Best Hawaii Island for Kids - Which One Should You Choose?

February 28, 2023

Warm aquamarine waters, cones of Tiger Blood shaved ice and iconic black sand beaches. Throughout Hawaii’s eight major islands, you will find endless wonders to encounter on your family Hawaii vacation.

However, how are you to know which is the best Hawaiian island for families?

Obviously, there’s no wrong choice. The best island to visit in Hawaii with your family will depend greatly on your brood’s interests, ages, and budget. Every island in the Aloha state is worth visiting, though based on your desire for adventure, amenities, and more you may prefer one over the other.

Have you been daydreaming about outdoor zip-lining adventures? Or would you rather pull on those hiking boots and tour an active volcano on the Big Island?

Are your little ones in love with Nemo? Then perhaps they'll get a big kick out of taking a snorkeling cruise to Molokini. Embrace the luxuries of a family-friendly resort, or opt to road trip around Maui in an open-air jeep.

Every island in Hawaii has its own unique appeal. As a result, the answer really depends on the type of getaway you want to experience.

Thankfully, our team of Pineapple State experts has scoured the internet to bring you the pros and cons of the islands of Hawaii. Read on to discover the best place in Hawaii for kids…

Hawaii Family Vacation Hotels

Before you break out that Hawaiian shirt and coconut-scented SPF, you'll need to decide on the best Hawaiian island for your family vacation. While all major islands offer up their share of kid-friendly resorts, it can be helpful to know the hotels that put in extra effort when it comes to little ones.

Get acquainted with our wide variety of Hawaii Hotels & Resorts, or dive into the best places to stay on a family trip to Hawaii. Whether you are seeking an oceanfront lanai or need child care services such as Camp Penguin, rest assured you'll find the perfect lodgings.

Psst..worried about preserving that vacation budget? Squirrel away your precious coin for some amazing Pineapple Plantation Tours or surf lessons, when you take advantage of our sizzling Hawaii Vacation Packages. From luaus to helicopter tours you can bundle your accommodations and activities and rake in the savings.

woman in grass skirt with flower in hair and child in red dress dancing with plants in background during day in Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Rock-A-Hula Hawaii via Facebook

Choose the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit with Kids:

Delightful Dole Whip, glass bottom boat tours, and the promise of seeing honu. Who can resist the allure of a tropical getaway? While all mini munchkins will be tickled pink by the promise of a Hawaii vacation, we would highly recommend dialing into your group’s specific needs.

Do you wish to rent a car and hit up those hiking trails? Or would you feel more comfortable soaking in the sunshine from your resort’s spacious private beach and pool? Want to be welcomed into the jungle? Maybe Kaui is for you! All of these factors will play a role in determining the most kid-friendly Hawaiian island for your ohana.

Tourists enjoying the beach at Diamond Head State Monument - Oahu, Hawaii, USAOahu

Why is Oahu the best Hawaii Island with Kids?

Oahu is ideal for families seeking sun and fun on the beach and modern city-style amenities. In addition to being one of the best Hawaiian islands to visit with kids, this island boasts the highest number of attractions and is the easiest to navigate.

Let the little ones live out their ‘cowabunga fantasies as they hit the waves, or peak at whales in Waikiki. From ziplining to topical turtle snorkels aboard a catamaran, there are tons of ways to keep kiddies entertained in Oahu.

Related Post: Things to Do With Kids in Honolulu: A Parent's Guide

Pros of Visiting Oahu with Kids: 

  • The sheer number of things to do on Oahu makes it one of the best Hawaii island to visit with kids
  • Plenty of food options, including choices familiar to kids (think chain restaurants).
  • Easy access to world-class beaches is the best part of Hawaii for families
  • The only international airport of all the islands, making travel easier with kids.
  • The largest number of hotels, making it the cheapest and best Hawaiian island for families.
  • Lots of interactive exhibits and luaus including the Polynesian Cultural Center

Cons of Visiting Oahu with Kids:

  • Oahu is heavily visited and densely populated. As a result, there are a lot of people and a lot of traffic.
  • When you stay in Waikiki or Honolulu, you have to deal with crowds and busy beaches.

Oahu is considered the best Hawaiian Island for kids due to its affordability (in contrast to the other islands) as well as the sheer number of things to do, and amenities it offers.

It’s also a good choice for families seeking a classic Hawaiian Island vacation. During a week on Oahu, you can experience the beautiful beaches of Waikiki, hike Diamond Head, tour Oahu’s North Shore, visit Pearl Harbor, attend a luau, and so much more.

Kids sitting and eating bowls of shaved hawaiian ice from Ululani Hawaiian Shave Ice in Maui Hawaii

photo credit: Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice via Facebook



Why is Maui the Best Hawaiian Island for Families?

Maui is the best island to visit in Hawaii with family seeking a bit of touristy fun but also wanting more remote adventures. Perfect for the brood seeking to inject a bit of off-road adventure into their trip, Maui boasts the stunning Hana Highway, cascading waterfalls, and loads of Luau options. Soak in the picturesque coastline via Jeep, or try your hand at hula dancing.

Pros of Visiting Maui with Kids:

Cons to Visiting Maui with Kids:

  • To travel around Maui, you will need a rental car and may need to rent car seats depending on the age of your children.
  • There are fewer paid attractions in Maui, so if your kids need lots of stimulation it might not appeal to them.

Maui is an excellent choice for families with kids of all ages. Due to its combination of things to do, from remote outdoor excursions to ticketed fun like luaus and cruises, have a wide variety of options worth visiting while on Maui.

Likewise, it’s easy to access Lanai, a smaller, lesser-known Hawaiian Island, via ferry from Maui. Beaches here are also some of the best in the world, which is sure to win over every member of the family!

Tourists on the yacht are enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Na Pali Coast.

photo credit: Kauai Sea Tours via Facebook



Why is Kauai the Best Island in Hawaii for Kids

Kayaking, snorkeling, and sailing oh my! Kauai is a top contender for families seeking a Hawaii vacation that’s all about the great outdoors. From the beach to lush, tropical jungles, this island truly lives up to its nickname of the “Garden Island.”

Older kids will relish the opportunity to spot tropical fish while snorkeling. While true athletic types can power through hours of paddling down the Wailua River.

Pros of Visiting Kauai with Kids:

  • By far, Kauai features the fewest crowds of all the main Hawaiian Islands.
  • Perfect choice for families looking for a relaxing yet adventurous vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Kauai boasts some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.
  • Some of the best Hawaii hikes are on Kauai. As a result, it may be better suited for families with kids who can hoof it on their own (this is not the best Hawaii island with toddlers)

Cons of Visiting Kauai with Kids:

  • Kauai doesn’t have a lot of ticketed attractions. The things to do here are centered on outdoor fun like hiking and helicopter tours.
  • Little to no public transportation so you will need to rent a car.

Kauai tends to be the best place in Hawaii for families who thrive in the great outdoors.

Why so? Well, this island is teeming with outdoor activities from hiking to cascading waterfalls to sun-drenched days at the beach.

Related Post: Hawaii for First-Time Visitors: 8 Tips to Know Before You Go

The unspoiled nature of the Kauai scenery is also some of the most spectacular of all the islands. This island really speaks to families searching for a true tropical getaway. Can't-miss sights include the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Tunnels Beach.

Family hiking with a baby through palm trees on the Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Big Island

Why is the Big Island the best island to visit in Hawaii with Kids?

Dazzling diversity is what’s on the menu for kids frequenting the Big Island. Appealing to your child’s sense of adventure, the Big Island is home to the famous Kilauea volcano and the Historic Hilo Bay. Families with older children may choose the Big Island for their Hawaiian vacation as it offers a mix of educational and cultural offerings, as well as a large variety of climates and things to do.

Cruise clear blue skies and admire the awe-inspiring views from your helicopter tour, or seek out the stars with a Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour.

Pros of Visiting Big Island with Kids:

  • A vast amount of activities range from zipline tours to volcano excursions.
  • Sea turtles are everywhere! The Big Island has the largest population of sea turtles of all the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Features a mix of city and country life.

Cons of visiting Big Island with Kids:

  • As there is an active volcano on the island, it could erupt and seriously affect your travel plans.
  • The Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands to visit which means attractions and activities are spread out. As a result, getting around tends to take longer.
  • Beaches tend to be rockier here than the other islands.

Visiting the Big Island is an amazing trip as landscapes and climates juxtapose each other at every turn.

Related Post: 24 Incredible Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Facts Every Visitor Should Know

Here, you can explore one of the world’s most active volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park before embarking on an adventure on the Hamakua Coast which features lush valleys and magnificent waterfalls.

Lava Flowing over cliffs into the ocean at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park - The Big Island, Hawaii, USAWhich Hawaiian Island is the Best for Families?

The answer to this question really depends on you and your family. Every Hawaiian Island beautifully captures the spirit of Ohana. As a result, no matter where you go, you’re sure to have a fantastic vacation experience. The best place for kids in Hawaii is really dependent upon what your family loves to do on vacation!

What is the Best Island for Kids in Hawaii?

Fire dancing, Diamond head hikes, and days spent soaking in every last drop of Vitamin D. There’s something about a Hawaii vacation that appeals to us all. However, the best family island in Hawaii will always vary group to group.
Traveling with toddlers? Maybe you want to take advantage of the amenities and offerings of the bustling Big Island.

Does your teen have their heart set on crushing Pipeline one day? Maybe check out Oahu’s renowned North Shore.

From perfectly fresh poke bowls to scoping out the emerald green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast, there’s no right way to tour the Aloha State.

Tell us, What Do You Think is The Most Kid-Friendly Hawaiian Island?

Share your top tips for a five-star Hawaii family vacation in the comments below!

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Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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