By: Karilyn Owen of No Back Home
Children: Cian, age 4.5 years
Hawaii with Kids
When most people think of Hawaii, the image that comes to mind is of laying on the beach, relaxing while the sun sets over the ocean. You can do this on the Big Island of Hawaii, but if that’s all you do, you will miss out on so much more that the island has to offer. The largest of the Hawaiian islands has it all, from active volcanoes and lush rain forests to sandy beaches and snow capped peaks. The Big Island offers something for everyone, making it a great destination for families who love to get out and explore.
We went to Hawaii on a spur of the moment week-long holiday to celebrate my nonexistent leap day birthday (as has become the tradition!). Given that we were road-tripping around the island, spending little time at our hotels, we opted to mix our accommodation up with more traditional Hawaiian motels, glamping and a few luxury rooms thrown in for pampering.
Flying into Kona we made our way to Captain Cook for two nights at the traditional Manago Hotel. While basic, it met our needs and served some of the best food we had on the island. Number one on our list was a visit to the City of Refuge (Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park) where my son earned his 9th Junior Park Ranger badge.
A visit to Kona is not complete without snorkelling. We tested the waters at Two-Step and Kahalu’u Bay. Kahalu’u being the better option for kids and beginners. It is shallow, has a lifeguard, and is full of colorful fish, corals and turtles. Our real reason for visiting Kahalu’u – the Hawaiian shaved ice. Massive and oh so delicious.
Heading out from Kona, we drove to South Point, the most southern point in the United States. Here the adventurous dive off the edge of a cliff and climb their way back up a rickety ladder. No thank you! Just watching the other jumpers was enough adrenaline for me.
Down the road a bit further, you dead end to a parking lot where you can hike three miles (no shade) or pay locals for a hair-raising ride down dirt roads to hang out at Papakōlea Beach. Green sand beach, as it’s known, is one of only four green sand beaches in the world. It was torture abiding by the rules of not taking any home with us.
Moving on, we finished up our day with an awesome night time hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Seeing the red glow of lava lighting up the night sky was a highlight for all of us. Volcanoes National Park is a must visit in Hawaii. The park itself has so much to offer visitors. Where else can you hike through a volcanic crater with steam vents lining your path? Walking through ancient rain forests and lava tubes, warming our hands over natural steam vents, and hiking through desolate fields of volcanic rock kept us on the go during our short time here. We absolutely loved glamping in the rustic, but plush Namakanipaio Cabins at the park. The fun and feel of camping without the hassle and discomfort.
Hilo was the next stop on our Big Island road trip. To really do this area justice, you need a few days in this cute rainy town. We stayed outside of town at the beautiful Inn at Kulaniapia overlooking a gorgeous waterfall. It was hard to leave this fabulous property, but snorkelling at Richardson’s Beach, tide pools in Kapoho and more beautiful waterfalls were calling us to keep on moving.
After a day of chasing rainbows along the coast and hiking at Pololu Valley we ended our road trip at the beautiful white sand beaches of Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for a few days of luxury and relaxation. Soaking up the rays, playing in the sand and watching classic Hawaiian sunsets was a perfect end to an amazing holiday touring a fascinating island.
The Best Part
The best part of our trip to Hawaii was our time at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hiking the four mile Kīlauea Iki Trail through lush rainforest to the inside of the still steaming crater lava lake was out of this world. Knowing that there was lava flowing under our feet as evidenced by the numerous steam vents made this trail extra exciting. It’s not often that you can tell people you hiked inside a volcano!
The Best Time To Go
Temperatures on the Big Island remain relatively constant throughout the year, making this an ideal year round destination. However, the best time to visit is between September and November when accommodation is the least expensive. Peak season of December to March is when accommodation can be pricy.
Three Things You Should Definitely Do
1) Exploring ancient forests, volcanic craters and searching for hot lava flows make Hawaii Volcanoes National Park a must do on any visit to the Big Island.
2) Snorkelling with sea turtles and in the technicolor world underwater is an experience everyone will go home raving about.
3) Don’t miss hiking to Pololu Beach where you can swing on a log swing, help build a tree fort and play in the black sand before making the short but steep trek back up a gorgeous foggy trail.
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About the Author
Karilyn is a wife, mother and the founder of No Back Home, a family travel blog. After almost a decade in India, Karilyn now lives in Los Angeles where she writes about their family adventures in Southern California and around the world. Karilyn and her family enjoy the outdoors, traveling and seeking out the beauty wherever they find themselves. Say hello @ciantravels.