1/5 Hawai'i (The big island)

Close up of waves

Why go?

As the name implies, Hawai’i is the largest and most diverse of the islands. Try to spend the majority of your visit on the Kona side (west) with its stark lava fields and mega resorts, but also book a few days on the Hilo side (east) where it's wetter, more lush and closer to Volcanoes National Park.

Activities

A visit to Volcanoes National Park is a must. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983  and thered-hot lava flows are sometimes visible, especially after dark. When hiking here, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and make sure the kids don’t pocket any lava rocks, or Pele, the goddess of the volcano - it's said to curse you with bad luck! 

Tour the Kona Coffee Living History Farm near Captain Cook to understand why coffee is king on the Big Island. Take the twisting Saddle Road to the top of Mauna Kea for stargazing at the observatory. From Hilo, it’s a 90-minute drive; keep in mind, you’ll be driving back down in the dark. And dress warmly; it’s cold at the 14,000ft summit.

The Lowdown

Getting there: British Airways flies to Los Angeles. You then fly on to Kona. Howeverfor your return, consider flying from Hilo back to Los Angeles. Remember to book a rental car in advance. The drive from Waikoloa to Hilo is about 2 hours.

Accommodation: Surprisingly, not every beachfront hotel has beach access; the Fairmont Orchid near Waikoloa does, though. Green sea turtles even bask on its sugar-sand beach every afternoon, and the hotel has a pool, outrigger canoes, paddle boards, snorkeling, tennis and golf.

The Keiki Aloha children’s program caters to kids aged 5-12. The hotel offers lei making and weaving classes, plus archeological hikes to the nearby petroglyph fields. Price: £183 per night.

On the Hilo side, consider a stay at Treehouse Skye. Perched 20ft up in a rainforest canopy, this one-of-a-kind resort for adventure-seeking families is just outside the national park. Children must be at least 8 years old.

Price: £120 per night and £15 per extra person.

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