Things to do in Hawaii with Kids | The Ultimate Family Travel Guide
The ultimate Hawaii family travel guide where you can find everything you need to know about travel to Hawaii and things to do in Hawaii with kids. Includes information on the mainland and the islands.
Hawaii with Kids
Hawaii is one of those destinations you really don’t want to miss, especially with kids. It’s beautiful, laidback, and many of the activities are free or reasonably priced.
There’s just something about being on an island in the middle of the Pacific. You get to hike mountains with waterfalls and stunning sights. You get to swim in the crystal-clear tropical waters with turtles and colorful reef fish. Hawaii is one destination everyone in your family will truly enjoy.
When to visit Hawaii with Kids
When to visit Hawaii with kids depends up to you and what you want to accomplish.
Summer (June to August) and Winter (December to April) are the peak seasons. This means more expensive flights and bigger crowds. But there’s a reason why these are the popular times to go. Summer offers the best temperatures, which means you get the best weather to do all the activities both on land and in water. Winter offers massive swells, which means best surfing conditions and best times to spot Humpback whales.
Off Peak: Any other time of the year flights are cheaper and there are fewer crowds, so you feel more secluded wherever you go and whatever activity you want to do. The weather may not be as great as during the summertime, but truthfully, there is no bad weather in Hawaii. So, you will still – without a doubt – have the greatest time on the islands. You most likely will not spot a whale, but you will still see lots of turtles, fish, and other sea creatures.
Best things to do in Hawaii with Kids
We divided the top activities to do and attractions to see in Hawaii with kids by island. There are seven islands: Hawai’i, also known as Big Island, Maui, Kauai, O’ahu, Lanai, Molokai, and Niihau. However, you can only visit six of them. Niihau is forbidden to outsiders and you must ask for permission to visit.
It’s quite easy to island-hop by plane if you want to visit each one for a couple of days. However, know that a week would never be enough to explore just one island. There are just too many things to see and do!
Find below the following:
- Best things to do in Hawaii with Kids (anywhere)
- Best things to do in Maui with Kids
- Best things to do in O’ahu with Kids
- Best things to do in Hawai’I with Kids (Big Island)
- Best things to do in Kauai with Kids
- Best things to do in Lanai with Kids
We have tried to include around 4-5 of the best things to see and do in each place.
Things to do in Hawaii with Kids ANYWHERE!
First let’s start with the things you can do anywhere in Hawaii. Below you can find a list of must do things to do in Hawaii with kids when you visit the island!
Attend a luau
A luau is a cultural experience you have to give to your children no matter what island you’re in. Your hotel’s likely to offer a luau; however, if you’d rather go someplace else, there are many options offered by locals.
You can pretty much snorkel in any ocean water you can find in Hawaii. Obviously, some parts are just better and it all depends on the reef situation and the waves. But no matter what and no matter when, you are free to snorkel anywhere you wish. The water is so clear and warm, you can spend hours just floating around and watching sea animals in their natural habitat.
Go on a whale tour
Surfers and surf enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who flock the islands in the winter. If you decide to head to Hawaii between the months of December and April, you must take your kids on a whale tour to get a glimpse of these massive and fascinating mammals.
Explore several beaches throughout the day. Go snorkel, swim, or simply comb the beach. Each island has several popular beaches, but honestly, it’s Hawaii — you can never go wrong with any beach you visit.
There are several trails in Hawaii that are quick, easy and great for young kids. Many, if not all, reward you with breathtaking views when you’ve reached the top. Several of them have incredible waterfalls for you to do cliff jumping or simply swimming.
Things to do in Maui with Kids
You can find highlights below. However, for a full guide check out our post: Things to do in Maui with Kids.
Visit the Seven Sacred Pools of Ohe’o
These cascading waterfalls is a must-see in East Maui. Visit this absolutely breathtaking spot for a morning swim after hiking the Pipiwai Trail. If you’re not up for driving and hiking with kids, there are guided tours you can join.
Go on the Road to Hana
Perhaps the number one attraction in Maui, the Road to Hana involves a scenic drive with views of waterfalls, lush valleys, and black, red, and white sand beaches; and numerous stops that need to be on your bucket list like the Bamboo Forest, Honomanu Bay Lookout, and several hiking trails.
Snorkel Molokini Crater
The Molokini Crater is a partially submerged volcano in the middle of the ocean, which is home to over 250 species of fish, many are native to the area. The crescent shape creates a barrier against waves, which makes this a favorite spot to snorkel or scuba dive.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is filled with sightseeing opportunities and activities for you and your family to create memories to last a lifetime. You can bike down the volcano after witnessing the sunrise or sunset from the summit or you can hike the many trails, some lead to beautiful waterfalls like the ‘Ohe’o Gulch.
Things to do in O’ahu with Kids
You can find highlights below. However, for a full guide check out our post: Things to do in O’ahu with Kids.
Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center
Perhaps one of the best attractions in Hawai’I, this living museum gives visitors a glimpse of the different Polynesian cultures through demonstrations, traditional dances and songs, food, and traditions. Many of the workers here are students, who came from the different Polynesian islands and countries worldwide.
Visit Pearl Harbor
The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a significant part of history, when Japan launched a surprise attack on the unsuspecting US base. Visit this site to learn more about this part of WWII and the heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect their nation and fellow countrymen.
Go on a circle island tour
There are several companies that offer the circle island tour, which takes you to the popular spots around the island. This is a great way to see the island if you can only spend a couple of days in O’ahu.
Go in a shark cage
Going in a shark cage is as thrilling as it sounds. Boat tours leave the North Shore and take you about 2 miles out in the sea, where you and your kids can jump inside a metal cage that’s partially submerged in the water. Galapagos and sandbar sharks are commonly the species that hang around. Keep in mind that this is not a petting zoo, so don’t try to touch the sharks!
Visit Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is a private nature reserve where you can do many different activities including driving a UTV 4-wheeler, going on a kayak adventure, exploring on ATVs, horseback riding, escaping to a secret island, and venturing on a jungle jeep.
The Koolau mountain range, which is the backdrop of the ranch, is also the backdrop to many Hollywood films. Across from the ranch, you can wade or kayak to the Chinaman’s Hat, which is another popular spot.
Hike Diamond Head
There are several easy hikes for families to do in O’ahu and one of them is Diamond Head Trail. Located in Honolulu, this quick hike rewards visitors with breathtaking views of the city, along with artillery cannons and cement bunkers on the summit.
Things to do in Hawai’I with Kids (Big Island)
You can find below the best things to do in Hawai’l with kids.
Swim with the Manta Rays
This is a spectacular experience that you simply can’t miss when you visit the Big Island. There are several tours that take you out at night in the sea so you can get up close and personal with these gentle giants. This experience is made even more phenomenal by all the diving lights that get reflected on the underbelly of the manta rays. It’s truly an experience of a lifetime.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
There are several activities you can do at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Among them are seeing lava, hiking Kilauea’iki Trail, taking the Crater Rim Drive tour, driving Chain of Craters Road, day hiking, backcountry hiking, visiting Kahuku Unit, and taking part in ranger-led special events.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Papakolea gets its moniker from the sand that’s made up of olivine-rich lava spewed from a cinder cone 49,000 years ago. There aren’t very many green sand beaches in the world so visiting one is definitely a must.
Punalu’u Black Sand beach
As far as black sand beaches, Punalu’u is the most famous one in Hawaii. One of the reasons to its popularity are because of its endangered Hawksbill turtle visitors that frequent the beach and bask in the sun. This is also a great spot for coastal hiking and a fun picnic, or even swimming or snorkeling.
Located in Hilo, this cave is part of a lava tube that’s 25 miles long. The lava tube was formed in 1881 by Mauna Loa’s lava flow. Make sure you’re wearing good shoes, have enough water and bring good flashlights. The lava can get slippery and difficult to walk on, so just make sure your kids can stay safe.
Things to do in Kauai with Kids
You can find below the best things to do in Kauai with kids.
Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park
Also dubbed as The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the canyon walls’ layers of color cascades down and gives a sight you can’t see anywhere else. There are several trails you can do or simply enjoy the canyon from overlooks.
Sail the Na Pali Coast
If you want to take a break from swimming in the ocean, you can always go on a boat. The Na Pali Coast is one of the most iconic shorelines in the world. The rugged mountains that tower above the Pacific Ocean is nothing short of breathtaking and should make your list of things to do in Kauai.
Swim in Queens Bath
The trail that leads you to Queen’s Bath can get muddy and slippery, so be well-prepared. It may get challenging if you’re with young children, but it is so worth the challenge.
This natural tide pool is about the same size as a regular swimming pool. There’s some fish in it and water from ocean spills over the lava rocks to refresh Queen’s Bath. If you’re visiting between the months of October and May, just be aware that people have been severely hurt or drowned from being swept away by big, rough waves.
Visit Kilauea Lighthouse
This 106-year-old Kilaueu Lighthouse is open for tours to the top and can be visited by children at least 44 inches tall. The lighthouse is situated in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, so even if you can’t take your children inside the lighthouse, you can still spend time at the refuge and spot some of the most unique creatures on Earth.
Possibly one of the most photographed locations in Kauai, the Spouting horn is a dramatic and striking blowhole located near Poipu on the South Shore. A huge spout of water shoots to as high as 50 feet into a natural lava tube. Your kids’ jaws will surely drop when they witness this and you can enjoy a sweet family moment from the lookout as the sun sets in the horizon.
Things to do in Molokai with Kids
You can find below the best things to do in Molokai with kids.
Halawa Valley is a big part of Hawaii’s history and culture. There’s a 2-mile hiking trail and impressive waterfalls to see. But more importantly, it’s better to do this hike with Anakala Pilipo Solotorio because not only would you have to cross private property, you will also learn about the history and culture from the very person who’s born and raised there.
Take a mule ride to Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Kalaupapa was once a prison and where the diseased inhabitants were banished in isolation by King Kamehameha V in 1866. Nowadays, this gorgeous peninsula is a national park and refuge to the few residents and many endangered and threatened species in the area. One very fun and memorable way to experience Kalaupapa is to take a mule ride tour.
See the historic Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove
This ancient coconut grove was planted about 1860 when King Kamehameha V reigned over the islands. Here you can admire the last of the hundreds of royal coconut groves in Hawaii, while also enjoying the sunset view. However, be careful of falling coconuts within the grove!
Papohaku Beach Park
Papohaku beach stretches 3 miles with soft, white sand. There’s plenty of space for your family to explore without large crowds. You can also see views of Diamond Head on O’ahu from the distance.
Things to do in Lanai with Kids
You can find below the best things to do in Lanai with kids.
For a very green and lush tropical riddled country, Hawaii does have a Mars-like landscape. Keahiakawelo is a rock garden that enchants anyone who visits especially at dusk when the sun setting illuminates the rocks in reds and purples.
This spot is ideal for swimming, having a picnic, and small children. The tidal pool is a fun spot for your kids to safely enjoy the water. You can also bodysurf here and nearby, you can take a short scenic hike up Puu Pehe Rock.
Lanai Cathedrals are underwater lava tubes that are just out of this world. The caverns and rays of light shining through hardened lava is something you and your family will just have to experience.
Go on a dolphin tour
Turtles, whales, manta rays and sharks aren’t the only cool sea animals you can see in Hawaii. There are several companies that offer dolphin tours where you can snorkel and see them up close and personal. Truly an experience they won’t forget.
Hawaii Family Trip
Hawaii is an extraordinary place. Even as a tourist, you will feel the aloha spirit as you traverse throughout the islands and experience its cultural, historical, and natural beauty.
If you’re still debating on what spot in the world you want to visit with your family next, make it Hawaii. There are so many things to do in Hawaii with kids. If you love the outdoors, nature, culture, trying new delicacies, and going on adventures, this is the place.