33 unmissable things to do in Hawaii with kids

Last updated on October 20, 2023

Things to do in Hawaii with kids - waterfall hikes

Hawaii is the stuff of dreams – an out-of-the-way paradise, famous for its dramatic volcanic landscape, idyllic beaches, lush greenery and laidback lifestyle. It’s one of the most beautiful destinations on earth.

If you’re planning a Hawaii family vacation, we’ve teamed up with expert bloggers to create an epic family bucket list of things to with kids in Hawaii. From learning to surf to snorkelling with manta rays, there are so many incredible family activities in Hawaii that make the most of the natural paradise and teach about the islands’ culture.

It’s a magical family trip (and one that should be on everyone’s bucket list of family vacation ideas).

We’ve split all the Hawaii kids’ attractions into the four most popular islands (Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai) as well as a section that applies to all of Hawaii’s islands or ones outside of the most popular.

See more of our family travel tips, including itineraries, city guides and tips for travelling with a baby, toddler and beyond.

Is Hawaii good for kids?

Yes! I think this list of the best things to do in Hawaii with kids is an answer in itself! You can see there are tons of awesome Hawaii family adventures to be had. But it’s also a super easy place to visit with a family. You can go for full all-inclusive vibes or opt for something more intrepid and hire a campervan. The only downside to Hawaii is that it’s expensive, so this is definitely a trip to save up for.

Which Hawaiian island is best for kids?

All of Hawaii’s islands have different flavours so will suit different tastes. But overall, Oahu is the one that’s generally most popular with families because it’s the most developed and has the most attractions and tours. Plus it also has the most budget-friendly options (in so far as you can be on a budget in Hawaii!). And if you stayed in Waikiki, you could do your whole trip without a car.

While Oahu is the most popular Hawaii island for a family vacation, it’s also the most developed island, which will be off-putting for some. So if you’re looking for something less developed and a little more laid back, you might prefer Maui, Kauai or the Big Island.

Things to do in Hawaii with kids map

Things to do in Hawaii with kids

Things to do on Oahu with kids

Get up close to turtles in Oahu

By Megan From Traveller’s Elixir

Photo by HARRY BUGARIN on Unsplash

One of the best things to do with kids in Hawaii is getting up close to turtles in Oahu.

My favorite place to see turtles is at Laniakea Beach, which is one of the best turtle beaches on Oahu’s North Shore. Tons of turtles can be seen basking under the sun on the sand daily.

The best place to stay nearby is Turtle Bay Resort, which also has a resident population of turtles.

Near Waikiki, Turtle Canyon is a famous snorkeling spot where you’ll get the chance to see a range of tropical fish, turtles and maybe even a dolphin.

Kids absolutely love seeing the turtles. It’s a great activity for all ages, but in particular slightly older kids between the ages of 5 and 12.

The best time to visit is between May and October as the water is warmer and calmer, which attracts more turtles. The turtles are most active during the morning and early afternoon.

Waikiki Beach

By Sierra at Island + Alpine

Waikiki Beach is one of the best things to do year-round in Hawaii for children of all ages. Many activities are available, tasty restaurants line the beach, the sand is expansive with plenty of places to play, and cultural activities abound.

There’s loads of things to do in Waikiki with kids. Check out Duke’s Canoe Club for a delicious breakfast buffet along the sand and Honolulu Cookie Company for free samples before you buy. Island Vintage Shave Ice is a must-do place to stop on a warm day.

The Royal Hawaiian Center hosts free hula lessons and lei, making for a taste of the local culture. International Marketplace has a fun tree house, splash pad, and evening story times for little ones.

Spending time on the sand is the very best part (and one of the best free family things to do on Oahu). Pack your sand toys and beach towels and enjoy family time splashing in the gentle waves and digging in the sand. If you’re looking for a quieter space, head down toward the end of the beach near the Hale Koa. Older children will love an outrigger canoe ride or surf lessons.

However visitors choose to spend their time on Waikiki Beach, it’s sure to be one of the best parts of their Oahu vacation. It’s also a good option for things to do with toddlers in Oahu.

Attend a luau

By Marcie Cheung at Hawaii Travel with Kids

If you like cultural experiences, one of the best kid-friendly things to do in Hawaii is attend a luau. This is a Hawaiian event that includes food, drinks, activities, and a Polynesian show.

It’s easy to do with kids of any age (including babies and toddlers).

A luau usually offers buffet meals, so kids can try a variety of local foods like huli huli chicken, kalua pork, sweet potatoes, macaroni salad, and so much more. It’s a fun way to expose kids to Polynesian cultures.

They have luaus on all four of the main islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. One of the best kid-friendly luaus on Oahu is Toa Luau in North Shore Oahu. It’s a locally owned and operated family luau. They are the only luau in Hawaii to offer a daytime luau in addition to their nighttime luau. Not only do they have some of the coolest hands-on activities for families, but they also include their own kids in every aspect of the luau. It’s guaranteed to be a hit with families!

Diamond Head Hike 

By David and Intan at The World Travel Guy

One of the best family friendly hikes in Oahu island is the Diamond Head hike, which is located right near Honolulu and Waikiki. This is an extinct volcano crater with amazing views of Honolulu city and a lighthouse by the beach.

The Diamond Head hike isn’t the easiest hike in Hawaii but is doable for most people of a reasonable level of fitness. Kids as young as five can do it themselves, or you could carry a baby in a carrier. Ideally you’ll want to start early in the day so you can avoid the midday heat.

The trail opens at 6 AM, and it’s much more manageable if you go sometime in the morning when the temperatures are still cool and there are less people.

Aside from that, Hawaii weather is almost always pleasant, so any month is good for doing the Diamond Head trail. A great hotel option in the main tourist area of Oahu is the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort, a Hawaii kid-friendly resort, which is located right in Waikiki!

Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center

By Anu Agarwal of Destination Checkoff

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the best places kids activities on the Oahu island of Hawaii and should be part of every Oahu itinerary. This is one of the best places to learn about Hawaiian culture and history in a fun way. Plan to spend an entire day here as there is so much to see.

There are six village exhibits that represent the six Polynesian islands. And there are many hands-on activities for kids to learn the ways of the ancient Hawaiians. 

There’s a nice show on the water with Hawaiian traditional music and dance, which kids love. And the Alii Luau is a great family-friendly luau with lots of traditional Polynesian food as well as regular food options and a show to go along with it. There are guided private and group tours to see the Cultural Center. The ticket is valid for three days, so you can come back again if you don’t cover it all in one day. 

Kualoa Ranch

By Melissa at Parenthood and Passports

Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu is not only one of the most famous filming locations in Hawaii, it’s also one of the best family things todo in Oahu.

From the island’s mountains to its coastline, the private-ranch-turned-tourist-attraction boasts stunning views of Oahu’s incredible scenery. But families will most appreciate the many action-packed activities that are sure to entertain even the most adventurous children. 

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Take a quad car on an exhilarating off-road drive down dirt paths, up and down hills, and through muddy puddles, on an adventure that is equal parts messy and fun! The quad car adventure makes several stops at famous filming locations for movies like Jurassic Park and Jumanji. 

If you prefer something more low-key, with less dirt flying in your face, you can explore the nature reserve on horseback. Knowledgeable guides ensure all activities are safe, so don’t fret if you’ve never ridden a horse or driven a dune buggy. 

While many activities at the ranch have an age limit, families will find things to do with kids at Kualoa Ranch that are acceptable, even if traveling with young children. 

Located on the northeast side of the island, Kualoa Ranch is an easy addition to any Oahu itinerary.

Learn about the history of Pearl Harbor

By Chelsea at Adventures of Chels 

For a great activity to do in Hawaii, head over to Pearl Harbor and learn about this important piece of US and world history.

Children of all ages can visit Pearl Harbor, but those roughly 12 and older would likely better understand the significance behind it.

Tickets to this historical site should be reserved online in advance as visiting time slots can fill up quickly. The USS Arizona Memorial is free of charge but there’s a $1 processing fee per ticket. Other sites around the harbor charge an admission.

Note that Pearl Harbor is easily accessible by both car and public bus.

Accommodations in Hawaii can be expensive. For a mid-range hotel in a great location, consider staying at Waikiki Resort Hotel. Here you’ll find clean rooms, a pool on property, and close access to the nearby beach and bus stop that will take you to the harbor.

Do Oahu’s Pink Pillbox Hike 

By Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Oahu’s Pink Pillbox Hike (also called Puu O Hulu) is a nice quick one-hour hike you can do with your family, which has a bonus of a history lesson included! 

The Pillbox Hike got its name from the little World War 2 bunkers (“Pillboxes”) that dot the ridge where the hike is located. Pillboxes were used in WWII so the US army could watch Hawaii’s coastline. Today, they’re interesting relics full of US history. And in the 2000s, one of the three pillbox bunkers that dot the ridge was painted bright bubblegum pink for Breast Cancer awareness.

There are two routes, one which is the steep route, and one which tempers the incline with switchbacks. If you’re hiking with kids, you’ll want to take the easier route. It’s not the best-marked trail, but if you see cables or a steep incline, you’ll know you’ve gone the wrong way!

While the hike itself is relatively easy, it’s advised to only attempt the climb in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the super-strong midday sun. Also, it’s best to come prepared with sunscreen, water, sturdy shoes, hats, and sunglasses.

Explore Kailua

By Noel at This Hawaii Life

If you’re thinking of something fun to do with kids in Oahu then head out to Kailua on the windward side of the island. The beach area is where it’s at with so many fun water sports to enjoy. The most popular are the kayaks that you can easily take out on the mostly smooth and shallow areas of the beach areas (see more below about kayaking to the Mokulua Islands).

After some fun beach and sun time, head out to town for some delicious bites, find a bar or café, or even a shave ice spot in town. There are lots of cool shops, galleries and mom-and-pop venues to explore and enjoy the rest of the day and into the evening in Kailua.

Kayak to the Mokulua Islands

By Rachel at Caribbean Uncovered

When the water is smooth and the currents are calm, rent kayaks and head to Lanikai Beach. From the beach, you can launch your kayaks (or paddle boards) into the water and start your journey to the famous Mokulua islands. 

This activity is best for families with kids that can kayak on their own, or you can rent double kayaks if you’re willing to paddle little ones around! The best time to do this is in the summer when the waters are calmer, and on the weekdays when fewer people are around.

These islands are known as protected bird sanctuaries, and the small one (Moki Iki) is completely off-limits to visitors. You can, however, spend the day at Moko Nui. You’ll find a variety of species in and out of the water. It’s a great time to sightsee and teach the kids about the protected species surrounding the islands! 

There are no hotels in Lanikai and very few rentals, so I’d suggest staying in Kailua. Hawaii can be overwhelming with tourists at times. But the beaches in Kailua are beautiful, and the town offers an abundance of activities away from the crowded beaches of Waikiki and Honolulu. 

Things to do in Maui with kids

Surfing in Maui

By Kristin at Global Travel Escapades

Photo by Kvnga on Unsplash

A fun activity to do in Hawaii with kids is to go surfing around Maui. It’s sure to have your family laughing as they wipe out, and smiling when they’re able to hang ten!

Similar to Tahiti’s surf scene, there are surf breaks that cater to all levels of surfers, so you and your kids can find the ideal spot. For example, Lahaina Beach is great for beginners.

That said, surfing is definitely more suitable for kids 6+ who know how to swim and are comfortable in the water. So, if you have younger children, it may be best to wait until they’re older.

In terms of the time of year, the best time to try surfing is during the summer when there’s less swell and the waves are calmer.

Nakalele Blowhole

By Pafoua at Her Wanderful World

Located on the west side of Maui is the Nakalele Blowhole. This natural wonder is a popular tourist attraction and is definitely worth adding to your Maui itinerary for kids ages five and up.

When you get to the Nakalele Blowhole area, it can be difficult to see where the blowhole actually is. But keep watch near the ocean side. At high tide, you might even see water shooting upwards of 50 feet!

You can hike down to get a closer view if you’d like, but not too close! It might be tempting to get up close and experience the force of the water shooting out of the blowhole, but it’s best to watch from afar as the tides can sneak in and pull you out to sea.

The trail is very rocky and steep, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes with grip so you don’t go sliding down the shifting hills.

To get to the Nakalele Blowhole, drive past Kapalua on Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30). When you reach mile marker 38, keep an eye on the left for a gravel pull-out area. From there, you can hike down.

Be sure to bring your camera with you to capture the majestic Nakalele Blowhole.

Black Sand Beach

For a unique beach experience, the Black Sand Beach on Maui is one your kids won’t soon forget. The beach, also referred to as Honokalani Beach, has jet-black sand, stunning turquoise water, and dramatic volcanic cliffs 

The waves at the beach are great for body or boogie-boarding, but due to their generally rough nature, are best suited for confident swimmers.

Even if the kids aren’t quite ready to take on the boogie board yet, they’ll still love the unique sand (but be careful- it gets hot under the Hawaiian sun!) and checking out the beach’s cave-like lava tube. The beach is somewhat better suited for slightly older kids, who can enjoy a more adventurous beach.

It’s found near the end of the Road to Hana and could serve as a great stopping point for the day if you’re considering staying the night in the nearby Hana, like at the Hana-Maui Resort.

Alternatively, it can be an awesome place for the kids to blow off some steam before you make the 65-mile trip back along this iconic route!

Iao Valley State Park

By Sam Opp of Find Love and Travel 

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

If your child is a nature lover, you should take a trip to Iao Valley State Park. It’s easily one of the best things to add to any Maui itinerary.

The huge 4,000-acre park, famous for the 1,200 ft Iao Needle, is the perfect location for children that love to explore nature and be grounded within the wilderness.

The park has so much to view, animals to see, and hiking trails that are suitable for children around 8-10 years old and above (although younger children could still enjoy other aspects of the park).

There’s also the interactive exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Park, which have produced a Nature Center for children to learn from. There’s even a specialized rainforest walk where you can swim in the river. 

We recommended that you visit early in the morning as it is likely that the car park will fill up quickly. Plus clouds sometimes move in later in the afternoon.

A great hotel in Maui to stay at is The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali. This luxurious resort has access to an incredible beach and is near Lahaina shopping. 

Sunrise on the top of Haleakala National Park

By Priyadarshini at Glorious Sunrise

Witnessing a glorious sunrise from the top of Haleakala National Park is a top attraction for families visiting Maui. The feeling when the sun slowly lights up the world when you are at the highest point on the island of Maui is incredible. 

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This activity needs reservations in advance. So be sure to check the recreation website and make a reservation before you go as they quickly run out. 

If the reservations run out, going up the mountain for sunset is still an option and it does not need any reservations. The sunset is also gorgeous from there. And if you stay a bit longer, stargazing here is a simply breathtaking experience. 


Everyone in the family can enjoy this activity together. Carry camping chairs or a blanket to sit on as the place is rocky and you won’t be able to sit on the bare ground. Though Maui has amazing tropical weather year-round, it does get cold at the top of Haleakala mountain – especially early in the morning and in the evening. So bundle up the little ones, dress in layers and have a thermos ready with a hot beverage to enjoy the sunrise in comfort.  

Stay in the Kula or Makawao area if possible, as it is close to the mountain and you can go up on a short drive.  

Turtle watching at Hookipa beach

By Priyadarshini at Glorious Sunrise

Hookipa beach is located along the famous and picturesque Road to Hana (see below) near Paia town. The beach is world-famous as being a windsurfing hotspot. But it’s a lesser known, almost hidden gem of the USA for watching the majestic sea green turtles on its shore.

From a distance the sea turtles look like rocks, but look closer by walking directly on the beach and you will be greeted with an amazing sight of sea turtles.

There are signs posted on the beach to keep at least six feet distance from sea turtles. Please follow the rules as this is a safe environment for the turtles and they are a protected species. Though just before sunset is the best time to see a lot of sea turtles resting on the beach, you can go at any time and find these gentle creatures along the beach under the sheltered cove. 

Drive the road to Hana

By Jess at I’m Jess Traveling

One of the best things to do in Hawaii with kids is drive the road to Hana. The Hana Highway, aka the road to Hana, is a scenic drive on Maui that consists of 52 miles of one lane bridges, hairpin turns and twisty curves.  Along the way, you’ll pass by jaw dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, pristine beaches and lush rainforest.   

This is a great activity for the whole family as most of the road to Hana attractions are directly on the side of the road, therefore not a lot of hiking or trekking is involved.  Highlights on the drive include Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Wailua Falls and Haleakala National Park.

Driving the road to Hana can be done anytime of the year, but avoid heavy rain days as flash floods can occur. If time allows, stay the night in Hana town. If you stay at the Hana Maui Resort, you’re in for a real treat.  With the right supplies and snacks, the road to Hana will be an unforgettable family adventure. 

[Also see this guide on how not to do the road to Hana with kids!]

Hike a rainforest and waterfall jump

By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

One of the best things to do in Hawaii with kids is to hike, visit waterfalls, and jump into the natural pools in Twin Falls, on the way to road to Hana on the island of Maui. 

While the road to Hana can be an amazing experience, you don’t have to travel too far on this famous drive to experience it. Near mile marker two, you can enjoy a kid-friendly, modest 3-ish mile hike in a rainforest area. This gives you access to several beautiful and fully accessible private waterfalls, and the chance to discover special features of the Valley Isle. 

Hike Maui lead families on a half-day hike and waterfall experience (including transportation and lunch). As well as getting to experience the spectacular rain forest on the road to Hana and swim in the waterfalls, our guide led us to private falls where we enjoyed swimming and jumping safely into the pools from rocks, directed by his expertise about where to jump. 

The cost for this five-hour, unique Maui experience on one of the best Hawaiian islands for kids is $155 per person. 

Atlantis Submarine

By Priyadarshini at Glorious Sunrise

The Atlantis Submarine is a popular attraction to do with kids in Maui. It’s a real submarine that takes you more than 100 feet under the ocean to explore the mystery of sea life.

This submarine allows 48 passengers and has a minimum height restriction of 36 inches. If you have a baby with you who can’t go on the underwater adventure, Atlantis allows a parent swap. That is, book one tour time for one parent while the other holds the baby, and then swap to let the other parent go on the next ride. 


Try and book this tour before you go as they run out of spots quickly. There are many colourful fish, sharks to spot, and beautiful coral reefs. They have fish species charts in the submarine in front of the seats, so you can identify the fish easily. The tour conductor runs a fun commentary and explains what you are seeing on each side of the submarine. This submarine is one of the popular things to do in the Big Island too.

Things to do in Big Island with kids

Volcanoes National Park

By Candice at CS Ginger 

Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a wonderful place for families to explore together. 

The park is home to Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Kids love to explore the lava tubes, view eruptions, and hike through rainforests. The park also offers a variety of ranger-led programs that are sure to keep kids engaged throughout the visit. 

You can visit Volcanoes National Park year-round. The park is located in a tropical climate, so the weather is generally warm and humid. You can expect the typical temperature lows to be around 48 degrees F, with the typical high being around 79 degrees F.

Volcano Forest Inn, Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast, and Volcano Village Estates are all great places to stay, located just a short drive from Volcanoes National Park. Enjoy your visit to Volcanoes National Park! 

Explore the Big Island’s waterfalls

By Sarah at CosmopoliClan

Things to do in Hawaii with kids - waterfall hikes

The beaches may be the number one reason to visit the Big Island with kids but there’s so much to explore inland as well. Tucked away in the verdant landscape, you’ll find the most amazing waterfalls. While some require an intensive hike, others can be reached with a minimum of effort.

One of the best Big Island waterfalls to visit with kids is Rainbow Falls, which can be seen from the parking lot. When the sunlight faces the waterfall, a rainbow appears on the spray.

Just a few miles down the road, there’s spectacular 442-ft Akaka Falls. A 0.4-mile loop trail amidst a verdant decor dotted with fragrant flowers is all it takes to reach the viewing platform.

Another beautiful Big Island waterfall is Onomea Falls. This one is located on the grounds of the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden. It’s very easily accessible thanks to the meandering stroller-friendly wooden boardwalk that leads right to it.

Finally, there’s the Umauma Falls. Not only can you spot the waterfall as part of the self-guided garden and river walk but you can also soar over it. The zipline experience is open to children from the age of 4.

Hike the Kilauea Iki Crater

By Anu Agarwal of Destination Checkoff

A unique activity to do with kids in Hawaii is to hike the Kilauea Iki Crater in Volcanoes National Park on Big Island. This is a moderate 3-mile loop hike that is doable by most kids over 5 in a couple of hours. The hike packs a lot of interesting elements in a short time which is great with kids. You will be actually walking in a dormant crater, which was once a molten lava lake. Even teens will find this really cool. 

First, you walk through a forest path and descend down to the crater floor. Then you walk across the uneven crater floor. You will see a lot of broken lava rock piles that are fun for kids to climb. Finally, you start your climb back up through a beautiful rainforest. At the end of the hike, you can explore a really huge lava tube, Thurston Lava tube, before returning back to your starting point. The lava tube is a particularly fun experience for kids! 

Snorkel with manta rays

By James at Travel Collecting 

Photo by Swanson Chan on Unsplash

One of the most fun things to do on the Big Island in Hawaii is to snorkel with manta rays. The enormous rays come to Makako Bay, an area near Kona Kailua, which is nicknamed “Manta Heaven”, almost every night. Seeing them is an amazing experience.  

Because this is a popular place to see manta rays, local dive and snorkel operators have set up a ring of lights on the seabed, and at night as it gets dark, these lights (or lights at the bottom of float rafts) are turned on and attract plankton. Microscopic plankton are the main food source for manta rays, so the rays come nightly for this reliable source of food. They come pretty much every night and watching them swoop and swim around is truly awe-inspiring.  

Dive and snorkel boats leave from the Honokohau Marina just north of Kailua Kona late every afternoon. Snorkelers are fully equipped and then hold onto large rafts, which either have lights at the bottom or hover above the ring of floodlights, so that everybody stays together easily and safely. 

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This activity is best for the kids five years and up, though some operators accept younger kids who have their own life vests. Children must all be accompanied by an adult, so this is a great activity for the whole family to do together.  

Manta rays visit the area all year, but the best months are November-December and March when the seas are calmest and the weather is mild.  

There are plenty of accommodation options in and around Kailua Kona. One top pick for families is Kona Resorts at Keauhou Gardens. They have self-catered apartments – and a pool, of course.  

Visit Coconut Island

By Lynli Roman of WanderBig.com

Coconut island is a tiny island of the coast of Hilo, HI that packs a full day of fun for kids and families.

This teacup-sized island is actually a city park with plenty of kid-friendly things to do for all ages. If the sun is out (and sometimes even when it’s not) you’ll find a line of teens and tweens lined up for their turn to jump off the diving tower into the calm pool of water below. For younger kids, the island features a number of small, shallow-wading areas with easy entry. 

When you’re bored with swimming, climb to the peak of the footbridge and peer into the water to spot sea turtles as they enter the protected waters on the other side.

Also on the grounds of this island, you’ll find flat, manicured playing fields for traditional sports, flying a kite, or just for laying out and sunbathing. When your crew gets hungry, enjoy a picnic or cookout in a pavilion. Learn more things to do on Coconut Island.

Coconut island is a great activity for families with kids of all ages. Because of the small size of the island, it’s easy to let kids roam and play while still keeping a close watch. Older kids can meet and make friends with local kids, who frequent the park to jump from the various levels of the diving tower. Parents and caregivers will be relieved to know that the island features well-maintained restrooms adjacent to the Pavilion.

Visit Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

By Tabitha at Travel Compositions

An underrated thing to do with kids in Hawaii is to go to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo on the Big Island. Wander through the only rainforest zoo in the country, open all year long, and walk along easy, paved paths (easy for strollers).

Kids of all ages will enjoy seeing exotic animals like Bengal tigers, two-toed sloths, ring-tailed lemurs, giant anteaters, and more in this 12-acre zoo. You can also see Hawaiian animals like nene (Hawaiian goose), pueo (Hawaiian owl), or alala (Hawaiian crow).

During certain days of the week you might catch an alligator feeding, parrots zooming on skateboards, or a chance for some hands-on interactions at the petting zoo. 

There’s also a significantly sized playground for kids to burn off excess energy, as well as covered picnic tables to have lunch. 

The best part about all of this is that entrance to Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is completely free! However, donations are gladly accepted.

Things to do on Kauai with kids

Waimea Canyon

By Faith at 3 Tickets Please

The beauty and vastness of Waimea Canyon, on the west side of Kauaʻi, is like no other geological site in all of Hawaii. 

Described as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, at 14 miles long and 1 mile wide, is not as large as the Grand Canyon. But its panoramic views, hikes, both long and short, and bright colours are something to experience with your kids while you’re in Hawaii.

With so much to do and see in Kauaʻi, is Waimea worth it? If you have some toddlers, the answer may be no. 

Instead, Waimea is a better destination for families with kids who are elementary and up, so you can enjoy more of the hiking the National Park has to offer. 

If you do want to see it with toddlers, consider a shorter trip where you stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout. This has a large viewing area and accessible path that your toddler can run about on while you chase after them with a stroller.

But for older kids, and especially teens, Waimea hiking trails, and particularly Canyon Trail, is a great Hawaiian adventure.

Sleeping Giant Trail

By Jody at My Travel Obsession

While in Kauai, be sure to hike Sleeping Giant Trail. This is one of the coolest hikes on Kauai. It feels like many trails in one, taking you through dense forest, climbing over boulders, and to the top where you will get a 360-degree view. 

This one is best for older kids, as it can be challenging for little ones. Make sure you have a really good pair of hiking shoes for this unique terrain.

The Aston Islander On The Beach is a great low-key hotel just down the road.

Lydgate Beach Park

By Sierra at Island + Alpline

Lydgate Beach Park is the perfect thing to do with kids in Hawaii. The park provides not only a perfect swimming area, but also an amazing playground.

Located on the east shore of Kauai, Lydgate Beach Park has a rock wall that provides two lagoon swimming areas that are perfect for families with children of all ages, but especially young children. The water is shallow and calm within the lagoons and the beach is sandy.

The lagoon also provides a gentle place for inexperienced snorkelers to give it a try. A lifeguard is also on site.

Across the street is a gorgeous wooden playground that will provide hours of entertainment and a break from the beach when needed. Plenty of large trees shade the play area and a large grassy area is perfect for running and playing.

Beautiful accommodations and amazing things to do can be found all around the island, but if you wish to stay on the east shore, Waipouli Beach Resort in Kapa’a would be a great choice.

Mountain tubing

By Jenny at See Mama Travel

When traveling to Kauai with kids, you absolutely must include a day mountain tubing with Backcountry Adventures. This fun and unique activity can accommodate kids ages 5 and up and is a favorite among most ages.

You’ll spend a few hours lazily laying in a tube while you float down the man-made canals through some of Kauai’s beautiful landscape. These canals were originally made for irrigation to all the sugar plantations back in the 1800s. After the sugar plantations were shut down, they were turned into an exciting adventure you can only do in Kauai. 

You’ll start with a fun ride through Kauai backcountry, seeing some amazing sites and learning about some fun facts, like what movies have been filmed there. Then you’ll get a tube and set off through miles of canals. Some wide and open through lush trees and vegetation, and some through dark tunnels (don’t worry, everyone gets a helmet with a headlamp!)

Mountain tubing in Kauai was one of the most memorable experiences we had while in Kauai. It’s a great activity for kids and families that can’t be missed.

Poipu Beach

By Jody at My Travel Obsession

If you want to swim with the fishes, head to Poipu Beach on the south shore for some of the best snorkeling in Kauai. The calm waters are perfect for even the youngest swimmers, there’s a lifeguard on duty, and restrooms nearby.

You cannot beat the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club resort. It is in the perfect location right on the beach.

Helicopter ride over the Garden Isle

By Jody at My Travel Obsession

A helicopter ride over the Garden Isle is an absolute must for all ages! There’s no better way to see the Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon and Manawaiopuna Falls (aka Jurassic Park Falls).

Several tours are offered from both the Lihue and Princeville airports. Be sure to book your flight early in your trip in case they need to reschedule due to the weather! 

More things to do in Hawaii with kids

Try shave ice

By Michelle at Intentional Travelers

Getting shave ice in Hawaii is always a popular activity for kids. This local treat is something the whole family can enjoy and is a great way to cool off on a hot day.

As the name implies, it’s made by shaving down a block of ice. Authentic Hawaii shave ice places make fine shavings, rather than crushed ice like a snowcone. 

The ice is then topped with your choice of syrups or extras like sweetened condensed milk, fruit, mochi (pounded sticky rice) or azuki beans. Some places will combine shave ice and ice cream as well.

No matter where you stay in Hawaii, the chances are good that you’ll find a shave ice place not too far away. 

Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is a longstanding institution in Haleiwa that’s worth adding to any Oahu trip. There’s often a line out the door, but it’s worth the wait. Plus, there’s plenty to do nearby on the North Shore, from shopping to surfing, spotting sea turtles to playing in the sand. 

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