Hawaii is a bucket list destination and for good reason. This tropical set of islands is heaven for families looking for a mix of beach, activities and culture. Here’s our guide to the six Hawaiian islands that are open to tourists to help you plan your getaway in paradise...
By Gwyneth Donahue
Known for its beautiful waterfalls breathtaking hiking trails, Oahu is home to the capital city of Honolulu. Oahu combines Eastern and Western cultures all while maintaining the traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. For an authentic Hawaiian holiday, Oahu is the perfect island for your family.
What to do:
Bring the kids to see native Hawaiian plant and animal species at the Honolulu Zoo Society. Families can admire unique species such as the dyeing poison dart frog, hamadryas baboon, and bongo. For a zoo experience like no other, bring your family on a Friday or Saturday evening for a Twilight Tour. As the sun sets, educators will guide you on a two-hour walking tour to learn about some of the zoo’s most interesting animals. Be sure to cover the kids in bug-spray!
Treat the kids to a day at Sea Life Park, Hawaii’s #1 Marine Park. Located in East Oahu and open 365 days a year, the kids will love spotting dolphins, sea lions, sharks, native fish, and many other species. Sea Life Park places an emphasis on educational and interactive programs making it the perfect family day activity. The park includes shows, exhibits, interactive programs and even the chance to swim with dolphins. For families with a heightened sense of adventure, get up close and person with a real life shark while you’re there.
For a cultural attraction, plan a day trip to the Byodo-In Temple, nestled at the bottom of the Ko’lau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. The temple was built in 1967 to honour the 100-year anniversary of Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants. The Byodo-In Temple is a replica of the 950-year old original in Japan. After exploring the temple and its grounds, purchase fish food from the gift shop and let the kids feed the koi.
Where to stay:
For a beautiful resort complete with Atlantic dolphins swimming in an ocean water lagoon, look no further than the Kahala Hotel and Resort. Located in the private residential area of Kahala, this resort has tropical beaches and top of the line amenities. Kids will love spending time at the Keiki Club, which provides endless fun for children ages five to twelve. These tropical activities range from Hermit Crab racing to a Hawaiian Nature Scavenger Hunt. Pick up the kids and bring them to the Dolphin Quest, where guests have the chance to see dolphins up close in a natural ocean water environment.
Where to eat:
For a unique Hawaiian Sunday brunch, make a reservation at Hokus. The seafood lovers in your family will love the poke sushi bar and carving station-featuring favourites like the king crab legs or Portuguese sausage. This fixed menu is $78 for adults and $39 for children ages six to twelve. For the pickier eaters, choose from the A la Carte menu, which includes classics like the acai bowl, banana chocolate french toast or eggs any style.
For some local heritage, head to Duke’s Waikiki for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a restaurant that honours Hawaiian Olympic Gold medallist Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. Try one of the many island favourites such as the baby back pork ribs or huli huli chicken. For the kids, the “Keiki Menu” offers classics like tomato pasta or fish and chips.
For some of the best ice cream that Hawaii has to offer, bring the family to Lappert’s Ice Cream… at least once! Taste test as many flavours as you want but choosing will not be easy. With delicious local creations like the carmel coconut macadamia, Hawaiian sea salt caramel, and Hana Road, parents and kids will be equally satisfied.