Though photos of Hawaii often showcase newlyweds and young adventurers, the islands are also a great place for a family trip. Children of all ages—we’re talking about you too, Dad—have all sorts of hands-on activities to keep them busy aside from the usual hotel pool. Here are six unique things to do in Hawaii with kids that the whole family will talk about for years to come.
Sea Life Park
Nestled into the mountainside on Oʻahu‘s southeast shore is Sea Life Park, an exciting space to learn about marine life in the pacific with interactive animal encounters. Families can choose to meander from tank to tank and watch the shows on their own, or swim with dolphins, kiss a sea lion and get up-close with rays.
Tide pools act as local children’s natural swimming pools and they love to spend the day exploring them. Hawaii’s plentiful turquoise-colored tide pools provide a shallow and safe area for kids to play, race hermit crabs, collect brittle stars, and meet new friends. A few great places are Baby Makapuʻu and Shark’s Cove on Oʻahu; Kapoho Tide Pools on the Big Island; and Napili Bay and Kuʻau Cove on Maui. Just make sure to check the water conditions before heading out.
Older children and adults will enjoy floating down the old flumes and gulches that once fed Hawaii’s agricultural fields. Adventurers hop on an inner tube or kayak in the tropical rainforest and let it take them downhill through tunnels, over mini waterfalls, and bridges. This unforgettable family outing is available through different tour companies on Kaua’i and the Big Island.
Maui Ocean Center
This aquarium in Māʻalaea provides visitors with an up-close look at some of Hawaii’s unique sea life and marine ecosystems. The entire family can awe over the native Hawaiian green sea turtles in the Turtle Lagoon and the numerous sharks and stingrays at the Open Ocean Exhibit. Adults can attend hands-on Hawaiian culture demonstrations or talks by wildlife experts, while children have a personal experience with different animals at the shallow touch pool.
For a fully immersive undersea experience book a tour on the Atlantis Submarine on the Big Island, Maui, or Oʻahu. Hawaii’s young visitors head 100 feet below sea level and marvel at a shipwreck teeming with schools of colorful fish, coral reef, eels, sharks, and maybe even an eagle ray or two.
Outrigger canoe ride
Four to six riders hop aboard an outrigger canoe and surf down the famous breaks at Waikiki Beach. Expert captains will teach children about the area’s history in addition to how to paddle, steer, and catch a wave correctly. The Beach Boys also rent out boogie boards and surf boards if after the excursion your kids still haven’t gotten their fill of the waves.