Hawaii Vacation Information
Planning The Perfect Hawaii Family Vacation

You’re going to love your Hawaii family vacation to the Big Island. The Hawaiian word for family is Ohana, and the Big Island is one big Ohana, embracing all groups of people traveling together. So when we talk about a Hawaii family vacation, we’re talking about all of you who are traveling together to share the grandeur and excitement of the Big Island.

With so many fascinating places to explore, the Big Island is one exciting playground. It makes the perfect vacation destination for anyone with a sense of adventure.

Everything you might have ever imagined about a tropical Hawaii vacation is possible here. Stand atop an active volcano, explore a luxurious rainforest jungle, run wild across pristine beaches, or hike across long plains of lava. Around every corner is a new adventure just waiting to be discovered.

Ahalanui Beach Park - Puna, Hawaii

Volcano Excursions

One of the most unique aspects of the Big Island is obviously the volcanoes. While all of the Hawaiian Islands were born of ancient volcanoes, the Big Island claims the most, and the most famous. No Hawaii family vacation is complete without a visit to:

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - If you’re looking for an active volcano, this is the spot! Walk into the depths of an ancient lava tube. Make your own earthquake and enjoy other cool exhibits at the Jaggar Museum.

  • Mauna Kea volcano - Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, towering more than 33,000 feet (over 10,000 meters) from its base on the ocean floor. At the summit you are rewarded with one of the most spectacular views on the planet, and an impressive array of telescopes at the Mauna Kea observatory. You won't want to miss the sunset! The best way to explore Mauna Kea is to sign on for the fascinating Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Adventure Tour.
Mauna Kea Observatory

Ocean Adventures

  • Big Island Whale watching is a real thrill and humpback whales are part of our ohana. They travel thousands of miles every winter to breed here. While various whale species reside in the waters off of Hawaii, you are most likely to see the impressive Humpback whale between December and April.
  • Watch dolphins play close to shore, and even swim with them! Some of our favorite snorkeling spots offer the best chance for a close encounter. Or sign on with one of the “swim with dolphins” boat tours.

  • Most who experience the Manta Ray night snorkel (or dive) will tell you it is one of those things everyone must do at least once! You will be entranced as you witness these graceful creatures dancing under the sea.

  • Take a ride aboard a submarine in Kailua Bay. This is one of those wacky things to do in Hawaii for those who'd rather not get wet but still want to explore the brilliant and colorful undersea life in the coastal waters off of Kailua-Kona.
  • For a slightly different look at the ocean, consider a tour on a glass bottom boat with underwater viewing ports. Kailua Bay Charter Company offers a unique opportunity to view the beauty above and below sea aboard their glass bottom vessel Marian. This is a real bargain for families, less than $20 for kids and $36 for adults for a 1-hour tour around Kailua Bay. And it's never crowded (maximum capacity is 24). A pricier option (but you definitely get what you pay for) is to book a tour with Blue Sea Cruises aboard the Spirit of Kona. These folks offer a variety of eco-friendly tours, including dolphin adventures and manta ray snorkel tour. 

  • Discover the magic world of seahorses at the Ocean Rider seahorse farm.

  • Wrap up a perfect day with an utterly perfect Sunset Champagne Dinner Cruise. Your catamaran dinner tour includes gourmet appetizers and an open bar. 

Book Tours & Activities Island Wide

Ringtailed Lemur at Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

Land Adventures

  • Hilo Zoo – We just love the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens south of Hilo, the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the US. It is home to more than 80 animal species, as well as a colorful array of tropical plants and flowers. Easy to reach right off of Highway 11, just a few miles south of Hilo. Zoo admission is free.
  • 'Imiloa Astronomy Center – A fascinating, hands-on science center where astronomy meets Hawaiian culture and beliefs. A really cool 3D planetarium and other fun exhibits make Imiloa a recommended stop for any “kid”!
  • Big Island Luaus - This colorful and splashy show can be great fun for the entire family. Traditionally held in honor of a milestone or special occasion, Big Island luaus are historically and culturally significant.

Family-friendly Beaches

Waialea Beach 69, Big Island Hawaii Beaches

There are plenty of great beaches on the Big Island. Some of them are particularly suitable for families with small children, pristine places to throw down a beach towel, frolic safely in the surf, or sit with your feet in the sand under the shade of a coconut palm.

Due to offshore reefs that provide a calm and protected swimming area, we highly recommend Kikaua Beach, Wawaloli Beach, and Kamakahonu Beach for families or anyone looking for a quiet place to relax.

And one thing that will definitely work in your favor on your Hawaii family vacation to make your beach time more enjoyable: sun, especially near Kona and along the Kohala Coast. While showers are more prominent at beach parks near Hilo, the weather on the west side of the island is almost always sunny.

Family-friendly Big Island Hawaii Lodging

With so many family-friendly resorts and fun activities for kids, the Big Island is the perfect Hawaii family vacation destination. Most of the Big Island resorts have special programming for keiki (kids). Two of our favorites for families are the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Be sure to also check our list of  hotels in Kona and hotels in Hilo.

Escape today

Make it a perfect Hawaii family vacation

Plan ahead and check out our Activities and Attractions pages for more fun things to do. Whether you're here with friends, family, on your honeymoon or on your own, our ohana invites your ohana to embrace the rhythm of Hawaii, take your time and enjoy exploring the Big Island!

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