How to Impress Everyone in the Family on Hawaii
It’s hard to keep everyone in your family happy at all times on any given day – let alone on a trip to Hawaii. You only have so many days to devote to your dream trip, so spend them wisely and book activities that everyone can enjoy, from your grade schooler to your teen to the adults in your party.
Maui Ocean Center
Take a guided walking path to view the creatures at the Hawaiian Sea Turtle sanctuary and Hammerhead Shark pool. You will get a look at the Hawaiian Tako (AKA octopus) along with a variety of other strange sea creatures that you will have to take a second look at. As Hawaii’s state-of-the-art aquarium, you will enjoy this tribute to Hawaiian marine life via hands-on exploration and education. In fact, it’s one of the largest tropical aquariums in the country, so leave plenty of time to explore it all. Whether you love to learn about ocean ecology, whale life or Hawaiian culture, there’s something here to please everyone.
Go for a Surf
A great opportunity for teens, surfing lessons are a must on a family vacation. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is great for both kids and adults. It doesn’t matter which island you’re staying on or which beach you are visiting: surf shops and pros dot the shore offering surfing lessons. To watch the pros in action, head over to the North Shore of Oahu in winter time for a spectacle of waves. If your teen wants to try his hand at surfing on a smaller scale, check out the Hawaiian Fire Surf School, where local firefighters teach youngsters of all ages how to surf on gentle waves.
Have a Family Day at Iao Valley State Park
When on Maui, take the time to explore the Iao Valley State Park with a hike through this natural wonder. It’s a cultural landmark that must be seen, as your kids will find it interesting that this is actually the site of ancient demigods prominent in Hawaiian history. Bring backpacks, plenty of snacks, water and sunscreen and make a day of it. Don’t forget your swim suit, as you can hop in the water underneath one of the falls. The pools are crystal clear and cool, making for a refreshing pause on your journey. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and you’ll pay just $5 for the day to get in. Covered in dense rain forest, the ??ao Needle (K?kaemoku) is a famous landmark featuring lush covered lava jutting 2,250 feet above sea level punctuated at the top with a sharp ridge. You’ll get great views of the extinct volcano of the West Maui Mountains if you take the ??ao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop.
Imiloa Astronomy Center
Got small kids? They will love to participate in the many hands-on exhibits and check out the awe-inspiring planetarium. Learn about the cosmos and how it came to be through the Origins exploration center, then head to the Science on a Sphere (SOS) exhibit which showcases the Earth system and planetary science in a way that’s interesting to kids of all ages, made possible by technology developed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
All aboard the Pineapple Express Train! Here, you can try and make your way through the world’s largest pineapple-shaped maze…we warn you, it’s pretty tough to get out quickly! You can get onto the grounds for free, but the train and other activities are extra. Enjoy a famous DoleWhip to cool off, which young and old will certainly appreciate on a hot day.
Mokup?papa Discovery Center (MDC)
In Hilo at 76 Kamehameha Ave on the corner of Kamehameha and Waianuenue Ave, the MDC showcases the natural science, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and surrounding marine life. Established in 2013, this historic, century-old Koehnen Building has a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium and immersive theater. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., your little ones will have a ball with the interactive educational exhibits.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
Also in Hilo, you can get into this zoo for no charge. It’s pretty small, though, so you can easily see everything in a couple of hours. Once you peruse the botanical garden and zoo, head to the play area, petting zoo, and pavilion for a family picnic lunch. Did you know this is the sole natural tropical rainforest zoo in the whole nation? Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Conveniently located in Honolulu, the Bishop Museum carries with it lots of rich history when it comes to outlining the significance of Hawaii’s nature and culture. Better for older kids and teens, you can browse the collection of ancient Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. There are literally millions of artifacts, documents and photos here, all pertaining to Hawaii. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re looking to give your kids a living, breathing history lesson on Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures, show them the live, interactive presentations, exhibit tours, planetarium shows and the Science Adventure Center.
Known as Turtle Beach, this Oahu destination is a must for any turtle lover. It’s basically a sea turtle nesting ground on the North Shore, sandwiched between Haleiwa and Waimea Bay. Go at sunset for beautiful views while you enjoy a family picnic on a blanket. Just don’t go near the turtles: they are an endangered species.
The older teens and adults in your party will enjoy a tour of Pearl Harbor, courtesy of Hoku Hawaii Tours. Here, you can experience one or all of the attractions, such as USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour, USS Bowfin Submarine and Park, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, and USS Battleship Missouri Memorial. Take a package tour to get the most bank for your buck, including:
• Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum
• Battleship Missouri and USS Bowfin Submarine
• Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Bowfin Submarine
• Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Bowfin Submarine
Experiencing the beauty of Hawaii with your family is an enriching memory you won’t soon forget. Just make sure you choose activities that appeal to everyone equally.