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From Volcanoes to Beaches: The Best Hawaiian Island for Families

Updated: May 12, 2023

Hawaii, also known as the Aloha State, is a tropical paradise that offers a diverse range of experiences for families. With eight main islands to choose from, each with its own unique charm and attractions, deciding which island to visit can be a challenge.

Waikiki beach

Choosing the best Hawaiian island for families

Choosing the best Hawaiian island for families depends on various factors such as the age of the children, interests, and preferences of the family. However, some of the popular options that cater to families include:


Oahu is popular choice for families anext here are some reasons why.


Oahu has some of the best beaches in the world, with crystal clear waters and soft, sandy shores. Families can enjoy a range of water activities such as snorkeling, surfing, and boogie boarding. The calm waters of Waikiki Beach are perfect for young children, while older kids can try their hand at surfing on the North Shore.

Culture and history

Oahu is home to some of the most iconic cultural and historical sites in Hawaii. Families can visit Pearl Harbor and learn about the events that led to America's involvement in World War II. They can also visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, where they can immerse themselves in the traditions and cultures of Polynesia. The Bishop Museum is another great option, offering interactive exhibits that explore Hawaii's history and natural wonders.

Outdoor activities

Oahu is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with a wide range of activities available. Families can hike to the top of Diamond Head, where they can enjoy spectacular views of the island. They can also explore the lush rainforests of Manoa Valley or take a leisurely stroll through the Honolulu Zoo. For something more adventurous, families can try ziplining or take a helicopter tour of the island.


Hawaiian cuisine is a unique blend of flavors from around the world. Families can enjoy local favorites like poke, shaved ice, and plate lunch. The food scene on Oahu is diverse, with everything from casual food trucks to upscale restaurants. Families can sample traditional Hawaiian dishes, as well as international cuisine.


Oahu offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Families can choose from luxury resorts, vacation rentals, and budget-friendly hotels. Many hotels and resorts on the island offer family-friendly amenities such as kids' clubs, pools, and activities.


Kauai, known as the "Garden Island," offers a more laid-back and natural setting that is perfect for families who want to explore nature. As the oldest and northernmost island in Hawaii's chain, Kauai is a standout choice for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy quality time together in a beautiful and tranquil setting.

Here are just a few reasons why Kauai is a great place to visit with your family:


Kauai is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the calm and shallow waters of Poipu Beach to the rugged and picturesque Hanalei Bay, there's a beach for every type of family. Whether you're looking to relax and soak up the sun or hit the waves for some surfing, Kauai's beaches won't disappoint.

Outdoor Activities

If your family loves outdoor adventures, Kauai is the perfect destination. Hike through the lush and verdant landscapes of Waimea Canyon or take a zipline tour through the lush jungles of Kauai. You can also go kayaking on the Wailua River or take a scenic helicopter tour to see the island from above.


Kauai is steeped in Hawaiian culture and history, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about both. Visit the Kilohana Plantation for a traditional Hawaiian luau or take a guided tour of the ancient Hawaiian village at Kamokila. You can also learn about the island's history at the Kauai Museum.


Kauai is home to some fantastic restaurants and food trucks. From traditional Hawaiian dishes like poke and kalua pork to fresh seafood and farm-to-table cuisine, there's something to please every palate.


Sometimes, the best family vacations are the ones where you can just relax and enjoy each other's company. Kauai's tranquil and peaceful setting is perfect for unwinding and spending quality time with your loved ones. Whether you're lounging on the beach or taking a dip in the hotel pool, Kauai is the perfect place to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Big Island

The Big Island is the largest Hawaiian island and offers a variety of family-friendly activities. With its diverse range of activities and natural wonders, it's the perfect place to make memories that will last a lifetime. Here are just a few reasons why the Big Island is a great place to visit for families.

Beaches and water activities

One of the most popular attractions on the Big Island is its stunning beaches. Families can enjoy a day of swimming, sunbathing, and playing in the sand at some of the island's most famous beaches like Hapuna Beach or Kua Bay. The island is also known for its abundant water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing. Children can learn how to surf with experienced instructors, or families can take a boat tour to see whales, dolphins, and other marine life up close.

Volcano National Park

The Big Island is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea. Families can visit the Volcano National Park and see the lava fields and steam vents up close. Children will love learning about the science behind volcanoes and the impact they have on the environment. There are also several hiking trails throughout the park that offer stunning views of the volcano and the surrounding landscape.

Astronomy and stargazing

The Big Island is home to some of the world's best observatories, making it the perfect place for families to explore the stars. The Mauna Kea Observatory offers nightly stargazing tours, where families can learn about the constellations and see the Milky Way in all its glory. Children will be fascinated by the different telescopes and instruments used to study the universe.

Cultural experiences

The Big Island is rich in history and culture, and families can learn about the island's unique heritage through a variety of activities. The Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park offers a glimpse into traditional Hawaiian life, while the Hulihe'e Palace showcases the island's royal history. Families can also attend a traditional luau, where they can try traditional Hawaiian food and watch hula dancers perform.

Outdoor adventures

The Big Island is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, and families can explore them through a variety of outdoor activities. Families can hike to the top of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii, or take a helicopter tour over the island's stunning waterfalls and valleys. The island is also home to several botanical gardens, where families can see rare plants and flowers up close.

Our Pick: Maui

If you are looking for the perfect Hawaiian island for your family vacation, Maui is the best choice, in our opinion.

Maui is one of the best Hawaiian islands for families with its calm beaches, easy-to-navigate roads, and a wide range of family-friendly activities. Families can enjoy whale watching, snorkeling, hiking, and exploring the local culture.

Maui, the second-largest island in Hawaii, is an ideal destination for families because of its diverse range of activities and attractions suitable for all ages. It is known for its stunning beaches, lush green valleys, and crystal clear waters, making it the perfect place for water activities such as snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding. Families can also explore the island's wildlife by visiting the Maui Ocean Center, where they can get up close and personal with sea turtles, sharks, and other marine animals.

Road to Hana

One of the most popular attractions in Maui is the Road to Hana, a scenic drive that takes visitors through 64 miles of stunning coastline, waterfalls, and rainforests. The road is dotted with multiple stops where families can enjoy picnics, hike to hidden waterfalls, or simply take in the breathtaking scenery.

Maui Tropical Plantation

Families with children will love visiting the Maui Tropical Plantation, a working plantation where they can learn about Hawaiian culture and history while enjoying tropical fruits and experiencing a tram tour. The plantation also features a zip-line course, mini-golf, and a farm-to-table restaurant.

Haleakalā National Park

For families who want to explore nature and wildlife, Haleakalā National Park is a must-visit destination. The park features a dormant volcano that towers over 10,000 feet above sea level and offers incredible sunrise and sunset views. Families can also take guided tours through the park's native forests, hike through the volcanic landscape, or stargaze at night.


Maui is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the golden sands of Kaanapali Beach to the black sands of Wai'anapanapa State Park, there's a beach for every member of your family. You can spend the day building sandcastles, swimming in the ocean, and soaking up the sun.

Family-Friendly Accommodations

Maui has a variety of family-friendly accommodations that cater to different budgets and preferences. From luxury resorts with kids' clubs and poolside activities to vacation rentals with fully equipped kitchens and plenty of space for the whole family, you're sure to find something that fits your needs.


Maui is a safe destination for families, with a low crime rate and friendly locals who are always willing to help. The island also has excellent medical facilities, so you can rest assured that your family will be taken care of in case of an emergency.

Maui is the perfect Hawaiian island for families due to its diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to all ages. Its stunning natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences make it a destination that families will remember for a lifetime.


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