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Top 5 things to do on Hawai'i with Kids

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Journey into a land of sand, sun, and adventure when you visit Hawai'i. Bringing your kids to the Big Island is an opportunity for them to see a different side of the world and step into a paradise beyond their wildest imagination.

We’ve rounded up our top five things to do on Hawai'i with your kids! Keep reading to learn about some must-see places and activities for your family's tropical escape.

Hit The Hawaiian Beaches

Have you ever seen pitch-black sand? With all the volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawai’i, some of our beaches are relatively new and are famous for their pitch-black sand, green sand, and even sand from coral.

Black Sand On Hawai’i

Hawai’i has a couple of black sand beaches. The most famous black sand beach is Punalu’u, also known as the Black Sand Beach, located just 10 miles from Naalehu. With an expansive black shoreline, Punalu’u is picture-perfect. Families with kids especially love Punalu’u as it’s a great place to spot turtles foraging in the water and soaking up the sun on the beach.

Want to shock your kids? Take them to a beach that’s the same age or younger than you. Kaimu beach became a black sand beach in 1990 after Kilauea erupted and destroyed over 100 businesses and homes in the Kalapana community. While the waves are a little too strong for swimming or snorkeling, it’s still an interesting spot to include in your trip’s itinerary.

Green Sand Hawaiian

Visit Papakōlea beach on the southern end of the mountain for crystal green sand. Papakōlea came from a cinder cone left by the Mauna Loa volcano. The Mauna Loa volcano contains olivine, a green crystal. Olivine has been dubbed the “Hawaiian diamond” by some. The combination of olivine, black lava fragments, and coral gives the sand at Papakōlea a stunning green color.

Experience a luau

No trip to the Hawaiian islands would be complete without attending a luau! Join the locals and other tourists under a starry sky for a traditional luau. Our beautiful island of Hawai’i is full of rich culture. Music and hula dancing, history, food, and stories… You’ll get to experience it all and share it with your family.

Meet some wildlife

In a beautiful paradise-like Hawai’i, it should come as no surprise that the island is home to interesting and exotic wildlife. From beautiful birds on land to tropical marine life, your children will be excited to meet some of their favorite animals in person.

Tour an Octopus Farm

With threats of pollution and overfishing, octopuses have found refuge at the Kanaloa Octopus Farm. One-hour tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Feed Live Dolphins

Treat your kids to a once-in-a-lifetime experience when you visit Dolphin Quest. Small groups are invited for personal dolphin encounters. Learn about, feed, pet, and play with dolphins in an ocean lagoon. Proceeds from these dolphin experiences have amounted to $4.8 million of donations to conserve marine wildlife.

Snorkel with Manta rays

Take a deep dive underwater and explore a world beyond your wildest imagination. When you sign up to snorkel with manta rays, you’ll get to watch them in their natural habitat as they feed on plankton and navigate through the water with shark-like precision. The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the second-largest species of manta ray in the world with a wingspan that can stretch up to 25 feet, though the average is closer to 12. Learn more about Hawai’i’s manta rays in our previous story, “Five Fascinating Facts About the Giant Manta Rays of Hawai‘i.”

Visit Volcanoes

Almost every child will have to build a model volcano during their elementary school experience. It’s practically a rite of passage. Show them a real-life volcano when you bring them to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park hosts two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea.

Located 45 minutes south of Hilo, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to adventure. You and your family can enjoy hiking trails around scalded deserts, rainforests, and volcanic craters. You can also drive through Crater Rim Drive which has two overlooks to get an up-close look at the action. Cruise down Chain of Craters Road, which culminates in a road overtaken by lava flows.

Explore the Coral Reef

Explore pristine coral reefs and go dolphin watching when you book a tour on the Atlantis Kona Submarine. This 4.5-hour journey was voted Best Cruise for eight years in a row, and for good reason! It’s a safe, fun way to get an up-close look at the coral reef and all of the tropical fish and sea life that live there. They also offer a delicious barbecue lunch!

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