Flights from London to Honolulu via San Francisco take roughly 20 hours.
Adventure before your flight
A few days in amazing San Francisco before flying on to Honolulu is a good option with kids.
Temperatures on Hawaii average 25 to 27˚C all year round. The rainiest month is November. Sea temperatures are a balmy 27˚C in August.
The west coast of the Hawaiian islands are hot and dry with most of the forests and rich, mountain landscape to north and east.
There are six main Hawaiian islands to choose from: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Lanai.
Hawaii has eight national parks including: Ala Kahakai and Pu’uhonua historical parks.
Kilauea on Hawaii Big Island is a live volcano and part of World Heritage Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Where to go
Hawaii “Big” Island
Only the third largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Oahu still lays claim to more than 75% of the country’s population and the capital city, Honolulu. It’s also the most visited island and hotel-packed tourist areas like Waikiki won’t live up to the tropical idyll, if that’s what you have in mind. But, with great popularity comes good places to stay, plenty of fun activities and excellent transport. Escape to the windward side (north/north east to non-Hawaiians) and quieter beaches are backed by lush forest and impressive volcanic peaks and ranges.
Most family hotels are in the Waikiki district south of Oahu city centre.
There are 19 state parks on Oahu including several beach parks and forests.
The south and west of Oahu is hotter and drier than the chillier, wetter windward side.
Don’t miss: Ko’olau Range, Sacred Falls State Park, Pearl Harbour, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park and Lanikai Beach.
Maui’s the second largest of the main islands and attracts just over a third of Hawaii’s visitors. There’s no comparable city to Honolulu and even the holiday town of Lahaina has barely changed in 150 years. Maui’s famous for water sports, winter whale watching and enormous Haleakala volcano. It’s also home to some of Hawaii’s best road trips, fabulous waterfalls and gorgeous beaches, particularly on the extremely warm and sunny west coast.
Kaanapali and Kihei are the best areas for large, family-friendly resort hotels.
Lahaina is Hawaii’s prettiest town with an enchanting seafront main street.
The coast of Maui can be extremely hot
Don’t miss: Hana Highway, Kula Botanical Garden, Heleakala National Park, whale watching at Paia Bay and Ho’okipa Beach.
Hawaii “Big” Island
As the name suggests, Hawaii is the biggest island in the archipelago: almost the same size as Maui and Oahu put together, but less visited than either. Ancient culture and customs have survived here, there several monuments and historic sites and the only real holiday resorts overlook the dramatic, black lava beaches on the western coast. Dynamic is a gentle description for an island with an active volcano, but Kilauea last erupted in 1983 and any future threat doesn’t stop curious tourists getting as close as they can in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Family holiday resorts and hotels are best on the sunny north west Kuno Coast.
The green, forested east coast has remarkable wilderness walks and hikes – often marked in order of difficulty.
Don’t miss: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Crater Rim Trail, Lapakahi Historic Park, Kealakekua Beach for dolphin watching, surfing at Waimea and Kohala.
What to do
Whale Watching, Maui
The sight of humpback whales breaching off the coast of Maui is one of Hawaii’s greatest wonders. You can see the spectacle from several highways along the coast or join a guided watch on one of the island beaches.
Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu
America’s third oldest aquarium is more conservation focused than showy but it’s also one of the few places to see critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals.
Kualoa Ranch, Kaneohe
1600 hectare private nature reserve with everything from jungle tours and treetop zip-lines to water sports on secret island beach, horse riding and catamaran cruises.
Wet ‘n’ Wild, Kapolei
Honolulu’s top waterpark is all the huge slides and chutes you expect from Wet ‘n’ Wild but in gorgeous, natural tropical jungle.
Hanauma Bay Marine Park, Honolulu
One of the US’s best beaches and a protected marine reserve this is Oahu’s top snorkelling spot and as much of a learning experience as it is a fun day out.
Molokini Snorkel Cruises, Maui
The tiny volcanic crater off the south coast of Maui is one of the best places on the island for snorkelling.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii
Beautiful park with events, experiences, workshops and lots for kids to get involved all based on exploring traditional Hawaiian culture, history and ways of life.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
The national park to beat all others – and there are many – in Hawaii. It has a live volcano and that’s all kids really need to know.
Honolulu Zoo, Oahu
With over 905 wild creatures, brilliantly playful penguins a speciality and close to fabulous Waikiki Beach, this is Hawaii’s best family zoo.
Sea Life Park, Oahu
Swimming with dolphins, trekking with sharks and meeting sea lions are just a few of the experiences at this big ocean front park just east of Honolulu.
Educational value for kids
Hawaii is covered in state parks, national parks, nature reserves and marine conservancies. Walks, trails, hikes and climbs are magical for kids and one of the best ways to understand this remarkable landscape beyond the beaches.
Friendly and enthusiastic teams engage kids with island heritage effortlessly in excellent historical parks.
Ranch adventures, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, snorkelling in submerged caldera are all unique learning experiences.
There are as many untouched-by-time little towns and villages as big, shiny cities in Hawaii and they all have a story to tell.
The islands are awash with traditional folk tales, myths and legends.
Some of the best dive and surf schools in the US are in Hawaii and it’s never to early to start learning here.
One of the few places on earth where kids can learn about volcanoes from a live volcano
Getting around with kids in Hawaii
Hiring a car is the only practical way to explore on Hawaii. The island roads are as much part of your holidays as the beaches and some of them are simply phenomenal. Several charter companies operate cruises to smaller islands like Lanai and Kauai. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is a paradise and there are helicopter flights over Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast and Kauai Island. Cave cruises round the Na Pali coast are another exciting voyage with older children.