Hawaii’s may be a part of the U.S., but its locale as the northernmost of the Polynesian islands means a visit to Hawaii affords a truly exotic getaway, with all of the comforts of home. Full of pristine beaches, hiking trails and volcanoes, there’s plenty of both adventure and relaxation for the whole family, not to mention culture and welcoming people.
Flights from San Francisco or LA take roughly six hours.
If you’re coming from farther away, breaking the trip up and spending a few days in amazing San Francisco before flying on to Honolulu is a good option with kids.
Temperatures on Hawaii average 77 to 81˚F all year round. The rainiest month is November. Sea temperatures are a balmy 80˚F 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 five main Hawaiian islands for families to choose from: Oahu, Maui, Big Island (Hawaii), Kauai and Lanai.
Hawaii has eight national parks including: Ala Kahakai and Pu’uhonua historical parks, and Volcanoes National Park.
Kilauea on Hawaii Big Island is a live volcano and part of World Heritage Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Road tripping? Here’s a guide on how to fit the most of Hawaii into your vacation time.
Oahu, the third largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, still lays claim to more than 75 percent 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 transportation. Escape to the windward side (north/northeast to non-Hawaiians) and quieter beaches are backed by lush forest and impressive volcanic peaks and ranges.
Maui is 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 town of Lahaina has barely changed in 150 years. Maui’s famous for water activities, winter whale watching and the 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.
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 are several monuments and historic sites and the only real resorts overlook the dramatic, black lava beaches on the western coast. Hawaii is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. 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.
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.
The third oldest aquarium in the US is more conservation focused than showy but it’s also one of the few places to see critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals.
Almost 4,000 acres of private nature reserve with everything from jungle tours and treetop zip lines to water activities on a secret island beach, horseback riding and catamaran cruises.
Honolulu’s top waterpark is all the huge slides and chutes you expect from Wet ‘n’ Wild but in gorgeous, natural tropical jungle.
One of the US’s best beaches and a protected marine reserve, this is Oahu’s top snorkeling spot and as much of a learning experience as it is a fun day out.
The tiny volcanic crater off the south coast of Maui is one of the best places on the island for snorkeling.
Beautiful park with events, experiences, workshops and lots for kids to get involved in, all based on exploring traditional Hawaiian culture, history and ways of life.
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.
With over 905 wild creatures, playful penguins and close to fabulous Waikiki Beach, this is Hawaii’s best family zoo.
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.
Renting a car is the only practical way to explore on Hawaii. The island roads are as much part of your vacation 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.