The Family Friendly Islands of Hawaii

map of Hawaiian IslandsThe Islands of Hawaii are an idyllic destination for families with toddlers to teens. Hawaii Destination Specialist Barbi Partlow has a special love of Hawaii and knows it extremely well. Here she shares her favorite family-friendly activities and hotels on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

Barbi’s Favorite Family-Friendly Islands of Hawaii:

O’ahu, “The Gathering Place”

Islands of Hawaii

The famous Waikiki Beach of Honolulu with Diamond Head in the background.

Full of history, beauty, and the excitement of Waikiki, the island of O’ahu is teeming with activity. An obligatory visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial will satisfy the WWII history buffs, and it’s really a moving experience not to be missed. Other family-friendly attractions include the Polynesian Cultural Center, Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park, or a visit to the Dole Plantation and a ride on the “Pineapple Express.” Your ohana (family) will enjoy staying in a hotel right on Waikiki Beach to swim, have a surfing lesson, or people-watch.

Barbi’s Oahu Hotel Recommendations: The Outrigger chain has reasonable family-friendly hotel options that have cultural activities for all ages, so everyone can delve into the hip Hawaiian culture. Or, venture over to the Ko’olina area away from the frenzy of Waikiki and stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa. Disney knows how to make magic happen for keikis (children) and adults alike.

Maui, “The Valley Isle”

On Maui the Ka’anapali area and Lahaina Town is an exciting venue for families with an abundance of shops and restaurants and there are hotel options galore. Everyone loves to see the huge banyan tree on Front Street in Lahaina – its massive 12 major trunks take up an entire block. Rent a vehicle to fit the clan and venture off on a scenic and fun “Road to Hana” drive, passing by the many waterfalls along the twisting turns. Stop off at Ho’okipa Beach Park and watch the surfers and windsurfers hang ten from the vantage point of Ho’okipa Lookout – it’s amazing! In up-country Maui, visit a goat farm, lavender farm, and a winery, or take a drive up to the summit of Hale’akala to see the crater.

Barbi’s Maui Hotel Recommendations: The Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali is an excellent family-friendly hotel choice, with a fantastic outdoor pool complex featuring five pools, waterslides, a swim-through grotto and more. Mom and Dad also have an adult-only pool if they need some quiet time. The Hyatt Regency also has fun kid’s attractions and special pools. For well-heeled and well-budgeted families looking for an upscale hotel experience, look no further than the Four Season Maui at Wailea. If traveling with small children, your room can be ready with complimentary amenities such as a playpen, baby monitor, high chair, and stroller so you don’t have to schlep it all from home. Activities for ages 5-12 called “Kids for All Seasons” keeps those ages busy and teens appreciate complimentary age-appropriate activities.

Kaua’i, “Island of Discovery”

islands of Hawaii

A helicopter flightseeing trip over the verdant cliffs of Kauai is breathtaking.
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Titus

Kauai offers plenty of active nature discovery for all ages. Horseback riding, bikes, boats, and boogie boards are available or enjoy a mountain tubing tour, zip-line adventure, or train ride at Kaua’i Plantation Railway. Hiking options are everywhere, and Koke’e State Park’s “Wonder Walks” on weekend afternoons are a fun option. There are kid-friendly calm waters for swimming at Lydgate State Park in Wailua or Po’ipu Beach Park on the South Shore (both are lifeguarded). For garden enthusiasts, the Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park is filled with whimsical bronze sculptures in the formal gardens that are sure to make you smile. The little ones will enjoy an interesting educational diversion at the Children’s Garden, where they can explore a “gecko maze,”rubber tree treehouse, a kid-sized railroad and more.

Barbi’s Kauai Hotel Recommendations: The family can stay at any of the wonderfully kid-friendly hotels on the island, such as the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort & Spa (with the famous Camp Hyatt for kids), the St. Regis Princeville with their “Young Voyagers Club”, or the Sheraton Kaua’i Resort offering the “Keiki Aloha Club.”

The “Big Island” of Hawaii

Islands of Hawaii

Halemaumau Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at full moon
Photo credit: Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB) / Ethan Tweedie

Adventure is found in every corner of the Big Island. Head to Volcanoes National Park for a great educational and recreational experience. The ranger station has updates on current eruptions, hiking information, and ranger-led activities. For more action, check out the KapohiKine Adventures at Honolii Outpost and enjoy dual zip lines, or just watch the kids zip from the ground as you walk the adjacent path.

Barbi’s Hawaii Hotel Recommendations: Good hotel choices with kid-friendly programs include the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel situated at fabulous Hapuna beach, sister hotel Mauna Kea Beach, and the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The Sheraton Kona Keauhou Bay is a smaller, more budget-friendly property that’s fun for families. Located right on the waterfront on a bed of lava, you can watch giant manta rays gather in the bay each night to eat plankton and perform their mesmerizing underwater ballet as overhead lights illuminate the spectacle. It’s magic.

No matter what your pleasure is, the Islands of Hawaii deliver the goods! To plan your next family vacation to Hawaii, contact the family travel experts at Covington Travel.

Barbi PartlowBarbi Partlow is a Luxury Travel Advisor with Covington Travel who has a passion for tropical islands and has earned destination specialist credentials for most of the world’s favorite tropical vacation spots. Her travelers benefit from her personalized trip planning and unwavering commitment to quality service; her co-workers affectionately know her as a crazy cat lady and a talented thespian with a comical sense of humor.

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