From the thumping hub of Waikiki to the sublime stillness of the Big Island, this is the ideal family destination, as Tracey Spicer and her family discover.
Hawaii truly has it all. Beautiful beaches, sensational shopping and ancient volcanoes are a fraction of what these eight islands offer. Our family holiday began in Waikiki, Oahu, a popular choice for families. Despite decades of tourism, this strip of sand, stretching from the rugged rocks of Diamond Head to the Rainbow Tower of the iconic Hilton, remains a natural wonderland. It becomes immediately apparent, however, that the only problem with a holiday in Hawaii is how to fit it all in. Here’s how we did it.
Day 4: History & Culture
Depending on the age of your kids, it’s worth fitting in some educational activities. Tourists too often ignore the troubled past of this tropical paradise, but the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour (a half-hour drive from the resort) brings history to life and is great for tweens and teens alike. For little ones, the nearby Bishop Museum has all the information you want to know about Hawaii.
Day 5: Relax and recharge
After a busy few days, it’s time for a dose of relaxation! Drive an hour to the north shore of Oahu, with its killer surf breaks and shrimp vans. There’s nothing more refreshing than a swim beneath the waterfall at Waimea Valley and you can ride the Pineapple Express Train and visit the parks large maze at the Dole Plantation on the way! It’s the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.
Day 6: Wildlife at Waimanalo
Back at the resort, it’s only a half-hour drive to the small slice of Tahiti that can be found on Oahu’s east coast. The kids climbed the towering trees that line the shore and within minutes of snorkelling in the fluorescent waters of Waimanalo, our family was followed by two honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). Further south, you’ll find the protected marine reserve of Hanauma Bay; it’s like swimming in an aquarium. Get there early, because there are limited parking spaces.
Day 7: The Big Island
To keep restless kids on their toes, this stage of the holiday is a great time to island-hop. Gate-to-gate, it’s only a 45-minute flight from Honolulu to Kona on the Big Island. Prepare for a prehistoric landscape as you land on black lava! From here the resort precinct is just a 20-minute drive away, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and a shopping centre.
Day 8: Volatile volcanoes
The Big Island offers countless unique experiences for families. For ours, the eighth was the biggest and best day of the trip. After piling into a mini-bus, we journeyed to an Evening Volcano Tour with Kapohokine Adventures.
Our guide, Billy, kept the kids entertained with bloodthirsty stories about Captain Cook as we drove up Mount Kilauea to see the spectacular spurts from its caldera. It really is an up-close and personal experience; we stood only a few hundred metres from its fiery centre.
Day 9: Underwater adventures
Your last day in Hawaii should be reserved for all things aquatic. We spent ours snorkelling, paddle-biking and kayaking in the natural lagoon at the heart of the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast. It’s teeming with tropical fish, turtles and sea snakes, and is the perfect end to a wonderful holiday. Our most important advice? Sure, have fun. But take time to relax into the Aloha spirit and let it guide you on your journey of this incredible archipelago.