Are you ready for a family vacation in Hawaii? After a challenging year, you and your family deserve it. In this article, we’ll help you choose the best Hawaiian island for your family based on factors like cost, activities, and kid-friendly beaches. We’ll also share a video by The Hawaii Vacation Guide that highlights the seven best family resorts on Oahu. As locals who have lived on both Maui and Oahu, we have firsthand knowledge of the pros and cons of each island. Whether it’s the affordable accommodations and abundance of activities on Oahu or the open spaces and family resorts on Maui, we’ll provide all the information you need to make the right choice for your family. So get ready to plan your dream Hawaiian vacation and subscribe to our channel for more travel tips and recommendations. Aloha!
Choosing the Best Hawaiian Island for Your Family Vacation
Planning a family vacation to Hawaii can be an exciting and memorable experience. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and warm tropical weather, the Hawaiian islands offer a perfect setting for quality family time. However, with so many islands to choose from, deciding which one is best for your family can be a daunting task. This comprehensive article will guide you through the process of choosing the best Hawaiian island for your family vacation, taking into consideration factors such as cost, availability of family activities, kid-friendly beaches, and family resorts. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of each island’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to make an informed decision that suits your family’s preferences and budget.
Oahu: The Best Island for Families
Lower Cost Compared to Other Islands
When it comes to cost, Oahu stands out as a budget-friendly option compared to some of the other Hawaiian islands. While it may not be the cheapest option overall, it offers a good balance between affordability and accessibility. With a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hotels to luxury resorts, Oahu caters to families of all budgets. Additionally, the island’s larger size and population mean that there are more dining and entertainment options, providing opportunities for cost savings.
Abundance of Family-Friendly Resorts
Oahu is home to a plethora of family-friendly resorts that cater to the needs and preferences of families. These resorts often offer amenities such as pools with water slides, kids’ clubs, and organized activities designed to keep children entertained and engaged. Some of the most popular family resorts on Oahu include the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Turtle Bay Resort, and several others, which we will explore later in this article.
Family Activities on Oahu
Oahu boasts a wide range of family activities that are sure to keep everyone happy and entertained. One popular attraction is the Honolulu Zoo, located in Waikiki. Here, you can explore various animal exhibits and even take part in educational programs and interactive experiences. Another great option is the Waikiki Aquarium, where you can experience the vibrant marine life that Hawaii is famous for. For history enthusiasts, a visit to Pearl Harbor is a must. This historic site offers a chance to learn about the events of World War II and pay tribute to the brave individuals who lost their lives. Additionally, families can explore the fascinating Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States, or visit the Bishop Museum, which houses extensive collections of Hawaiian artifacts and exhibits.
Popular Beaches on Oahu
No trip to Hawaii is complete without a day at the beach, and Oahu offers some of the most stunning and kid-friendly beaches in the Hawaiian islands. Waikiki Beach, located in the heart of Honolulu, is a bustling and vibrant spot that appeals to families. The calm, shallow waters make it ideal for young children to swim and play. Ko Olina Lagoons, on the west coast of Oahu, offer a more serene atmosphere with crystal-clear waters and beautiful sandy shores. Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve famous for its snorkeling opportunities, where families can explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter an array of tropical fish. Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach, located on the windward side of the island, are known for their picture-perfect beauty and soft white sands, making them ideal for a fun-filled family day at the beach.
Traffic as a Major Con in Oahu
However, it’s important to note that Oahu does have its drawbacks, and one significant con is the traffic congestion. As the most populous island in Hawaii, Oahu experiences heavy traffic, particularly in and around the city of Honolulu. If you plan to explore different parts of the island or drive to popular attractions, you may encounter traffic delays, especially during peak travel times. To mitigate this issue, it’s advisable to plan your itinerary accordingly and allow extra time for travel.
Crowdedness in Waikiki
Another factor to consider is the crowdedness of Waikiki. As a popular tourist destination, Waikiki Beach can become quite crowded, especially during peak travel seasons. While this bustling atmosphere may appeal to some families, those seeking a more tranquil and secluded beach experience may want to explore other areas of the island.
Maui: A Great Option for Families
Open Spaces and Family Resorts
Maui, the second-largest Hawaiian island, offers a different experience compared to Oahu. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Maui offers a more laid-back and relaxed vibe, making it a great option for families seeking a tranquil escape. The island is characterized by its open spaces, lush landscapes, and breathtaking views, providing the perfect backdrop for a memorable family vacation. Maui is also home to a range of family resorts that offer luxurious amenities and services tailored to families, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
More Driving Required to Popular Attractions
While Maui offers a serene and picturesque setting, it’s important to note that getting around the island often requires more driving compared to Oahu. Popular attractions and activities may be spread out, so having a rental car is essential for exploring the island at your own pace. However, the scenic drives and breathtaking vistas make the journey itself an enjoyable experience.
Expensiveness of Accommodations
One potential downside of choosing Maui as your family vacation destination is the higher cost of accommodations compared to Oahu. Maui tends to be more expensive overall, offering fewer budget-friendly options. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to carefully research and compare prices to find the best deals and discounts available.
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Kauai: Another Expensive but Beautiful Island
Expensiveness of Accommodations
Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes and breathtaking beauty. As the oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai offers a slower pace of life and a more remote and pristine environment. However, it’s important to be aware that Kauai can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to accommodations. The island has a limited number of resorts, and prices tend to be higher compared to Oahu and Maui. If you’re looking for a luxurious and secluded retreat for your family vacation, Kauai may be the perfect choice, but it’s essential to consider the higher costs.
Family Activities and Attractions
Despite its small size, Kauai offers a wealth of family-friendly activities and attractions. One top attraction is the Na Pali Coast, a rugged and majestic coastline that can be explored by boat or on foot. The Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, offers breathtaking panoramic views and numerous hiking trails suitable for families. Families can also enjoy exploring the Wailua River and its enchanting waterfalls, take a scenic helicopter tour, or simply relax on one of the island’s secluded beaches.
The Big Island: Laid-Back with Local Vibes
Resorts in Hilo
The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawaii Island, offers a unique blend of natural wonders, diverse landscapes, and a laid-back atmosphere. The island is divided into two main regions: the Hilo side and the Kona side. On the Hilo side, you’ll find lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and a rich cultural heritage. There are some family-friendly resorts in this area that provide a more authentic and local experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the island’s unique culture.
Resorts in Kahala Coast
On the Kona side of the island, the Kahala Coast is home to several luxury resorts that offer a more upscale and resort-style experience. These resorts often have spacious grounds, multiple pools, and activities designed specifically for families. From snorkeling to cultural classes, there is no shortage of things to do and explore.
Popularity of December Visits
One important factor to consider is the popularity of December visits to the Big Island. Many families choose to travel during the winter holidays, which can result in larger crowds and higher prices. If you prefer a quieter and more affordable visit, it may be worth considering other travel dates.
The 7 Best Family Resorts on Oahu
Hilton Hawaiian Village
The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a top choice for families seeking a wide range of amenities and activities. Located on Waikiki Beach, this expansive resort offers multiple pools, including a large lagoon-style pool with a waterslide, as well as a private beach area. The resort also features a kids’ club, a wide variety of dining options, and organized activities for children of all ages.
Turtle Bay Resort
For families seeking a more secluded and tranquil setting, the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore is an excellent option. Nestled among lush greenery and overlooking the ocean, this resort offers spacious rooms and suites, several pools, and a variety of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, snorkeling, and golf. The Turtle Bay Resort also provides babysitting services, ensuring parents have some well-deserved time to relax and unwind.
Resort A offers a diverse range of amenities and activities that cater to families. With spacious accommodations, multiple pools, and a dedicated kids’ club, this resort prides itself on providing a memorable experience for families. From beachfront luaus to snorkeling adventures, Resort A has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Resort B is another popular choice for families, offering a combination of luxury and family-friendly amenities. The resort features spacious suites, a stunning pool area complete with water slides, and a supervised kids’ club. Parents can also take advantage of the resort’s spa and fitness facilities while the children enjoy the organized activities.
Located along the picturesque Ko Olina Lagoons, Resort C offers a peaceful and family-friendly environment. The resort boasts spacious rooms with kitchenettes, a lagoon-style pool, and a range of water activities such as paddleboarding and snorkeling. Additionally, Resort C offers a variety of dining options to cater to different tastes and preferences.
Resort D is known for its beautiful beachfront location and luxurious accommodations. With spacious suites, private balconies, and views of the ocean, this resort provides an upscale experience for families. The resort also offers a kids’ club, several pools, and a range of dining options, ensuring that everyone in the family has a memorable and enjoyable stay.
Resort E is a popular choice for families seeking a budget-friendly option. With its affordable accommodations and a range of amenities, this resort offers great value for money. The resort features multiple pools, a kids’ club, and direct access to a beautiful stretch of beach. While it may not offer the same level of luxury as some of the other resorts on Oahu, Resort E provides a comfortable and enjoyable stay for families on a budget.
Family-Friendly Activities on Oahu
Visiting the Zoo
A visit to the Honolulu Zoo is a must for animal-loving families. Located in Waikiki, the zoo is home to a diverse range of animals from around the world. From elephants and lions to tropical birds and reptiles, there is something to captivate every member of the family. The zoo also offers educational programs and interactive experiences, allowing children to learn more about the importance of conservation and animal welfare.
Exploring the Aquarium
The Waikiki Aquarium is another family-friendly attraction that offers a unique insight into Hawaii’s marine life. With its diverse collection of tropical fish, colorful coral reefs, and interactive exhibits, the aquarium provides an engaging and educational experience for all ages. Children can explore touch pools, learn about Hawaiian marine ecosystems, and even participate in feeding demonstrations.
Experience Pearl Harbor
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a moving and historically significant experience that should be on every family’s itinerary. At the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, families can learn about the events of December 7, 1941, that led to the United States’ entry into World War II. The museum exhibits include artifacts from the attack on Pearl Harbor, interactive displays, and a chance to explore the USS Arizona Memorial. This powerful and educational experience is a testament to the resilience and bravery of those involved and offers an opportunity for families to pay their respects.
Discover Iolani Palace
Families interested in Hawaiian history will enjoy a visit to Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States. Built in 1882, the palace was the residence of Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Guided tours of the palace allow families to explore the lavishly furnished rooms, learn about the monarchy’s history, and gain a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s cultural heritage.
Explore the Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum is an excellent place for families to delve into the rich history, culture, and natural science of Hawaii and the Pacific region. This expansive museum features world-class exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs for visitors of all ages. Families can learn about the traditional arts and crafts of Hawaii, explore the museum’s extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts, or embark on a virtual journey through the Pacific’s diverse ecosystems.
Kid-Friendly Beaches on Oahu
Waikiki Beach is a popular choice for families, thanks to its calm waters, convenient location, and a wide range of amenities. The shoreline is protected by an offshore reef, creating a sheltered swimming area ideal for young children. Families can relax on the soft golden sand, play beach games, and take advantage of the beachside facilities such as showers, restrooms, and rental equipment.
Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina Lagoons offer a serene and family-friendly beach experience away from the crowds of Waikiki. The calm, crystal-clear waters and gentle waves make it the perfect spot for families with young children to swim and snorkel. The lagoons are located within walking distance of several family resorts, providing easy access and convenience.
Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve and marine sanctuary renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. While the beach itself can get crowded, especially during peak travel seasons, families can still enjoy a day of snorkeling and exploring the underwater wonders. The bay’s shallow and protected waters make it suitable for beginners and children, allowing them to observe tropical fish and even sea turtles up close.
Located on the windward side of Oahu, Kailua Beach offers a more secluded and tranquil beach experience. The beach boasts soft white sands, turquoise waters, and plenty of space for families to spread out and enjoy the sun. The clear waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and even windsurfing. Families can rent equipment from the local vendors or take advantage of the picnic areas and shade trees for a relaxing beach day.
Just a short walk from Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach is often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters make it a paradise for families seeking a picture-perfect beach experience. The calm and shallow waters make it ideal for children to play and swim, while the offshore Mokulua Islands provide a stunning backdrop. Families can enjoy beachcombing, snorkeling, or simply relax and soak up the breathtaking scenery.
Overall Pros and Cons of Each Island for Families
Pros of Oahu
Oahu offers a wide range of attractions, activities, and accommodations, making it a versatile option for families. The island’s lower cost compared to other islands, abundance of family-friendly resorts, and an array of family activities and kid-friendly beaches make Oahu an excellent choice for families seeking a balance between affordability and convenience.
Pros of Maui
Maui’s open spaces, natural beauty, and relaxed atmosphere make it an attractive choice for families looking to unwind and connect with nature. The island’s family resorts offer luxurious amenities and services tailored to families, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Maui also offers a range of outdoor activities and attractions, from scenic drives to breathtaking vistas, providing opportunities for unforgettable family experiences.
Pros of Kauai
Kauai’s stunning natural landscapes and remote beauty make it an ideal choice for families seeking a pristine and secluded environment. The island offers a range of family-friendly activities and attractions, such as exploring the Na Pali Coast, hiking in the Waimea Canyon, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the island’s secluded beaches. Kauai is the perfect destination for families looking to immerse themselves in nature and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Pros of The Big Island
The Big Island offers a laid-back atmosphere, diverse landscapes, and a unique blend of local culture and natural wonders. Families can choose between the Hilo and Kona sides of the island, each offering its own distinct charm. The Big Island’s family-friendly resorts cater to different preferences, whether you’re seeking a local experience or a more upscale resort-style stay. The island’s popularity during December means families can enjoy festive activities and events, creating a memorable holiday experience.
Cons of Oahu
While Oahu offers numerous advantages for families, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The traffic congestion, especially in and around Honolulu, can be a major inconvenience when exploring the island. Additionally, Waikiki Beach, although popular and vibrant, can become crowded during peak travel seasons, making it less appealing for families seeking a quieter and more secluded beach experience.
Cons of Maui
One of the downsides of Maui is the need for more driving to access popular attractions and activities. Families should be prepared to travel longer distances to explore different parts of the island. Additionally, the higher cost of accommodations on Maui compared to other islands may deter families on a tight budget.
Cons of Kauai
Kauai’s main drawback is the higher cost of accommodations. Families considering a visit to Kauai should be prepared for higher prices compared to other islands. The limited number of resorts on the island also means that availability can be more limited, particularly during peak travel seasons.
Cons of The Big Island
One of the potential drawbacks of the Big Island is the need to travel between the Hilo and Kona sides, which can be time-consuming. Families should plan their itinerary carefully to avoid excessive travel times. Additionally, the popularity of December visits can result in larger crowds and higher prices, which may not appeal to families seeking a quieter and more affordable experience.
Choosing the best Hawaiian island for your family vacation requires careful consideration of factors such as cost, availability of family activities, kid-friendly beaches, and family resorts. Oahu stands out as a great option due to its lower cost, abundance of family-friendly resorts, and a wide range of activities and attractions. Maui offers a laid-back atmosphere, open spaces, and luxurious family resorts, while Kauai provides a remote and pristine environment with a range of family activities and breathtaking landscapes. The Big Island offers a unique blend of local vibes, diverse landscapes, and family-friendly accommodations. By considering the pros and cons of each island, you can make an informed decision that suits your family’s preferences, allowing you to enjoy a memorable and enjoyable Hawaiian vacation.