The Hawaiian Islands are just one flight away and have so many things to do. Here are the island-by-island highlights.
You can enjoy free Polynesian dance performances on the streets, at libraries, shopping centers and even churches year round, and the world’s most recognized hula competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival (www.merriemonarch.com), takes place here. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is off limits to young children, but kids will enjoy Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, Pu’ukohola Heiau and Kaloko-Honokohau national historic sites. For a snorkeling adventure, get to Kahulu’u Beach Park, where sea turtles come right up to the shoreline of the sheltered cove.
Known mainly for its Diamond Head volcano and world-famous Waikiki Beach, Oahu also boasts an impressive slate of cultural festivals. featuring visual and performing arts. Mele Mei (www.melemei.com), an annual statewide celebration of Hawaii’s music, hula and culture, runs April through June, followed by the Ukulele Festival in July. Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S., is a must-see for young kids.
With more than 30 miles of white, black and red sand beaches, Maui is the place to explore tide pools, take to the ocean or just walk along the shore. The most kid-friendly beaches are Baby Beach in Lahaina and Kapalua Beach. See pro surfers in action at historic Honolua Bay near Lower Pa’ia, or at Maui’s most famous surf spot, Pe’ahi.
Widely promoted as the wettest place on Earth, Kauai has amazing waterfalls. Visit Uluwehi Falls by kayak (appropriate for ages 5 and up), or Opaeka’a Falls, Wailua Falls and Waipoo Falls by land – without much of a hike. Zip lining and off-roading are popular family attractions as well. Other major attractions include Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. See the canyon and coast by helicopter, or drive the Pu’u ka Pele and Pu’u hinahina lookout points.
Carolyn Richardson is the mom of three and Assistant Editor at L.A. Parent