The best thing about planning a family vacation to Hawaii is that it doesn't matter when you go - the islands are warm and sunny year-round. Family vacationers flock to Hawaii in the winter, spring and summer. Many hotels offer packages such as reduced rates when booking two rooms for a few days in a row. If you want to avoid crowds and your travel dates are flexible, hotels are usually the emptiest from the end of September to just before Thanksgiving, as well as in May. During the busy times of the year, be sure to book your room, airfare and activities well ahead of time to get what you are looking for.
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» The Outrigger Waikiki
» The Kaanapali Beach Hotel
» Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
» Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
» Aston Waikiki
10 Great Family Resorts in Hawaii
- Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Photo: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
- The Outrigger Waikiki, Photo: The Outrigger Waikiki
- The Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Photo: The Kaanapali Beach Hotel
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Photo: Starwood
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Photo: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
- Aston Waikiki, Photo: Aston Hotels
- Cover Photo: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
More Family Vacation Ideas on Oahu
A family trip to Oahu can mean a stay at a large resort in the heart of Waikiki Beach, or a more intimate getaway on other parts of the island. In Waikiki, Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Sheraton Waikiki both offer a children's program for children ages 5 to 12. While kids learn about Hawaii and play games, parents can go shopping, take a surfing lesson and have drinks with a view.
The Kahala Hotel, a 10-minute drive from Waikiki, has a private sandy beach and a man-made dolphin lagoon which is sure to excite kids. The hotel offers family vacationers luxurious rooms, a pool and secluded beach, several restaurants, spa suites, a dolphin lagoon and a kid's club. The rooms are furnished in traditional Hawaiian style with a modern twist and have great views. You can choose to camp the family out by the pool or on the 800-foot-long beach. The 26,000 square foot natural lagoon is home to six Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins.
Kids ages 5 to 12 can take part in the Quest, a two hour program to that will educate them about dolphins as well as allow them to see them in shallow-water. The Keiki Club activities include: lei making, reef walking, bamboo pole fishing, snorkeling, and hula dancing. Rates start at $325 per night.
On the North Shore of Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort offers villas just steps from its ocean. These luxury villas are well suited for families that like to barbeque and relax together in a private space. Choose from an array of vacation activities in natural surroundings. The Ocean Villas, located steps from a white sandy beach, offer families the flexibility of preparing their own meals while on vacation. The luxury villas have a Jacuzzi, courtyard and a barbeque area. And when you don't feel like cooking, a private chef can be hired for groups of two or more. The Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay Resort come in studio, 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom configurations. The villas include a private lanai, a living area, a dining area, and a fully equipped kitchen with granite counter tops, dishwasher and small kitchen appliances. Ask for one of the villas on the ground level for the easiest access to the beach. One-bedroom luxury villa rates start at $868 per night.
Maui with Children
The island of Maui is a popular with families, and recognizing that interest airlines offer many direct flights to Maui from the mainland. There are several upscale resort areas on Maui where guests can choose from an array of vacation activities such as snorkeling, golf and spas.
Kapalua Resort on West Maui has three beaches and several different accommodation options. If you like to prepare some of your own meals and need the convenience of a washer/dryer while on family vacation, rent a condo at the resort. Guests who prefer to stay in a hotel can try the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Another popular family destination on West Maui is Kaanapali Resort which has condos, programs for kids and three miles of sandy beaches. The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui on the southern side of the island has a spa, golf, and spacious suites for families.
The Big Island of Hawaii for Kids
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii offers luxury accommodations and a selection of activities for the whole family. Vacationers can relax in a hammock, play sand volleyball or try a few rounds of scenic golf on the resort's two golf courses. Kids ages five through 12 can sign up for the Mauna Lani day camp. Available year-round, camp activities include visits to tidal pools, historic fishponds and petroglyphs, learning Hawaiian and games. Rates for Camp Mauna Lani start at $50 per day.
There is a Beach Crew which assists with activities, hammocks, lounges and cabanas. For grown-ups, the resort offers fitness workouts and morning walks. While the kids are at camp, parents can relax at the resort's unique health spa, complete with outdoor treatment huts and a lava sauna. Room rates start at $430 per night, but families can usually get a lower rate when booking two rooms for three nights or longer. Find more great resorts with kids' programs.
Places to Visit in Hawaii
Located on an archipelago in the Central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii became part of the United States in 1959, making it the only state that is wholly composed of islands. Its volcanic history has given the islands a peculiar scenery of rugged landscapes, cliffs, valleys and waterfalls, while its location is naturally endowed with golden, white, black and red colored beaches, and green tropical forests. Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time, making it an even greater mystery that most visitors look forward to experiencing. Below are 25 of the best places one should visit in Hawaii.
Maui is a Hawaiian island that is commonly known as the ‘Valley Isle.’ Whales migrate from the coast of Lahaina and are visible at the Maui coastline, making it a famous spot for whale watching in the winter. Watch waterfalls as you drive through adventurous and beautiful Hana Highway with its numerous curves and bridges. Haleakala National Park gives you the advantage of watching the golden sunrise from 9,740 feet high at the top of Mt Haleakala Crater. The island has both a leeward side and windward side, meaning visitors get to experience both climates. Due to these trade winds, the east side of the island has more lush greenery, while the west side has a drier climate.
This is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, otherwise known as ‘The Big Island.’ It has an active volcano in Kilauea, which provides a spectacular volcanic view, not to mention the magnificent sight of the snow-capped Mauna Kea Mountains. The Big Island has numerous captivating features such as being the birthplace of King Kamehameha, and hosting the first missionary church in Kailua Village. Its Panaluu Beach is covered with black sand, in which guests and locals sunbathe, hike, and take in the evening breeze as they look out into the Pacific Ocean. Visit Volcanoes National Park during the day and walk the Thurston Lava Tube, or go at night for a chance to view lava in the dark.
Oahu is also referred to as ‘The Gathering Place,’ being home to all Hawaiian cultures, as well as the capital, Honolulu. Take a step back in history and visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial, five historic sites that commemorate the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In the winter, the North Shore is packed with surfers looking for the next big wave. Guests will enjoy the architecture of Iolani Palace, which is the home of the last two reigning Hawaiian monarchs. Waikiki, once a royal playground, has also become a popular place for tourists to visit. Take a hike on the Leahi Diamond Head hiking trail and enjoy the magnificent view of the Island’s beauty.
Kauai Island is also referred to as the ‘Garden Isle.’ It has five popular destinations, including Princeville on the North Shore, Coconut Coast on the east, Kalapaki in Lihue, and Poipu to the south. The Napali coast is great for boat rides, while the native ponds close to the ocean provide a remarkable view. Visitors can also learn about the mysterious legends of the coast. The interior is lined with rainforests, rivers and waterfalls, while the cliffs and valleys are a perfect illustration of the Hawaiian environment. Waimea Canyon also triggers the excitement of guests with its panoramic views of the Island. Kokee State Park trails offer hiking opportunities for those looking for an adventure.
Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii, bursting with government and business activities in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. The Honolulu Museum of Art has wonderful exhibits and informative tours, such as a guided tour of Shangri La, one of Hawaii's most architecturally significant homes. Honolulu has an air of royalty, hosting the Iolani Palace, the Queen Emma Summer Palace, and Washington Place, where Queen Liliuokalani resided. Also located in Honolulu is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, as well as the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. Find unique shops and delicious local food in the neighborhood of Kapahulu, or visit the historic Honolulu landmark Aloha Tower Marketplace to buy some gifts to commemorate your trip.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The park is live evidence that primordial forces are still working. Hike, bike, and camp, or drive the “Chain of Craters Road” for a spectacular and scenic drive ending at Makaopuhi Crater. Many of the archeological sites in the area have been covered by lava over the years. Visit Jaggar Museum & Overlook to experience breathtaking views and cultural exhibits. Watch volcanic gases escape from the ground at Ha’akulamanu (Sulphur Banks). These gases are rich in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, causing a rotten egg smell. When you’re in the mood to relax a little, head over to the Kilauea Visitor Center to watch the feature film Born of Fire, Born of the Sea. No matter what you decide to do, a day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is sure to create the best memories.
Hilo provides you with beautiful sites of fertile rainforests and striking gardens. It is also the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where your adventure will be extended. Hilo is home to several museums, which include the Imiloa Astronomy Center, the Lyman Museum, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum, all of which are full of varying Hawaiian history. Imiloa Astronomy Center has three titanium cones over it, which represent the three largest mountains in Hawaii. Hike through a Koa (hardwood) forest, and do not forget to visit Boiling Pots & Rainbow Falls in Wailuku State Park. Be sure to visit the Liliuokalani Gardens, a 30-acre Japanese Garden with beautiful views of Hilo Bay and Coconut Island.
Molokai, also known as ‘The Friendly Island,’ was created through volcanic action in the middle of the Pacific. It has beautiful beaches on all ends, and while not all are easily accessible, they all provide fantastic scenery. Take a trip to Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, one of the few remaining royal coconut groves in Hawaii. From December to April, look out for Humpback whales who migrate to Molokai from Alaska to mate. Also to be spotted are Spinner Dolphins and Green Sea Turtles. Be sure to visit Kalaupapa, a former leprosy colony that is shaped like a shark. Located a block from downtown Kaunakakai, the Molokai War Memorial is a marble monument which bears the names of residents who lost their lives fighting for America.
Lanai is a beautiful mix of classic beach resorts with sophisticated architecture, expensive food and golf courses, and rugged roads and beautiful gardens such as Keahiakawelo, which is also known as the Garden of the Gods. Polihua Beach is the most secluded beach in Lanai, and is the best place to see Hawaii’s green sea turtles, though guests are advised not to disturb them. Hike, bike or stroll through the rustic Munro Trail, and get spectacular views of ironwood, eucalyptus, and pine trees. Hulopoe Bay is a beautiful place to relax, with its white sand, crystal blue water and elegant views of the ocean.
Kailua is a quaint beach town located just 30 minutes from downtown Honolulu. It is home to Kawai Nui Marsh, the largest remaining wetlands in Hawaii. Kawai Nui is the largest fresh water pond in the Hawaiian Islands, and is home to endangered water birds such as the Lysan Duck, and the Hawaiian Goose. The marsh is complemented by Hamakua Marsh, which is also home to endangered species of birds such as Stilt. Get a view of the historic Hilltop House, a home built around the rocks where it stands, with only some compatible stones added to secure the structure. Take the Lanikai Pillboxes Hike, a short trail featuring WWII Pillboxes (bunkers) and panoramic views of Lanikai Beach. Make sure to also check out the historic Lanikai Marker, a stone and concrete monument built in 1924.
Hana is on the eastern tip of Maui. Though only 52 miles from Kahului, Hana Highway provides numerous sights including narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, waterfalls, seascapes, and rainforest views. Located off of Hana Highway is Kanahu Gardens, a botanical garden and preserve which holds the world’s largest collection of breadfruit cultivars. Kanahu Gardens is one of five gardens included in Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Garden. Set above Hana Bay, Travaasa Hana is a tropical resort offering guests the chance to experience “Maui’s Last Truly Hawaiian Place”. Hana Beach Park and Hamoa Beach are beautiful beaches that provide sunbathing and swimming, while Waianapanapa State Park, with its beautiful black sand, is great for snorkeling. Before you leave, make sure to stop by Hasegawa’s General Store to pick up a memento from your trip.
Waimea Canyon State Park
Waimea Canyon State Park is also known as ‘The Great Canyon of the Pacific,’ and lives up to its name. It provides lookout points and panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags, and adventurous valley gorges. The Canyon allows visitors to be mesmerized by the natural heritage of Hawaii, and makes them want to come back for another visit. Waimea Canyon Drive leads to the main Waimea Canyon Overlook, from which one can have a clear view of Kauai’s interior. Waimea Canyon State Park has a spacious parking lot, and bathroom facilities, making it the perfect place to spend the day.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park provides a perfect blend of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture. It is lined with tropical rainforests, volcanic landscapes, and a backcountry hiking area. It is also home to endangered animal and bird species, including the Hawaiian petrel, and Hawaiian Goose. The park experiences two climates, the dry leeward and the wet windward, which allows diversity in plants and animals. Guests are mesmerized by the view of the luminous Haleakala silversword plants, which live for ninety years but are only flowers once in their lifetime. While here, take the chance to enjoy the vastly different species of honeycreeper birds, protected by park manager from predators. The Oheo stream, with its cascading waterfalls, allows for clear viewing of native fish.
Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
Napali Coast State Wilderness Park is characterized by large cliffs and deep, narrow valleys. Tourists are attracted by a number of waterfalls that line and grace the valleys like some kind of flowing decoration. The valleys bottom is characterized by stone walled terraces, which are a clear indication that the valleys were once cultivated human settlements. The sea carves the cliffs and creates a lovely, magical sites that no tourist should miss. At the beginning of the park there are several amenities including restrooms, outdoor showers, trashcans, drinking water, and a pay phone. Visitors are free to camp, but need to obtain camping permits.
Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head State Monument provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu City. In fact, it was used by the United States military as a post to prevent attacks against Honolulu. The trail to the crater is on uneven and steep land, so only experienced hikers should take the trip. At Kulaniapia Falls, sit back and take in the 120 foot waterfall. Undertake some or all of the great activities at the monument, such as the Diamond Head Biking Tour, Diamond Head Segway Tour, Diamond Head Sunrise Run and Yoga Tour, and Diamond Head and Oahu Coast Half Day Tour. All of these tours will provide you with the adventure of a lifetime.
Mauna Kea Summit
The mountain peak is in a high alpine desert environment with little humidity, and there is no water on the trail, meaning hikers must bring their own to stay hydrated. The hiking trail is six miles, and should take the experienced hiker around eight hours to complete. The hike is on a high altitude and in a hypoxic environment, thus calling for hikers to be in peak physical condition. The Visitor Information Station has rangers and guides that can answer all of your questions about the summit. There are thirteen astronomical observation facilities that are multinational, due to the strategic point of the summit. The summit offers a free star gazing program, with telescopes provided, from 6:00am to 10:00pm at the Visitor Information Station.
Kilauea Iki Trail
The Kilauea Iki Trail leads visitors to a solidified, but still steaming, lava lake. It was here in 1959 that the Kilauea Iki Crater erupted, with lava fountains reaching up to 1,900 feet high. The volcano had 17 explosive episodes over the span of two months. According to Hawaiian mythology, the Kilauea Halemaumau Crater served as the body of Pele, goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. She is also believed to be the reason people have a home on the island. The trail starts at Kilauea Iki Overlook on Crater Rim Drive, offering a trip rich with nature, beautiful flowers, and rocky ground. The hill on the opposite crater wall, known as Pu‘u Pua‘i (gushing hill), did not exist prior to the 1959 eruption.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve provides a shuttle that picks up guests from the nearby Waikiki Hotels. Being on a hill top allows for breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding island. There are a wide range of activities at the preserve which include snorkeling, paddling, and kayaking, not to mention tour guides that take you through the entire bay, explaining and answering questions about the preserve and Hawaii in general. Banzai Pipeline Beach at the preserve offers a view of diverse fish species and other marine life. The popular Waimea Bay crowns your trip with a lovely view.
Kalalau Trail connects Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the Napali coastline, all the way offering serene views of the Pacific Ocean. It is the only path leading to the rugged Kalalau Beach. The trail commands visitor’s full attention, as there are many streams along the way that need to be crossed. Those skilled at climbing should be sure to check out Crawlers Ledge, an uneven, narrow ledge against the cliff. Hikers go through five valleys and sea cliffs, waterfalls and green surroundings that make the trail very exciting. Camping is only safe at Hanakoa or Kalalau, so you have to be sure that you are at either end of the trail.
Waianapanapa State Park
Waianapanapa State Park has a scenic volcanic coastline that is characterized by black sand beaches, which, during calm weather, allows for swimming, fishing, and sunbathing. The state park is a home to sea birds, a legendary dark and deep cave, anchialine pools, natural stone arches, and the native Hana rainforest. Guests can undertake activities in this natural environment such as fishing at the ponds and the sea shore, as well as picnicking and hiking on the ancient rugged trail that leads to Hana. Guests who really want to maximize their time here can make a night of it while camping (permit required).
Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach Park is close to nearby islands, making it the ideal place for visitors to adventure. The beach is popular for water sports such as surfing, body boarding, and kayaking, especially since individuals and groups from surrounding islands can easily make the trip here. The white sand and beautiful blue waters blend together making it the loveliest place to sit back and relax. Kalama Park on the west is a lesser known, less crowded park. With beautiful scenery, a grassy park, and a 180 degree view of Kailua Bay, it is the perfect, quiet place to lounge. The water lends itself to swimming, body boarding, and stand-up-paddling, but guests should be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty.
Hapuna Beach Park
Hapuna Beach Park has something for everyone, from swimmers and buskers to snorkelers and fishers, while body surfers enjoy the constant sea breaks. However, during the breaks, which sometimes go up to six feet high, only expert body surfers and rescuers should be within vicinity, since the water becomes risky. Hapuna Beach Park has a beach trail along the coastline that gives you a satisfactory ocean view. If guests work up a hunger, the Three Frogs Café is a snack bar serving burgers, fish tacos, and smoothies, as well as other small items. Hapuna Beach Park rents out 4-Person A-Frame Shelters, consisting of a screened room, a wooden sleeping are, and a picnic table.