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Best Hawaii family vacations for every type of traveler

If the Aloha State is on the brain, here's where to take the family.
Family day at the beach!
Hawaii is a vacation destination that the whole family can enjoyFat Camera / Getty Images stock

Families trying to plan a tropical beach vacation might be considering Hawaii as their next destination. The good news is that a Hawaii family vacation offers something for everyone, regardless of age.

Jen Campbell Boles, founder of Explore More Family Travel, told TODAY Parents that Hawaii is a "perfect" family destination.

"The ease of traveling without a passport, yet being in a place nothing like the mainland is very attractive for a lot of families," Boles Campbell said. "It is a good first step for (American) families testing the waters of international travel, because it has that feel but still a sense of comfort by being a state where things operate much like wherever they are from."

Boles Campbell said Hawaii is a destination that offers many different experiences all in one place.

"(Families can enjoy) relaxing, swimming, surfing, hiking, sightseeing, nature, whale watching, snorkeling, farm visits, and my favorite — experiencing culture," Boles Campbell said. "Many hotels have programs that allow children to experience the culture through curated experiences for children." 

Laura Epstein, SmartFlyer travel advisor, agreed.

"Hawaii is a great spot for parents and kids to let loose and enjoy these new experiences together," Epstein said. "You can do as much or as little as you’d like."

Related: Best family vacation destinations for when you want to get away

Hawaii family vacations

The Hawaiian Islands each offer something unique for visitors. The top Hawaii family vacation spots, according to Campbell Boles and Epstein, include:


Poipu Beach, located on the south shore of Kauai, has some of the best snorkeling, which can be done right from the shoreline.

"There’s a range of activities from zip lining, surfing and luaus all within walking distance, or a short shuttle ride away," Campbell Boles said. "Sometimes summer swells offer large enough waves to watch the surfers dance on the water."

Hawaii Island

A visit to Volcanoes National Park would be a must for families visiting the Big Island, or Hawaii Island.

"Even better if done via a helicopter," Epstein said.


Kaanapali Beach is a great place for families to stay, play, shop and eat.

"Whaler's Village offers some of the best places to eat on the island, including Leilani’s and Monkeypod, plus enough shopping that you would truly never have to leave," Campbell Boles said. "And activities such as snorkeling, parasailing and sunset cruises can be boarded right from the beach."


Ko Olina is just far enough away from the busy city life of Waikiki, but still close enough to get to for the day. 

"It has five protected ocean lagoons that offer a break from high surf and allow kids and parents to relax while floating and soaking up the sun," Campbell Boles told TODAY Parents.

Hawaii family vacation tips

Both Campbell Boles and Epstein advised taking the length of time you have to travel into consideration before booking a family vacation to Hawaii.

"Be sure you visit Hawaii for a long enough trip in order to adjust for jet lag, and allow enough time upon returning home for kiddos to recover from the time change," Epstein said.

Related: 19 family vacation ideas your teenager will actually be excited about

Campbell Boles added that travelers with a longer stay in Hawaii should consider island hopping.

"If you’ve traveled from the mainland, take advantage of having traveled so far by exploring as much as possible," she said.

Traveling to Hawaii

Campbell Boles cautioned that Hawaii was a popular destination before the pandemic, but the Islands have experienced a surge of popularity since the start of the pandemic.

"Families wanting to travel to Hawaii now need to understand that it is busier than ever, so to adjust expectations, but also consider traveling during off season," she said. "Families with young kids should take advantage of not having to work around school schedules or families whose kids are in year-round school should take advantage of fall break."

While domestic travelers entering Hawaii no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, tourists visiting the Hawaiian Islands should take care to protect the fragile ecosystems that make each island so beautiful.

This can be done by:

  • Keeping your distance (at least 50 yards) from animals like sea turtles and monk seals
  • Using reef-safe sunscreen without ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which bleach reefs
  • Staying on marked, legal trails
  • Booking eco-friendly tours