USA, Wanderlust

6 reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii

Who remembers Pixar’s short film Lava – the story of a lonely volcano searching for love, inspired by Hawaii and its fiery peaks. That’s the point where I fell in lava (sorry) with the idea of a family holiday in Hawaii all over again.

Happy boy in a Hawaiian shirt on the beach - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii. Image copyright

The islands have long been on my bucket list – not least for those volcanoes which always fascinate me, for the beautiful beaches, the lilting music, the Polynesian culture and the laid-back atmosphere.

Plus, the flight time to America’s 50th state is a little shorter than the other South Pacific islands, a definite bonus with kids in tow – just one of my six reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii.

The volcanoes
My daughter’s first overseas trip included the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, she’s seen steaming sulphur springs in St Lucia – you could say there’s a theme. Fellow fans should start on Hawaii’s Big Island which is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

There are some gorgeous villas and Big Island house rentals to check into as your base, mostly along the stunning coast.

Kilauea crater on the Big Island in Hawaii - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii.

And to the south, the huge Hawaii Volcanoes National park, which stretches for 333,000 acres. Take a crater rim drive to see some of the flowing lava – enough to resurface a 20-mile dual carriageway each day, courtesy (so locals say) of temperamental volcano goddess Pele.

Or spot an otherworldly lava lake from the Jaggar Museum lookout, and with older kids there are hiking and biking tours across the black lava landscape.

On Maui, head to Haleakala National Park – kids can get activity backpacks plus lots to download as well as learning more about Hawaiian culture and wildlife. The dormant volcano is famously beautiful at dawn, but if you’d rather not get up for sunrise, the rim is around 10,000ft above sea level so you can look over to where Maui, neighbouring Molokai and Lanai, and sometimes even the Big Island unfold on the horizon.

The beach – and surf
It hardly matters which island you choose if you’re looking for fabulous beaches – Oahu alone has more than 125 to choose from, including Waikiki Beach, dubbed the birthplace of surfing. Ideal if you’ve got teens who fancy giving it a try or you’ll find private lessons for younger confident swimmers.

One of the beautiful beaches in Hawaii - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii.

Or Halona Beach Cove, famous for that love scene in From Here To Eternity, is set next to the Halona Blowhole, with water blasting 30 metres into the air at high tide.

The aptly named Baby Beach on Kauai has calmer waters for little ones thanks to its protective reef, while Wailea Beach is another good option on Maui, often voted among the world’s best beaches – it’s not a secret, so go prepared to share though.

And on the Big Island, you’ll find golden sand at Hapuna Beach or fabulous sunsets over Anaehoʻomalu Bay.

The snorkelling and sea life
The beaches may be beautiful, but head into the water and you’ll discover another world of attractions. Ko Olina lagoons on Oahu might be man-made but they’ve got some of the safest snorkelling as a result, or discover the marine life conservation area at Pupukea Beach Park with its reefs and a lagoon for rockpooling.

A view of the Ko Olina lagoon - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii

If you’ve got toddlers and older kids, Hanauma Bay Park is also protected from the waves so little ones can splash in the shallows while snorkelers enjoy a safe place to discover the marine life.

Keep your feet dry and still get a glimpse at the Maui Ocean Center, the USA’s largest tropical aquarium with viewing ports designed for children, and the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm on the Big Island with its conservation programme to save some of the world’s most endangered seahorses.

The star spotting
Not the celebrity fans of Hawaii (although there’ve been plenty since the first days that Elvis popularised this paradise) but the amazing views of the heavens.

The Maunakea Visitor Information Centre on the Big Island runs free expert-led events four times per week, for star gazers large and small. The island has 13 of the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes – while you might not get to play with those, it’s a reminder you’re a world away from light polluted cities.

The Mauna Kea telescopes and cloud behind - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii.

The adrenaline-fuelled adventures
Not top of the list for toddlers perhaps, but when kids are older there’s simply nowhere like Hawaii for dramatic landscapes and child-friendly adventures including ziplining over forests and past palm trees.

Maui Zipline has options for five-year-olds and up, finishing with a stretch across the lagoon. Or KapohoKine Adventures on the Big Island is home to the island’s longest zipline, with options for five plus too.

But that’s only the beginning – there are dramatic drives on most of the islands including the mountains of the Pali Highway on Oahu. The most spectacular is on Kauai; only 10% of the island is actually accessible by land, so to see the Na Pali coastline with its spectacular 4,000ft high cliffs and crashing waterfalls, you need to fly.

Beautiful aerial view of spectacular Na Pali coast, Kauai, Hawaii - my reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii. Image copyright

There are helicopter tours, which will also take you to the majestic Manawaiopuna Falls – see how many locations you recognise from the Pirates of the Caribbean and Jurassic Park franchises.

Or practise being a paniolo – a Hawaiian cowboy – with riding at Dahana Ranch on the Big Island which takes mini cowboys aged three and above, or Gunstock Ranch on Oahu for two years plus.


My six reasons to book a family holiday in Hawaii - from volcanoes to beaches and child-friendly adventure, not to mention seahorses and stargazing. Where to start when choosing a Hawaiian island, including the Big Island, Oahu and Maui. #hawaii #familyhawaii #hawaiiwithkids #mummytravels #maui #bigisland #kauai #oahu #southpacificwithkids #polynesiawithkids Image copyright

Disclosure: compiled in association with Luxury Retreats*

Main image copyright olesiabilkei; Na Pali image copyright maximkabb; all other images courtesy Pixabay