Aloha! You’ve finally saved enough money to fly the ohana to Hawaii for vacation. What do you do now? Where should you stay? Can you afford it? Is it kid-friendly?
With gorgeous beaches, stunning sunsets, gentle trade winds, exotic nature trails and educational cultural attractions, Hawaii is unique and unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s also a wonderful place for families to enjoy a great vacation without breaking the bank, starving your kids for the week or depleting your retirement account.
We’ve raised our five kids on Oahu and when we’re able to pull away from work, school and sports (and eat somewhere other than Taco Bell or Costco pizza), here are some of the places you’ll find us.
Note: this is NOT the Condé Nast travel guide, but simply my biased, kid-friendly, on-a-budget recommendations to experiencing an incredible time while in Hawaii nei.
Which island is the best choice for your family?
Your first big decision in planning your trip is to choose which island you intend to visit. There are eight main islands in the archipelago, but for family vacation purposes, you can narrow your choices down to four (you’re halfway there!): Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii (aka the Big Island, because it’s really big).
Each of these islands is stunning, has something unique to offer and will deliver an incredible Hawaiian experience. It really depends on what you envision for your vacation and what you desire to do.
Oahu means the gathering place and it is the hub of activity in Hawaii. It’s home to the state’s capital, Honolulu, and the majority of the state’s population. On Oahu, you’ll find the iconic Waikiki beach, legendary surf breaks on the North Shore, world class shopping, and a vibrant mix of recreational and cultural sights to explore. Here are just a few of our favorite places on Oahu.
East Honolulu: coming soon
Windward side: coming soon
West side: coming soon
The valley isle is the second largest island in the Hawaiian chain and is home to some of the best beaches in the world. If you’re envisioning a postcard-perfect family vacation, Maui is a great choice with so much to offer a family with kids of all ages. Wake up early and drive up Haleakala to watch the sunrise, visit the lavender farms, snorkel at a variety of beaches, explore nature trails and enjoy the fresh foods from that are highlighted in many of Maui’s farm to table restaurants. The tourist areas can get pretty crowded, but once you’re there you’ll see why it’s such a popular vacation spot.
When you think of Hawaii, the Garden Isle is what many people envision. No structure taller than a coconut palm is allowed on the island, contributing to the island’s slow pace and provincial vibe. Filled with kid-friendly beaches, dramatic scenery, lush greenery and an abundance of tropical flowers make Kauai a unique and incredible vacation experience for the whole family. View the dramatic Napali coast, visit Waimea Canyon to catch a glimpse of Kauai’s natural and undisturbed beauty.
Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, which is why it’s commonly referred to as the “Big Island”. On Hawaii, you’ll find 4 of the 5 major world climate zones, making it one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world. From beaches to rain forests, from active volcanoes to snow-capped mountains Hawaii offers a unique experience for your kids that’s fun, but also educational. Climbing on the lava rocks, hiking to Akaka Falls, star gazing at Mauna Kea, driving through the country farms of Waimea, and touring the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you’ll see and experience things on Hawaii that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.