There’s nothing like saying “Aloha!” to a new experience together as a family—and traveling to Hawaii is an experience nobody will ever forget. But it is an expensive endeavor. Roundtrip tickets often top ,000 and deciding where to visit in Hawaii is not easy. Given there isn’t a comprehensive ferry system connecting the six main islands and inter-island flights will significantly add to your trip tab (starting at one way), choosing the island of your dreams is the first step in planning the ultimate tropical getaway.
What type of family you are may very well determine the ideal island for your clan, so here are some recommendations based on your “family personality.” Whether you’re adventurous, beach bums, amateur scientists or hungry for a slice of history, there is the perfect island waiting just for you.
Want to have the hustle and bustle of a metropolis while witnessing a place of historical significance in our nation’s history? Then Oahu, home to Honolulu, Waikiki and Pearl Harbor is just the place. Honolulu and Waikiki satisfy the fast pace city families are accustomed to, while the island’s role in World War II is a wonderful learning experience for older children. Often called “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is a spot any family would be fortunate to spend their time.
- Where to stay: Who knew it was possible to mix a Hawaiian vacation with a Disney-themed trip (minus a cruise)? With the debut of Disney’s Aulani Resort in 2011, now you can kill two birds (err mice?) with one stone while lounging seaside.
The Big Island is, as one might imagine, the biggest island in Hawaii. But many people don’t realize that its size is so comparatively immense that it’s larger than all of the other islands combined. One of the many highlights of this destination is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.
- Where to Stay: Widely considered among the most family-friendly resorts is the 62-acreHilton Waikoloa Village with its expansive pools and private ocean-fed snorkeling lagoon.
Kauai, one of the most beautiful islands anywhere, is often called the Garden Isle due to its lush landscape. This island is graced with awe-inspiring views that can be seen by helicopter or on various hikes. Waimea Canyon, dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” offers trails for novices and seasoned hikers alike.
- Where to Stay: The most kid-friendly property is the gorgeous Grand Hyatt in the town of Poipu—it woos guests the moment they step into the open-air lobby. A pool complex with a slide and salt-water lagoon is the perfect place to cool off. The luxurious yet kid-friendly St. Regis Princeville on the famed North Shore will make kids feel like royalty. The Kauai Marriott is an upscale oceanside retreat that won’t break the bank.
Sure, every Hawaiian Island has amazing beaches, but Maui has 30 miles of them—each rivaling the last in terms of waves, surf and beauty. What’s more is that every day is a perfect beach day—you might just have to drive a bit. If it’s rainy in your spot, head south to tony Waimea and you’re practically guaranteed sun. Most tourists prefer South Maui, which is where Waimea is, or West Maui, with the enchanting Kaanapali Beach and its resorts connected by a delightful beachfront path.
- Where to Stay: In Wailea, the newly renovated Fairmont Kea Lani (meaning white heaven) is comprised of one-bedroom suites, giving parents privacy while kids dig the cool water slide. In Kaanapali, the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas combine full condos with resort amenities, and the Hyatt Regency with its opulent grounds, tropical birds and Tour of the Stars program (stargazing with telescopes) are the perfect choice. The newly opened Montage Kapalua Bay is a boutique property featuring luxury condos in upper Western Maui offering a peaceful setting yet only a short drive to the lively town of Lahaina.
Molokai and Lanai are certainly worth visiting, but with their limited (and expensive) accommodations, they are best saved as a day trip. Luckily, a short ferry trip from Maui to both islands make spending the day at either island easy and enjoyable.