waikiki beach and boat on beach

Planning a vacation to Hawaii and deciding which is the best Hawaiian island for kids and families? We visit Hawaii every year and have been to all four of the main Hawaiian islands so many times, I have lost count. We are experts in which is the best Hawaiian islands for kids because we know them so well and have been to the four main islands – some over 15 times – with our three kids at different ages.

While each can be argued as the best Hawaiian island for kids for a family vacation – depending on the activities you want to do – it can be hard to decide which island or two to visit. Because they are really quite distinct. And let’s be honest – you can’t really choose “wrong.”

But, deciding which island in Hawaii is best to take kids and which is best for your family will depend on your preferences and what you like to do. Sometimes you can find family holiday packages to Hawaii. So you may be able to visit more than one island on your family’s Hawaiian vacation.

We love all of the islands as they are some of the best places to experience culture, natural beauty and spend time with family. They are all special in their own way, with that true spirit of Aloha. And, all of the Hawaiian islands are family-friendly, so you don’t need to worry about that. But we choose different islands to visit each year, depending on what we want to see and do and the ages of my kids at that time

No matter which island in Hawaii you visit, this overview will give you some ideas about what each island is like and what to do with kids on the island. And hopefully, will help you decide which is the best island in Hawaii for your family.

Hawaii travel with kids can be stressful, but don’t worry. The post can help you plan your vacation. Be sure to check out my Hawaii packing list too (it’s the very list I use to when wwe visit Hawaii each year!)

This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase using this link. See my disclaimer. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

family with three kids in Hawaiian clothes wearing leis
There are so many fun things to do in each Hawaiian island with kids. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

A Few Things You Should Know Before Deciding which Hawaiian Island Is Best For Your Family Vacation

Perhaps you have been motivated to take a Hawaii vacation and visit the islands by a movie, song, or inspiring beach quotes. But there is something very special and unique about family vacations to Hawaii.

One of the cool facts about Hawaii is that each of the Hawaiian islands has a unique personality and feel to them, with its own state flower, nickname, and signature color. Plus, each island offers a wide variety of experiences that differ from each other.

Hawaii has six major islands that can be visited, though most people are familiar with four of them. Oahu, Maui, Kaua’i, and the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) are most commonly visited.

Ask anyone which island you should visit first for Hawaii or which is the best one to visit with kids, and you’ll get different answers. The truth is – in my experience from visiting Hawaii every year for over 15 years and with kids of all ages – all four of the main islands can claim to be the best Hawaiian island for kids and families. But some are better at certain ages.

And which Hawaiian Island is best for kids really depends on your kids, their ages, their interests, and their activity level. Hawaii travel with kids requires you to consider all of these things to make the most of your vacation.

And did you know that you can also visit Molokai and Lanai?

map of Hawaii
Map of Hawaii to help you decide which is the best island in Hawaii for kids in your family. | Photo credit: @ pavalena by depositphotos.com

Each Hawaiian Island Is Unique

Each Hawaiian island has a unique personality and feel to it, with a wide variety of experiences that differ from each other. And each one has its’ own special Aloha, with unique activities and sights.

You will also find a lot of culture on each island. As I love learning about cultures through food, rest assured that each island has great restaurants featuring amazing Hawaiian foods that are often of the highest quality and locally sourced. It is a significant part of any Hawaiian Ohana (Hawaiian for family) and a great way to experience any of the islands.

Each Hawaiian Island Has Epic Beaches

I am often asked which Hawaiian island has the best beach for families. Each island has beautiful beaches with gorgeous Pacific Ocean views. But some are better for toddlers to splash in, some are better for snorkeling, and some are better for surfing. Though Lanikai Beach on Oahu is often listed as the best beach in Hawaii for families because of its calm, blue waters and gorgeous scenery.

The best beaches in Hawaii can be found on each of the islands. So rest assured, no matter which Hawaiian island for kids you choose, you will have plenty of sand and surf to enjoy. That’s why Hawaii travel with kids is so fun because it’s one of the best beach trips.

How To Choose The Best Hawaiian Island With Kids

While everyone has their favorites, including us, which Hawaii island to visit with kids depends on what adventure you would like to experience on your family vacation. All the islands have kid-friendly resorts as well as timeshare rentals, where you can find epic travel deals and save money.

It’s just a matter of finding the best Hawaiian Island for kids and your family that fits your needs. Let’s look at each to help you find which Hawaiian island is best to visit for your family!

The Best Hawaiian Island For Families: Which is Best for YOUR family?

Oahu: Best Island For All Ages and First Hawaii Visit

If it’s your first visit to Hawaii, Oahu is a great island to visit. While it is the busiest, I love it because it is full of activities for all ages from toddlers to teens. You will also find beaches, history, culture, and active experiences for the whole family on Oahu, so it is a great first introduction to Hawaii.


view of diamond head from hotel room in waikiki hawaii
Waikiki, Hawaii Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Often referred to as The Heart of Hawaii and “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is home to the majority of Hawaii’s population. We love visiting Oahu, as it is also where Honolulu is located, as well as famed North Shore surf towns and surf locations, just some of which Hawaii is known and famous for!

We have been to Oahu numerous times with our kids, from the time they were toddlers until this past summer as preteens and teen. There are lots of things to do in Oahu with kids, which is why it is often billed as the best island in Hawaii for kids and families. It’s one of the best islands with activities even small children can enjoy. That’s one of the many reasons Hawaii travel with kids was easy for us the first time we visited.

It is home to one of the most famous and important monuments, Pearl Harbor. I definitely suggest you visit Pearl Harbor if you’ve never been, as its historical importance to our country is huge. That’s also where you can see the USS Arizona Memorial, which was one of the aircraft carriers bombed during WWII. It also hosts one of my favorite activities, the Polynesian Cultural Center.

But the variety of activities and adventures on Oahu, as well as exceptional restaurants and accommodations, makes it one of the best Hawaiian islands for kids.

One of the things that makes Ohau special for a family vacation is its famous surfing spots, especially on the North Shore. For this reason, be sure to visit this island if you are interested in watching surfers or seeing where many of the greats hang out.

Winter is often when the biggest waves come to Oahu, and it is one of the best times to catch a glimpse of some of the biggest and best surfers in the world on the North Shore. In summer, many of these kid-friendly beaches are calm enough for swimming.

waikiki beach oahu with people enjoying the beach
Waikiki Beach, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Important Note About Oahu

It is one of the more crowded islands, home to Honolulu and Waikiki. Many people from all over the world like visiting Oahu each year, and in fact, it is the most visited and best Hawaiian island for many families. And traffic can be a very big challenge (think Boston, Los Angeles, New York-type traffic) when traveling for activities.

Here are some of our favorite things to do and places to stay in Oahu. Note some of these activities are available with a discount pass.

Things To Do In Oahu With Kids

lobby of aulani hotel
Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa on Oahu, has rooms with kitchens and kitchenettes. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Best Kid-Friendly Resorts On Oahu

Here are some of the most kid-friendly resorts on Oahu.


Kaua’i: Best Island For Kids ages 5 Years Old and up and families who love adventure and nature

One of the greenest of the Hawaiian islands, Kaua’i is a beautiful island to visit, but I recommend it for kids ages 5 years and older. This is because some of best activities, such as visiting the Na Pali Coast, hiking and mountain tubing are better for older kids. It is the quietist of the four main Hawaiian islands, so perfect for a lower key vacation. But it is the best Hawaiian island for kids and any family who loves outdoor adventures on vacation.


Hanalei Beach, three kids in front of Hawaii sign with surf board
Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Kaua’i is called “The Garden Isle” and is – in my opinion – the best Hawaiian island to visit with kids ages five and up. It is one of the quieter, more laid-back, and more remote islands.  For families looking for which Hawaiian island is least crowded, of the four major islands, Kaua’i is the least crowded island.

And its range of incredible and dramatic scenery, from green valleys and lush landscapes to jagged cliffs to cascading waterfalls, makes it a sight to behold. There are many places on this island only accessible by air or sea.   In fact, seeing it from above on a  helicopter tour is one of the best ways to visit this beautiful island!  

Our family loves loves nature and outdoor activities, and for these activities, Kaua’i is great for family travel. We went when our kids were about 6 and 9 years old.

And the Waimea Canyon State Park was absolutely one of the best Kauai attractions to visit. Waimea Canyon State Park overlooks one of Hawaii’s best scenic treasures, the colorful Waimea Canyon, and it’s another one of the most popular tourist attractions.

If you are like our family, who loves ocean activities and seeing all the sea life, Kauai has plenty of water activities as well. Places like Poipu Beach State Park, Kee Beach, and Haena Beach State Park offer abundant reefs and are fantastic for snorkeling and viewing the colorful sea life.  They are also some of the best Kauai dive sites for those who love scuba diving. 

With so many wonderful and active things to do on this island, including catching one of the epic Kauai sunsets, there are plenty of family activities you’ll love. It is definitely a great Hawaiian island for kids who are school-age and above and is full of fun outdoor activities for adventure.

Here are some of the best things to do in Kauai with kids and the best kid-friendly resorts.

Wailua Falls Kauai
Wailua Falls, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Things To Do With Kids In Kaua’i

  • Visit Waimea Canyon State Park
  • Snorkel at Poipu Beach 
  • Have a family beach day at Lydgate Beach
  • Take a kid-friendly Hike at:
    • Iliau Nature Loop Trail
    • Kuilau Ridge Trail
    • Mahaulepu Heritage Coastal Trail
    • Ke’e Beach-Kalalau Overlook
  • Beach Day in Hanalei (one of the best beaches in Hawaii for families)
  • Fern Grotto and Kayaking
  • Discover the Na Pali Coast By Boat – A boat ride is the best way to experience the Na Pali Coast
  • See Wailua Falls
  • Koloa Ziplines
  • Captain Andy’s Boat Tour 
Hanalei Beach, Kauai
Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Best Kid-Friendly Resorts on Kaua’i For Families

Here are some of the most family friendly resorts on Kaua’i.

umbrellas in maui on beach in front of ocean
Maui is one of the best islands for families who want relaxation and adventure. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids


When families are visiting Hawaii travel with kids, I always recommend Maui. Called “The Valley Isle”, it is our family’s favorite island and we have been over 15 times.

While many think of Maui as better for honeymooners, I couldn’t disagree more. It is, in my opinion, the best Hawaiian island for families and the one we continue to return to year after year.

There is a reason Hawaiians say, “Maui nō ka ‘oi.” It means, “Maui is the best.”  It certainly is a favorite Hawaiian island for kids under age five, as there are lots of things to do with toddlers on Maui. In fact, our first visit was when our oldest was 18 months old.

A perfect blend of the solitude of Kauai and the vibrancy of Oahu, without so much traffic, it is a great Hawaiian island for kids. Whenever we enjoy Hawaii travel with kids, the island vibe is definitely something we consider and Maui’s vibe is the best.

Maui is easy to get around, offers a range of land and sea activities, has a large variety of kid-friendly restaurants, and there are several family-friendly accommodations.  Whether you are thinking of a longer Maui itinerary for 5-7 days or just a couple of days added on to a multi-island visit, there are so many reasons Maui is the best Hawaiian island for kids.

Here are some of the best things to do with kids on Maui and places to stay on the island.

kids in Iao Valley
Iao Valley is a fun thing to do with kids in Maui. photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Things To Do With Kids On Maui

Maui Ocean Club Resort pirate ship pool area
Pirate ship pool area at Maui Ocean Club in Kaanapaali, photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Best Kid-Friendly Resorts On Maui

Here are some of the most family-friendly resorts on Maui.

family on big island Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii is very family friendly. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Island Of Hawaii (The Big Island)

When thinking about which Hawaiian island is best to visit for your family, don’t overlook The Big Island of Hawaii. The Island of Hawaii gets its nickname “The Big Island” because it is bigger than all of the other islands combined.

This island is our second favorite as the best island in Hawaii for kids, especially school-aged kids.  Some of the best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii are perfect for kids!

It is very unique and beautiful. And it is really quite educational and a great place to learn about the history and culture of Hawaii while on a family vacation.  Visiting The Big Island should certainly be on your Hawaii bucket list.

The Big Island is a true testament to the incredible power of mother nature. Its varied terrain, volcanic rock landscapes, and of course, its very active volcano really showcase what nature can do!

From visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to mesmerizing water activities to enjoying some time on its relatively young beaches, The Big Island is another one considered the best Hawaiian island for families. It is a great place for kids to learn about and experience nature – up close and personal.

family in front of volcano on Hawaii's big island
Volcanoes National Park, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Things To Do With Kids On The Big Island

pathway to waikoloa village with volcanic rock
Pathway to the beach at Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Where to Stay On The Big Island With Kids

Molokai Point Break | Photo credit: Jon Spalding by Getty via Canva


Not far from Maui, Molokai is another one of the best islands in Hawaii to visit with kids, particularly older elementary and teens.  It’s called “the friendly island,” and for good reason.  It’s where the spirit of Aloha is a way of life, and that’s huge for Hawaii travel with kids as we like to immerse ourselves in the culture of every area we visit.

While you can stay on Molokai and there are many activities, often tourists visit it as a day trip from Maui. It is the best island in Hawaii to visit with kids if they prefer – and can enjoy – a quieter island.

very natural Hawaiian island with towering cliffs, rainforests, and quiet simplicity, Molokai also has beautiful beaches (though some can be dangerous when the surf is up). You can also enjoy hiking, traditional, and some unique activities found just on this island.

It is also a place where you will find “old Hawaii,” small family businesses, and a quieter way of life.

You can fly to Molokai on a 25-minute flight from Oahu and Maui. Currently, it is the only way to get to Molokai as ferries are no longer operating.

Here are some fun things to do on Molokai with kids.

Things To Do With Kids On Molokai

  • Learn about Molokai on The Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike
  • Visit And Shop in the town of Kaunakakai
  • Picnic on a quiet beach like Dixie Maru beach
  • Explore Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nut Farm
  • Visit Kalaupapa Overlook
  • The Kalaupapa Guided Mule Tour (for ages 16 and up)

Where To Stay On Molokai With Kids

Here are some of the most family friendly resorts on Molokai.

Manele Bay, Lanai – photo credit: iShootPhotos LLC by Getty via Canva


Lanai is the smallest of the inhabited Hawaii islands, and it is only nine miles from Maui. The island can be enjoyed as a day trip or as a place to spend a longer Hawaiian vacation. When we first decided on Hawaii travel with kids, we decided we would occasionally take a longer trip to spend some time on Lanai.

A former pineapple plantation, Lanai is known as the “pineapple island” because it once produced two-thirds of the world’s pineapples!

It ranges from pure luxury to rugged nature so there are people that think it is the best Hawaiian island for families who love a more secluded, adventurous dream vacation (or a bit of luxury.) There are no stoplights on the island, so it is quite a remote experience.

It is also home to two incredible golf courses, including the Manele golf course, which has three holes built on the seaside cliffs.

And, while some of the adventures on the island might be a bit rough for preschoolers, Lanai is still the best Hawaiian island for kids who want to experience a quiet, natural family experience. Renting a four-wheel drive vehicle is helpful for getting around the island.

Getting to Lanai can be done by a short flight from Oahu or Maui airports or on the Expeditions passenger ferry, which runs several times a day currently out of Maalaea Harbour.

Things To Do With Kids On Lanai

  • Lanai Horseback Riding
  • Visit the Garden of the Gods
  • Discover Shipwreck Beach
  • Enjoy Hulopoe Beach
  • Jeep Exploration of the island
  • Visit The Lanai Cat Sanctuary
  • Boat tour of Lanai with Trilogy
  • Snorkel at Kaunolo Bay

Where To Stay With Kids On Lanai

Here are some of the most family friendly resorts on Lanai.

Hawaii Rainbow
Rainbow in Hawaii. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Getting To Hawaii

Getting to Hawaii isn’t the most challenging part of Hawaii travel with kids as there are many flights from the mainland USA to Hawaii.  Sometimes you need to fly first into Oahu and connect via an inter-island flight.  There are lots of inter-island flights connecting the islands, so if you island hop, this is easy to do.

While often we fly to California or Washington from the east coast and then to Hawaii, there are some direct flights on Hawaiian Airlines from Boston and New York to Oahu. 

While airlines around the world fly to Hawaii, in the USA, we commonly we have taken Alaska Air, United or Hawaiian Airlines (our favorite).  If you want to really upgrade your experience, try Hawaiian Airlines business class.

You should plan on renting a car as well. While there are hotel shuttles, taxis and ubers, having your own car helps you explore the islands. DO BOOK THESE EARLY as car rental companies book up.

Best Hawaii Island For Kids FAQ’s

Is Oahu Or Maui Better For Kids?  Is Maui Or Kauai Better For Kids?

I am often asked if it is better to go to Maui or Honolulu with kids.  First, Maui is the island, and Honolulu is the main city on the island of Oahu.  We have taken our toddlers to both Maui and Oahu, and honestly, both are two of the best Hawaiian islands for kids. 

When asked is Maui or Oahu better for families (or if it is better to go to Maui or Honolulu with kids,) I always remind folks that  Oahu, the best island for Disney fans, hosts Disney’s Aulani in Ko Olina –  an amazing Disney resort. But keep in mind that Oahu is the most visited Hawaiian island, with almost 4.7 million visitors annually (in other words – very busy.)  

But, even if you don’t head to Ko Olina,  there are plenty of family-friendly and toddler-friendly activities and great beaches on Oahu.   It is also home to Pearl Harbor and the famous North Shore (for surfing fans,) so it is certainly worth visiting.

That said, if you have the chance to visit other Hawaiian islands, Maui is great for toddlers and kids of all ages because it has plenty of activities, great beaches, and family-friendly hotels and restaurants.  It is less busy than Oahu.  But it is more expensive than Oahu.

If you wonder if Maui or Kauai is better for kids, I would suggest that Kauai is great for kids ages five and older.  Most Napili Coast boat tours require kids to be at least this age, and this is one of the very special family-friendly activities to do on this island.   There are a lot of things to do on Maui with kids under age five.

Is Maui Or Kona Better For Kids?  

This depends on your kids’ ages.  Kona is one of the towns on the Big Island, whereas Maui is the island.

From my experience, I think Kona – and the Big Island in general – is better for kids who are school-aged and above.  This is because visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the best things to do on the Big Island, as well as seeing waterfalls from above in a helicopter, snorkeling, and it’s a more active vacation.   To truly see and understand and appreciate the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as take some of the hikes, you need to be a bit older.

There are great beaches for kids on the Big Island and it is a quieter island.  Its landscape is spectacular, with so much volcanic rock adorning the roadside.  But for active toddlers and younger kids, Maui is better for kids these ages.

Maui is also great for school-aged kids and teens, with activities like the Road to Hana, hiking, visiting (and jumping into) waterfalls, amazing beaches, surfing, and more.  But there are fantastic things to do with toddlers in Maui, and less so for this age group in Kona on the Big Island.

Four Seasons Ko Olina and beach in front
Four Seasons Ko Olina Beach, Oahu. Photo Credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Which Hawaiian Island Is Most Kid-Friendly?

When it comes to activities for all ages, Oahu or Maui would be my pick for the Hawaiian Island best for kids.  Both have lots of great activities for a family vacation, suitable for toddlers to teens.   

And Oahu has Aulani, where you can visit for a day and have breakfast with Mickey and the gang, as well as wonderful activities like Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and more.  Both have great beaches for families, and if you’ve never visited Pearl Harbor, you must! These are also some of the most popular tourist attractions, so you may want to plan your day ahead of time.

But Kauai may be the best Hawaiian island for families who love outdoor adventures and a bit more laid-back atmosphere.  Visiting unique places like Waimea Canyon (considered “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), boat rides and snorkeling on the Napili Coast, and watching the unique phenomenon of “Sprouting Horn” on the way to Poipu Beach make Kauai a great Hawaiian Island for kids older than five. 

And for school-aged kids and older, we love the Big Island. It is so unique and different and full of educational opportunities with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling near dolphins, and hiking, so it would be the best island to visit with kids if you are looking for a really unique island experience. 

We took our kids on a helicopter ride over the volcano and it was truly a spectacular site (and has helped my son in his earth science class!) 

But no matter which one you choose, all the islands will give you a memorable family vacation.

What Is The Best Beach In Hawaii For Kids And Families? Which Hawaiian Island Has The Best Beaches?

Hawaii is known for surfing and beautiful beaches. But are they kid-friendly? While some are better for surfers, each Hawaiian island also has great beaches for kids and families. In our experience, we love:


  • Waikiki Beach
  • Hanauma Bay
  • Kailua Beach
  • Lanikai Beach
  • Ko Olina (if you are staying at Aulani, the Disney resort or one of the hotels in this area. When it comes to choosing an island to visit, we often pick Oahu because we love staying at the Disney resort here.
  • Kailua Beach (one of the most beautiful on Oahu)


  • Kapalua Bay Beach
  • Kaanapali (but be careful with the current though North of Black Rock is calmer)
  • Baby Beach in Lahaina
  • Napili Bay
  • Sugar Beach


  • Hanalei Bay,
  • Anini Beach
  • Anahola Beach

The Big Island

  • Hapuna Beach State Park
  • Spencer Beach Park
  • Kekaha Kai State Park
Kapalua Bay Beach, Photo Credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Which Hawaii Island Should I Visit First? Where Should I Go In Hawaii With Kids?

If you are wondering if you should go to Oahu or Maui first for your Hawaiian family vacation, I always recommend starting with Oahu. It is a great overview of Hawaii, with a lot of activities and a bit of everything for everyone.

And you can visit Pearl Harbor, hike, visit the North Shore, take a movie tour at Kualoa Ranch, snorkel at Hanauma Bay to observe sea life, and more.  It is a great island for toddlers to teens.  It is often billed as the best Hawaiian island for kids just due to the many things to do and, therefore, its affordability.

Oahu is busier than Maui, especially with traffic, so by the time you visit Maui, you will be ready for a bit more of a laid-back experience. Though there is still much to explore on Maui, including the Road To Hana.  But we always end our island hopping trips with Maui, as it is our favorite.

I would then add Kauai or The Big Island to another trip, or if you visit all four islands in one vacation, save Maui for last.  There is a reason Hawaiians say “Maui No Ka Oi,” which means Maui is the best. I, for one, agree! 

Waimea Falls and people swimming in it
We love swimming in the sacred Waimea Fall. Oahu. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Which Hawaiian Island Is Best For First-Time Visitors?

In my opinion, Maui or Oahu is the best island for first-time visitors. The first time we took a Hawaii vacation, we went straight to Maui, and everyone agreed it was one of the best locations to spend time with family.  It was a fantastic Hawaiian location to see the natural beauty of the islands, the spirit of Aloha, and learn a bit about Hawaiian culture. 

The following year, we visited Oahu and Maui, enjoyed even more activities and culture, and learned about the differences between the islands. Since then, we have expanded our visits to include the Big Island and Kauai. 

Hawaii is an amazing family vacationfull of things to do, beautiful sea life, wonderful places to eat, and many places to explore Hawaiian culture. There are also fascinating historic sites like Pearl Harbour. And, of course, there is the epic surfing culture on the North Shore on Oahu and incredible hiking on the Garden Isle island of Maui.

But I do think either Maui or Oahu is the best place to start.  Both offer the best first introduction, as there are so many activities on both islands for kids of all ages (even toddlers).  Whereas the other two islands have a lot of activities that are more active and appreciated as kids get older.

How Can I Find Cheap Vacations To Hawaii For Family?

If you are looking for cheap vacations to Hawaii for your family, I recommend looking first for multiple Hawaiian island vacation packages.  Often a travel agent can help you find these. They have some amazing Hawaii travel resources

You may also want to look at Hawaiian Airlines, as they often partner with hotels, and the Hawaiian tourism authority to help find multiple island vacation packages. Also, the Hawaii tourism authority is a great resource for anyone traveling to the state. They are responsible for protecting the Hawaiian island brand, which includes the culture, natural beauty, and everything that makes this location unique.

There are also so many ways to save money for family travel on a budget, and I have many tips for this on my blog to make family travel to Hawaii more affordable.   

One note, though, is that because Oahu has the only international airport on the island and so many hotels (including the Hilton Hawaiian village), it is the cheapest island to visit on a vacation to Hawaii. That doesn’t mean you can’t visit the other Hawaiian islands if you have a budget, but Oahu is likely the least expensive.

Each island can be visited on a budget as there are plenty of outdoor activities (like hiking and gorgeous beaches that can be done for free.) But to get the most for your money, I recommend Oahu island over the other islands to anyone looking for the cheapest island in Hawaii to visit.

Maui Sunset
Maui sunsets on the Pacific Ocean horizon are breathtaking. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Final Thoughts On The Best Hawaiian Island For Families

There are plenty of amazing things to do with kids and fantastic kid-friendly resorts to stay at on your Hawaii vacation, whichever island you choose!  It is hard to say which is the best Hawaiian island for families because each one is a unique experience. I recommend basing it on the ages of your kids, interests and the type of family vacation you want to have.

Some of the islands are best for school-age kids or teens. But Oahu and Maui can definitely be enjoyed by families with toddlers. We have done both with tots, and both islands have plenty of activities for kids – even the youngest keiki!

No matter which island you choose for your family, you will be sure to experience the culture and spirit unique to that island.   And Hawaii is sure to become a special place for your ohana.  Are you ready for your Hawaiian vacation?

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  1. I’ve been to all of these islands but my favorite is the Big Island! I love the different landscapes and vibes in Hilo and Kona. And Volcanoes National Park is amazing!

    1. I do love the Big Island too, Colleen. I love Ken’s House of Pancakes as a great place to stop. But the Big Island is really very special!

    1. Yes, those are great ones to get started with. All of the islands are special with their own kind of Aloha!

  2. This is such a great guide. Before I began researching our trip, I assumed you could easily switch islands by ferry. Not so much. This helps people narrow down the options.

  3. This is a great article on the breakdown of the Hawaiian islands! For someone who doesn’t know a lot about Hawaii, but would love to visit there, I appreciate the start to determining which will be best for our family!

  4. Is there ever a bad island to visit? I have not been to Kauai (or Lanai/molokai) my kids loved Maui(yes not just for HM) and the Big Island has so much for kids. I can’t wait to take them to Oahu – i love Waikiki, pearl harbor is a must do and I want to check out Aulani!

    I pretty much want to do them all!

  5. We are returning to Hawaii in June for 2 weeks with our 7 and 10 yo girls. We were there 3 years ago and spent 1 week Kauai which we all loved and 1 week Maui which was also great. This time, we have to have a week on Maui again for work, but wondered if you would recommend 3 nights Honolulu and 4 nights Lanai before we head to Maui, or a whole week Lanai, or a week Big Island. Too many choices.
    We loved on Kauai that we could hike a different route every morning and swim at a different beach every afternoon and Maui was just pure fun.
    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Courtney! How wonderful you will be heading to Hawaii again. I would probably do 3 nights in Honolulu and 4 nights in Lanai over a whole week in Lanai. There is so much for kids to do on Oahu, so you wouldn’t want to miss it. But Honolulu is very busy so a few quiet days on Lanai would be the perfect complement to the busy Oahu days. I do think a week on the Big Island, if you decide to go that route, is a great amount of time, as there is so much to see there. It is very different, both in landscape, and activities. If you haven’t been to Oahu before, I really recommend it as there is just so much to do there. Check out my 101 Things To Do In Oahu With Kids post for some of my recommendations. If I can help you with any other questions, please leave me a comment or send me an email.

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