We receive many inquiries from parents and families who are concerned about travelling to Hawaii on a vacation with children. That means it is time for me to report on this beautiful topic in this blog 🙂
If the long flight of about 19 hours would be pure flying time, you could say that Hawaii is the perfect destination for families with children The flight itself is already very long - with or without children. At some point, you want nothing more than to finally arrive 🙂 However, the flight is also very exciting for the little ones. Seeing how many different cultures and people are on their way to foreign countries, flying above the clouds, the hustle and bustle on board of a plane and having their own TV at every seat - that's probably the most exciting thing about flying for kids!
It is important, depending on the age of the child/children, to look for an entertainment program in advance. Colouring books, magazines, a new little game, audiobooks, a downloaded app or even 2-3 movies are a good idea. A pillow, a cosy blanket and toys are also very important. During an overnight flight, it's also a good idea to take your pyjamas with you and let the kids put them on so that the evening bedtime rhythm is maintained.
Many airlines offer the possibility to book "Baby Baskets".I've been thinking about borrowing small baby cribs for the flight, which you can put the little ones in for a better night's sleep. These baby cribs can be hung on the airplane wall in front of you 🙂 Children usually cope with jet lag much better than adults do.
Hawaiians, who call children "Keiki", love the little ones very much. Wherever you go, children are greeted in a friendly manner and a conversation about them comes up quickly. In the restaurants, there are "Kids Menus" on the menu almost everywhere, special drinking cups, small toys and colouring materials to help the kids pass the time while waiting for their meal. On the promenades and at the refreshment stops, there are often performances by Hawaiian musicians or dancers, who inspire the children with their show and often encourage them to join in.
Most hotel rooms have a sofa bed and/or a baby crib (for a small extra fee). Many hotels, especially the larger ones, offer babysitting services and great childcare. Sometimes there are even children's camps, where the children can do many exciting activities such as making your own blumenleis building a bodyboard, hula courses and much more. At the Hilton Hawaiian Village / Oahu, the children's program is quite extensive.
There are many great attractions and places that make children's eyes sparkle. Besides interesting museums, zoos, water parks and numerous playgrounds, it is especially the unique Hawaiian nature, with its fascinating flora and fauna which inspires young and old alike.
Hawaii's beaches are very diverse. It is recommended to visit shallow waters with babies and toddlers, such as Lanikai Beach on Oahu. There are hardly any waves here, so it's lovely to cool off in the ocean with your baby in your arms and get them used to the fresh water. For older kids, of course, the waves on their own are an adventure. There are always lifeguardson the public beaches. They watch out that nothing happens and inform about the waves and currents. The flags on the beach indicate the degree of waves or the current and warn of too dangerous water conditions. Hawaii has made surfing popular. How could it be otherwise that you will find surfboard rentalsalmost everywhere, where surfboards, body boards, boogie boards and stand-up paddles can be rented.
I have listed a few more tips on what to experience with children in Hawaii. In addition to that, I have listed hotels that offer great deals especially for children.
Snorkeling is also very popular with the older ones. Get them one of the "cool" swimming shirtsfor longer snorkeling session to prevent the risk of sunburn on the back.
Dole Pineapple Center
Delicious pineapple ice cream! The largest maze in the world, even in the Guinness Book of Records! To practice at home beforehand, there is a maze here with us. | Every day 9-17h | Entry fee 6$, Children 4$ | Intersection Hwy. 80/99 | Wahiawa
Hanauma Bay Marine Education Center
The modern centre at the most beautiful snorkelling bay in Hawaii is mainly aimed toward children and explains the ecology of a coral reef, followed by snorkelling (Wed-Mon 6-18h | Entry fee 5$, children under 13 for free | Hwy. 72 | Honolulu | click here for more info). Half day guided tours with introductory courses in snorkelling or scuba diving (12 years and older) are offered by Hanauma Bay Dive Tours (60-110$) | Tel. 808/256-8956 | www.hanaumabayhawaii.com).
A 100.000 m² amusement park with impressive water slides, swimming with mermaids, a long drift channel, a wave pool and lots of activities for kids. | Daily in summer, otherwise Sat/Sun 10.30-17 h | Entry fee 36$, children 26$ | 400 Farrington Hwy. | Kapolei, near Makakilo City on western Oahu | www.hawaiianwaters.com
1400 animals in natural pens, a petting zoo for children (Keiki Zoo) and adventurous Twilight Tours for kids 5 years and older every Saturday evening. | Daily 9-16.30h | Entry fee 8$, children 1$ | Kapiolani Park | Honolulu | Great website with animal games and videos: www.honoluluzoo.org
Sea Life Park Hawaii
Oahu's Aquarium, the Sea Life Park Hawaii, is all about preserving the world's oceans. Children can learn a lot about the sea and its inhabitants through exhibitions. There is also a great playground for the little ones. In a so-called Discovery Touch Tank , children can get close to the underwater creatures. For an additional fee, it is possible to help feed the green sea turtles. A highlight is certainly the underwater panoramic tunnel. Address: 41-202 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimānalo. More info under https://www.sealifeparkhawaii.com.
Polynesian Cultural Centre
If you would like to get in touch with the culture of Hawaii, its inhabitants and its ancestors, you will get a very lively taste at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. For example, you can learn how to catch a fish without a net, how the Hawaiian hula is danced and how traditional cooking was done. Visitors are offered numerous impressive shows with fire dances and history. Those who book in advance save 10%. Address: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie. More info under https://www.polynesia.com/.
Children's Discovery Center.
There is a lot for kids to discover at the Children's Discovery Center. The interactive learning centre promotes experience with all the senses. There are permanent exhibitions that aim to make kids more aware of experiencing things with their different senses. For example, children can get to know and explore the human body more closely here in "Fantastic You," and in the "Tot Spot" for children up to 5 years old, the little ones will find plenty of toys that stimulate their senses. But the place also has areas to offer that bring children closer to Hawaiian history and nature in an interactive way. Address: 111 Ohe St, Honolulu. More information at http://discoverycenterhawaii.org/.
Small hikes with kids on Oahu
Lulumahu Falls Trail (Honolulu) - The Lulumahu Waterfalls are not far from Waikiki. The trail is about 2 miles long and the same distance must be walked back, it is not a loop trail. (Total walking time is about 90 minutes). The hike is manageable even with small children. It is best to pack enough food and water because there is only nature on-site ;) Sturdy shoes should also be worn in any case. The hike starts at the Old Pali Road parking lot, before the Pali Lookout on the Pali Highway, and it will take you through a bamboo forest, past Honolulu's water supply company and a water reservoir called Nu'uanu Reservoir. Since the waterfall is on private government land, you will need a day use permit, which must be paid for in advance. More information under: https://trails.ehawaii.gov/camping/welcome.html.
Likeke Falls Trailhead (Kaneohe) - An approximately 1.5 mile hike (round trip 3 miles). Parking is available at the Ko'olau Golf Club, near a church. At the beginning of the trail, you will pass a fence and a graffiti-covered water tank. This waterfall is easy to reach even with small children, but sturdy shoes and enough food are a necessity.
The Aulani Disney Resort is located a bit off-track in southwest Oahu in a more exclusive residential area called Ko Olina. Every evening, there is a program, e.g. live music, a hula show or disney movies. For children, this hotel is the BOMB. It offers seven different pools, a cave, a salt water pool and lagoons. There are waterslides and pool parties for the kids. Snorkeling equipment, kayaks or paddle boats can be rented at "Makiki Joe's".
The Sheraton is located directly in Waikiki. It is central and it is not far from one of the many restaurants in the evening. The hotel offers two water slides, a large pool and not to forget, the sea right at the door 😉 There is the Helumoa playground and a children's camp. The hotel has a program for children regularly, for example making a bodyboard, going on excursions and so on.
Feel free to take a look at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. There are water slides, animals on the premises and Camp Penguin. A visit to the zoo, an excursion to the aquarium or the sandcastle battle are offered by the childcare workers.
Maui Ocean Center
A large aquarium with coral reefs, turtles, rays and sharks. A lot to learn. Children can touch and try out many things. | Daily 9-17h| Admission 23 $, Children 12 $ | Hwy. 30 | Maalaea Harbor | www.mauioceancenter.com
Maui Golf & Sports Park
Whether it's mini-golf, rock climbing, bungee trampoline or bumper boating, this park offers fun outdoor activities for the whole family and is open daily. The park is connected to the Wailuku Resort. Address: 80 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku. More info under https://www.mauigolfsportspark.com/.
Fishpipe Hawaii at Kihei Resort
It gets quite original with the Fishpipe Hawaii. You can have the experience of moving around in a giant inflatable polymer ball filled with a little water here too. Fun for young and old. Address: 777 S Kihei Rd, Kihei.
Boo Boo Zoo (The East Maui Animal Refuge)
This petting zoo is a farm where typical farm animals such as horses, goats, geese and chickens live. It also takes in old or sick animals to take care of them and give them a safe place to live. At the farm, visitors are allowed to feed and pet the animals. There are excursions once a week where children are taught how to take care of animals and to make them feel comfortable. Address: 25 Maluaina Pl, Haiku. More info under: https://www.eastmauianimalrefuge.org/.
Hikes with children
Waihou Spring Trail (also called Nā Ala Hele Trail) - In Upcountry Maui (Makawao), where the climate is more temperate, you can take this 2-mile loop trail through eucalyptus forests even with little children. It is best to stock up on food and drinks in one of the numerous restaurants in Makawao. At the springs themselves, it can be slippery and too dangerous for the kids. Older children can certainly discover a lot while climbing here. Address: 2463 Olinda Rd, Makawao.
About the Hotels…
The Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Resort, is a great water park, with 4 different water slides. An 1800-square-meter children's camp offers PlayStations and a video arcade.
The Hyatt Regency has a beautiful outdoor area to offer. Waterfalls, rope bridges and a 45m slide make children's eyes shine. Flamingos and colorful parrots are always encountered here.
A large adventure playground with a lovely wooden bridge, colourful tile art and an ocean pool. | Lydgate Park | Kapaa | www.kamalani.org
Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
Private botanical garden with sculptures. There's a train, maze, jungle tunnels and slides for children. | Mon-Fri from 8h | entry fee 25$ | 4101 Wailapa Rd. | Kilauea | Registration for families with kids under 13 years: Tel. 828/0525 | www.naainakai.org
There is a lot for kids to discover at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. For example, a water slide and a saltwater lagoon, where you can even go canoeing. The pool area covers a whole five hectares.
At Kalapaki Beach on Kauai is the Marriot Kauai. The waves are small and the water is perfect for snorkelling with kids. There is a mini club at the hotel and a 26.000 square foot pool, impressive not only for the little ones 🙂
Kahaluu Beach Park
Keauhou Bay is ideal for snorkelling with kids: shallow, with lots of colourful fish and turtles. | free entrance | at the south end of Alii Dr. | Kailua-Kona. Click here for more information.
Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
A true paradise for children as well as adults is the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo. The huge property in the middle of the tropical rainforest is home to about 150 animals and 75 different species. Water buffalo, peacocks, rhinos, monkeys and much more live here. A special highlight is the Bengal white tiger called "Namaste". Open daily from 10-15h. The entrance is free. Address: 800 Stainback Highway, Hilo. Current info under: https://www.hilozoo.org/.
Hikes with kids on Big Island
Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail - The section between Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea Beach is an almost 4km long trail in total, which is classified as easy in terms of difficulty. It is more of a hike than a walk along the coast over the rocks. Sturdy shoes are a must. Parking is available at each of the beaches and associated parking spots are offered.
For children, Big Island is just great, there is something to discover everywhere. Due to the many hiking trails and paths, the kids can also walk a few meters alone and discover without you having to worry. For the older ones, the volcano adventures are of course priceless. A tour to the Mount Kea, Mount Loa and Kilauea is a must-do.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village near Kailua-Kona is called the "Disneyland" on Big Island. There is a huge pool area and since the village is so large, you move around by streetcar and canal boats.
But no matter how and where... Hawaii also enchants children. The pleasant climate and friendliness of the people, Hawaii's nature and wildlife on land and in the sea. Children are stimulated in their natural joy of discovery and can see and experience things on the islands that they otherwise only know from books.
If you have been to Hawaii with kids and have any tips that we can add, tell us about it!