surfers in Hawaii

surfers in Hawaii

50+ Family-Friendly Things to Do in Hawaii


No matter which island you choose - there are loads of family-friendly things to do in Hawaii.

Check out our list of 50+ family-friendly things to do on each island. 

Click the links below to jump to the island of your choice!


When you think of Maui, honeymoons and romance might come to mind.

But did you know Maui is actually a great vacation spot for the whole family?

It has picturesque beaches, fun road trips, and stretches of vast forest to explore.

Here’s our list of five family-friendly activities in Maui!

1. Spend the Day at a Family-Friendly Beach

beach in hawaii on a clear sky

Hawaii is known for its big swells, and while these are great for surfing, they’re not ideal for families.

Maui has some family-friendly beaches with soft white sand and barriers from harsh waves.

Two popular spots are Kapalua Bay and Baby Beach (aka Pu’unoa Beach).

Kapalua Bay is a scenic beach that gradually slopes into the ocean.

Baby Beach is nice for — you guessed it — young kids. Its shallow waters are filled with marine life making it an ideal snorkel spot too! 

2. Tour the Maui Ocean Center

family spending time in aquarium parkMaui Ocean Center; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Daeja Fallas

Maui Ocean Center is the largest tropical aquarium in America. Walk around:

  • the outdoor sea turtle sanctuary
  •  the Hammerhead shark pool, and
  • spot the Hawaiian Tako otherwise known as the octopus

The indoor shark tank contains Hammerhead sharks, Tiger sharks, White Tips, Grey Tips, and deep-sea fish.

Not only is it an interesting and fun family activity in Maui to see what’s really under the water, but it is also a great learning experience, especially for kids!

The entrance fee is between $18 and $45 per person.

3. Hike to the Iao Valley State Monument

hikers watching Iao ValleyIao State Valley Park; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Blake Bronstad

Iao Valley State Monument is a short and easy hike, allowing easy access for all ages, including younger kids!

The hike takes you to a viewpoint to see the peak, otherwise known as Kuka’emoku. It also has a bit of historical significance.

Known as the phallic stone of Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the ocean, it was once a sacred place that only royalty could enter and use as a burial site.

4. Drive the Road to Hana with Shaka Guide

hana sign

Still looking for other fun family activities in Maui? Drive from Kahului to Hana through 68 miles of sleepy towns, beaches, and forests.

You can pick and choose stops along the way depending on what you want your day to look like.

We have three options available including the classic route, the “loop” road, and the “reverse” road.

One stop along the way is the Pipiwai Trail and for a $30 entrance fee, you can walk through a bamboo forest, see cascading waterfalls, and catch gorgeous views of the ocean including the seven sacred pools of water!

5. Watch the Sunrise at the Haleakala National Park

sea of clouds in haleakalaSunrise atop Haleakala

Haleakala is Maui’s tallest point. The best time to go is at sunrise or sunset because the views overlooking the crater at 10,000 ft are breathtaking.

Keep in mind that a reservation is needed if you’re going between 3 AM-7 AM to watch the sunrise!

It’s only $1.00, but make sure you make the reservation in advance.

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Haleakala National Park.

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There is also a park entry fee — you have to pay this on top of the reservation fee. It costs $30 per car, $25 per motorcycle, or $15 per pedestrian/bicycle.

Each of these activities will give you a true sense of Maui’s beautiful scenery and unique history. 

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land, and wildlife. Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

6. Check out Ho’okipa Lookout

sea overlook in Hookipa lookoutdronepicr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ho’okipa lookout is a viewing area overlooking Ho’okipa Beach - a great place to sit and watch the skilled windsurfers and board surfers show off their skills.

While the beach may not be especially kid-friendly, everyone can enjoy seeing experienced surfers in action!

7. Walk the Waikamoi Ridge Trail

river in the forest in wakamoi trail ridgeForest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

The Waikamoi Ridge Trail is a short and simple nature walk, found past mile marker 9 on the Road to Hana.

Along the trail through the tree canopy, there are both manmade stairs and natural roots to help you along your way.

8. Taste some of Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread

Support a local business and get some of the best freshly baked banana bread on the island!

This well-known restaurant was even featured on Gordon Ramsay’s show Uncharted.

The banana bread is absolutely scrumptious and makes for a wonderful place to stop for snacks along the Road to Hana!

9. Explore the Hana Lava Tube

inside of cave in hana lava tubedronepicr, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Explore a nearly millennium-old lava tube that’s easily accessible from the Hana Highway!

All along the route, there are signs and handrails guiding you through this historic formation.

Within, there’s even a fallout shelter - still stocked with food! The fee to enter is $11.95 per person (kids under 5 are free).

The whole walk takes around 40 minutes, and flashlights are provided!

10. Hike to Twin Falls

twin falls with people swimmingPhoto by Rina Miele on Unsplash

Although it may be overcrowded, this is definitely worth a stop if there’s a parking spot.

The hike is 1.8 miles long and an easy trail even for beginners.

There are two different waterfalls along the way, so don’t forget your swimwear if you do decide to stop. 

11. Picnic on Koki Beach

beach Photo by Adam Seckel on Unsplash

Although not so safe for swimming (the nearby Hamoa beach is good for that), this beach is a great spot for a picnic, or even just for playing in the sand.

There’s a grassy area that’s an awesome place to sit and eat.

It’s also a great spot to watch some local surfers strut their stuff! It may not be the best swimming beach, but it’s perfect for surfing.

12. Wander the Garden of Eden Arboretum

old trees in garden of eden in hawaiiJanine Sprout, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This sprawling 30-acre garden has a spider web of trails crisscrossing through it.

The arboretum is aptly described as a ‘paradise’ - with everything covered in lush and varied greenery and comes with a stunning view of the ocean.

This garden is definitely worth spending a couple of hours at.

13. Visit the famous Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

Waianapanpa Black Sand BeachImage by dronepicr, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This black sand beach, nestled in a cove and pounded by the surf, is unparalleled in terms of its beauty.

The dark sand immediately next to the glistening ocean is stunning, and the greenery of the surrounding trees makes it an unforgettable sight.

14. Take a Tour of Surfing Goat Dairy

goat being feededPhoto by Max S. on Unsplash

At this unique dairy farm, learn about how life on a goat farm works!

There are normally two tours of the property - one casual tour, and one longer, more in-depth tour. Due to COVID, the longer tour is no longer available.

However, the casual tour is still available to visitors wanting to know more about dairy. Youʻll even meet some goats!

15. Eat at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop

Leoda’s serves sandwiches, hotdogs/burgers, salads, and all sorts of pies - both sweet and savory!

Although the lines can be long (because of the good food!), it moves quickly, and it’s never too long of a wait.

If you’re craving some pies, this is the place to go.

Each of these activities will give you a true sense of Maui’s beautiful scenery and unique history. 

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land, and wildlife. Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid unsafe spots. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

RELATED: 5 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Maui, Best Places To Catch A Sunset in Maui

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Big Island

A trip to Hawaii isn't just for adults! There are loads of activities on the Big Island that the whole family will enjoy.

The best part is that some of these activities are even free! Your kids will love being active and outdoors.

Check out our list of five family activities on the Big Island.

1. Spend the Day on the Beach

white sand beachMahaiula Bay Beach, Kailua Kona | Photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

This might seem like a given in Hawaii, but it's still worth a mention. Plus, some beaches are better suited for families than others.

One of the best options for families is Mauna Kea Beach. Relax on the white sand or rent snorkel gear and count the different types of fish you can spot.

The water is warm and peaceful, and you may even see some turtles! You can pair this stop with a trip up the mountain - the highest point in Hawaii. 

2. Picnic at ‘Akaka Falls


Located in the center of ‘Akaka Falls State Park is a 422-foot waterfall.

The paved walk to the falls is only a half-mile round trip, making it great for families. It costs $10 to park and $5 per person.

Before you go, head to one of the Big Island’s farmers markets to get picnic supplies and enjoy a fresh, local meal with a view of the falls.

We visit Akaka Falls on our North Island Jungle Tour and it’s always a crowd favorite.

3. Hike and Stargaze at Mauna Kea

ngiht sky in mauna keaMauna Kea Observatory, Waimea, United States | Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest mountain! Mount Everest holds the greatest altitude, but Mauna Kea is measured from the base underwater to the summit.

Stop at the Onizuka Center, also known as the Visitor Information Center, at 9,200 ft to stargaze and take in views of the Big Island.

It's recommended that pregnant women and children 13 and under stop at the Visitor Information Center and do not proceed to higher altitudes at the summit.

Check out our North Island Adventure Loop that guides you to the dormant volcano's visitor center.

4. Shaka Guide Driving Tours

phone mockup on the beach

Shaka Guide's Big Island tour bundle costs just $29.99 and has FIVE different tours.

These road trips visit each corner of the island. Make stops at famous sites like:

  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Waikoloa
  • Waimea Town
  • Hilo, and
  • the Kohala coast

All the tours give you the freedom to explore on your own terms. 

5. Snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach

beachKahalu'u Bay | Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

As you snorkel in Hawaiian waters, you might spot:

  • sea turtles
  • monk seals
  • spinner dolphins, or
  • even the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a - Hawaii's state fish

While many Big Island beaches are great for snorkeling, they're not all great for snorkeling with families.

Kahalu'u Beach near Kona is protected by a cove making the waters calm and suitable for snorkelers of all skill levels. 

If you're taking our South Island Epic Coastal Journey or Kona "Big Kahuna" Tour, make a stop at this beach to see a variety of tropical fish.

Just remember to keep a safe and respectful distance from any marine animals you come in contact with! 

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6. Peruse the Hilo Farmers Market

Want a taste of Hilo’s local flavors? Drop by the Hilo Farmers Market, which is open from 7 am to 3 pm every day of the week - with big market days on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The market doesn’t only offer farm goods you can also buy:

  • flowers
  • handmade items
  • art pieces
  • coffee
  • clothing, and more - all from different local vendors

Wander through the isles of uniquely Hawaiian products and discover your new favorites!

RELATED: Best Big Island Farmers Markets

7. Hike in Thurston Lava Tube

thurston lava tube entranceJanice Wei, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nhuku, also known as the Thurston Lava Tube, is a beautiful lava tube located in Volcanoes National Park.

Hike through the leftovers of a lava flow over a century old. Check out an easily accessible lava cave, with ceilings up to 20 ft high!

There is a large portion of the 600-foot-long tube that is lighted, so it’s easy to walk in and explore.

Visit this spot on our Volcanoes National Park Tour!

RELATED: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 13 Things To Do, Best Food Around Volcanoes National Park

8. Try Artisanal Donkey Balls

Hear us out - Donkey Balls aren’t what they sound like. A local staple in Kona, these artisanal chocolates are macadamia nuts coated in a thick shell of high-quality chocolate.

Needless to say, these are a must-eat! The Donkey Ball Store is a stop on our Kona Big Kahuna Tour.

9. Go on a Night-time Manta Dive

manta raydronepicr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Big Island’s Kona coast is prime real estate for diving and snorkeling.

Swim among the ‘gentle giants of the sea,’ and discover what’s under the surface of Kona’s beaches.

In fact, some of these tour companies not only take you out diving, but they also teach you about what you’re seeing!

On tours, learn more about ocean life, appreciate the world around you, and most importantly… have fun!

RELATED: 5 Manta Ray Dives in Kona, The Best Snorkel Spots on the Big Island

10. Learn all about Bees

violet flowerPhoto by Simon Berger on Unsplash

At Big Island Bees - located south of Kailua-Kona - you can learn all about bees, honey, and beekeeping.

If you take the hour-long tour of their beehives, you can try some samples of their pure honey products.

Aside from the tour, there’s a free beekeeping museum in which you can see a demonstration hive, and several exhibits, and talk to a real beekeeper!

Check it out on our Kona Big Kahuna tour.

11. Visit the Southernmost Bakery in the US

In the quiet, rural town of Naalehu, sits the Punalu’u Bake Shop - with their famous sweet bread, malasadas, and much more!

In fact, Naalehu directly translates to “volcanic ashes” in Hawaiian. Explore the charming southernmost town in Hawaii, while munching on some tasty local baked goods.

Visit Punalu’u Bakery on our South Island Epic Coastal Journey Tour!

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12. Taste Some Mochi in Hilo Town

Hilo is already a fun place - but everything is better with mochi! Two Ladies Kitchen, located in Hilo, sells about 20 different flavors of manju & mochi.

Mochi, chewy Japanese rice cakes, have a very unique texture. Manju is similar to mochi - but flour-based, and just as tasty.

All in all, these are definitely worth a try! Make your trip to Hilo a little more flavorful.

Our North Island Jungle Adventure Loop Tour takes you to Hilo!

13. Learn About Pele, the Goddess of Fire

Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire & volcanoes, and is credited with creating the Hawaiian Islands - she embodies both creation and destruction.

In her human form, she’s described as beautiful. According to legend, Pele resides in Halema'uma'u - a pit crater within Kilauea’s Caldera.

On our Volcanoes National Park Tour, we dive deep into some of Pele’s famous exploits!

RELATED: Hawaii's Best Podcast: The Legends of Pele

14. Check out a Black Sand Beach

black sand beach with sea turtleBrocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Punalu’u Beach is located on the Kau coast of the Big Island.

Rimmed by palm trees and housing sea turtles, this is one of the most famous black sand beaches in all of Hawaii.

The aforementioned turtles are Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, known as ‘Honu’ in Hawaiian.

Although they may be beautiful, they are protected by federal and state laws - so admire from a distance! 

RELATED: Best Beaches on the Kona Coast of Big Island

15. Learn about King Kamehameha

king kamehameha statueAnthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pu'ukohola Heiau, built in 1791, is the last major Hawaiian heiau ever constructed.

King Kamehameha, arguably the greatest warrior in Hawaiian history, led the construction of this great temple.

He was told by a Kahuna (priest) that if he built this temple, he would be successful in uniting Hawaii.

Apparently, it worked - Kamehameha went on to become the first king of the unified Hawaiian Islands.

Learn all about this site and hear Kamehameha’s story on our Kohala Coast Backcountry Tour!

16. Jump off of Coconut Island

view in coconut islandFamartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as Moku Ola - “Island of Life” in Hawaiian - Coconut Island is a charming little island off of the Big Island’s coast, accessed by a small bridge.

Long ago, it was believed that swimming around the island three times would cure any ailment.

Today, it’s an inviting beach park with white-sand beaches, picnic tables, and restrooms.

Visit for a fun day at the beach, a peaceful picnic, or just for the views of Hilo. Stop by on our North Island Jungle Adventure Loop Tour!

RELATED: Coconut Island - the Beautiful Area That Once Protected Criminals

17. Visit the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo

panaewa rainforest signboardRobert Linsdell from St. Andrews, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re in the Hilo area, this is a fun and educational afternoon activity.

Although this charming little zoo is free, donations are encouraged!

The zoo is filled with rescue animals - tigers, parrots, turtles - even nene geese - among dozens of other species.

This is actually the only tropical zoo in the entire United States, so it’s definitely worth stopping by! 

RELATED: The Best Snorkel Spots on the Big Island and Protect Local Animals - Ways You Can Help

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Oahu is the most visited island in Hawaii - attracting over 4.7 million visitors annually, and for good reason.

It’s a beautiful island with lots to offer, but the price of activities can add up quickly.

We’ve created a guide for the best affordable family activities in Oahu for you to focus on spending time with the family instead of your wallet!

1. Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore

sea at sunsetSurfing in Hawaii | Photo by HTA (Hawaii Tourism Authority)

To have a completely different and unique surfing experience, head to the North Shore for Hans Hedemann Surf School.

This is a great place for beginners to learn the basics such as how to stand up on the board.

A fun experience is their dog surfing program, where not only does the family learn to surf, but the dog, too!

Please note, that not all beaches on the north shore are safe for beginners - in fact, most aren't. That's why we recommend Hans Hedermann Surf School

RELATED: Best Oahu Beaches for Beginner Surfers

2. Visit Waikiki Beach

surfers at waikiki beach

Waikiki Beach is a gorgeous beach with bright blue water and golden sand.

It’s another great beach for family activities in Oahu because the water is calm and shallow and the swimming area is protected by the reef.

Come here to relax, swimming, surf, paddle board, or even try out some water sports such as parasailing!

Every Friday, they set off fireworks for you to enjoy as well!

3. Shaka Guide Tours

tourist riding on a car with shaka guide

To sightsee the entire island of Oahu and experience the unique culture and island views, get your feet with, Shaka Guide's Grand Circle Island Driving Tour.

The tour will take you from the mountains to the coast, and you’ll get a fantastic local experience stopping at some of the best food stops along the way.

Our East Oahu Shoreline Driving Tour will focus on the south-eastern tip of the island which is rich in history and legends with some cool landmarks such as the blowhole and small hikes!

Shaka Guide has a total of six tours on the island. Check them out here

4. Hike Diamond Head

mountain with craterEast View of Diamond Head | Photo by Eric Tessmer, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Diamond Head is Oahu's most famous volcano, and it's right next to Waikiki. But don't worry, it hasn't erupted in 200,000 years!

There's an easy hike to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Honolulu that overlook the ocean - truly another awesome idea for doing family activities in Oahu.

The 30-minute hike is perfect for a little family adventure.

5. Visit Kualoa Ranch

view of mountain range from kualoa ranchBen Ono / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Kualoa Ranch is located on the East Oahu with a backdrop of the Ko‘olau mountains.

Several movies such as Jurassic World and Kong: Skull Island were filmed at this ranch because of the beautiful scenery you’ll find here, which makes Kualoa Ranch another great stop for family activities in Oahu.

You can go ATV riding, horseback riding, or tour the ranch on foot. You can even support the local community and try their fresh grass-fed beef!

RELATED: Kualoa Ranch Travel Guide

6. Check out Leonard’s Bakery

Leonard’s Bakery is one of the most iconic eateries on Oahu.

Its malasadas have been feeding Oahu residents since 1952. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts, which are well-loved on the islands!

Their menu is full of different types of tasty pastries including:

  • pies
  • cupcakes
  • muffins, and much more

Visit to try some of Oahu’s favorite local goodies!

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7. Visit Tropical Nut Farms

Located just down the road from Kualoa Ranch, Tropical Nut Farms offers an array of locally grown and produced items such as:

  • coffee
  • chocolates, and
  • macadamia nuts

Peruse their charming store to pick up things you can only get in Hawaii!

8. Picnic at Laie Beach Park

people swimming at laie beach park in oahuJakob Owens jakobowens1, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as Pounder’s Beach, Laie Beach Park is a great place to sit and have a picnic and a swim.

The normal surf might be too rough for little ones;  - however, on the far left side is a protected area where the waters are calm.

This picturesque beach has picnic tables, ample shade, and waves all year round! An excellent place to spend the day.

This beach is a stop on our Grand Circle Island Tour!

9. Wander the Laie Temple Grounds

garden at poolDaniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

The Laie Temple is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is surrounded by beautiful gardens, pathways, and fountains.

Although tourists are not allowed inside, the surrounding gardens are open to the public - and there’s even a visitor’s center! We stop here on our Grand Circle Island Tour.

10. Try some Matsumoto Shave Ice

matsumoto shave ice in oahuAnthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shave ice is a must-have for any Hawaiian vacation. Matsumoto Shave Ice has been serving Oahu for over 70 years, so it’s a good bet!

They carry dozens of flavors and lots of extra treats to liven up your shave ice. Shave ice is a fun treat to compliment a day around town!

11. Explore the Dole Plantation

pineapple in oahuNandaro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dole Plantation is one of the most unique places to visit on Oahu.

Explore the massive maze, take a ride on the train, and wander the gardens!

At the plantation, there’s tons to do with the family. It’s definitely worth spending a day at. This is a stop on our Grand Circle Island Tour!

12. Roam the Polynesian Cultural Center

dancers in polynesian cultural centerJayH, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Polynesian Cultural Center is quite the experience. There are three main things to check out.

One of the coolest things is to explore the Island Villages, - where you can walk through different Polynesian villages and learn from natives about their cultures.

Another memorable experience to check out is the royal Ali’i Luau that they offer.

This includes an array of islander food and authentic entertainment. It’s one of the higher-rated luaus on Oahu.

The last main attraction is the Ha: Breath of Life evening show, which includes over 100 Polynesian dancers!

The Cultural Center is absolutely worth spending a day and is a stop on our Grand Circle Island Tour.

RELATED: Oahu Luau Guide - Which Luau on Oahu is Best, 10 Things to Do on Oahu With Kids

13. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay

blue sea with white sand beach in oahuDave Gingrich, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re an inexperienced snorkeler, Hanauma Bay is the place to be.

The water is calm, and fish can be seen by merely wading in. There is a dense coral reef a short distance from the shore.

Aside from the snorkeling possibilities, this bay is one of the most popular on Oahu!

Because of this, the government is making an effort to preserve its flourishing yet fragile ecosystem.

Before being able to enter the bay, there is a mandatory 9-minute safety video for all visitors.

There is also a fee to enter the park, and reservations are required.

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14. Chow Down on Dave’s Ice Cream

Serving award-winning, from-scratch ice cream, Dave’s Ice Cream is known across the islands for its quality.

Their local flavors are unique and tasty - flavors like Ube, Poha Berry, and Haupia.

Dave’s Ice Cream has several locations around Oahu, so you’re never far from good ice cream!

This is a great place to have a post-beach snack.

15. Hike in Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

road to botanical gardenDaniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aptly referred to as “a peaceful refuge,” this majestic 400-acre garden has much to explore.

Hiking trails snake through the lush landscape - and visitors will find that the variety of plants is marked with descriptive plaques.

Perfect for a peaceful walk surrounded by nature.

RELATED: Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden Travel Guide, 4 Relaxing Botanical Gardens on Oahu

16. Taste Shimazu Shave Ice

Craving some shaved ice? Shimazu is a great place to stop by! The portions are massive, the flavors are varied and tasty, and the prices are low.

It’s highly rated, and there are two locations on Oahu. Their Castle St. location is just around the corner from Waikiki! Definitely worth a stop.

17. Stand Atop Tantalus Lookout

lookout from tantalus in oahuLASHLEY, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tantalus Lookout is famous for its legendary panoramic views.

Take in the entirety of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and more, all from one spot!

Also located at the top of Mount Tantalus is a large grassy area, perfect for picnicking with a stunning view.

A sunrise or a sunset from this vantage point is unforgettable!

18. Hike Through the Tantalus Arboretum

road in tantalus arboretum in oahuLASHLEY, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A short quarter-mile loop, this trail leads the hiker through a lush forest teeming with life.

This brief hike is easy - perfect for a family walk through nature.

The flora surrounding the trail is diverse, and the atmosphere is serene.

19. Hike to Manoa Falls

waterfalls in oahuEdmund Garman from Salem, Oregon, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just like the previous entry, this is a perfect nature walk for the whole family.

The trail is only 1.6 miles long, with an easy uphill grade. Even better, it’s only a 15-minute drive from Honolulu!

This jaunt through Manoa Valley will transport you to a different place entirely.

RELATED: Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide and 10 Things to do on Oahu with Kids

oahu bundle


Planning a family trip to Hawaii? Don't forget about Kauai! This island sees fewer tourists than other islands in Hawaii but still has all the appeal.

Known as the Garden Isle for its lush rainforests and mountain ranges, Kauai has dozens of hikes to choose from.

If you're not interested in hiking, the island is home to 43 miles of beaches.

You and your kids will love the waterfalls, snorkeling, and cultural spots.

Here are some of our top picks for family activities in Kauai!

1. Snorkel Along the Na Pali Coast

swimmers in na pali coast in oahuHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is a wonder to behold.

Rugged coastal cliffs make this famous stretch of shore inaccessible by car, but it's well worth the trek to get out there.

You’ll either have to take a two-mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach or go on a boat tour (but this can be pricey).

The waters off the Na Pali Coast have an abundance of sea life.

In addition to schools of fish, you might see dolphins and sea turtles -- known in Hawaiian as honu. 

RELATED: Kauai Snorkel Guide

2. Discover Kauai’s Beaches

white sand beach in kauaiHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) /  Kirk Aeder

Hawaii's beaches are popular for many things -- snorkeling, surfing, and of course swimming.

If you're looking to enjoy a beach day with the kiddos, Poipu Beach in the South and Lydgate Beach on the East Shore have calm water that's ideal for swimming.

Both beaches have a play area for kids and at Poipu, there is a lifeguard on duty every day.

Lydgate Beach has two enclosed ponds that create a barrier from waves, but still allow fish to come in making it a great spot for snorkeling too. 

3. Take a Shaka Guide Tour


If you want to really get to know this lesser-known island -- about 97% of its land is undeveloped mountain ranges and rainforests -- let Shaka Guide be your travel companion.

We have four driving tours on Kauai that cover each corner of the island.

We’ll take you to Kauai's north shore beaches, the best hiking trails, and hidden waterfalls, all while learning history and fun facts along the way!

You'll have the freedom to explore at your own pace, and the best part is that you can get all four tours for just $29.99 if you get the bundle!

RELATED: Poipu Beaches for Morning, Noon and Night

4. Explore Waimea Canyon

waimea canyon

Waimea Canyon aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is another great stop during your Kauai family vacation.

There are many epic landscapes on the islands, but this one is truly unique.

The Canyon is ten miles long, one mile wide, and 3,500 feet deep!

Pack a lunch and explore the trails that range from beginner to advanced.

5. Take a Train Ride Through Kilohana Plantation

wooden houseHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman / @hbgoodie

Learn about Hawaii's history at the Kilohana Plantation. Take the plantation's train ride!

Along the way, you’ll visit a farmyard where you can feed goats, sheep, pigs, and horses.

Kilohana Plantation is open every day with trains departing each hour between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

It lasts 40 minutes and costs $21.50 for adults, $18.50 for seniors, $16 for children, and free for children under three. 

Whether it’s the train ride with a pit stop to feed animals, exploring Kauai's outback filled with rainforests and waterfalls, relaxing or snorkeling on the beach, or even admiring vast canyon views, Kauai has a bunch of family activities that everyone will love!  

6. Learn about the Kilauea Lighthouse

overview from the sea and lightouse in kauai hawaiiPhoto by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Once rusting and dilapidated, this impressive structure has now been completely restored to its original condition - aside from the light fixture, which requires mercury to function.

The surrounding area is a wildlife preserve, and it protects many of Hawaii’s most unique species. Come for the history, and stay for the stunning views of the ocean!

RELATED: Kilauea Lighthouse: A Historic Wildlife Refuge

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7. Limahuli Gardens

limahuli gardens signboardForest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

Limahuli Gardens is a real treasure to visit. It houses traditional taro terraces and educates visitors on Hawaiian native plants.

The landscape is unique and fascinating and is absolutely worth a stop.

There are reservations required - it costs $30 for people 13 and older  ($10 for residents), and is free for children 12 and under. 

8. Swim at Anini Beach

white sand beach in kauai hawaiiRR4610, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Due to a long protective reef, the waters at this picturesque beach are relatively calm.

Good for young kids, this beach is also less crowded compared to Poipu or Hanalei.

There is no lifeguard, but there are readily available restrooms. There are also trees for shade, picnic tables, and even a camping area!

9. Spend an afternoon at Lydgate Beach

white sand beach in kauai hawaiiFamartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Just like the previous entry, this stop is perfect for young kids or beginner snorkelers.

The two rock-enclosed ponds protect swimmers from ocean waves, while still allowing a myriad of tropical fish inside.

There is also a lifeguard, restrooms, and picnic tables! This is an ideal location for a family afternoon at the beach.

10. Discover the Makauwahi Caves

open caveAnthony Crider, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Makauwahi Cave is an archaeologist’s dream - and also a fun activity for kids!

This 17-acre site, located within a sinkhole, is centered around a massive limestone cavern.

It’s open from 10 am to 3:45 pm, and there are volunteer tour guides available to give visitors free tours of the area!

11. Check out the Hee Fat General Store

This charming general store in Kapa’a sells some wicked good shave ice - and also a bunch of fun gift items and souvenirs!

It’s a great place to stop by if you’re in the area. Some of their shaved ice syrups are even handmade from real fruits!

Come for the souvenirs, and stay for the shaved ice.

12. Get a Peek at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout

valley lookoutFamartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Canyon of the Pacific is a truly stunning sight - and this lookout is the perfect place to view it from.

While not as large as the canyon in Arizona, it is not lacking in majesty. Stop by this lookout to see some unforgettable views and check it off your bucket list.

RELATED: 10 Things to Do on Oahu With Kids

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Hawaii Tour Bundles!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

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