Contemplating a Hawaiian getaway with your keiki (aka kids)? The Big Island has lots to offer families with young ones. In fact, the activities on this island are as varied as the topography of the land. Travelers here enjoy lush rain forests, volcanic landscapes, and pristine beaches that come in more than one sand color. Not only does this translate to enjoying tropical breezes, Hawaiian music and a laid back beach lifestyle, there are many opportunities to teach kids about geology, horticulture, folklore and history. Following are only a few highlights they may enjoy:
Hilton Waikoloa Village
From cruising the resort canals in mahogany boats or riding the rails of the monorail to enjoying multiple swimming pools (two that include water slides) and an interactive dolphin experience, there is so much for a family to enjoy at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Rent a water bike, check out fish and turtles in the Hilton’s lagoon, or relax in a hammock. The resort even has an amazing kids club that allows you and your spouse to take a date night secure in the knowledge your kids are enjoying activities like glow in the dark golf, fishing or even a luau.
- Cost cutting tip: Purchase an Ohana Fun Pass at the resort. For just $39.00 a day, your family can enjoy a variety of resort discounts including 50% off Club Keiki, daily ice cream for four and the choice of complimentary self parking or two beverages. Use your pass daily and it pays for itself in no time!
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Places to eat
- Red Waters Café is one of those rare eateries that can be an intimate date night locale or a place to dine with the whole family. The chef’s 8-year-old played a role in making this place kid-friendly cool when she designed the keiki menu and many of the cafe’s young customers are raving about it!
- The Lagoon Spoon: Breakfast could only happen this way while on vacation! Located at the Hilton Waikoloa, patrons choose two cereals, two toppings (like Skittles and M&Ms) and pour the milk. Just be sure to have a great physically exerting activity (like swimming) planned for when the sugar high kicks in!
- Scandinavian Shave Ice: Need to cool off after a day at the beach? Here’s a tasty solution; share a huge serving of shave ice encasing your favorite ice cream and frozen yogurt flavor. Don’t let the line out the door dissuade you, this place is worth the wait!
- The Kona Inn Restaurant : The patio of the Kona Inn is one of the best places to catch a Hawaiian sunset. The show is so good in fact, that patrons have been known to applaud. While the kids menu is a little limited here, the lawn just off the patio is ample. The kids can run around in plain view while you enjoy watching that orange ball drop below the waves on the horizon.
- Departing daily from the famous Kailua-Kona Pier,Body Glove Cruises offer a great family excursion for scouting dolphins, spotting whales and swimming with the fish. On the day we sailed, the passengers ranged in age from 2-48 and all of them snorkeled!
- La’aloa Beach: Also known as Magic Sands Beach, this place is loaded with local flavor. Don’t be surprised if a few of the nearby residents show up with guitars and ukuleles; it turned out to be one of the most musical days we’d ever had at the beach!
- The Hawaiian Vanilla Company: Founded by a young family more than two decades ago, this farm in the green hills of Paauilo is a great place to learn about the many uses of vanilla and what one family accomplished with a dream and a bit of courage. Your family will also sample Vanilla lemonade!
- Rainforest Zoo : This quirky little zoo and playground is a great place to break up a road trip around the Big Island. Located outside Hilo, not only are you able to get a close look at many of the animal residents; you are exposed to a lot of amazing and unusual tropical plants. It also comes at the best price — free!
- Think of it as Hilo’s “Walk of Fame,” Banyan Tree Drive is a pretty little nod to celebrities who had the trees planted before it was even hip to be green. Among the roster of sponsors are Babe Ruth, Cecil B. De Mille, Richard and Pat Nixon, and Amelia Earhart. While some trees have been lost to tsunamis and tidal wave actions on the Hilo coast line, fifty trees still line Banyan Tree Drive.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: To call this park amazing is an understatement. From the Chain of Craters Road to the Thurston Lava Tube, nature’s hand in molding the Big Island is put into great context here. The terrain of the park can change in just a few minutes too. Lush and green at one site, it can suddenly be a mix of black and gray at the next stop. The kids will enjoy hiking, exploring, and learning the folklore behind the natural wonders throughout this park.
- Hapuna Beach: This sweeping stretch of beach is fun for boogie boarding, body surfing, sand castle building or people watching. Bring your own picnic or stop by the snack bar/boogie board rental for the best guava shake ever!
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