For a truly once in a lifetime experience, book a Kualoa Ranch Movie Tour. This incredible private nature reserve is where many of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies have been filmed, Jurassic Park being one of the most famous. Keep your eyes peeled for the T-Rex!
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Known as “The Garden Island,” Kauai is the epitome of a lush, tropical paradise. Its slow-paced atmosphere makes it the perfect destination for families looking to slow down and relax.
- Hanalei Bay is one of the island’s most popular beaches, where beginner surfers can learn to catch their first waves and stunning mountains frame the background.
- Poipu Beach Park is a string of golden crescent beaches with protected swimming and snorkeling areas and plenty of family-friendly amenities.
- The Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is famous for its stunning sea cliffs dropping into the ocean, and a boat tour along the coastline is truly the best way to experience breathtaking views of the park.
- Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and as you drive through the state park, you’ll easily understand why its nickname rings true. Panoramic views of the canyon are frequently punctuated by rainbows, and as you drive through the park, every viewpoint provides a new slice of beauty to admire.
- Grab a meal from Porky’s food truck on your way out for a Hawaiian twist on classic American fare.
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The idyllic island of Maui is covered in pristine beaches where you could spend hours under swaying palms listening to the waves break along the shoreline.
- One of our favourite spots is the quaint seaside town of Paia, where you can stroll past local shops in search of a fresh acai bowl before watching surfers at the famous Ho’okipa Beach or relaxing at Baldwin Beach just down the road. We love immersing ourselves into the lush side of Maui.
- If you’re looking for a half day activity, head to the Iao Valley for family-friendly hikes or tackle the breathtaking Road to Hana. This drive isn’t for the faint of heart, but the challenge is worth it. We recommend spending the night in the town of Hana so you can take your time and experience all that this secluded side of the island has to offer.
- For a truly unique view of the island, watch the sunrise over Haleakala Crater, and afterward, families with older kids can rent bikes and coast down through the beautiful countryside. Sweeping views and easy, paved roads mean you’ll barely have to pedal, and you can reward yourself with tasty malasadas (a Portugese donut popular on the islands) at Komoda Store and Bakery in the tiny town Makawao on your way down.
The Big Island
This island is – surprise! – the largest of the islands, and there’s so much to do and see.
- If the ocean is calling your name, book a snorkel boat tour to Captain Cook’s Monument to experience an underwater, technicolour world. While you truly can’t go wrong snorkeling anywhere in Hawaii, the water here is some of the clearest we’ve ever seen, and the sea caves are an exciting bonus during your afternoon on the glittering water.
- If the idea of travelling to Hawaii makes you feel on top of the world, you can literally chase this feeling by driving up to the summit of Mauna Kea. It’s a popular spot to watch the sunset, and if you’re lucky, there may even be snow!
- You could easily dedicate a full day to exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the active volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa are located. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, and most days, lava can be seen from marked trails. After a day in the park, we guarantee the kids will impress their science teachers with their newfound knowledge!
- From the black sand Punaluʻu Beach in the south, to the charming town of Kona in the sunny west, to the lush rainforests in the east, the Big Island is the place to go to experience every type of climate Hawaii has to offer in one destination.