Hawaii islands are the dream destination for so many people. They are abundant in natural beauty as well as incredible culture. Hawaii is an archipelago of a total 137 islands. Eight of them are the big ones and the rest is uninhabited. The best Hawaiian island for kids is the one where you will find attractions and gorgeous beaches. But also want to have great hotels and resorts to suit your family’s needs.
Visiting Hawaii with the kids is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Swim with sea turtles, build sand castles on the beach, and explore Hawaii’s natural world to create unforgettable family memories. There are so many family-friendly events, adventures, and lodging options to choose from.
1. Hawaii, the big island, best Hawaiian island for kids
The big island, also known as Hawaii, was formed by 5 volcanos. It is the largest island in the United States. Nowadays there is still one active volcano whose lava spews into the ocean, Kilauea volcano. It is the most active volcano in the world. If you are a science and nature fan you might want to visit this island for an amazing tour of the volcano.
The best places to stay on this island with family are near Hilo, the capital, and Kona, two biggest cities. When staying in Hilo there are some incredible natural areas close by. You can visit Akaka Falls State Park, Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, or Wailuku River State Park.
Rent a car if you want to go on an adventure with scenic driving and visiting far away beaches, like Manini’owali beach or Kiholo Bay. The west side of the island, where the city of Kona is located, has some incredible diving and snorkeling locations. The tours are available from local operators. Or you can book a tour in advance with the help of your travel agent.
Families that love spending time on the beach are in luck here. There are so many pristine beaches here, that you won’t be able to visit them all in just one holiday. Choose from white, green, and black sand beaches, and start your exploration on day one. Here are some of the best beaches on this island: Punalu’u, black sand beach, Papakolea, green sand beach, and Hapuna, white sand beach.
This magnificent island has 8 different climate zones, from humid tropical climate, to alpine climate. On the same day you can see the snow and the coral reef and still come back to the hotel before dinner.
You can do things here that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. Manta ray dive or snorkel, climbing up Mauna Kea summit, and seeing lava coming out of the crater are some of them. Also, do not miss out on famous Kona coffee and a visit to Kona coffee tour led by a local.
This island is interesting to kids of all ages. They can try horseback riding, watch whales and dolphins on a boat tour, or go on a helicopter tour with you. These memories will last forever, that is why this is the best Hawaiian island for kids.
Oahu is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii for first time visitors. And especially for families that love spending time on the sun. The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu, is located here and it is a great starting point for families. You get all the amenities of a big city, and still the natural beauty is surrounding you on every step.
This is the island with the only international airport in Hawaii. This makes it very convenient for family or group vacations. Also, numerous hotel and restaurant chains are everywhere. It’s easy to accommodate anyone’s taste in food, accommodation, and fun. The huge number of hotels on this island make the market more competitive, so this island of all the archipelago has the lowest prices.
You have probably heard of Waikiki, a most famous neighborhood of Honolulu where all the popular resorts and shopping centers are. Turquoise blue water and white sand beach are a great advantage of this neighborhood, and basically you can find everything you need here, no need to leave. It is very practical for those who have small kids and don’t plan to go far from the hotel.
Attractions you should not miss when visiting Honolulu with kids are Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. There is also Diamond Head nearby, a huge circular volcanic crater that you can climb up to. The hike takes about 2 hours and it is considered moderate difficulty.
In the bay there is also Pearl Harbour National Memorial that you should not skip. The other fun things to do are renting a car and doing a full day circle around the island, or going for a snorkel with turtles tour. If your little ones love Disney, the Aulani Disney Resort is on the island. The alternative would be a visit to Kualoa Ranch, which looks exactly like the Jurassic Park movies.
For a complete Polinesian cultural experience you should book a Chief’s Luau tour. Many hotels offer transfers and tours to this attraction. You will see a traditional dance, fire show, try some of the best dishes from this part of the world, and have an amazing evening.
Maui is the best Hawaiian island for young kids because there are so many incredible beaches and hotels available. At the same time you can also explore nature and don’t have to be stuck at the resort all the time. Compared to Oahu, this island has less traffic and a lot less people, so you will feel more relaxed and will have a lot of space to yourself.
Impressive Sprawling Haleakala National Park is home to the island’s highest peak, volcanic Haleakala. This park is also where the pools and waterfalls of Ohe’o Gulch are. Take a scenic drive via Hana Highway and enjoy splendid views along the way.
This is the second largest island in the archipelago and it is known for its tasty food, sparkling water, coral reefs, and the sacred Iao Valley. This natural landmark is one of the island’s biggest attractions because of its natural beauty and historic significance. It is an easy 0.6 miles hike that takes only about half an hour, but you will probably stay longer to soak in all the beauty.
If you want your kids to have a learning experience while having fun, visit Maui Ocean Center. It is a place with open ocean, underwater tunnels, turtle lagoon, and so many species to see that are native to this area.
We can’t talk about Hawaii without mentioning surfing. If you are not an experienced surfer you can still try options like kitesurfing or windsurfing. But, there are so many tours and classes out there that it is a great opportunity for your kiddos to try waves.
Another great adventure for children is visiting mermaids at Hawaii Mermaid Adventures. While your smaller kids are entertained by these mystical creatures, your older kids can go for a guided snorkeling adventure. You can also sign up for a 2-hours long lesson about natural life in the Pacific ocean.
Atlantis Submarine is one of those things you can’t find everywhere, especially not with such amazing ocean life like in Hawaii. This underwater tour goes 100 feet below the surface and it is a jaw-dropping experience for the youngsters.
Is Kauai the best Hawaiian island for vacation with kids? It is up to you to decide, but this fourth largest island of the archipelago is pretty great. It is known as “The Garden Isle” because the majority of the island is covered in rainforest. Dramatic landscapes are everywhere, looking almost unbelievable when you see it for the first time.
You’ll see cliffs and pinnacles of its Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon and the Nounou Trails traversing the Sleeping Giant mountain ridge. There are so many hiking trails, rewarding hikers with stunning beauty. Some of these views are only reachable on foot, so hit one of these trails: Awa’awapuhi Trail, Makawehi Lithified Cliffs Trail, Pihea & Alakai Swamp Trail, and many others.
If the hike is difficult for you because of kids, you can go on a boat tour around the island and see these areas from a different, maybe even better, angle. The easiest way to explore the island is to rent a car and drive around visiting all the attractions.
Lydgate Farms Chocolate And Island Fruit Tour is a great place to start your exploration. You will see farm animals, try nuts and all kinds of local fruits, and at the end you will go for a chocolate tasting in a chocolate tent.
If your family likes outdoor activities you should try a kayak tour that takes you to the Fern Grotto. Take advantage of the only Hawaiian island with a navigable river and travel through the island to the Fern Grotto, an incredible lava cave surrounded by waterfalls, cliffs, and beautiful plant life.
Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge is also on top of all the unforgettable things for your kids to see in Kauai. This lighthouse is the northernmost point of the island and you could see it in movies Lilo and Stitch, and the sequel, Stitch! The Movie. The scenery here is incredible with sea birds, whales and dolphins swimming around.
If your little ones love stories about pirates, there is a Shipwreck Beach for you to explore in Kauai. The winds on this beach are very strong and that is why swimming here is not recommended, but it is a perfect place for surfing and watching sunsets. There is nothing left of the old shipwreck, it deteriorated over time and a hurricane destroyed the rest, but the story remains.
This is a place for adventure seekers that love raw nature and don’t mind exploring wilderness. The island is not as touristy as other Hawaiian islands, and you can stay only in one of five condominium projects or in one and only hotel on the island. Molokai is an incredible piece of nature with highest cliffs in the world and the longest continuing fringing reef.
A steep path leads to Kalaupapa National Historical Park, an isolated former leper colony under towering cliffs, on the island’s northern Kalaupapa Peninsula. The site can also be seen from Palaau State Park’s clifftop Kalaupapa Lookout.The park’s Phallic Rock, which is close by, is said to have fertility powers.
Molokai is known as a “friendly island” and staying here with your family will be very pleasant, if you want quiet and relaxing beaches without crowds of people and traffic. The hotel is kid-friendly and it is located on the beach with the coral reef nearby. Also, the one and two-bedroom oceanfront condominiums offer different amenities like a barbecue station and swimming pool.
One of the best ways to see the island is by helicopter. On this tour you will enjoy splendid views of rock formations, waterfalls, verdant valleys, and vast coral reefs. The tour is narrated and the friendly guide will teach you all about the island’s history and natural features.
Visit Molokai plumeria and learn how to pick flowers and make your own lei. The owner will take you on a tour and it is going to be educational and entertaining for your kids. On the way back stop by the post office to send a unique souvenir home, a coconut. This small tradition is such a fun activity for your little ones.
If you are a fan of agricultural tourism, stop by Purdy’s All-Natural Macadamia Nut Farm to crack and taste raw nuts and learn about the whole process of them getting to markets and grocery stores. You will also have the opportunity to try local honey on this farm.
At the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center you can learn about the history of sugar on the island. The museum is located at this completely restored late-nineteenth-century sugar factory. This island is so picturesque, try renting a bike and taking your family on an adventure.
Lanai is the fifth largest Hawaiian island, formed by the extinct volcano Lanaihale. There is so much to explore on this island, and it is definitely worth visiting with a family. Start with the Shipwreck Beach, on the island’s northern side. It is famous for its offshore wreck of a WWII tanker, as well as views of Molokai and Maui islands.
Green turtles often visit the long, secluded Polihua Beach in the northwest. Humpback whales have been seen near the shoreline on occasion. The Garden of the Gods, a lunar landscape of rock towers and boulders, is located inland.
On Lanai Island, you can see and feel what it’s like to live on an island. Despite the fact that the island is sparsely populated, it is home to some of the best beaches, dramatic island views, and hotel resorts. Despite the island’s small size, it is very popular among honeymooners, families, and those choosing to tie the knot in exotic places.
Families can go horseback riding or hike the trail on their own two feet from Lanai City. Popular trail near the city is Munro Trail, which climbs through eucalyptus, Cook pine, and native ohia lehua trees and culminates in stunning views from 3,370-foot-high Mount Lanaihale.
A fun family tour to book is snorkeling and dolphin watching. Prepare to have a great time in the sun on this half-day trip. Sail away to one of the world’s best diving locations, the stunning blue waters off the coast of Lanai. Swim alongside Hawaiian Spinner, Bottlenose, and Spotted Dolphins, then hop in for a snorkel over a coral reef with a diverse array of marine life.
In the evening you can relax by watching the show in a local theater or sign up for some star gazing. The vacation on this laid-back island will show you what life is actually like in Hawaii.
Hawaii is an excellent year-round vacation destination. If you have found the best Hawaiian island for kids it is time to start planning your awesome trip. Bring a lot of reef-friendly sunscreen and your favorite bathing suits and fun will follow.