Vacation for Families

Family kayaking in Kailua Bay

Family kayaking in Kailua Bay

The Big Island of Hawaii is a wonderful place for vacationing families. There are a wide variety of activities and attractions for the whole family and many are unforgettable for children.

Young Children

The Hilton Waikoloa Village offers the most extensive children’s activity program. The program is for 5-12 year olds and is called Camp Menehune. There are several great playgrounds on the Big Island. Harold H Higashihara Park (see map) is located just south of Kona, past the 115 mile marker. Another nice playground is located at the corner of Kuakini Hwy and Makala Blvd. Lastly, there is the Waimea Park, located at the corner of Hwy19 and Lindsey Road in Waimea Town (see map).


Everyone loves the beach! The great thing about the Big Island is that there are literally dozens of great beaches. Kids tend to get bored easily - and the best thing can be to go to a different beach each day. Parts of the Big Island coast are rugged and may have rough waters. The beaches we mention here are protected coves with easy beach entry to the ocean. Some of the best beaches with calm waters for toddlers and small children near Kona are: Spencer Beach, Kikaua Point Beach, Anaehoomalu Beach, Kamakahonu Beach, Kahaluu Beach, and Mauna Kea Beach. Near Hilo, check out Onekahakaha Beach and Richardson Beach.

For older kids and those looking for waves to ride, check out Hapuna Beach, Magic Sands Beach, and Kua Bay. Check out our Big Island Beach Guide for comprehensive reviews and photos of every beach on the Big Island - we indicate which beaches have bathroom facilities and which are baby stroller accessible.

Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach

Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach

Snorkeling with Sea Turtle

Snorkeling with Sea Turtle

Ocean Activities

If your kids can swim and know how to snorkel, the Big Island has some fascinating underwater life. Some of our favorite family-friendly, calm waters to snorkel are at: Spencer Beach and Kahaluu Beach. Kayaking is popular in the Big Island and can easily be done with kids. Your kids should be at least old enough to wear a life jacket and sit on the kayak with you. Even if they are not strong enough to paddle themselves, you can rent a tandem kayak (seating one adult + one child or two adults + 1 child) and take your youngster for a ride while you paddle. Teenagers will enjoy a kayak trip to Kealakekua Bay or the Sea Caves. If you are interested in guided snorkeling or kayak tours, check out the snorkel tours and kayak tours offered by our partner.


For pre-teen and teenage kids, any adventurous activity is sure to please.  There are many Hawaii hiking trails leading to waterfalls and remote valleys.  You can hike the impressive Volcanoes National Park and even hike to see the active lava flow as molten lava enters the ocean.

Many hikes are merely short, easy walks - appropriate for youngsters.  Some of the easiest scenic hikes include Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Pololu Valley.  When hiking with your kids, point out the wildlife, and have them find special plants or trees so they learn more about the natural world around them. Be sensitive to children’s energy levels and need for frequent breaks.

Before you arrive on the Big Island, have a good idea how long or how far your kids can hike. You can take them on “practice” hikes or walks back home before you depart to gauge their endurance and their appetite for hiking. For instance, many 3-4 year olds can only hike for about 1/2 a mile before needing a big break - or stopping altogether. Having information such as this will really help you when you are considering which trails on the Volcano to tackle!

Hawaiian History & Culture

Have your kids learn about Hawaiian History while on an adventure.  Take a tour of a preserved ancient Hawaiian village at Place of Refuge, Honaunau.  There are several other preserved Hawaiian ruins and artifacts at State and National Parks on the Big Island.  There are also some great opportunities to come face-to-face with real Polynesian culture including ukulele music, hula dancing and luaus.

Shopping isn’t exactly a cultural experience; but with a lot of local handicrafts, and hawaiian-made goods for sale, we wanted to mention our Hawaii Souvenirs section and our Big Island Shopping Guide.  Shopping Hawaiian-style is an activity the whole family will enjoy!

Traveling with young kids?  Check out our article: Tips for Traveling with kids that covers packing and the long flight to Hawaii.

Playing at Richardson's Black Sand Beach

Playing at Richardson’s Black Sand Beach

Related Articles:

More Kid Travel Posts:


Accommodations Articles

Where to Stay Three different parts of the island to stay - which is best?

Vacation Rentals - Big Island Vacation rentals are a deal

Bargain or 5 Star Hotel Stay at a resort or a bargain hotel

Discount Big Island Hotels Check out the latest rates

Travel Planning Articles

Planning your Trip When to come, how long to stay, books

Vacations for Families Best family beaches, activities for youngsters, infants, teens

Hawaiian Cruise Passengers - Information about port calls in Hawaii

Sample Travel Itineraries Suggested itineraries, 1-2 day, 1 week

Island Activities Guide Guide to the activities & tours

Regions of the Big Island Geography and climate descriptions

Big Island Transportation How to get there, plan your driving

Packing for your Trip Big Island scenery & weather is diverse

Big Island Wedding Planner How to plan your wedding in Hawaii

Shopping in Hawaii

Big Island Shopping Guide Guide to the shopping destinations

Hawaii Souvenirs The best souvenirs to buy in Hawaii

Gear & Equipment Articles

Gear for your Trip Get outfitted with the right gear

GPS Points of Interest (POI) GPS Coordinates for Points of Interest

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  2. Hawaii Vacation Rentals
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Hawaii Activities