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6 Mar 2024
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Big Island

Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, a paradise that encourages families worldwide to visit with lush forests, lava-ridden landscapes, rich cultural activities, gorgeous beaches, and endless holiday adventure opportunities. As one of the most family-friendly destinations on the planet, the Big Island offers an array of activities that promise to captivate both the young and the young at heart. Whether exploring the wonders of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park or relaxing on a green sand beach, there's surely something here for everyone.

With Hawaiʻi Life's vacation properties, finding the perfect base for your family's Big Island adventure has never been easier. With a wide variety of comfortable vacation rentals to choose from, we know that your family holiday will be as relaxing asit is memorable. Dive into our guide to the top 10 things to do with your kids on the Big Island, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the heart of Hawaiʻi's stunning natural beauty and cultural richness.

Family-friendly Activities on the Big Island

1. Visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Discover the majestic Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, a thrilling landscape where the earth's most primal forces come to life. This unparalleled natural wonder offers families an extraordinary opportunity to explore the dynamic processes of volcanism, evolution, and native Hawaiian culture amidst its vast, otherworldly terrain. From the smoldering craters of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to the lush rainforests that decorate their slopes, the park is a living classroom brimming with learning opportunities.

A family-friendly trail, like the Kīpukapuaulu Trail, is an easy loop that introduces you to the park's diverse ecosystems and volcanic landscapes. For young adventurers eager to learn and explore, the Junior Ranger Program is a must-do, offering engaging activities to educate kids about the park's natural wonders and Hawaiian cultural significance.

2. Check Out Ocean Riders SeaHorse Farm 

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of seahorses at the Ocean Riders SeaHorse Farm in Kona, where conservation meets education in a unique aquatic experience. This one-of-a-kind marine haven is dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating these mystical little creatures. Here's a family-friendly activity in Hawaiʻi that offers a rare glimpse into the life of seahorses and their unique role in the ocean's ecosystem.

The Sea Horse Farm's mission goes beyond providing visual displays; it aims to educate and inspire visitors about Hawaiʻi marine conservation through hands-on, interactive tours. Children and adults alike have a super cool opportunity to engage with seahorses in a controlled environment and learn about their life cycle, habitat, and challenges in the wild. With this interactive approach, all visitors will leave the Farm with a deep, personal connection with these delicate little ocean dwellers. 

Hands down, this is a must-visit destination for families visiting the Big Island. Make sure you reserve your tickets ahead of time to guarantee your visit.

3. Attend a Luau

Attending a luau on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi is more than just an activity for tourists. It's a vibrant celebration of Hawaiian culture and history. This traditional Hawaiian feast, rooted in ancient ceremonies, offers guests an evening of yummy food, rhythmic music, Polynesian dance, and storytelling. 

When choosing a family-friendly luau in Hawaiʻi, look for productions geared to all ages for entertainment and cultural education. Search for a luau with a full menu to satisfy every palate, from traditional dishes like kalua pork and poi to kid-friendly options. Check to see if the luau includes activities like hula lessons or lei making, a great way for everyone to learn Hawaiʻi's traditions. You will surely enjoy an evening of yummy food, exciting performances, and rich Hawaiian culture by selecting the right luau for your family. 

When enjoying a Big Island vacation with kids, look into the following luaus. They're all great for kids and provide Hawaiian cultural activities like hula dance classes, lei making, kapa stamp making, and more before the dinner show starts. 

4. Explore the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens

Located in Hilo, the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is a gorgeous sanctuary for wildlife viewing on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. This enchanting zoo is set in a natural rainforest, creating a magical environment for all the diverse species that call it home. 

Upon arrival at this 12-acre Big Island zoo, visitors are welcomed by the sights and sounds of rare and exotic animals. Housing mammals, reptiles, and rare birds, visitor highlights include seeing the two Bengal Tigers (white and orange), the Two-toed Sloth, a Ring-tailed Lemur, a Spider Monkey, an Amazon Parrot, and more.

This Big Island zoo is not just a place to observe wildlife; it's an educational journey into conservation and animal care. Through its educational programs, the zoo provides invaluable lessons on preserving natural habitats and the roles different species play in a rainforest ecosystem. Kids and families can engage in interactive experiences, gaining insights into the lives of these rare animals and the efforts made to protect them. 

The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is a beautiful place to connect with nature and learn about the delicate balance of life in a Hawaiʻi rainforest environment.

5. Visit the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo 

The Mokupāpapa Discovery Center (MDC) in Hilo educates the public about marine conservation and the unique ecosystem of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 

This center offers an immersive experience into the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's diverse marine environments, making it accessible and engaging for visitors of all ages. FYI, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is also a UNESCO World Heritage site

Among MDC's interactive exhibits, the 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium is a standout, providing a glimpse into this protected ocean region's rare and colorful underwater life. Life-size wildlife models further enhance the educational experience, allowing children and adults alike to appreciate the scale and beauty of Hawaiʻi's marine creatures. Also great for cute photo ops! The MDC's dedication to showcasing and protecting marine biodiversity offers an invaluable learning opportunity for everyone interested in preserving the worldʻs oceans.

The Mokupāpapa Discovery Center has free entry for all visitors, and it's located in the historic S. Hata Building in Downtown Hilo.

6. Get Some Treats at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company's Visitor's Center

See the fascinating world of macadamia nut production at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company's Visitor's Center. Here's where the journey from tree to treat is revealed! 

Situated in Waimea, the Visitorʻs Center offers guests an overview of manufacturing macadamia nuts into store-bought products. Although they do not provide a full factory tour, you can see their operations through a viewing window. See firsthand the care and dedication that goes into producing these rich, buttery nuts. The visit is further enjoyed with tastings, allowing you to savor the natural ono (yummy) goodness of macadamias in various forms. 

Visiting Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company is a great family activity for those who want to learn more about local manufacturing and Hawaiʻi's agricultural heritage. The staff is super friendly and informative, and there's also a great gift shop for buying those need-to-have Hawaiʻi treats to bring home as gifts for family and friends. 

7. Cool Down with a Shave Ice

Shave ice is not just a refreshing treat in Hawaiʻi; it's a cultural icon loved by locals and visitors alike. For your kids, tasting this frosty, juicy treat will be a highlight of their vacation. Most likely more than once!

This fluffy, snow cone-like dessert is a perfectly cooling treat after a hot beach day or afternoon exploring. The Big Island boasts some of the best spots for authentic shave ice throughout Hawaiʻi's islands. 

So, how is this frosty dessert made? After the snowcone is molded, fresh fruit juices or syrups are poured over the icy dome, and then you can choose from toppings like gummy bears, Azuki beans, dribbled condensed milk, sprinkles, and so many more. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to enjoy Hawaiʻi's fresh, local fruit flavors in a cooling dessert. 

You'll find shave ice spots throughout the island, and some notable mentions include Gecko Girls Shave Ice in Kona, Original Big Island Shave Ice Company in Waikoloa Village, and Wilson's By the Bay in Hilo. These local spots offer their unique take on Hawaiʻi's favorite treat. Enjoy!

8. Adventure to a Hawaiʻi Waterfall

Exploring the waterfalls on the Big Island is for sure a magical experience for families to witness Hawaiʻi's natural beauty. 

Two easily accessible and family-friendly options are the Akaka Falls Loop Trail and Kamae'e Falls in the World Botanical Gardens. The Akaka Falls Loop Trail is a paved path that leads to a breathtaking 442-foot waterfall, making it a safe and scenic walk for those with young kids. Similarly, Kamae'e Falls, located within the gorgeous setting of the World Botanical Gardens, offers a safe environment for families to enjoy the beauty of cascading waters amidst lush and fragrant Hawaiʻi flora and fauna.

When visiting these Big Island natural wonders, it's essential to adhere to safety tips and signage, stay on marked trails, keep a close watch on your kids, and wear appropriate footwear to prevent slipping. These precautions ensure your family can safely enjoy the Big Island's waterfalls while creating family memories that will not be soon forgotten.

9. Take a Stroll at Liliʻuokalani Gardens in Hilo 

Visiting the Liliʻuokalani Gardens in Hilo offers a calm and welcomed escape for stretching your legs from road-tripping while enjoying the beautiful Japanese-style gardens. 

Spanning over 24.14 acres, this free public garden is a lush Big Island haven. It's named after Queen Liliʻuokalani as a tribute to her as she donated the original 5 acres of land in 1907. The park features traditional Japanese bridges, ponds, and teahouses, all with a stunning backdrop of Hilo Bay. 

Families can enjoy various kid-friendly activities like feeding the Koi fish, exploring winding paths, and discovering the small islands connected by bridges. As mentioned, it's a perfect destination for a stroll and also an ideal spot to stop for a picnic lunch. 

Here's a great Big Island spot for kids to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of Hawaiʻi.

10. Visit the Hawaiʻi Keiki Museum in Kona

Three dedicated Big Island moms founded Kailua-Kona's Hawaiʻi Keiki Museum. It's a non-profit organization focused on providing interactive learning experiences through a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) lens. This museum is a real treasure trove for creativity and exploration, offering exhibits and events that surely captivate the young minds of residents and visiting children. From Circus Camp and Hip Hop Tuesdays to Kids Finance Workshops, there's always something engaging for kids to do here. 

Hawaiʻi Keiki Museum is also ideal for a rainy day as all activities are indoors. The museum also features a delightful gift shop perfect for finding fun and educational Hawaiʻi souvenirs. Donations (cash or goods) are warmly welcomed, and they have diaper and toy donation bins near the entry. Supporting the museum's mission to inspire and educate the next generation of innovators and thinkers is paramount. Make sure to stop next time you’re passing through Kailua-Kona!


As we conclude our journey through the 10 Things to Do with Your Kids on the Big Island, it's clear that this Hawaiʻi paradise offers every family member an abundance of fun vacation experiences. 

From the educational encounters with nature and culture at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and the Ocean Riders SeaHorse Farm to the interactive explorations at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center and the Hawaiʻi Keiki Museum, there's no shortage of family activities on the Big Island. The Big Island's rich landscape of activities, from traditional luaus to serene walks through Liliʻuokalani Gardens, allows visitors to enjoy all the rare and unique aspects of Hawaiʻi's biggest isle.

We encourage families to dive into these experiences, each designed to enrich your visit with learning, relaxation, and adventure. And remember, the perfect family getaway begins with the perfect stay. Hawaiʻi Life is your gateway to a Hawaiʻi family holiday filled with good vibes and the spirit of Aloha.

For detailed information about the vacation rentals offered by Hawaʻ'i Life, situated closest to your desired vacation destinations, please don't hesitate to contact us today.

Contact us at | Call: 855.447.3685