Best Hawaiian island for families with kids in 2021

Not sure which is the best island in Hawaii for kids? We’ve got your back. 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, the most amazing family resorts and unique Airbnbs. 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 many 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 is the perfect fit for your family. Soon you’ll be all set to start planning your Hawaiian vacation whether you choose to stay in Maui, Oahu, Kauai or Big Island.


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There are over 100 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.

No matter where you’ll spend your Hawaiian family vacation, don’t forget that only reef-safe sunscreen is allowed on Hawaii. Raw ElementsThinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen and Kokua Sun Care are all excellent reef-safe choices for adults. For kids, we love Earth Mama Uber-Sensitive Mineral Lotion SPF 40Badger Baby Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide SPF 30 and Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Lotion SPF 50.

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. If that’s music to your ears, then get ready to whip out your beach vacation packing list.

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:

Capture every moment on your Hawaiian island with kids

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:

  • 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.

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:
    This fabulous Naapali estate is the epitome of Maui luxury. With its tasteful interior, chef’s kitchen, spacious backyard and a golden sand beach at your doorstep, it’s the ultimate Maui family home. The highlight is the spectacular pool with its ttwisting water slide and natural rock waterfall. No less than 7 bedrooms and 7 baths offer plenty of space.
    This Wailea beach villa is a tropical dream for every Hawaii-loving family thanks to its enchanting outdoor space, meticulously appointed interior and spacious lay-out with 3 beds and 3 baths. Service at Wailea Beach Villas is top-notch, with gated security, concierge catering and beach and poolside personal attendants.
  • Mid-range:
    Steps from Baldwin Beach in Paia, you’ll find this amazing two-story house with its lovely yard and wide lanai. part of a small-scale development. With 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms it offers plenty of space for families. Its proximity to two of Maui’s most renowned beaches makes this Maui rental house a wonderful haven for families.
    This oceanfront condo enjoys a privileged location in Puamana, South-Lahaina and has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. There’s a private yard for the kids and Dolphine pool access. The ocean is just steps away. The lanai is the perfect place to watch whales in winter or to enjoy a romantic Maui sunset.
    Prefer a livelier atmosphere? Enjoy the amenities of Kaanapali’s Hyatt Residence Club from the comfort of your spacious oceanfront residence.
  • Affordable:
    A cute, clean and family-friendly condo at Waipuilani Beach in Kihei with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. It’s easy on the wallet without compromising on comfort and style. Shops and restaurants at walking distance.
Maui villa with pool and pool slide
Image courtesy of VRBO – Andrew M
NAPILI BEACH ESTATE – 7 bedrooms
Oceanfront terrace and garden on this Hawaii island for a family vacation
Image courtesy of VRBO – Dave Medina
LAHAINA CONDO – 3 bedrooms
Luxurious Maui lanai and lawn
Image courtesy of VRBO – Geoffrey Granum
WAILEA BEACH VILLA – 3 bedrooms
Terrace at a Maui family resort
Image courtesy of VRBO Maui Resort Rentals
KAANAPALI HYATT RESIDENCE 2 bedrooms
Lanai and tropical setting of this Maui family rental
Image courtesy of VRBO – Kahale Makani
PAIA HOUSE – 3 bedrooms
Interior of a condo in Kihei
Image courtesy of VRBO – Knowles Family
KIHEI CONDO – 2 bedrooms
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.

Fun things to do on Oahu with kids

Tip: The Go Oahu Card might be interesting if you plan on visiting several of the island’s must-sees during your family trip. It’s an all-inclusive pass that allows you to visit as many attractions on the island as you wish within a certain number of days (choose between 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days).

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.
Capture every moment of your Hawaiian Island family vacation

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:
    Steps away from the crystal-clear waters of one of the Ko Olina lagoons, you’ll find the Hale Nani Ikena Kai beach villa. The 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and beachfront lanai offer plenty of space for an Oahu family vacation. The villa is set amidst a tropical garden with koi ponds and includes access to a lagoon style pool and a lap pool.
    North Shore living at its finest in this stylish home in Mokuleia. The beach house is bright and spacious, designed and equipped with families in mind. Unlike other north Shore beaches, this beach is sheltered by large reef, making it perfect for a Hawaiian family vacation. Beach chairs, snorkel gear, boogie boards and more provided.
  • Mid-range:
    The cute Cottage @HaleOahu is located just steps from the most beloved Oahu beach. While most rental homes in Kailua are not permitted to offer rentals shorter than 30 days, this one does. With its one bedroom and sleeper sofa, it’s the perfect place for a shorter stay in Hawaii with kids. If it’s a bit on the small side for your family, then you’ll be happy to learn that the Villa @HaleOahu is available for rent too.
    Should you prefer to spend your Oahu family vacation in the center of the action, then this well-appointed Waikiki condo is for you. It has everything to make your stay as comfortable as possible: 2 bedrooms, air-con, stroller, beach cart and beach toys. Plus, it comes with free parking which is a real bonus in Waikiki.
  • Affordable:
    This bright and modern top-floor condo is located in the iconic Ilikai Hotel and offers lateral views of the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s lagoon. It’s a modern and bright condo with two spacious bedrooms.
    If your Hawaiian family vacation is more about surfing than shopping, then this Turtle Bay resort condo might be for you. The gated community where it’s located is a safe haven that offers three pools, plenty of sports facilities and parking. Two comfortable bedrooms and two baths offer plenty of space for action-loving families.
Tropical decor and ocean views from a spacious lanai equipped with chairs and a table
Image courtesy VRBO – Hale Nani Ikena Kai
KO OLINA – 2 bedrooms – sleeps 6
Blue couch in a tasteflly decorated condo
Image courtesy of VRBO – Ashlee Galea
WAIKIKI – 2 bedrooms – sleeps 5
Wavind palms and a beachfront home along the North Shore of Oahi
Image courtesy of VRBO – Jill Lawrence
NORTH SHORE – 2 bedrooms – sleeps 8
Open windows with lagoon and ocean views in Waikiki
Image courtesy of VRBO – Ali’i Beach Rentals
WAIKIKI – 2 bedrooms – sleeps 7
Cosy grey cttage amidst a green yard
Image courtesy VRBO – Cottage @HaleOahu
KAILUA – 1 bedroom + sleeper sofa
Interior of a Turtle Bay condo
Image courtesy of VRBO – Scott Davis
TURTLE BAY – 1 bedroom + sleeper sofa

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. It’s all-natural, lush and wild. Thanks to the variety of activities on Big Island, you’ll get to discover all its beauty.

Fun things to do on Big Island with kids

Capture every moment of fun on your Hawaiian island for families

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.
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 condo is located in the luxurious Kolea complex in the heart of the Waikoloa Beach Resort. With 2 well-appointed bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a cosy lanai with barbecue grill, it’s perfect for traveling families. Guests enjoy direct beach access to A’Bay with its many watersports activities.
    Kai Malolo is the name of this eco-friendly oceanfront house in Pahoa, just south of Hilo. Kids will love the pool with its fountain and waterfall as well as the boat helm on the lanai. Three spacious bedrooms offer plenty of space. Guests are also invited to use the front suspension mountain bikes for a scenic cycling trip in the nearby mango forest.
  • Midrange:
    Looking for the perfect family vacation rental on Hawaii Island? Then check out this wonderful house, located in a tranquil cul de sac yet just a 5-minute driver from the farmer’s market. Floor to ceiling windows give access to a wonderful lanai with salt-water pool and tropical fruit trees. Snorkel equipment, boogie boards, beach towels, portable beach chairs, coolers and an umbrella are available for guests.
    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.
  • Upscale:
    Beach House at the Bluffs is the ultimate vacation home on Big Island Hawaii for families. It’s located at the sweet spot between Mauna Kea and Hapuna beach. The house is equipped with a chef’s kitchen, home theater and 4 exceptionally appointed bedrooms, 3 of which give out to the lanai. The outdoor space is sensational thanks to the heated, infinity-edge saltwater pool await, jacuzzi spa, wading pool and sand boxes. A personal concierge is at your service to help you plan that ultimate family vacation in Hawaii.
    A truly unique estate can be found along the spectacular Hamakua coast on the windward side of the island. The Waterfalling Estate is what dreams are made of. This magnificent property includes a lap pool, two-story waterslide, olympic pool, tennis court, basketball court, 9 tee golf course, home gym, game room, helipad and so much more. A mesmerizing private waterfall seals the deal.
Luxurious home with lagoon pool in a tropical setting
Image courtesy of VRBO – Beach House at the Bluffs
HAPUNA BEACH – 4 bedrooms
Cosy cottage behind a fire pit
Image courtesy of VRBO – Kuono
VOLCANO – 1 bedroom – sleeps 4
Incredible house with oversized pool and slid
Image courtesy of VRBO – Waterfalling Estate
HAMAKUA COAST – 5 bedrooms
Earth-toned house with pool and ocean views
Image courtesy of VRBO – Kai Malolo
PAHOA – 3 bedrooms
This family house with pool is perfect for a trip to Hawaiian with kids
Image courtesy of VRBO – The Dehen Family
KAILUA-KONA – 4 bedrooms
Lanai with outdoor kitchen and chairs
Image courtesy VRBO – Kona Coast Vacations
WAIKOLOA – 2 bedrooms

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.
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:

  • Affordable:
    Looking for an affordable condo near some of the best North Shore beaches? This ground-level Ali’i Kai unit comes with resort pool access and plenty of beach gear. The neutral tones of the interior form the perfect canvas for the lush, green landscape views. The condo enjoys a tranquil yet central South Coast location.
    This clean and tastefully-decorated cottage is located near Waimea Pier, away from the island’s tourist hotspots. Grocery stores and restaurants can be found at walking distance. It’s the perfect getaway home for families looking to explore Waimea Canyon or Koke’e State Park.
  • Midrange:
    The stylishly bright interior of this modern island home will get you in vacation-mood in no time. With 3 lanai to choose from, there’s a postcard view for every time of day. This wonderful home is located in the heart of Princeville and within close proximity of some of the finest Kauai beaches, restaurants and shops.
    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.
  • Upscale:
    Make your Kauai family vacation dreams come true at the fabulous Waiohai Beach House. The 4 well-appointed bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, gorgeous pool and direct beach access make this house the ultimate hideout for families with kids traveling to Hawaii.
    This gorgeously appointed golf course home is located near Hanalei Bay. You’ll find plenty of beaches and restaurants in the direct area. The sunset views from the lanai are nothing short of spectacular. With 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms and an amazing pool, this is the perfect place to spend your family vacation on Kauai.
Spacious lanai with pool for kids in Kauai
Image courtesy of VRBO – Hale Mikana
PRINCEVILLE – 4 bedrooms
Cute cottage with red accents amidst a tropical garden
Image courtesy of VRBO – Pamela Lachance
POIPU – 2 bedrooms
Pool and ocean views from a tropical garden in a Hawaiian vacation rental
Image courtesy of VRBO – Waiohai House
POIPU – 4 bedrooms
Red tropical flowers on a wooden table next to a window with views of the Kauai mountains
Image courtesy of VRBO – Matt Mokhtarian
PRINCEVILLE – 2 bedrooms
Neutral-toned interior with blue couch
Image courtesy of VRBO – Vacasa of Hawaii
PRINCEVILLE – 3 bedrooms
White and grey kitchen of a family rental in Waimea
Image courtesy of VRBO – Destination Kauai
WAIMEA – 2 bedrooms

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.
Car rental Hawaii family vacation

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 travel 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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