Looking for some family-friendly activities for your next Big Island vacation?
Last summer, I took my 15-month old son to the Big Island (Island of Hawai’i) which is one of my all-time favorite places to visit. I’m originally from O’ahu, but there is something special about the Big Island that keeps me coming back.
Reasons to Visit
If your family is into nature and likes the outdoors, the Big Island is a good place to visit. You can visit black sand beach, swim with manta rays, and see volcanoes! It’s the perfect place for hiking, biking, zip lining, riding horses, snorkeling, and other outdoor activities. The Big Island has a lot to offer for everyone.
10 Things to Do
Here’s a list of 10 things to do on the Big Island with your family and a few bonus ideas.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Stop by one of the coolest national parks in the world! At the park, visit the Jaggar Museum, Thurston Lava Tube, and drive down Crater Rim Drive (Chain of Crater Roads was closed when we went) for a worthwhile trip. At the very end of the 11-mile drive, you can see a gorgeous view of the ocean and walk among the hardened lava that took over a town. (Tip: If you are military, you can rent cabins at Kilauea Military Camp).
- Hapuna Beach State Park. Hapuna Beach is a great place for families to enjoy the water or have a picnic outside. It is one of the first beaches I visited on the Big Island. It’s also one of the best beaches out there!
- Hilo Farmer’s Market (Saturday and Wednesday). I love looking at all the goods Hilo’s Farmer’s Market has to offer, but especially the unique flowers I bought which I haven’t found anywhere else.
- Akaka Falls. A super easy “hike” to see a waterfall. (Note: the winter will probably provide the most spectacular views due to the rain).
- Macadamia Nut or Coffee Farm. Seek out a Macadamia or Coffee Farm to explore. It can be a great learning experience and you can purchase some gifts to take home. (Note: the Mauna Loa farm was OK. Better ones exist!).
- Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. This is a really pretty park with Japanese influence. This park is a great place to visit for a picnic or quick stroll! It’s very peaceful here.
- Big Island Candies. These shortbread cookies are beyond amazing. Stop by Big Island Candies for their famous chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies. I love their free samples, so I know what I’m buying beforehand.
- Two Ladies Kitchen. If you are a fan of mochi, this is the place! The main reason I went to the Big Island last summer was to purchase their strawberry mochi, but they were CLOSED! (Tip: order your mochi ahead of time for pick-up before 12:00 p.m. and check online for their hours. Also, children under 3 should not consume mochi, a rice cake dessert that can be quite chewy).
- Mauna Kea (Summit for age 16+ only). View billions of stars and see world-class telescopes at the Mauna Kea summit. If your children are older than 16, this can be a memorable experience! If not, you won’t be able to go further than the visitor center (Note: do not bring children under 16. Not worth it due to the possible health risks. Freezing cold/high altitude conditions).
- Historic Kailua Village. Take a walk through this vibrant beach town, enjoy the sunset, grab a bite to eat, or visit a a historic site like Hulihee Palace. This was a very scenic walk for us and my toddler burned a TON of energy. If you haven’t already, you MUST indulge in a local-style plate lunch.
Here are some additional ideas which may help you come up with some options for your visit. I always wanted to do these, but haven’t got a chance yet.
- Black Sand Beach (need to make this a priority!). It’s not everyday that you can see a black sand beach.
- Swim with Manta Rays. Swim at night and have your flashlight attract gigantic manta rays. I admit this may be a bit scary, but it sounds very fun.
- Kealakekua Bay (Captain Cook). A great place to snorkel. I’m dying to go here!
- Waipio Valley. See incredible views.
- Visit the City of Refuge. A lot of Hawaiian history to learn about here.
- Zip Line. A fun activity if you aren’t afraid of heights.
What would you like to do on the Big Island? If you have been to the island of Hawai’i, what was your most memorable experience? I can definitely say my most memorable place is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I spent most of my time here. There’s no place like it.