When it comes to choosing the best destination for kids, that usually means choosing a place with the right kind of activities. Activities are everything in the world of parenting and lucky for us, the Hawaiian Islands are loaded with them. All the Hawaiian islands are fantastic for kids, however in this article, let’s look at the islands that hold the key to keeping kids uniquely entertained.
But First, The Islands of Hawaii
The eight main islands of Hawaii are surrounded by other low lying uninhibited surface reefs and islets. These landforms span nearly 1500 miles in the Pacific Ocean. The main island is nicknamed “The Big Island.” Then there is O’ahu, known to many as “The Gathering Place.” Maui is smaller and attracts thousands of visitors a year, known as “The Valley Isle.” One of the other popular islands is Kaua’i, known for its incredible landscapes and named “The Garden Isle.” Molokai, “The Friendly Isle” is less traveled but a great destination. The island of Lana’i is named after its main crop, “The Pineapple Isle.” Ni’ihau is “The Forbidden Isle,” and Kaho’olawe is the smallest and is called “The Target Island.” The state of Hawaii counts over 135 islands in its jurisdiction which changes over time depending on the volcanic activity in this part of the world.
Best Hawaiian Island for Kids - The Big Island
On the Big Island of Hawaii, an excellent destination for the whole family is Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. This was once an ancient place and played as “refuge” for people seeking safety from other elements like weather or people. It was said that all would be forgiven and protected if this place was reached. The grounds were home to the Hawaiian royalty, and the sacred temple still stands with displays of historical relics and cultural attractions. The park is 180-acres and is filled with exhibits and lots of photo-worthy places to gather with your kiddos.
Also found on the Big Island is Kahalu’u Beach Park which families can attest; make for the best snorkeling for children in the entire state. This is because there are smaller tide pools for toddlers making for a far safer experience for everyone. Nearby is a marine preserve park area with knee-deep exploring with plenty of flora and underwater magic. If you’re looking to teach your kids how to snorkel, this is one of the best places to do it. The marine life is used to visitors and the site is well traveled and safe.
Finally, don’t miss Flumin’ Kohala which sounds like a tourist trap, but is really pretty interesting. The operator has exclusive access to the more than 22-miles of historical irrigation flumes that date back to the early 1900s. with Kayak-like rafts, guides take you through the flume system explaining how they functioned and their historical nature. This is a “calm” stroll and has no rapids or fast water, so it’s great for kids as young as five.
*A Hidden Gem - Check out the Bishop Museum on the Big Island for its Hawaiian artifacts and historical building something straight out of a movie.
Best Hawaiian Islands for Kids - Maui
Have you ever been on a submarine? Well, few have, but at The Atlantis Submarine you can do just that, and it is a fascinating trip for your kids. Not only are they the perfect size to crawl around this treasure, but you’ll love the insights and view into the underwater world. It actually dives more than 100-feet into the ocean which is further than most people will ever venture even with the right scuba gear. Between December and May, you may even catch a whale as they are migrating during this time. The first rides of the day are usually the most affordable, and there are coupons online which help you save a few extra dollars. The entire experience lasts about 2-full hours and so very worth it.
For the best hands-on marine experience, the whole family can head to The Maui Ocean Center. This is a smaller aquarium but jam-packed with discovery exhibits and feature unique marine life like hammerhead sharks, deep sea tuna and a living reef.
Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach is a fantastic destination for families who want to get in the water. Just rent gear from a local shop and get the kids started off on the right “fin.” You can snorkel right from the beach walking in and out making it easier for younger kids. If you’re a water lover or diver, this is an excellent compromise to scuba diving as the snorkeling here can hold its own in underwater wonders.
Best Hawaiian Islands for Kids - Molokai
Our first pick for Molokai is the Big Wind Kite Factory since it’s an all-ages activity and brings a sense of childhood back for the older members of your family. The kite factory will get your kids set up with the right size kit and show them how to fly it. This factory is in the windiest area of the island on the west side, almost 24/7, and makes for the perfect kiting experience.
For your older kids (16+) You can take them to the Molokai Mule Ride experience. This journey takes visitors through a three-mile trek to the village of Kalaupapa. This was once referred to as a forbidden valley marked by its steep (yet safe) terrain with the most awe-inspiring views of the island. There is still a small village of people who call this valley home, and the mule rides give your entire family insight into a more primitive life.
While all the Hawaiian islands can offer families a great glimpse into island life, these are our top picks. If we can help you and your family get outfitted for the best Hawaiian vacation, just say the word. Have a look at our shop and start your holiday early!