Hawaii is a Polynesian paradise that boasts sun-dappled azure waters, swaying coconut palms, and footprint-free, powder-white sand beaches. From surfing, swimming, and snorkeling to hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching, the jewel in the Pacific crown is perfect for outdoor lovers, and there are many family-friendly tours and trips in and around the islands that offer the ideal opportunity for discovering and exploring the Aloha State’s many attractions with the kids.
1.Cowboys of Hawaii Mendes Ranch
Become a real-life cowboy at the Mendes Ranch on family-centric guided horseback tours along the beautiful Hawaiian coastline. Based on the working 3,000-acre Mendes Ranch, which is home to 300 head of cattle and 80 horses, two trail rides are offered for riders of all ages and skill levels – a morning ride or an afternoon ride which follows the breathtaking coastline to the edge of a valley with stops along with way to soak up the magnificent scenery. Guide trail rides begin at the Blacksmith Shop on the ranch, through rolling hills and past historical sites such as Red Track where famous Parker Ranch Thoroughbreds were trained. The ride lasts around 90 minutes, and safety equipment such as riding hats are provided.
3530 Kahekili Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793, Phone: 808-885-5006
The Dole Plantation is a historic pineapple plantation that began as a humble fruit stand in 1950 and grew into one of the world’s most famous pineapple producers. Today, Dole Plantation offers a quintessential Hawaiian pineapple experience with a range of enjoyable activities for the entire family, including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, the Plantation Garden Tour, and the Pineapple Garden Maze. The plantation also features a variety of informational displays and presentations about the history of the farm and Hawaii’s pineapple industry, and a large plantation country store that sells a wealth of Dole Plantation items, gifts, and refreshments, including the world-famous DoleWhip®. Dole Plantation is open daily, year-round.
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786, Phone: 808-621-8408
Dolphin Quest offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact and swim with dolphins. Committed to the conservation and preservation of the planet, Dolphin Quest provides inspirational, interactive experiences to inspire the next generation of visitors to respect, value, and work to conserve the living oceans. Dolphin Quest also offers a variety of educational programs and supports critical marine scientific studies aimed at conservation and preservation of the sea and its residents. Dolphin Quest offers a range of unforgettable experiences ranging from Dolphin Dips and Sea Quests to Trainer for a Day and Dolphin Quest camps.
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738, Phone: 808-886-2268
4.Duck Tours Hawaii
© Duck Tours Hawaii
Discover Oahu from the sea on a fun-filled duck tour on amphibious boats that can travel on both land and sea. One of the most popular activities on the island, boat tours are conducted on state-of-the-art, unsinkable DUKW vessels, also known as ‘ducks’ that move from land to sea and promise to provide the whole family with a fun day out. Tours include Waikiki and Diamond Head & Sea, which cruises past major Waikiki landmarks like Waikiki Beach, Kalakaua Avenue, Duke Kahanamoku Statue, and Kapiolani Park; Twilight Duck Tours, and the Fireworks Duck Tour, which explores Magic Island, South shore, Diamond Head and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
930 Hau?oli St, Honolulu, HI 96826, Phone: 808-988-3825
5.Grove Farm Homestead Museum
Grove Farm is a beautifully preserved 100-acre homestead and historic agricultural site on the island of Kauai that offers an in-depth look at Kauai’s sugar cane heritage, which was the chief agricultural industry on the island for over 150 years. Owned by George N. Wilcox, the plantation was a developing center in the industry in the 19th century, and today offers a fascinating look into the island's past. Located in the center of Lihue, the farm features the original plantation main house, the owner’s and guest cottages, and the plantation workers’ housing camp and still operates as it did in the 1870s with the same cleaning and agricultural schedules and practices. Guided tours of the farm are available twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
4050 Nawiliwili Rd, Lihue, HI 96766, Phone: 808-245-3202
6.Haleakala National Park
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Situated on the island of Maui, Haleakala National Park is a 47-square-mile national park that is named after the dormant volcano that lies within it known as Haleakala (“House of the Sun” in Hawaiian). One of the world’s largest volcanic craters, Haleakala last erupted around 1790 and has a 7.5-mile-long and 2.5-mile-wide crater with a circumference of approximately 20 miles. The Haleakala National Park is home to the dormant volcano, the Kipahulu Valley, and the pools of the ‘Ohe‘o Gulch area, which rests on the eastern slope, and the Haleakala Visitor Center which can be found at 9,740 feet on the rim of the dormant volcano. The biological reserve of the Kipahulu Valley in the park is home to a broad and diverse variety of fauna and flora, ranging from the ohia and lobelia to goats and mongooses.
Haleakala National Park, Maui, HI 96768
7.Roberts Hawaii Movie Tours
Designed for movie-buffs and film-lovers, Roberts Hawaii Movie Tours takes visitors on guided tours of the iconic locations and backdrops of Kauai that were made famous in several notable Hollywood films. Tours are conducted on climate-controlled minibusses and explore the spectacular natural scenery and lush tropical landscapes that have appeared in movies like Six Days and Seven Nights, Gilligan’s Island, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, and The Amazing Race. Knowledgeable and passionate tour guides share their love of the movies and explain how filmmakers made the landscapes of the island translate onto the silver screen.
Lihue, HI 96766, Phone: 808-539-9400
8.Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Located on Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes - Kilauea and Mauna Loa and offers some of the best volcano viewing in the world. One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea has been erupting since 1983 and stands at more than 4,000 feet high and is still growing. The much older and larger Mauna Loa has been active for some 700,000 years, and stands at 31,700 feet from the seafloor, making it the largest mountain on the planet. In addition to the two volcanoes, the park is also home to awe-inspiring landscapes of cinder cones, gaping pits, rough lava trails, and other volcanic wonders.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718, Phone: 808-985-6000
9.Hawaiian Railway Society
The Hawaiian Railway Society is an educational organization that was established to protect, preserve, and encourage an interest in the rich history of railroading in Hawaii. Based on the island of Oahu, the society manages a three-foot narrow-gauge heritage railroad on the trackbed of the defunct Oahu Railway and Land Company and a fascinating railroad museum in Ewa. Here, visitors can learn all about the history of railroading in Hawaii, how sugar cane trains were used on the sugar plantations, and enjoy fully narrated train rides that pass sites of historical interest such as the historic Fort Barrette, an old sisal plantation, and the "ghost town" of Gilbert. Train rides are 90-minutes long, round-trip, and run year-round, and there is a picnic area for families to enjoy.
3402, 91-1001 Renton Rd, Ewa Beach, HI 96706, Phone: 808-681-5461
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The Honolulu Zoo is an animal sanctuary in Queen Kapi?olani Park in Honolulu that is built on the part of the 300-acre royal Queen Kapi?olani Park. The zoo was established as part of 1876 Monarch of Hawaii, King David Kalakaua’s grant of royal lands to the people to honor his queen, Julia Kapi?olani. The 42-acre park is home to over 1,230 animals in specially designed habitats, including several endangered species such as black rhino, golden lion tamarins, Siamang gibbons, and Sumatran tigers. The zoo runs several essential conservation programs that aim to protect, conserve and maintain populations of endangered species both in captivity and the wild and is also home to animal welfare centers and a breeding facility.
151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
11.Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii is an astronomy and culture education center in Hilo that explores the culture and history of Hawaii through astronomy. The center features an array of fascinating bilingual exhibits and displays and a 120-seat planetarium with a full-dome video projection system where a variety of astronomy-based presentations and shows are held. Signature shows include “Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky,” and “Dawn of the Space Age 3D and other shows such as “the Birth of the Universe” are screened in one of the smaller theaters at the planetarium. Part of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the planetarium boasts a striking architectural design and is surrounded by lush gardens and grounds full of native, endemic, and ‘canoe plants’ brought to the island by the Polynesians, garden café and a gift shop.
600 Imiloa Pl, Hilo, HI 96720, Phone: 808-932-8901
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Kayak Kauai is a leading kayaking and hiking tour company on the island of Kauai that offers a range of guided and self-guided tours on foot and kayak. Established in 1984, the company is owned by two brothers with a passion for the beautiful land and seascapes of the island who wanted to share the beauty with others. Kayak Kauai offers a wide variety of tours for all tastes from river and ocean kayaking tours to camping and hiking adventures where visitors can see dolphins, whales, turtles and other marine creatures in their natural environment, along with soaking up the spectacular valleys, mountains, lush tropical forests and waterfalls of the island. Other services offered include camping van and vacation rentals.
3-5971 Kuhio Highway, Bldg 3, Kapaa, HI 96746, Phone: 808-826-9844
13.Koke?e Natural History Museum
Koke'e Natural History Museum is a small, interesting museum at the base of Waimea Canyon that explores the ecology, climatology, and geology of the island of Kauai through interpretive exhibits and displays, and educational program and presentations. The small museum offers visitors an insight into the natural and cultural history of Waimea Canyon and the Koke?e State Parks and provides a wealth of information on the hiking trails in and around the canyon from knowledgeable staff. A neat gift shop sells a variety of merchandise such as informative books, DVDs, gifts, souvenirs, and clothing, as well as books and maps.
3600 Kokee Rd, Kekaha, HI 96752, Phone: 808-335-9975
14.Laupahoehoe Train Museum
The Laupahoehoe Train Museum is a small, community-run museum on the beautiful Hamakua Heritage Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii that showcases the history of the railroads on the island of Hawaii. The little museum also preserves, promotes, and protects the culture and history of the North Hilo and Hamakua districts by honoring the colorful history of the Hilo Railroad, which operated between 1899 and 1946. Located in the old station agent's house, the museum features antique furnishing from the early 1900s and a wide range of fascinating railroad artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, maps, and displays. The museum is surrounded by lush tropical gardens with fruit trees and ornamentals that are the perfect place to picnic and relax with the family.
36-2377 Mamalahoa Hwy, Laupahoehoe, HI 96764, Phone: 808-962-6300
15.Maui Cave Adventures
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The Hana Lava Tube, also known as the Ka'eleku Caverns near Hana in East Maui, is the 18th largest cavern system in the world and can be explored on guided cave and lava tubes tours. These solid cylindrical tubes of lava are formed after the outside layer of thick rivers of molten lava from an erupting volcano cools into tunnels that can run for up to 30 miles. Temptations Tours and Maui Cave Adventures offer several different tour options, which range from simple walking tours to crawling adventures, which are guided by professional cavers and reputable tour guides who share the history and secrets of the spectacular caverns and lava tubes.
205 Ulaino Rd, Hana, HI 96713, Phone: 808-248-7308
16.Na Pali Catamaran Tours
Na Pali Catamaran Tours offers a unique way to experience the beauty of Kauai on unforgettable catamaran cruises. Sea tours are conducted on a 35-foot aluminum power catamaran called Kamahele Kai II, which is comfortably fitted with indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of space to walk around, and modern restrooms. Large enough to provide a smooth journey, yet small enough to fit into Na Pali’s famous sea caves, the catamaran is the perfect way to explore and experience the Na Pali Coast and its ancient lava tubes, magical sea caves, spectacular waterfalls, and majestic mountains.
5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI 96714, Phone: 808-826-6853
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17.Pacific Eco Whale Watching Tours
PacWhale Eco-Adventures offers a variety of ocean eco-tours, including award-winning dolphin and whale-watching trips, sunset dinner and cocktail cruises, snorkel trips, and stargazing excursions. Owned by Pacific Whale Foundation, environmentally-friendly and sustainable tours are led by certified Marine Naturalists who share their knowledge and passion about the ocean and the waters around Hawaii and the marine wildlife that calls it home. Cruises visit some of Maui’s most beautiful spots such as Molokini, Lana?i and Honolua Bay, where guests can snorkel and swim in the crystal-clear waters, and venture out into deeper waters to watch dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. The company also offers private charter cruises for unique celebrations such as weddings.
300 Ma?alaea Road, Suite 211, Wailuku, HI 9679, Phone: 808-249-8811
18.Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
The Pana?ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is a small 12-acre zoo nestled in a lush rainforest in Hilo and is home to a variety of rainforest animals and endangered Hawaiian species such as lemurs, spider monkeys, and nene geese, the Hawaiian State bird. Other exciting residents among the 80 species of animals that call the zoo home include an Aldabra tortoise named Beauregard, Namaste - a rare white Bengal tiger, and Arnie the water buffalo. The only tropical zoo in the United States, the Pana?ewa Rainforest Zoo is also a botanical garden and features a fantastic array of tropical flowering plants, shrubs, and trees such as bamboos, orchids, palms, and a beautiful water garden.
800 Stainback Hwy, Hilo, HI 96720, Phone: 808-959-7224
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19.Pearl Harbor National Memorial & USS Arizona
Pearl Harbor Tours offer unforgettable experiences in and around Hawaii’s number one visitor destination. Resting at the center of Pearl Harbor is the USS Arizona Memorial with the Battleship Missouri, known as ‘Mighty Mo,’ a Bowfin Submarine and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Tours include watching a 23-minute documentary film about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and a solemn visit to the Memorial on a 145 passenger U.S. Navy-operated boat. Tours include the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship Tour; Oahu Circle Island Tour; Passport to Pearl Harbor; Polynesian Cultural Center and Dole Plantation Tour; and the Complete experience.
1039 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, Phone: 808-739-7910
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20.Purdy’s Macadamia Farm
Purdy’s Macadamia Farm is a five-acre Hawaiian homestead and macadamia nut farm in the heart of Molokai's central Ho'olehua district. The family-owned farm has been farming and harvesting macadamia nuts, which are a precious part of Hawaiian culture, for the past 80 years and offers casual tours of the plantation where visitors can learn about the art of macadamia nut farming, how to crack a mac nut on a stone with a hammer and sample them fresh-from-the-shell . Visitors can also buy homemade macadamia blossom honey and other macadamia-based products and gifts.
4 Lihi Pali Ave, Ho'olehua, HI 96729, Phone: 808-567-6601
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21.Reefdancer Glass Bottom Boat Tours
Reefdancer Glass Bottom Boat Tours offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences of seeing and experiencing the abundant marine life that lives beneath the surface of the ocean without getting wet! Established over 30 years ago, the company has been offering glass-bottom and submersible tours ever since, sharing the beauty of the sea and its residents in a unique and unforgettable way. The Reefdancer is a semi-submersible vessel with a spacious air-conditioned interior and large viewing windows on both sides so guests can interact with the divers on the outside who are pointing out interesting things. The tour lasts around an hour and is suitable for all ages.
675 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761, Phone: 808-667-2133
22.Sugar Cane Train
The Sugar Cane Train is a vintage steam locomotive with open-air coaches that travels between Lahaina with Puukolii with a brief stop at Kaanapali. The train is operated by the Lahaina, Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad, a three-foot narrow-gauge heritage railroad in Lahaina, and has a narrator on board that points out interesting sites and scenes along the six-mile journey. These include the Hahakea 325-foot wooden trestle, an operating wooden turntable that was once used for turning locomotives in Lahaina, and spectacular views of the Hale Mahina or West Maui Mountains and the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai.
17 Kaka'alaneo Dr, Lahaina, HI 96761, Phone: 808-667-6851
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23.USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park honor the fleet attack submarine, the USS Bowfin (SS-287), that fought in the Pacific during WWII. Launched precisely one year after the Japanese attack on Oahu, the submarine helped coin the phrase ‘Silent Service’ and now calls Pearl Harbor her permanent home. Proudly moored near the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine is open to the public for tours that take visitors back in time to the age of WWII submarines and their brave crews and the vital role they played in winning the war in the Pacific. The National Historic Landmark offers two self-guided tours - the Submarine Tour and the VIP Captain’s Tour, both of which include free audio guides in multiple languages.
11 Arizona Memorial Dr, Honolulu, HI 96818
Located in the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District, the Waikiki Aquarium is home to more than 500 species of marine animals and plants. Built right next to and encompassing a vibrant living coral reef on the shoreline of Waikiki, the aquarium boasts over 3,500 organisms from sea slugs to sting rays. Founded in 1904, the aquarium is the second oldest in the United States and is a designated Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center for the Pacific Island Region of the Coastal America Partnership. The aquarium’s programs focus on local Hawaiian, and tropical Pacific aquatic life and exhibits include a New Hawaiian Green Sea turtle exhibit and a display featuring the Peppermint Angelfish, one of the ocean’s rarest fish and the only one on display for the public in the world.
2777 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, Phone: 808-923-9741
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Waikiki Trolley tours provide a convenient, safe, and fun way to explore Honolulu, visiting the sightseeing and scenic spots and discovering world-class shopping and dining destinations. The unique hop-on, hop-off system of the trolleys allows passengers to spend as much time as they like at destinations of their choice, which include significant attractions like Diamond Head, Sea Life Park, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium, and the Battleship Missouri. A variety of tickets and admission bundles are available, and the trolleys run year-round and in all weather.
25 Fun Things to Do in Hawaii with Kids of All Ages
- Cowboys of Hawaii Mendes Ranch, Photo: aurency/stock.adobe.com
- Dole Plantation, Photo: Tom/stock.adobe.com
- Dolphin Quest, Photo: natasnow/stock.adobe.com
- Duck Tours Hawaii, Photo: Duck Tours Hawaii
- Grove Farm Homestead Museum, Photo: poteco/stock.adobe.com
- Haleakala National Park, Photo: Juergen Wallstabe/stock.adobe.com
- Roberts Hawaii Movie Tours, Photo: Skylar/stock.adobe.com
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Photo: dhayes/stock.adobe.com
- Hawaiian Railway Society, Photo: shiyana/stock.adobe.com
- Honolulu Zoo, Photo: Eric BVD/stock.adobe.com
- Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Photo: Sarote/stock.adobe.com
- Kayak Kauai, Photo: Claudio's Pics/stock.adobe.com
- Koke?e Natural History Museum, Photo: PixHound/stock.adobe.com
- Laupahoehoe Train Museum, Photo: Pavel/stock.adobe.comeqroy
- Maui Cave Adventures, Photo: Sarah Michals/stock.adobe.com
- Na Pali Catamaran Tours, Photo: chrisdonaldsonmedia/stock.adobe.com
- Pacific Eco Whale Watching Tours, Photo: ThoPics/stock.adobe.com
- Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, Photo: Melynnique/stock.adobe.com
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial & USS Arizona, Photo: kraskoff/stock.adobe.com
- Purdy’s Macadamia Farm, Photo: kurapy/stock.adobe.com
- Reefdancer Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Photo: PixieMe/stock.adobe.com
- Sugar Cane Train, Photo: Kyo46/stock.adobe.com
- USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, Photo: yooranpark/stock.adobe.com
- Waikiki Aquarium, Photo: Vito/stock.adobe.com
- Waikiki Trolley, Photo: Laurel Jeninga/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: nstanev/stock.adobe.com