Stunning warm water beaches, lush tropical scenery, a multitude of recreational options, and vibrant cultural events and attractions make Hawaii one of the best vacation destinations in the world.
With so much to experience and discover, planning the perfect Hawaii family vacation can be a bit of a challenge. However, all you need is to take some time to research, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying an unforgettable vacation with the family!
We’ll help you plan your Hawaii family vacation by offering expert insights on the best times to visit, which islands are well-suited for your plans, and the diverse array of family-friendly attractions and activities you can enjoy.
CHOOSING THE BEST TIME TO VISIT HAWAII
Hawaii gets pleasant, year-round sunny weather, so any time is a fantastic time to visit! However, you might have certain preferences which may dictate the timing of your visit.
If you want to get the best deal
If your top priority is to get an excellent deal, the shoulder seasons – spring and fall – are the best times to head to Hawaii. Just remember to avoid scheduling your vacation during school spring and fall breaks. The time between fall (when kids go back to school) and the holiday breaks is another great time to book your trip if you’re after the lowest airfares.
If you want great weather
Hawaii experiences comfortable warm weather year-round, with slightly higher temperatures in the summer (May to October) than in the winter (November to April). According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the average temperature in the archipelago during the winter ranges from 78°F to 85°F in the summer. After sunset, those temperatures can drop by around ten degrees. However, keep in mind that it gets colder in higher elevations no matter what time of year, so remember to pack a sweater or light jacket just in case.
If you want to enjoy outdoor activities in Hawaii, April through October is an ideal time to visit when there’s the least amount of rainfall. While November through March are typically the wettest months, that won’t be enough to stop you from enjoying a relaxing Hawaii vacation. The weather in Hawaii is very localized – even if it’s raining in your location, finding a sunny spot elsewhere around the coast won’t be a problem.
If you want to go whale watching
If you want to catch a glimpse of breaching whales from the coast, December through April is the best time to visit Hawaii. Although whales can be spotted off the coast as early as October, December to April is when the humpback whale population in Hawaii is at its largest, reaching between 10,000 to 15,000.
Some of the best whale-watching locations include the western coastline of Maui, the Kohala Coast on the Big Island, and the north and west coasts of Kauai.
GETTING AROUND HAWAII
It’s easy and simple to get around Hawaii. The transit options vary from island to island, and there are several carriers that offer short-distance flights between islands. One of the most convenient ways to explore is by joining a bus tour, although you can get around by taxi, shuttle, ride-sharing apps, and public transportation on most islands if you prefer exploring on your own.
Rental vehicles are also available in Hawaii but are often in high demand. Be sure to get a reservation prior to your trip to avoid inconvenience. You can use any valid foreign driver’s license in Hawaii for up to one year from the date of entry on your passport.
Visit Hawaii’s official tourism website for more information on transportation options.
WHICH ISLAND SHOULD YOU VISIT?
If you’re deciding which island to visit for your Hawaii family vacation, the good news is, you can’t go wrong – all of the islands are beautiful and have something unique to offer.
Among the most common misconceptions about Hawaii is that it’s a single place that encompasses all of the popular destinations. It’s actually an archipelago comprised of eight major volcanic islands and numerous smaller islets. The four main islands popular for tourists are Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.
While there are custom travel packages that can take you to multiple islands over several days, you can experience an unforgettable Hawaii family vacation just the same if you choose to stay on one island.
Here’s a quick overview of Hawaii’s most popular islands and the amenities, activities, and attractions they offer.
Covering more than 4,000 square miles, the Big Island is the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It has something for everyone, making it the perfect island to visit if you want to enjoy a little bit of everything on your Hawaii family vacation. Big Island is home to the only active volcano in Hawaii and features a highly diverse landscape characterized by lush rainforests, molten lava rivers, black sand beaches, and snow-capped mountains.
All of the beaches are situated along the island’s western coast, extending out from Kona, the island’s main hub of activity featuring historic beaches and a vibrant array of shops, restaurants, and nightlife venues. On the eastern side, you’ll find Hilo, which is great if you’re looking for a more laidback setting.
Between Kona and Hilo is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a sprawling park 13,000 feet above sea level, home to one of the world’s largest active subaerial volcanoes, Kilauea. This destination alone is why Big Island is worth visiting. You can enjoy day hikes and road tours offering spectacular views of the craters, lava tubes and lakes, and the volcanic terrain.
If you prefer spending time at the beach, you’ll want to focus your itinerary on the west side, near Kona. Despite its rocky terrain, you’ll find many beaches with fine powdery sands lining the shores.
Volcano sightseeing tours on Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island is known for its volcanoes. The island consists of five volcanoes, four of which are still active. By going on a volcano sightseeing tour, you’ll be able to discover how geologic events formed the Big Island of Hawaii while enjoying breathtaking views of craters, lava tubes, and past eruptions. Volcano tours are available by helicopter, guided hike, or tour vehicle.
Hiking the Halema’uma’u Crater Trail is one of the most incredible experiences for volcano tourists. The trail takes you to the crater rim of Kilauea, the Big Island’s most famous volcano and one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Your journey begins through a picturesque forest populated by Ohia trees and beautiful ferns, which will eventually lead to the edge of the Kilauea caldera and onto the crater floor. You can access the Halema’uma’u Crater Trail by going to the Kilauea Visitor Center.
If you’re after a more relaxing experience, there are options like Kalani Tours’ Deluxe Big Island Day Tour, which takes visitors on an easy hike along the ancient lava fields in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After the hike, you’ll get to enjoy a three-course dinner featuring delectable Hawaiian-infused cuisine at the Kilauea Lodge.
Kauai is the perfect island to visit if you’re after a laidback Hawaii family vacation. The island is home to many secluded beaches sans the resorts, nightlife venues, and bars attracting large crowds on other islands.
Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai offers a more idyllic setting, giving you and your family better opportunities to unwind and reconnect with nature. Among its most popular destinations is the Napali Coast, a 17-mile stretch flanked by emerald-hued cliffs and jagged peaks soaring above the Pacific Ocean, concealing picture-perfect beaches and majestic waterfalls on the valley floor below. Seeing the coastline on a helicopter tour is an experience you won’t forget!
If you want to go on a fun-filled outdoor adventure Kauai’s Kalalau Trail is the perfect destination. The trail stretches for 11 miles along the Napali Coast from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach, treating hikers to a challenging yet rewarding journey through rugged shores, lush waterfall-lined valleys, and towering sea-carved cliffs. Along the trail are several designated camping areas if you want to plan a multi-day adventure on the trail.
If you’re looking for upscale amenities, legendary golfing, and unique experiences, Maui is a fantastic choice. Known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the second-largest of the islands and was formed by two shield volcanoes overlapping each other, creating the valley between them (hence its nickname)
Maui is home to a great selection of luxury resorts and hotels, which you can find in prime areas like Wailea, West Maui, and Kapalua. For the best golfing experience in Hawaii, the Kapalua Resort is touted as one of the finest golf resorts in the world with its two award-winning championship golf courses, first-rate amenities, and breathtaking tropical rainforest setting.
Kihei is a great place to stay for a fun-filled Hawaii family vacation on the beach. The laidback coastal town features six miles of sunny beaches offering panoramic views of West Maui and the islands of Kaho’olawe and Molokini. Kihei’s beaches offer a plethora of recreational activities including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and whale watching.
Cruising the famous Road to Hana is a must for any vacation in Maui! The 64-mile stretch connects the town of Kahului to Hana in east Maui. You’ll traverse 59 bridges and pass through a picturesque landscape filled with bamboo forests, waterfalls, and black sand beaches – a spectacular experience that’s a guaranteed highlight of any Hawaii family vacation. You can navigate the world-famous Road to Hana either by joining a guided van tour or renting a vehicle so you can travel at your own pace and spend the night at one of the resorts along the way.
Oahu is Hawaii’s third-largest island and is nicknamed “The Gathering Place” due to having the largest population (over 905,000). It’s home to the state capital Honolulu, where you’ll find the Waikiki neighborhood, a bustling district with a vibrant assortment of retailers, restaurants, nightlife venues, and landmarks. With its easy access to pristine beaches and urban amenities, Oahu offers the best of both worlds.
One of Oahu’s top tourist draws is the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, where you can learn more about one of the most pivotal moments in history. The museums and grounds are free to visit, but you’ll need a ticket if you want to set foot on the USS Arizona Memorial, which marks the resting place of the 1,102 sailors and marines who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
RELAX AT HAWAII’S LEGENDARY BEACHES
The beaches of Hawaii are some of the best in the world, with its sun-kissed golden coasts, sparkling turquoise waters, and lush tropical scenery. Here’s a quick look at some of the most breathtaking beaches in Hawaii:
Lanikai Beach –One of the most picturesque beaches in Oahu, Lanikai Beach is a tropical paradise with fine powder-white sands, sparkling turquoise waters, lush palm trees, and panoramic views of the gorgeous Mokulua Islands. It’s one of the few Oahu beaches without shore-breaking waves, creating calm conditions ideal for swimming, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Mauna Kea Beach– Big Island’s Mauna Kea Beach is one of Hawaii’s most popular beaches. Scenic and serene with clear shallow waters and soft white sands stretching for a quarter mile, it’s an absolutely beautiful beach offering the ultimate in relaxation. Waters are calm during the summer months, allowing visitors to snorkel the nearby coral reefs and enjoy activities like kayaking and boogie boarding.
Poipu Beach– The crescent-shaped Poipu Beach is one of the top attractions in Kauai. The beach is exposed to high surf, attracting experienced surfers looking to ride challenging waves. The beach in front of Poipu Beach Park is excellent for snorkeling and is a great spot for families looking to enjoy a day at the beach since it has lifeguards, public showers, and picnic areas.
Wailea Beach –Located along the southwestern coast of Maui, Wailea Beach is a quarter-mile-long swath of soft, sun-kissed sands bookended by luxurious five-star resorts like Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Wailea and Four Seasons Maui at Wailea. The beach offers breathtaking views of the Molokini Crater and the Kahoolawe and Lanai islands. It’s also one of the best beaches for fine dining, with its impressive collection of upscale restaurants such as Lineage, Spago, Ka’ana Kitchen, Ko, and The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea.
Kapalua Beach –If you’re looking for an unforgettable snorkeling experience, Kapalua Beach is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling. The beach is shielded by two coral reefs stretching outward to form a crescent-shaped cove, creating calm, crystal-clear waters home to a multitude of marine species. The northern section of the beach is an especially fantastic snorkeling spot as it features a mostly rocky bottom with less sand, allowing for excellent visibility. Kapalua Beach is very laidback as well, perfect if you want to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach without the large crowds.
Hamoa Beach –One of Maui’s most picturesque beaches, Hamoa Beach treats visitors to a tranquil setting with sugar-fine sands and a verdant landscape filled with lush tropical greenery and soaring native Hala trees. Easterly trade winds create consistent, moderate swells, which make it ideal for activities like boogie boarding. Hamoa Beach is one of the few beaches in Maui that have public showers and bathrooms, so it’s a terrific day trip destination for families.
Looking for the best accommodations for your Hawaii family vacation? Browse our selection of vacation rentals by heading to this page.
For more information, get in touch with us at Hawaiian Villa Rentals by calling 808.247.7521.