What are some cool things to do on the Big Island with kids? Does the Big Island have fun activities for families? Inside this post I'll share about all of the things we did on our first trip to the Big Island of Hawaii with kids!
What can kids do on the Big Island?
I organized this post into a simple guide for Big Island first timers! Here are some of the many things that kids can do on the Big Island.
- Go on kid friendly hikes to waterfalls and lava tubes
- Play and snorkel at the amazing beaches
- Try some incredible treat spots
- See volcanoes!
This post is my first timer's guide to our four day trip to the Big Island. We could have used another week, but four days was great for our first visit! It gives us an excuse to go back! Scroll down and dive into his post for ideas when you take your kids to the Big Island.
Why I didn't want to go to the Big Island
I was a little hesitant when my husband recommended we take a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. We've traveled a lot to Maui and Oahu with kids, but I wasn't so sure about trying a new island with young kids! I love repetition, routine, and familiar locations!
Trying new things and visiting places can be tough- even for grown ups!
My kids LOVE volcanoes though, so we figured we'd check the Big Island out! We announced our trip to my Toddler Approved Instagram Community and your enthusiasm and Big Island recommendations helped me get SO EXCITED! You shared so many incredible ideas and tips! We tried out several of them, so scroll down and check out the list!
My top tip for the Big Island with Kids
Balance your visit with "trip" days and "vacation" days.
The Big Island is BIG! It has so much to see and sometimes you have to drive a good amount to get there, depending on where you are staying.
We picked two days for focusing on Volcanoes National Park and hiking around and exploring the Big Island and two days to just enjoy the pool and the beach!
Top things to do on the Big Island with Kids
This post is broken down into five categories to help you navigate to what you want to find as you plan your trip to the Big Island with Kids!
- Kid Friendly Hikes on the Big Island
- Beaches on the Big Island for Kids
- Other Big Island Adventures
- Kid Friendly Places to Eat on the Big Island
- Treat Spots on the Big Island
RELATED: Traveling with kids? Here are some of our favorite airplane activities for kids!
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Kid Friendly Hikes on the Big Island
The Big Island is filled with incredible places to hike and explore! We love hiking with kids and found some great short hikes to go on with kids around the Big Island. Some of them even involved hiking and climbing through lava tubes!
- Akaka Falls State Park ($10 parking/$5 per person)- This was one of our first stops on our trip! It was rainy when we arrived, but we didn't let that stop us! We visited the bathrooms first and then we entered the State Park. The hike was pretty short and paved (0.4 miles). There are steps to get down to the trailhead, so it's not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Turn right when you get on the trail and do the hike (more like a walk) first and then end at the Falls! There were super cool spiders to see along the walls of the trail too!
- Rainbow Falls- This was more of a visit than a hike. We parked right near the falls and walked a few steps and could see them. The kids enjoyed watching to see if they could catch a rainbow across the falls. Early in the morning is the best time to see rainbows.
- Kaumana Lava Tubes (bring headlamps/flashlights). These caves were probably our favorite stop of our whole Big Island trip. Before we went to Kaumana Caves, we stopped at Ace Hardware in Hilo for headlamps. We bought each child and adult a headlamp. If you like to be prepared, buy them on Amazon and bring them in your suitcase to Hawaii. Once we were at the caves, we stopped at the bathrooms first and then we took the steep stairs down into the caves. It is almost impossible to go very far without a headlamp! We walked as far as we felt comfortable and then turned around. The kids loved exploring!
- Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (Spend a whole day!)- We downloaded the Gypsy Guide to the Big Island (which included the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park) and listened to that along our whole drive around the National Park. We learned so much history and found the best places to stop for pictures and views and adventures. We started our trip to Volcanoes National Park early in the day and spend the whole day here. Bring food, snacks, and drinks with you! We hiked around different trails while at the park and also drove the Chain of Craters Road and walked along the pathways and on the lava rock, including a quick trip to the Holei Sea Arch. The kids also enjoyed hiking to the Halema’uma’u Steam Bluff and Sulfur Banks. You can even grab this Junior Ranger packet for older kids. Need more ideas? This Volcanoes National Park guide is helpful!
- Thurston Lava Tube- This lava tube is part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. It's a short walk through the lave tubes (about 10 minutes- of 1/2 mile). The caves are lit with electric lights, so we didn't need our headlamps for this activity. After going to the Kaumana caves the day before, this was a little bit less exciting. I would recommend doing your trip to Volcanoes National Park BEFORE you go to the Kaumana Caves.
Beaches on the Big Island for Kids
We spent two days exploring different beaches around the Big Island! We definitely didn't have enough time!
- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach- The Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous in the Big Island! The highlight for us was seeing some sea turtles there! We didn't do much swimming, but we enjoyed playing in the black sand and turtle watching.
- Manini'owali Beach- This was a gorgeous white sand beach! The water was calm, so it was great for young kids.
- Hapuna Beach ($10 parking/$5 per person) This was a great family friendly beach! There was a lifeguard on duty and continuous waves, which made boogie boarding fun! There is also parking nearby.
- A-Bay Beach (Anaeho'omalu) for sunset and snorkeling! Wow! The sunset was incredible and the kids loved exploring here. There was also parking nearby and restrooms and places to eat.
Other Big Island Adventures
- Snorkeling or scuba diving with Manta Rays is a super cool Big Island adventure! My husband did the scuba dive and said it was INCREDIBLE! We may take our kids on the snorkleing part of this trip at some point if I can get up the courage. I don't love being in the ocean at night!
- Souvenir Shopping on Ali'i Drive- This was a fun spot to look for souvenirs to take home!
Kid Friendly Places to Eat on the Big Island
- James Angelo's Underground Pizza- this was so yummy! We ate in the car because we were all exhausted and I didn't want to go inside.
- Island Ono Loa Grill- Such a great stop in Kona! Delicious and the owner was so friendly and helpful!
Do you have any other favorite kid friendly spots to eat on the Big Island? Please share!
Treat Spots on the Big Island
I typically measure my favorite vacation spots by their treats! The Big Island did not disappoint, but sometimes more driving was involved than I usually like in order to try some of the treat spots!
- Makani's Magic Pineapple Shack- Yum! These treats were so creative, delicious, and worth the wait! We had ice cream and milkshakes. We went here after Kaumana Caves. It's located in Hilo.
- Scandinavian Shave Ice- This shave ice spot is in Kailua-Kona and is close to shopping and other fun places to walk and explore.
- Ululani's Shave Ice- Ululani's is our favorite shave ice in Maui, so we were excited to see it in the Big Island too! It was closed early most of the days we visited, but we managed to get there once! Yum!
- Punalu'u Bake Shop- The bake shop is famous for its sweet bread! Go early because they can run out! This was a great stop on our drive around the island.
- Tex Drive In for Malasadas- These malasadas were delish, but expect a line! They also take cash only, so bring it!
- Dole Whip at Queen K Texaco in Kona- Yum! This was a fun treat when we driving to the airport! Cheap, self serve, and delish!
We visited several other treat spots on the Big Island, but these were our favorites! We're looking for more treat place ideas for our next trip! Do you have any? Please share!
What else would you add to this list of things to do with kids on the Big Island?
Do you have a favorite activity or place that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
RELATED: Need more ideas for Hawaii with kids? Check out this list of Things to Do with Kids on Oahu!