From beaches and volcanoes to submarines and life under the sea, the islands of Hawaii have something for everyone, kids included.
Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful (there are lots of things you need to bring), but it can also be very rewarding to experience a new place through the eyes of children. It can even help them in school. Plus, it can bring out the kid in you, getting us stuffy adults out of our comfort zones and forcing us to try something we wouldn’t normally think of doing.
Luckily, there are plenty of activities on Hawaii’s islands that are perfect for both kids and their adult minders — ahem: soaring down a zip line in Ka’a’awa Valley where Jurassic World was filmed is not just for kids.
Eat your way through the islands (always say yes to macadamia nuts and shaved ice) and admire the natural views throughout the Aloha state.
Here are some of the best activities to experience with kids in Hawaii.
Dive into an underwater adventure
Hop on board one of Atlantis Adventures’ submarines and dive 100 feet under the crystal blue water to look for sea turtles, sharks, and eels who all call the ocean off the coast of Waikiki their home.
Find it: Atlantis Adventures, Oahu
Ride the Pineapple Express Train
Step into all things pineapple at the Dole Plantation, which started as a fruit stand in 1950 and now welcomes more than one million visitors each year. Hop on board the Pineapple Express for a 20 minute tour to learn all about pineapples in Hawaii and make your way through more than two miles of paths in the pineapple maze before cooling off with Dole Whip.
Find it: Dole Plantation, Oahu
Admire the views from Diamond Head
Take in the expansive views of Hawaii’s coastline from Diamond Head, which was formed about 300,000 years ago following an explosive eruption. The scenic hike is the perfect way for the whole family to take in Hawaii’s breathtaking natural landscape and in the winter you may even spot humpback whales down below.
Find it: Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu
Go nuts with nuts
Channel your inner nutty self as you tour the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation. Pose with a giant macadamia nut, drive through the macadamia orchards, and see where the iconic nuts are processed and dried.
Find it: Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, Island of Hawaii
Go back in history
Learn what Hawaii was like for the island’s coffee growers during the early 20th century at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Stroll through coffee trees, visit the original 1920s farmhouse, meet costumed experts who can show you traditional crafts and agricultural activities, and sip some coffee (adults only, obviously).
Find it: Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Island of Hawaii
Learn about the sea life all around you
Visit with sea turtles and walk underneath five different species of sharks at the Maui Ocean Center. Learn about Humpback whales inside the aquarium’s virtual whale encounter and learn about the history and culture of early Hawaiian villages.
Find it: Maui Ocean Center, Maui
Indulge during a luau
Feast on Pua’a Kalua, or pork roasted in a beachside underground oven, tuna poke and chicken long rice at this festive celebration that serves nearly 500 guests every week. Kids will love the desserts like guava cake and Hawaiian chocolate brownies, and adults will love the tropical drink they’re greeted with and learning about the area’s history through performance.
Find it: Old Lahaina Luau, Maui
Take a break in nature
Take in the natural beauty of Haleakalā National Park where you’ll find volcanic landscapes and a sub-tropical rain forest in the same park. Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger book and complete several activities to earn their Junior Ranger badges and be sworn in.
Find it: Haleakalā National Park, Maui
Play in nature
Kids will have a ball feeding koi, playing in a tropical jungle with bridges, tunnels and slides, and riding along on a train complete with log cabins and a covered wagon at the Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens. And adults will love the peaceful, beautiful setting as their kids go wild.
Find it: Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kauai
Learn on the go
Relax on a 40 minute train ride as you sit back inside mahogany passenger cars and learn about the history of the 105-acre Kilohana Plantation, seeing more than 50 varieties of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and more. Jump off the train just in time to feed the wild pigs, goats and sheep.
Find it: Kauai Plantation Railway, Kauai