Discover Hawaii with kids

Why the island home of Jurassic Park, hula and shave ice is a treat for families to explore.

Hawaii is a chameleon. It’s the place to hit up the outlet malls, nosh on sushi and soak up the sun. It’s where you can delve into the history of Pearl Harbour, chopper over molten lava and snorkel with dolphins. And it’s also a wonderland to explore with little ones in tow, from hiking into the depths of a cloud forest, discovering the dense countryside on lesser-known Kauai and, come winter, a spot of whale watching as the majestic mammals head to its warm waters.

Here’s a little taste of what this island paradise has to offer travelling families.

Do

Take a deep breath, slow down and embrace nature, where the ebb and flow of life in Hawaii plays out. Whether you’re taking the kids horseback riding with the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) on Big Island or ziplining above the lush jungle canopy of Kauai, there’s plenty to suit the adrenaline-charged teenager.

For the more low-key adventurer, endless stretches of pristine beaches make for beautiful picnic spots, beginner surf lessons or quiet afternoons reading. Kick up some red dust hiking one of the many trails through Kauai’s Waimea Canyon or up Waikiki’s Diamond Head or explore the lava tubes tunnelling through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Any budding photographers will be entranced by some of the most spectacular sunsets and sunrises on earth, or drop in to the Visitor Information Station at Maunakea on the Big Island for a free nightly stargazing tour from 6pm.

Eat

Whether you embrace the spam, prefer to keep it clean or dip into the traditional pit-roasted meats at a low-key luau, there are plenty of options when it comes to Hawaiian fare.

Oahu’s north shore has some of the most beautiful beaches going round, from surfing hotspots to bodyboarding and snorkelling. After a day frolicking with the family in the sea, scoot into one of the old school eateries on Kamehameha Highway for a plateful of sweet, spicy and garlicky Kahuku shrimp and rice.

Any first-timer to Hawaii needs their luau initiation. There are plenty of options all over the islands offering a celebration of traditional dancing, music and food. Unwind to the strums of a ukulele while learning about Hawaii’s rich history and sampling the finest kalua pua’a – pork roasted in a Hawaiian underground imu.

Feeling like a fix of clean-eating, organic fare? The Beet Box café in Oahu delivers it up by the plateful. Breakfast burritos, acai bowls, avocado on pita or colourful salads – there’s plenty of fresh, locally-sourced options to dig in to.

While you may not have come to Hawaii to see goats, a visit to the Surfing Goat Dairy is a unique family-friendly activity for any lover of cheese. Since 1999, German expats Thomas and Eva Kafsack have tended their 42 acres on Maui and produce award winning cheeses, goat’s milk soaps and goat’s cheese truffles.

Stay

Hawaii is overflowing with accommodation options to suit any budget and location preference. Get started choosing what island best suits your vibe. From the food-frenzy of Oahu, the hiking, cultural hotspot of the Big Island or the sun and surf of Maui, there are plenty of upscale or relaxed beachside hotels, resorts and apartments to choose from. Further afield, the beautiful beaches and coastal cliffs of Kauai, the remote beauty of Lanai or the history of Molokai provide equally enticing options, making a dual island adventure a wonderful prospect. Wherever you settle, rest assured there will be no shortage of sandy beaches, sinking sunsets and breathtaking views providing memorable backdrops to your Hawaiian holiday.

(Images: Main: Strecosa); Sunset: GreenieMama)

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