Family Vacations to Big Island

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Big Island – Family Vacation Guide

The largest Hawaiian island, Hawaii, aka, the Big Island, is still growing due to its active volcano spewing lava into the sea. You can witness the ground smoke and fire reaching the water from Volcanoes National Park, the only park dedicated to an active volcano.

Why Go on Vacation to the Big Island

  • Culture

    Hawaii is a relatively new state, but Hawaiian culture has been around for thousands of years. Kids will love learning all about it with the Junior Ranger programs at the three state historic sites: Puuhonua o Honaunau, Puukohola Heiau, and Kaloko-Honokohau.

  • Inspiration

    The island of Hawaii, often referred to as “the Big Island” is the Island of Inspiration. This is an island that lives up to its name. It will be sure to inspire you, from its rugged coastline to its abundant jungle and active volcanoes. Nearly twice as big as the other Hawaiian islands combined, it is the youngest and largest island in the chain.

  • Luaus

    No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a luau! A luau is a local Hawaiian traditional party that will usually include a buffet dinner, drinks, hula, and the imu ceremony which is an in-ground oven that cooks the meat for dinner, usually a pig. There are luaus all over the island and at most resorts.

  • Volcanoes

    We owe the creation of the Hawaiian islands all to volcanoes. Hawaii is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands and as such is still growing. What a better way to discover and celebrate the island than by exploring its volcanoes.

  • Beaches

    With 266 miles of coastline (and that number is growing every year), Hawaii has a wealth of beaches to choose from. Due to the plethora of volcanic rock on Hawaii, you will find sand in a stunning array of colors! Punalu’u Black Sand beach, Green Sand Beach, White Sands Beach, Hapuna Beach State Park, and Maniniowali Beach are some of the best beaches to find soft or colorful sand.

  • Hiking

    The Big Island really is big, and offers mile after mile of stunning trails through volcanic mountains, lush jungles, volcanic deserts, and colorful sand beaches.

  • 13 Climate Zones

    As the island with the most variety, you can travel through 13 climate zones, tropical jungle, black sand beaches and snowy mountains all in one day!

Where to Go and Stay

Hawaii, with over 4,000 square miles, is big enough to have 6 distinct regions: Hamakau, in the lush tropical northeast, Hilo, the vibrant town on the east, Puna, the beautiful volcanic area covered in lava trees and geothermal tide baths with dramatic coastlines, Kau, the southern home of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, black sands beaches, and coffee and macadamia plantations, Kona, the sunny western town with blue waters and beach resorts, and finally Kohala, the dry sunny north with lava fields and golf courses.

You’ll have your pick of family friendly resorts, such as Hilton Waikoloa Village and Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa both located in Kona, as well as home rentals across the island.

What you’re interested in doing may determine where you go. If spending every day at the beach is for you, Kona will be a good choice. If you want a local, laid-back feel, Puna is the place for you. If it’s volcanoes and hiking, Kau will be perfect. That’s the beauty of Hawaii, there is something for everyone!

What to Do on the Big Island

  • Horseback Riding

    Try your hand at being a paniolo or cowboy, and take a horseback ride in Hawaii’s diverse and beautiful landscape. Horse and mule rides are available all over the island, but especially in Waipio Valley.

  • Hot Ponds

    If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing or tame for the little ones, try out one of Hawaii’s many hot ponds and hot springs, which, thanks to the island’s high volcanic activity, can be found around the island. Ahalanui Warm or Hot Pond is a popular local hot spot where you can take a dip in a lukewarm pool that is partially walled off from the ocean. Be careful during high tide. Pohoiki Warm Spring, created from a collapsed lava tube, is a great place to float around, snorkel and fish.

  • Cocoa Plantation Tour

    Have any chocolate fans in your family? The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Farm offer a one hour walking tour of a working chocolate cocoa farm where kids are welcome to taste chocolate!

  • Kona Coffee

    Tour this coffee plantation with 125 year old coffee trees and sample local coffees.

Getting Around

There are two major airports on Hawaii, Kona on the west coast and Hilo on the east coast. Depending on what type of vacation you want to have, there are several options for getting around the Big Island of Hawaii. The island is big enough that renting a car would be a great option. There are taxis and buses available as well, but if you want to see the majority of the island, a car would be the right choice for your family.

Vanessa Hunt is a full-time traveling mama who is passionate about world-schooling and food. You can find her sharing all about her travels with her family of six (her four children are 4, 7, 9 and 11), as well as her favorite recipes at WanderlustCrew.

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