The beauty of Hawaii is that there are endless opportunities for family fun. And in a place where there’s so much to see out in nature, kids will have the time of their lives expelling all that excess energy and excitement. Search mountain peak trails for a distant waterfall, hike past active volcanoes or soak up the Hawaiian sun on one of the many beautiful beaches. You won’t want to miss these top attractions.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
As national parks go, this one is unique. Home to two active volcanoes, visitors can go on a driving tour past mountain summits, or explore more in depth on self-guided walking tours. See first-hand the glowing lava flows as they spill into the ocean, explore lava tube sites or visit the steam vents at Halemaumau Crater. The park also has camping sites for longer stays, however permits are required.
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Hawaii, and you can often enjoy it right from the shore, with a pair of binoculars on a mountain top cliff or beachside highrise. But for the full effect, book a daytrip on one of the many sightseeing boat tours. Humpback whales are frequent visitors to Hawaii’s shores and watching them breach the surface is a treat. The best time for whale watching is December through May.
Hulopoe Bay tidal pools on Lanai
A great way to see Hawaii’s colourful fish population is to take a snorkelling trip to Hulopoe Bay. The rocky outcrops provide many tide pools in which to explore, offering the perfect incentive to take a dip in the warm, shallow waters.
Hike to Manoa Falls – Oahu
Just a short drive from Honolulu, visitors will find themselves in the lush green habitat of the Manoa Falls rainforests. The winding trail offers spectacular outdoor scenery, with hiking time to the falls about 30 minutes each way. The cascading waterfall rumbles down the rocky embankment in mesmerising fashion. The hike can be muddy and slippery when wet, so wear some good shoes for the walk, but the forest views and picturesque falls make the otherwise easy walk, well worth the effort.
What better way to enjoy Hawaii than a day at the beach? There are many Hawaiian beaches that are family friendly. Warm, shallow waters, small to moderate waves and nearby activities make the beach popular with kids and parents alike. Take a boogie board, a Frisbee, some water toys and some snacks and the whole day is practically mapped out.
It’s no secret that kids often turn up their noses at museums and historic sights, but the palace home of kings and queens is usually enough to spark kids’ wondrous imagination. Iolani Palace was the royal residence of King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama. The splendour of the palace and the throne room is something that even kids will marvel at.
The State Capitol
The Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu is unlike any other U.S. state capitol building. Surrounded by a reflecting pool, the open air interior allows visitors to see up close the senate chamber and House of Representatives, even when the rooms are closed. The visit doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but seeing this uniquely Hawaiian building is worth a look. The capitol is located just steps from Iolani Palace, so it’s an easy walk between the two attractions.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii
If there’s one thing the whole family can agree on, it’s a visit to a water park. Filled with water attractions and thrill rides, Wet ‘n’ Wild is just the place to go on a hot, sunny day. Here, the whole family will enjoy getting wet as they swish down water slides and into giant pools. One of the most popular adventure rides in the ‘Tornado,’ a giant water funnel that spins riders along on a giant clover-leaf shaped tube. And if you like surfing, be sure to try Hawaii’s only simulated surf ride, the Flowrider.
Location for many famous movies, Kualoa Ranch on Oahu’s northern shore, takes visitors on an eye-opening ‘backlot tour.’ See where jungle scenes of Jurassic Park were filmed, or walk through actual World War II bunkers which were used in such movies as Pearl Harbor. See Godzilla’s footprints and the location sites for Hawaii Five-O and LOST. The ranch has many other family activities including horseback riding, a treetop canopy zipline and ATV tours. The spectacular mountain setting makes all these activities a memorable event.
The Big ‘Mo’
It’s not often that people get the chance to tour a massive battleship, and the Big ‘Mo’ (short for Missouri) is definitely one worth seeing. The World War II era USS Missouri was the site of the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945 in Tokyo Bay. General Douglas MacArthur oversaw the surrender on the ship’s decks. Today, the warship overlooks the memorial at Pearl Harbor, just outside Honolulu.
Want to know more about family travel in Hawaii? Check out our travel guide!
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