At Our Whole Village, we plan meaningful vacations for families who want to create lifelong memories and show their kids the world in a more conscious and intentional manner.
We help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make lifelong memories - with care, confidence and peace of mind.
Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
Few destinations pack as much history and exotic allure as Hawaii for families, and you don’t need a passport to visit. But the conveniences of traveling domestically don’t end there. You don’t have to worry about exchange rates, wrestling with language barriers, or fretting about culture shock. But you’ll still enjoy a hefty dose of Polynesian culture and many fascinating lessons about life on this chain of islands, both past and present.
When it comes to Hawaii with kids, which island should you visit? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this all-important question. But one thing’s for sure, don’t try to pack them all into one trip. Or your vacation will turn into a whirlwind with little time to catch your breath or relax.
Now that we’ve covered the problem and what not to do while traveling Hawaii, let’s delve into an exploration of each island. Our hope? To make your family’s decision a little easier.
Not only did Hawaii lend its name to the state, but this landmass marks the largest in the island chain. Don’t let its size fool you, though. Hawaii is also the youngest of the islands, which means it’s still in the process of growing. You can witness this expansion firsthand from an observatory where Kilauea’s orange glow belies the island’s active geological processes.
What else do you need to know about Hawaii for families? The island contains a dozen different climate zones. As a result, you’ll find many ways to explore its incredible biodiversity, which even includes snow at the peak of the inactive volcano Mauna Kea. At the base of Mauna Kea, you’ll find the Kohala Coast, comprised of rugged lava rock punctuated by small, often humanmade, beaches.
Hawaii offers the least in terms of tourist resorts and island activities, and many consider it a sleepy destination. But if you long to see Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the forest reserves of Kapapala, Kau, and Mauna Kea, there’s no better place to be. Resorts are clustered along the Kohala Coast. They include the gorgeous four-diamond destination, the Fairmont Orchid, and the luxurious Mauna Kea Beach Hotel located along the white sand beaches of Kauna’oa Bay.
Over the years, Maui has earned a reputation for offering luxurious amenities, and this island has the stunning four- and five-diamond establishments to prove it. But don’t assume a stay in Maui will feel stuffy or uptight. The wide selection of resorts on the island means you can select the ideal spot for your family’s vacation style and interests.
Along the Honoapiilani Highway, you’ll find quieter resorts and experiences. And if you’re after something more remote? The island’s eastern tip preserves glimpses of “Old Hawaii” at Hana, surrounded by local villages. For an irresistible, classic resort town vibe, head to Wailea, where you’ll find the perfect mix of adventure and luxury. At the newly-constructed Fairmont Kea Lani, enjoy the amenities of a high-end family resort while savoring incomparable views of golden-sand beaches, periwinkle skies, white-capped electric blue ocean, and vibrant tropical blooms.
What activities will your family enjoy in Maui? Makena State Park affords incredible views along the very accessible Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail. The 3.5-mile hike is partially paved and offers one of the best whale-watching spots on the island. Chances for bird watching and wildflower spotting also prove plentiful.
And if you tend not to get car sick, don’t miss out on the Road to Hana, an all-day excursion that will take you to waterfalls, tropical rainforests, and even a black sand beach.
Few things prove more frustrating than shelling out for a vacation only to have your kids remain nose-deep in electronic devices the whole time. There’s a reason unplugged vacations have become so popular in recent years. Fortunately, the island of Lanai offers internet-free family fun.
Lanai sits off the coast of Maui, and is one of the smaller islands in the chain. Travelers prize it for its “Old Hawaii” feel, a distinct departure from the commercialism of Oahu. Yet, you’ll find endless opportunities for outdoor adventure in this gorgeous destination.
Among the must-do activities your family will enjoy in Lanai? Off-road Jeep tours. They’re the best way to get off-the-beaten-path and see parts of the island not accessible by other means. You won’t want to miss the rock formations at the Garden of the Gods or Shipwreck Beach. As for accommodations? Look no further than the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, where activities include horseback riding, snorkeling, archery, sailing, sporting clays, and the off-road excursions we teased earlier.
It’s hard to beat a family vacation to Oahu. Not only does it provide access to one of the islands’ most iconic destinations, Waikiki Beach, but you can even visit Kualoa Ranch, where Jurassic Park was filmed and the Polynesian Cultural Center for a day of cultural discoveries of the rich heritage of the Pacific Islands. Of course, the adventures don’t stop there.
At the Dole Pineapple Plantation, try the sweetest, most delectable pineapple you’ve ever had in your life. You’ll also learn about Oahu’s agricultural past on a tour. A trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum & Visitor Center will bring history to life for your kids. So will visits to nearby memorials to the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri. Between January and March, enjoy humpback whale-watching tours. Or take classes to hone your ukulele and hula skills.
Where to stay on a lovely getaway to one of Hawaii’s most famous islands?
When visiting Oahu with kids, the most popular choice is Disney’s Aulani, with good reason. You’ll be on the Ko’Olina lagoons and enjoy plenty of family-friendly amenities with a touch of Disney’s magic.
If you want to be closer to the action, check out Royal Hawaiian, conveniently located on Waikiki Beach. Nicknamed the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” because of its iconic appearance, the resort (circa 1927) offers the best in Hawaiian hospitality. Whether you’re savoring seafood at the award-winning Azure or sipping handmade cocktails at Mai Tai Bar. (Children’s programs and babysitting services make slipping away for adult-time a breeze). Or head to the Kahala Hotel and Resort, featuring quiet beaches along Maunalua Bay and a dolphin lagoon.
The fourth-largest island in the chain, Kauai has earned a reputation for its lush plant life and biodiversity, summed up in the title, the “Garden Isle.” Less developed than Maui, it offers a fantastic alternative while still showcasing the amenities associated with luxury resorts. The island can be divided into three regions. They include:
The North Shore contains fewer resorts than other parts of the island, but views prove impressive. Poipu is known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and large resorts where most families choose to stay. In Coconut Grove, you’ll find the island’s main city as well as its airport.
Kauai offers many must-see activities, including a visit to the Fern Grotto. This lava rock cave sits by a waterfall veiled in tropical foliage and hanging ferns. Once upon a time, only Hawaiian royalty could visit the sacred spot. But travelers today can take a boat tour there via the Wailua River. Your family will fall in love with the spectacular natural beauty of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Activities include exploring the resort’s lush tropical gardens, relaxing spa treatments at its spa, and kayaking nearby lagoons.
When it comes to the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll want to consider various factors before locking in travel plans. These considerations include which activities you’d like to participate in, national parks and other attractions found in each destination, and how off-the-beaten-path your family wants to go. That said, you’ll find universals no matter where you decide to go. These include family-friendly resorts, stunning beaches, and vibrant touches of Polynesian culture.
Are you ready to find out more about Hawaii for families? Let’s talk about the perfect island getaway for you and the kids!
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