Best Hawaiian island for families with kids

Imagine the perfect family travel destination, one with waving palms, a stable tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, fragrant flowers, sparkling waterfalls, lush rainforest, epic volcanoes, mesmerizing national parks and the most amazing family hotels and resorts. If that’s the kind of holiday you’re dreaming of, then Hawaii holidays for families are what you’re looking for. There’s no better destination to unplug and discover nature’s wonders. If time is not an issue then you could go island-hopping in Hawaii. But for most families, that’s is not an option. And that’s okay because one week is perfect to discover one Hawaiian island of your choice. But which is the best island in Hawaii for families? And what are some fun things to do in Hawaii with kids? Continue reading to find out which island in Hawaii to visit.


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Dreaming of planning a new vacation in these uncertain times? The AXA Assistance USA Platinum insurance includes a CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) option which allows you to cancel your trip without any explanation, up to 2 days before departure. Conditions apply. Click here to learn more.

There are over 140 islands in Hawaii, 6 of which can be visited. Most tourists, however, only visit the 4 largest islands – Maui, Oahu, Hawaii Big Island and/or Kauai – so, we’ll zoom in on each of these destinations.

The best island in Hawaii for families with young kids: Maui

If you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids aged 0 to 6, we’d certainly recommend to spend your family vacation on Maui. Why? Because Maui is home to some amazing family-friendly resorts, has some cute little towns and offers plenty of options for little explorers. It’s perfect for a Hawaiian vacation with toddlers because you can enjoy the island to the fullest without compromising on comfort. That’s exactly what makes Maui the best Hawaiian island for families with young kids.

Fun things to do on Maui with kids

We dedicated an entire post to the best things to do in Maui with kids with detailed information and plenty of pictures. Here’s an overview:

Best Maui resorts for families

We dedicated an entire article on the best places to stay in Maui but basically, you’ll want to spend your family vacation in either Kaanapali (West-Maui) or Wailea (South-Maui). That’s where you’ll find the best Maui resorts. For more information on the first location, check out our guide on the best things to do in Kaanapali.

Here are our favorite Maui resorts for families:

  • Upscale:
    The Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, with its beachfront location and amazing pool complete with waterslides, a lazy river and a swinging rope. An alternative is the Four Seasons Resort Maui, which is pricey but smaller in size, yet offering the same child-friendly amenities.
  • Mid-range:
    The Westin Maui Resort & Spa with beachfront access, a fabulous pool with waterslides, resident flamingos and koi’s to feed. It’s located at Kaanapali beach, known for its perfect boogie boarding conditions, next to Whaler’s Village, where you can find plenty of shops and restaurants.
  • Affordable:
    Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa with its lagoon pool, lazy river and, again, beachfront access. This Maui resort is located at Black rock, known for its perfect snorkeling conditions, and next to Whaler’s village.

Tip: Check out the Costco vacation packages for the occasional sweet deal.

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Family-friendly vacation rentals and condos on Maui

If you’re looking for a home away from home, then you could expand your search area a bit. Lahaina is a lively whaler’s town just south of Kaanapali but close enough to this number one Maui beach. Kihei is centrally located and perfect for a more tranquil family holiday.

Here’s a selection of Maui vacation rentals that caught our eye.

  • Upscale:
    Turtle Beach Villa in Lahaina is the epitome of Maui luxury. With its spacious oceanfront deck, lush gardens, private pool, island-style decor and a golden sand beach at your doorstep, it’s the ultimate Maui family home. Three bedrooms and 3.5 baths offer plenty of space.
    Plantation Beach House at Villas by the Cove is an amazingly stylish retreat, just steps away from Charley Young Beach, which is the northern end of Kam(aole) Beach Park 1. It offers plenty of outdoor living space, a saltwater pool, 3 beds and 3 baths.
  • Mid-range:
    This newly remodelled and very beautifully appointed condo in Kaanapali has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. It comes with its own private beach cabana with golf cart service. Snorkeling gear, boogie boards and beach toys are available. Onsite pool.
    Steps from Sugar Beach in Kihei, you’ll find this brightly appointed condo, part of a small-scale development. With 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms it offers plenty of space for families. Beach toys and snorkeling gear available.
    This is our top pick in Wailea, a gorgeously stylish condo with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a generous lanai. It’s located right next to the onsite family pool and just a short stroll from 2 beautiful Maui beaches: Wailea beach and Ulua beach.
  • Affordable:
    A cute, clean 2nd floor corner condo near Sugar Beach in Kihei with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. It’s a lowbudget option yet includes aircon in all rooms, boogie boards and beach towels. Beaches and restaurants at walking distance.
Car rental Hawaii family vacation

Downsides of this Hawaii island for family vacations

  • You need a rental car to discover Maui’s highlights. We can highly recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental for a hassle-free booking and highly competitive rates (based on personal experience on several islands).
  • All resorts charge resort fees so it’s recommended to compare which ones offer most added value to your travel style.
  • Several family-friendly activities in Maui require advance reservations. Much to our regret, we missed out on the Haleakala National Park sunrise because we didn’t book beforehand.

The best island in Hawaii for families looking for a carefree holiday and tour services: Oahu

If you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids and look forward to a mix of city life, world-class shopping and exciting excursions then we’d recommend spending your Hawaii family vacation on Oahu. This is the only Hawaiian island where you can visit many tourist sites without renting a car, thanks to a variety of excursion options and public transport. Your hotel concierge can assist you in selecting the most family-friendly tours and routes.

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Fun things to do on Oahu with kids

Best Oahu resorts for families

Honolulu hotels and resorts come in all shapes and sizes but you’ll find some amazing kid-friendly resorts on other locations as well so don’t limit yourself to Waikiki.

  • Upscale:
    Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, with its enchanting vibe, meet and greet with Disney characters, amazing pool with waterslides and snorkelling reef, private marina and family pool parties. This fabulous Oahu family resort is located in tranquil Ko Olina, away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu.
  • Midrange:
    This category is very well represented in Honolulu. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is known to be the most popular choice for families but it’s super-big, making it too crowded for our taste.
    We loved our stay in the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, with its small but elegant pool area, lei-making classes, hula lessons, giant aquarium with tropical fish and amazing food choices (the breakfast buffet was just fabulous). Check out our review of the ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach to learn more.
    If you’re looking to escape the crowds all-together, then the North Shore is where you want to be. The Turtle Bay Resort is a family favorite thanks to horseback riding, outrigger canoe trips, ukelele lessons, windsurfing and the wonderful pool with waterfall and slide.
  • Affordable:
    If you’re not necessarily looking for the best-equipped pool but prefer a convenient location and easy beach access, then the Hotel LaCroix and The Surfjack Hotel are solid and fresh options.

Tip: Check out the Costco vacation packages for the occasional sweet deal.

Family-friendly vacation rentals and condos on Oahu

Now that we’ve established why Oahu could be the best Hawaiian island for you family, let’s have a look at some kid-friendly accommodation rentals on the island. Chances are that you’ll be renting a car during your Oahu family vacation. If you plan on staying in a Honolulu airbnb, then look for one that includes parking. Parking spots are really scarce in Waikiki, especially in the evening.

Here’s our selection of family-friendly condos on Oahu:

  • Upscale:
    This newly renovated ocean view condo is located in the center of the action: Waikiki beach. It offers 2 bedrooms and 2 baths and a spacious lanai (terrace). A parking spot and onsite recreation deck make this an excellent choice for your Oahu family vacation.
    Or how about this Balinese-styled tropical retreat in Kailua, right in between the beach and the town centre? With 3 bedrooms, a private pool and plenty of amenities such as beach chairs, bikes, umbrella and cooler. Honolulu is just a short drive away.
  • Mid-range:
    This beautifully appointed 2 bedroom Waikiki condo enjoys a prime Waikiki location and is packed with amenities such as a Pack ‘n’ Play travel cot, high chair, baby bath, bodyboards and beach toys.
    Should you prefer to spend your Oahu family vacation away from the city, then Kailua makes for a wonderful tranquil beach destination. This light and bright guest suite might only have 1 bedroom, it’s spacious enough to accommodate a family of four. Plus, it’s just a 5-minute walk to the beautiful local beach. Beach toys, umbrella, chairs and even float vests for kids are available.
  • Affordable:
    This bright and modern condo is located at walking distance from Waikiki beach, Kapiolani Park and Honolulu Zoo. It’s also right across the street from Leonard’s Bakery a.k.a. malasada heaven. The condo has 2 bedrooms and, even at this affordable rate, includes parking.
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Downsides of this Hawaii island for families

  • Traffic can get bad, especially during rush hour.
  • This is the most popular island and you can tell from the lines at some of the must-see spots.
  • Several family-friendly activities on Oahu require advance reservations.
  • Honolulu is a city so it comes with the typical city problems. We noticed homeless people hanging around at Waikiki, especially near Kapiolani park, but never felt unsafe.

The best island in Hawaii for families with older kids: Big Island

If you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids and look forward to explore the real Hawaii, then we’d recommend spending your Hawaii family vacation on the Big Island. It’s the place to be for exciting adventures and unique experiences with kids aged 7 and up. This island sure brought out our inner adventurer. Don’t expect the same style as you’ll find on the previous Hawaiian islands, though. The Big Island is all-natural, lush and wild.

Fun things to do on Big Island with kids

Best Big Island Hawaii hotels for families

We dedicated an entire article on the best places to stay on Big Island but basically, you’ll want to split your time between the windward coast near Hilo and the leeward coast in Kailua-Kona or Waikoloa. You won’t find any family resorts on the windward side, though, just one decent hotel and that’s the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton. Here are our favorite Big Island resorts for families on the leeward side:

  • Affordable:
    The most popular family resort in Hawaii is the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Enjoy the sprawling grounds complete airconditioned trams, resort gondolas, waterfall pools, a Dolphin Quest lagoon and a suspension bridge.
  • Midrange:
    For a less theme-park like atmosphere, head to the The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, with its enviable location along the island’s most popular white sand beach, or the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, with its massive oceanfront pool.
  • Upscale:
    The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is a haven of tranquility, located between some of the most mesmerizing bays of the Big Island. This luxurious resort has plenty to offer for kids too, such as a snorkeling pond, cultural classes and tennis courts. Guests of this little gem enjoy a wonderful garden with a pool and the most amazing ocean views, a sumptuous breakfast and spacious rooms. This is one of the most romantic retreats in Hawaii for families with teenage kids.

Tip: Check out the Costco vacation packages for the occasional sweet deal.

Car rental Hawaii family vacation

Family-friendly vacation rentals and condos on Big Island

We’ve selected some true little gems that we’d love to try out for ourselves one day. It’s amazing how affordable it is to stay on this Hawaiian island for families with kids. Especially the windward side near Hilo has a lot to offer for a very modest price.

  • Affordable:
    This lovely and newly renovated town house is located in downtown Hilo. The farmers market, shops and restaurants are just a short stroll away. With 2 bedrooms and a spacious layout, it’s perfect for traveling families.
  • Midrange:
    Near Kona Airport and some of the most amazing beaches on the Big Island, you’ll find this 2 bedroom apartment with sweeping ocean views. The hosts live onsite, in the downstairs unit, with their kids. So, you can learn all about how to explore this Hawaiian island with kids, straight from the source.
    Should you prefer to stay south of Kailua-Kona instead, then this tropical hideaway near Keauhou Bay might be what you’re looking for. It’s bright, spacious and perfectly located for Big Island explorers.
  • Upscale:
    This enchanting cabin in the woods is the perfect place to stay in Volcano, near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The ferns and trees create an intimate setting, complemented by the hot tub and fire pit. No better place to unplug after a day of exploration.
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Downsides of this Hawaii island for family vacations

  • If you want to make the most of your visit, we’d recommend splitting up your stay. There are no resorts in the Hilo area, simply because you won’t find any sandy beaches there and this area gets quite a bit of rain.
  • This island is called Big for a reason. Highlights are spread out over the island, resulting in long drives. Traffic at Kailua-Kona is really bad, even outside of rush hour. Be prepared to spend quite some time in the car. Look for a comfortable one here.
  • The windward coast is known for its unpredictable weather and frequent showers. Then again, this is exactly what creates the lush nature and waterfalls you’ll find on this side of the island.
  • Just like in Maui, all resorts charge resort fees so it’s recommended to compare which ones offer most added value to your travel style.

The best island in Hawaii for outdoorsy families: Kauai

If you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids and look for a more off-the-grid experience, then we’d recommend spending your Hawaii family vacation on Kauai. It’s the place to be for long and challenging hikes, thrilling adventures and secluded beaches hidden in between rugged cliffs. Kauai, the oldest and northernmost of Hawaiian islands, is just as all-natural as the Big Island but even more lush and untamed.

Fun things to do on Kauai with kids

Best Kauai resorts for families

Kauai is the only island in this list that we haven’t visited ourselves. But, since we did consider it for our family vacation in Hawaii, we actually did quite some research on this amazing island. Here’s an overview of the places we’d consider staying at:

  • Affordable:
    The ISO (Island – Sky – Ocean) with its gorgeous views and central location.
  • Midrange:
    The renovated Sheraton Kauai at Coconut Beach with its wonderful pool area which is entirely torch lit at night.
  • Upscale:
    The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort with its spacious rooms, beachfront location and massive pool complex complete with waterfalls and slides.

Tip: Check out the Costco vacation packages for the occasional sweet deal.

The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is the most popular Kauai family resort
Source: Flickr – tdlucas5000

Family-friendly vacation rentals and condos on Kauai

Just like all other Hawaiian islands, Kauai has a windward and a leeward side. Princeville and Hanalei Bay, on the north-side of the island, get most rain. It’s also the lushest part of Kauai. Weather on the east-side, near Kapa’a and Lihue, is a bit drier. The southernmost city of Poipu and the western coastline near Waimea are the sunniest parts of the island.
Here’s our selection of condos and townhouses in Kauai for families, all of which are in the mid-range price category:

  • A bright and gorgeously appointed townhouse is located near Hanalei Bay. You’ll find plenty of beaches and restaurants in the area. With 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, access to a communal pool and amenities such as boogie boards and snorkeling gear, this is the perfect place to spend your family vacation on Kauai.
  • Or how about a luxurious condo in Wailua Bay on the Coconut Coast, just steps from the beach? The location is pretty convenient too and there’s an onsite pool to cool off after a day of exploring. Just around the corner, you’ll find restaurants, shops and galeries.
  • Families will love the sight of this enchanting cottage near Poipu, near Baby Beach and Whalers Cove. The house, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, is located amidst a tropical garden with fragrant flowers. The perfect place for a family bbq.
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Downsides of this Hawaii island for families

  • Depending on the seasons (and your mindset), the weather can be somewhat of a dealbreaker. Kauai is so tropically lush thanks to the rainfall. This island is even home to the wettest place on earth: Mount Waialeale. May to September are usually the driest months and Poipu and Lihue the drier areas.
  • Driving times add up on Kauai, even for short distances, because the lay-out of the land only allows a limited number of roads. Parking space is limited for most attractions and parking spots are notoriously small. We’d strongly recommend renting a smaller car. You’ll find plenty of options on Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
  • Only a handful of beaches are suited for swimming. dangerous currents, rip tides, and hammering surf.

How about Molokai and Lanai?

Two other Hawaiian islands that are open to tourists are Lanai and Molokai. Since these are rather small and very off-grid, we don’t recommend them for Hawaii vacations for families. But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit these islands on a day trip.

  • Lanai makes for an excellent day trip from Maui. You can get there by ferry from Lahaina.
  • Molokai can be reached by plane from Honolulu but you need a permit to access the highlight: Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Which island in Hawaii will you choose for your next family vacation?

Well, that’s it for this article on the best Hawaiian islands for families. if you have been on a family trip to one of these islands then, we’d love to hear all about it. And if you’re yet to visit, we can’t wait to find out which Hawaiian island appeals to you the most. The comment box is all yours.


Dreaming of planning a new vacation in these uncertain times? The AXA Assistance USA Platinum insurance includes a CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) option which allows you to cancel your trip without any explanation, up to 2 days before departure. Conditions apply. Click here to learn more.

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This article contains affiliate links. Clicking on such a hyperlink and/or making a purchase to the website it refers to, may result in a commission for CosmopoliClan at no additional cost to you. It allows us to dedicate enough personal time and energy to this blog. For more information, visit the Disclaimer page.

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