Hawaii is one of the world’s top family vacation destinations. Not only is Hawaii exotic and tropical, it is the only U.S. state composed entirely of islands. There are eight main Hawaiian Islands, seven of which are permanently inhabited. Hawaii is also the only U.S. state with its own language. It offers a tropical paradise and a warm Hawaiian culture which family-focused and child-friendly.
The Hawaiian word for children is “Keiki” and fun for your Keiki isn’t hard to find no matter which island you visit. Discover the sights, sounds, art, culture, history, nature and adventure of Hawaii. From leis to luaus to volcanoes, you’re sure to create lifelong family memories on your vacation to Hawaii.
Below you will find our list of must see attractions in Hawaii.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Oahu
Pearl Harbor remains one of Hawaii’s top visited attractions and for good reason. Its role in World War II will never be forgotten and for the history buff this is a “must see” piece of history. Pearl Harbor is now considered part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The USS Arizona Memorial is the highlight of visiting Pearl Harbor. In addition to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is free, there are three paid attractions at Pearl Harbor that are well worthwhile. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Each of these attractions brings to life and preserves the important stories and key events of this piece of US history. Families visiting these historic Pearl Harbor sites should plan to easily spend a full day.
Iolani Palace, Oahu
The Iolani Palace, located in downtown Honolulu, is the only official state residence of royalty in the United States. It was the center of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the late 1800’s. Take a guided or a self-guided tour of the grand rooms of this American Florentine-style palace and see royal portraits, ornate furnishings, and priceless regalia while you learn about the Hawaiian monarchy. Fitted with telephones and electricity even before the White House, it was richly decorated with koa and other native woods. The Iolani Palace is one of Oahu’s most important historical places and it plays an integral part in understanding the history and culture of Hawaii.
Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu
Visitors to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu have the unique opportunity to spend the day exploring the rich heritage of the Pacific Islands. 42 acres of tropical splendor where families can enjoy a Pacific Islands adventure of traditional hands-on activities. Dine like royalty at an authentic Polynesian luau, indulge in a shopping bonanza, and top it off with a spectacular evening show. All of Polynesia in one exciting place.
Haleakala National Park, Maui
Haleakala National Park is home to Haleakala Crater. Rising over 10,000 feet above sea level, The Island’s highest peak, Haleakala means “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian. The park is comprised of over 30,000 acres of public land, has three separate visitors centers and covers a range of natural environments. You’ll discover more endangered species here than any other park in the National Park Service. Haleakala’s graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. Sunrises at this altitude are amazing. There is no question that Haleakala is the top choice for sunrise viewing on Maui.
Ka’anapali Beach, Maui
Ka’anapali Beach was once named America’s Best Beach. It’s no wonder with its three miles of golden white sand and crystal clear water. Enjoy snorkeling, whale-watching, scenic walks, or just enjoy a gorgeous Hawaiian sunset. A professional cliff diving and torch lighting ceremony is also held at Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach.every evening to coincide with the setting sun. The program is free to the public and includes tales from Hawaiian mythology. This memorable ceremony is just one more reason why Ka’anapali Beach ranks as one of Maui’s signature beaches.
Along Maui’s rugged eastern coastline is the peaceful town of Hana, considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. The legendary road to Heavenly Hana is only 52 miles from Kahului, however, the drive can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete.
My husband and I did it on our honeymoon. The Road to Hana is for sure a relationship tester should you decide to undertake this drive.
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The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves (many of them are hairpin turns) and 59 one-lane bridges. Along the way, you’re rewarded with incredible island views. The road leads you through flourishing rainforests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the lovely views, so get an early start and take your time on your drive.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawai’i
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a fascinating world of active volcanism, biological diversity, and Hawaiian culture, past and present. Located 30 miles southwest of Hilo, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is the home of Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. This is the most popular visitor attraction in Hawaii and a sacred place for Native Hawaiians.
Viewing the park can be done by driving, hiking, or biking. For families with an adventurous spirit, try biking in the park. It provides exciting opportunities for everyone – old or young, experienced or novice. From the visitor centers to the trails, the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a place not to be missed.
Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai
Mark Twain called Waimea Canyon “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Although not as big or as old as its Arizona cousin, it stretching 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. The Waimea Canyon Lookout provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags, and deep valley gorges. The grand inland vistas go on for miles. There are numerous trails to traverse for beginners and seasoned hikers.
Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai
Hanalei Beach is an amazing ocean playground and another, must-see gem. This long, expansive beach is the stuff memories are made of with its aquamarine colored waters, and a stunning backdrop of volcanic cliffs lined with tiny waterfalls.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai
Established in 1980, this National Historical Park was once home to Saint Damien and Saint Marianne. These beloved missionaries brought hope to the people of Kalaupapa, patients who were diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and had been exiled to the remote—and strikingly beautiful—peninsula located on the northern coast of Molokai.
Today, the serene Kalaupapa National Historical Park is a place of preservation and education and is only accessible by mule ride, hiking tour or airplane.
Imagine you and your family viewing one of the most active volcanoes on earth on Hawaii Island; watching humpback whales leap from Maui’s warm waters; flying happy dragon kites in the trade winds of Molokai; exploring the tide pool of Hulopoe Bay on Lanai; witnessing the grandeur of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon; or exploring the fascinating exhibits at the Bishop Museum on Oahu. You’re sure to create lifelong family memories on your vacation to Hawaii. Build sand castles with your kids on one the islands’ beautiful beaches. See their eyes light up as they play with interactive exhibits in Hawaii’s finest museums. Or explore Hawaii’s many National Parks and Historic Sites and learn about the islands together.
From viewing one of the most active volcanoes on earth on Hawaii Island to watching humpback whales leap from Maui’s warm waters, you’re sure to create lifelong memories on your family vacation to Hawaii. Build sand castles with your kids on one the islands’ beautiful beaches. Enjoy, marvel, and be amazed at the beauty and culture of Hawaii. Create unique Hawaii memories to share with your children as you explore the many attractions of Hawaii.
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