by Sara Jane Crane —
The Islands of Aloha – Enjoy ancient traditions, modern cities, and seemingly endless beaches.
With its long stretches of sandy beaches, lush tropical scenery, and spectacular activities, Hawaii provides an unrivaled vacation destination.
Hawaii has long been seen as a place for honeymooning couples, but the islands also have much to offer families of all kinds. From the dining and shopping attractions on Oahu to the natural variety of the Big Island, there are many reasons why Hawaii is a popular destination for family vacations year-round.
Here we offer some expert guidance to help you choose the right Hawaiian island for your vacation.
Home to Hawaii’s Waikiki beach and Honolulu city — Hawaii vacations to Oahu offer fine dining, shopping, golf, and nightlife.
Best for families who want the “classic” Hawaii experience.
Oahu is perfect for a family or couple looking for a vacation that will keep them busy day and night with a wide range of classic Hawaiian activities. By day, hit the beach for scuba, snorkeling and some of the best surfing in the world; then hit the dance floor when the sun goes down to take in the rhythmic nightlife of the island. It is super easy to explore the entire island with a rental car. Honolulu is the biggest city and most active destination but Kaneohe and the North Shore are also popular places to visit.
Hawaii vacations to Maui are celebrated for its charming towns, luxury hotels, world-class golf, and elegant beaches.
Best for: Families who want to get off the beaten path to find adventure, to luxuriate in luxury resorts, or both!
Maui is great if your family prefers a destination filled with lots of tourist fun but also many nature-oriented getaways. If your family is looking for beautiful azure-blue waters and spectacular sunsets, along with mesmerizing coastal drives filled with some of the state’s best whale-watching, look no further than Maui.
Known as the “friendly island”, Molokai has exactly no traffic lights.
Best for: Families who want to see what it’s like to live like a local.
Molokai doesn’t draw nearly as many tourists as the bigger islands, which is why some people find it to be their favorite. Molokai remains true to its island roots, with a high percentage of its population being of Native Hawaiian ancestry who continue to preserve their rural lifestyle thanks to their love of the land. Enjoy authentic Hawaiian fare, browse boutique shops and stroll the Kaunakakai harbor. Take a guided tour along the cliffs leading to Kalaupapa National Historical Park or discover Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches. Molokai is truly an island of outdoor adventure where Hawaii’s past comes alive.
Lush Kauai sets the stage for romance and adventure on Hawaii vacations. Discover Kauai’s luxury hotels, velvet-green valleys, and dramatic waterfalls.
Best for: Families who know there is more to the great outdoors than the beach.
Kauai is the oldest and most historic island in the Hawaiian chain. It’s called the “Garden Isle” for good reason – much of the island is covered in lush, tropical rainforest. The many cliffs, canyons, and trails that dot the island are ideal for a family that prefers hiking boots to flip-flops. Enjoy a drive along Kalalau Trail, a spectacular coastal trail that leads into Wailua Falls, one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the Hawaiian islands. And if you don’t want to forget the beach completely, Poipu Beach is often voted one of the best beaches in America.
The uncrowded Big Island of Hawaii fills the luxury hotels of Hawaii vacations with superlatives from snow-capped Mauna Kea to active Kilauea volcano.
Best for: Families who want to experience a range of landscapes and climates all in one place.
The Big Island is perfect for families who want to get a taste of the full range of what Hawaii has to offer. From black or white sand beaches to water drenched rain forests to snow-tipped mountains, your family can explore 11 different climate zones all within a short drive of each other. The island features delicious coffee plantations where mom and dad can fuel up with a cup of locally-grown brew, take the spellbinding drive with the family down the Hamakua Coast to see the island’s spectacular waterfalls, and check out one of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
A vacation to Hawaii is like visiting no other place on earth and will ensure your family members one of the most remarkable and memorable experiences of their lifetime.