Choosing The Perfect Hawaiian Island For Your Family Vacation With Kids

A young boy learns to surf in Hawaii, with an instructor behind him helping balance the surf board.

Planning a family vacation to the Hawaiian Islands promises an unforgettable experience filled with stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and an array of exciting activities for everyone! From the idyllic beaches of Kauai to the bustling cityscape of Oahu, this awe-inspiring destination promises an adventure like no other. But how do you choose the best island in Hawaii for kids that suits your family’s needs? Let’s dive deeper into what makes Kauai, Oahu, and Maui special, especially when traveling with kids. This guide will navigate the process seamlessly and help you select the perfect Hawaiin oasis for your family. We’ve also included things to do, where to stay, and more tips for visiting Hawaii with kids. Keep reading to find the best Hawaiian islands to visit with kids and plan your next tropical getaway! 

Why Visit Hawaii with Kids & How to Choose the Best Island

A young boy climbs a roap over a pool and waterfall in Maui, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Hawaii is a dream destination that caters to everyone, especially families seeking enchanting experiences. With its pristine beaches, lush tropical landscapes, and fascinating culture, each island offers unique delights. Keep reading to discover the best island to visit in Hawaii for families.

While Kauai provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle, Oahu offers a faster pace of life thanks to cities such as Honolulu. Meanwhile, Maui promises a relaxed and adventurous vacation. When deciding which island is best for your family, consider the pace of your ideal vacation, the type of activities your family enjoys, and the atmosphere you want to immerse yourselves in.

We’ll also give you a closer look at the differences between each island in this guide to choosing the perfect Hawaiian island for your family vacation with kids. No matter which island you pick, the spirit of aloha and the wonders of Hawaii will surely captivate the hearts of your entire family! 

RELATED: 20 Best Hotels In Hawaii For A Family Vacation

Best Hawaiian Islands for Your Family Vacation with Kids

Ready to choose one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids? Whether you’re seeking thrilling water sports like snorkeling or surfing lessons amidst vibrant sea life or yearning for educational experiences that delve deep into the captivating Polynesian history, there’s a Hawaiian island guaranteed to ignite your little ones’ curiosity. If you’re wondering which Hawaiian island to visit, keep reading to find out more about the best Hawaiian islands for kids! 

Can’t decide what to pack? Consult our Ultimate Beach Packing List: Essentials All Ages!

Kauai

The Serene Paradise

A dad and his young son stand on top of a high hill in Kauai, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Kelli Wein

Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai lives up to its name by offering a peaceful and picturesque environment for families seeking a slower-paced vacation! You’ll be immediately amazed as you step onto its calm shores, with unspoiled beaches ideal for building sandcastles and spending some quality time as a family. While it has beautiful beaches, it’s not as busy as Oahu and features fewer activities overall.

Plus, the island’s laid-back atmosphere allows for easy exploration and immersion into the local culture. Keep reading to learn fun things to do in Kauai, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.

Book a tour or activity in Kauai through Tripadvisor here!

Fun Things to Do in Kauai with Kids

A family of four stand together at the top of a hike in Kauai.
Photo Courtesy: Kelli Wein

As one of the best islands to visit in Hawaii for families, there are countless beaches across the island, including Pali Ke Kua Beach on the north shore, also known as Hideaways. It’s perfect for young children since it’s quiet with calm waters. Shipwreck Beach, near the Grand Hyatt Resort on the south shore, also has beautiful views and a hike. Po’ipu Beach Park, also on the south shore, has a nearby playground.

Another highlight of Kauai is its outdoor adventures, from lush rainforests to cascading waterfalls. Some kid-friendly hikes across the island include the Ho’opi Falls Hike and the Nounou Mountain Sleeping Giant Trail, which will fascinate children with its legend. Families can also visit The Kilauea Lighthouse, located on Kilauea Point within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Of course, there’s Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Located within Waimea Canyon State Park, it has various lookout points with scenic views. 

Looking for more things to do in Kauai, one of the best Hawaiian islands to visit with kids? Try some traditional shaved ice, take a snorkeling tour, or walk across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.

READ NEXT: Fantastic Things to Do in Kauai with Young Kids

Where to Stay on Kauai with Kids

A view of the Hanalei Bay Resort, with a rainbow overhead.
Photo Courtesy: Hanalei Bay Resort

If you need somewhere to stay in Kauai with kids, one great option is Hanalei Bay Resort, featuring a sandy beach with a shallow walk-in pool, caves and waterfalls, and a swim-up bar. However, the water temperature could have been warmer. Plus, the hotel offers fun activities for kids, like lei-making and hula lessons.

Then, Koloa Landing Resort also has various pools featuring lagoons, water slides, and a waterfall grotto. And, the spacious rooms include a kitchenette and a washer/dryer! Families also love the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which features a pool and a spa for adults. Regardless of which hotel you choose, you’re sure to find Kauai one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.

Oahu

The All-In-One Experience

A bright sunset over swimmers enjoying an end of day swim off-shore from Turtle Bay Beach.
Photo Courtesy: tdlucas5000

Oahu is one of Hawaii’s most diverse and popular islands, and it’s easy to see why! It’s a fantastic choice for families seeking a well-rounded vacation, combining a cosmopolitan atmosphere and serene natural beauty. Plus, it effortlessly strikes a balance between urban and outdoor adventures that are sure to captivate kids and adults alike! First-time visitors to Hawaii often choose Oahu as their home base because it offers something for all ages, from fine dining to museums, shopping, and historical sites. 

Fun Things to Do in Oahu with Kids

A young girl gets her arm painted during an interactive lesson at the Polynesian Culture Center.
Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Wang Herbig

Honolulu, the capital city of Oahu, is a good choice for families with kids who don’t mind some crowds and the abundance of nightlife options. It’s pretty touristy at times, and has a tendency to feel more like a bustling city rather than a traditional Hawaiian destination. Still, there’s plenty to see and do, from visiting Diamond Head Crater and Waikiki Beach to exploring Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

Then, immerse yourself in Waikiki’s lively ambiance as you stroll along its famous shoreline lined with luxury resorts offering kid-friendly amenities – from swimming pools complete with water slides to culinary experiences catering to even the pickiest eaters. Plus, Oahu boasts some of the best beaches in Hawaii, including Waikiki Beach, Lanikai Beach, and Waimea Bay. Families can also enjoy snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a protected marine life conservation area teeming with colorful fish and vibrant coral reefs. 

History enthusiasts will also love the Polynesian Cultural Center, which offers an educational and entertaining experience for all ages. And, kids can see the tranquil scenery of the North Shore on a Dole Plantation Pineapple Express Train Tour! Then, for an adventure, don’t forget to visit Kualoa Ranch, which offers multiple excursions, from horseback riding to jungle tours. And, the island is home to some of Hawaii’s best hiking trails, like the Manoa Falls Trail or the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. With so much to do, no wondering this is one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.

READ NEXT: 27 Awesome Things To Do In Oahu When You Visit With Kids

Where to Stay on Oahu with Kids

An aerial view of Turtle Bay, located on a peninsula surrounded by water in Oahu, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Turtle Bay

Looking for somewhere to stay in Oahu with kids? As one of the best islands to visit in Hawaii for families, there are plenty of options! Families who want the Disney experience will love the one-, two-, and three-bedroom accommodations at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. This hotel also offers multiple on-site pools and tons of activities for kids.

There’s also The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which gives kids access to a white sand beach and the chance to see dolphins! Then, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has a beautiful beachfront property, plus the chance to choose from multiple accommodations on-site. For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel provides comfortable accommodations just across the street from the family-friendly Kuhio Beach. Other great hotels in Oahu for families include Turtle Bay Resort and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.

Maui

The Relaxed Island Adventure

Girl dressed in Hawaii dress on the beach in Maui, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Melissa Bourgeois

Maui offers the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure, making it an ideal destination for families with kids of all ages! Bursting with vibrant colors, warm sunshine, and breathtaking landscapes, Maui offers an experience that truly encapsulates the spirit of paradise. It’s definitely more laidback than Oahu, with its charming island feel and lack of traffic, and features fewer things to do. However, one of the main draws here is its many accessible and family-friendly beaches, which is ideal if you want to spend your vacation relaxing. Still, you need a car to explore the island and get around one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.

Use Getyourguide to book tours and things to do in Maui!

Fun Things to Do in Maui with Kids

A family of five stands on the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Some popular beach choices in Maui include Sugar Beach and Ka’anapali Beach. Each one offers calm waters, soft sand, and opportunities for water sports, making them great for younger kids. Teens may enjoy other beaches, such as Kapalua Bay, Launiupoko Beach Park, and Napili Bay. As one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids, there is more to do off the beach, too!

Maui also offers adrenaline-pumping experiences such as helicopter tours over the falls, biking down volcanos, or parasailing. There are also many scenic hikes that the whole family can enjoy. Consider beautiful trails like Pipiwai Trail (located above the Oheo Gulch), Twin Falls Hike, or Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail. For more outdoor adventures, add Haleakalā National Park to your itinerary and stay for the sunset views. Families can also ride an Atlantis Submarine, go whale watching, and experience a classic Hawaiian Luau Dinner.

To learn more about the local cultures and history of Maui, you can visit the Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii. Another one of the best things to do in Maui, Hawaii, with kids is to drive the Road to Hana, a winding coastal route dotted with waterfalls, bamboo forests, and panoramic ocean views. Or, take a trip to the neighboring island of Lanai for pristine beaches and natural wonders. 

Important Notice: While Maui offers an array of attractions, please stay updated on the status of the Lahaina area, as fire-related closures might occur. Other parts of Maui remain unaffected and accessible. Prior to your trip, check for the latest information on closures and safety measures. Stay connected with local authorities for a secure and enjoyable visit. Your safety is paramount.

Plan your next vacation with this list of 15 Best Family Adventures on Maui

Where to Stay on Maui with Kids

An aerial view of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, featuring a far-reaching shoreline, tall resort buildings, and numerous palm trees.
Photo Courtesy: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Families love the kid-friendly hotels in Maui! In Ka’anapali Beach, there’s the Hyatt Residence Club Maui, Ka’anapali Beach, and The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. These ocean-front hotels in Maui make it easy to jump into the water and swim with a turtle. Plus, you’ll have access to other things to do in Maui with kids!

Wailea, on South Maui, is home to Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, and Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Then, Kihei, between Ka’anapali and Wailea, is where most rental condos are located for those who would rather have space over amenities. With so many hotel options for families, it’s no wonder that this is one of the best islands in Hawaii for kids. Finally, you can find more great hotels in Maui with kids by reading about the Best Family Hotels in Maui for an Enchanting Vacation.

Families can also experience the Road to Hana, Maui with Kids – Exciting Half-Day Itinerary!

Happy Travels!

Two boys play on the beach, things to do in Kauai with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Kelli Wein

If you’re wondering which Hawaiian island to visit for families, we hope you found this Guide to Choosing the Perfect Hawaiian Island for Your Family Vacation with Kids helpful in deciding where to go! There are so many great qualities in each of the best islands in Hawaii for kids. Whether you’re looking for the bustling capital city of Honolulu on Oahu, teeming with fascinating museums and iconic landmarks, or the dramatic cliffs and magnificent waterfalls of Kauai, perfect for intrepid explorers at heart, each island presents unmatched beauty and excitement. Regardless of your chosen island, we know you’ll find the perfect spot for your family. Enjoy your family vacation in Hawaii!

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.