10 Best Things to Do on the Big Island with Kids
The Big Island of Hawaii is exactly what you’ve been wanting in your life. Warm weather, tropical surroundings, white sand beaches, and beautiful Polynesian culture. It’s challenging to narrow down the 10 best things to do on the Big Island with kids, yet here are the stops that we found to well worth our time.
We have traveled to the other Hawaiian Islands, but the Big Island stands out; mostly because of how family-friendly it felt. This is a huge plus with littles.
These activities and places landed on the best list for a few different reasons: easy for young children to enjoy, affordability, and cultural experience. Our firsthand experiences made some excellent memories, and we hope for the same for your family!
- Hit Up the Beach
- Visit a coffee plantation
- Go to the Farmer’s Market in Hilo
- Learn about Hawaiian Heritage at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
- Get some Shave Ice
- Explore Ali’i Drive
- Hike and adventure in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park
- Pololū Valley Lookout
- Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary
- Hang out on a chocolate plantation
- The Hawaiian Islands – Click on an Island for related posts
Hit Up the Beach
Of course, you’re going to spend time at the beach! You’re in Hawaii, after all. These were our favorite beaches during our visit. Each is unique in its own way.
Located in Kua Bay, this beach was a place for all beachgoers. Some parts of the beach can be rocky, so make sure you’re prepared for that. The sand here was powdery and soft! Maximus had so much fun playing in the water and sand. We recommend a few things for this beach. Arrive early in the day or later, closer to sunset, as this beach can get packed. If you are there earlier in the day, bring a beach umbrella or tent, as there is not much shade at this location. Lastly, the water can get rough at times, so keep an eye out for that! Enjoy the stunning shades of mixed blues on this gorgeous piece of coastline.
Just going to be upfront with you; there is a bit of a hike to get to this beach. BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT (see pic left)! We went later in the morning on our first visit there and it was not crowded at all. You can snorkel, relax, and enjoy the stunning views that Hawaii has to offer. We took the trail from the Kekaha Kai State Park entrance and hiked past Mahai’ula beach. Be sure to bring what you will need for the day, as going back and forth to the car will not be so convenient.
Visit a coffee plantation
Bay View Farms
First off, Bay View Coffee Farms has an insane view from their retail shop! Their property is perfectly located so that you can see the farm and catch sight of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Aside from the views, Bay View Farms had an excellent coffee-tasting experience. We couldn’t leave without purchasing some whole beans to take home with us.
Go to the Farmer’s Market in Hilo
Visiting the Big Island offers multiple farmer’s markets and stands to take advantage of, but the one located in Hilo was the largest one we went to. The outdoor market has over 200 vendors selling a variety of goods. We picked up local fruit, bakery items, and a couple of souvenirs. Street parking was first come, first serve, but we were able to locate a spot a couple of blocks away from the market. You may want to go earlier or right when they open up to avoid less traffic.
Learn about Hawaiian Heritage at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
This is such a fun way to learn about Hawaiian heritage! Be sure to download the nps.gov app and then listen to the walking guide. There will be several markers to walk to and learn about the early days of Hawaii. One of our favorite spots during this excursion was Hale O Keawe. It is an active place of worship and part of Hawaii’s royal heritage. This location is a mausoleum for the high chiefs, which is the final resting place of Keawe-i-kekahi-aliʻi-o-ka-moku, who ruled between the 1600s and 1700s. South of the park there is a portion of the coastline that has picnic tables and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Bring some lunch and enjoy!
Get some Shave Ice
Experiencing the magic of some yummy shave ice is a must-do when visiting any island in Hawaii. Here are a couple of shave ice vendors we took pleasure in during our last visit.
Explore Ali’i Drive
Spend time walking this part of the Big Island located around Kailua Bay and Oneo Bay. Take advantage of the free parking at Kona Free Parking and then get to discover the area! Here is a list of notable stops for you to add to your list.
- Kona Farmer’s Market
- Ali’i Sunset Plaza
- Kona Inn Shopping Village
- Great views at Hulihe‘e Palace and Kailua Bay
Hike and adventure in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park
Park at the main entrance to gain access to different trails, as well as a stop at the ranger station for advice. Much of the trail is not covered by shade, so be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen! Our favorite spots that we hope you enjoy also, are the petroglyphs site and Alula Beach. If you’re lucky you might spot a Green turtle during your visit. Always ensure that you are 20 ft or more away when you encounter this species, to comply with state and federal laws. There is great shade at Alula Beach and amazing vantage points of Honokohau Bay.
Pololū Valley Lookout
If you’re looking for a majestic feel, then this lookout point is what you’ve been chasing. Pololū Valley has some of the most beautiful views of the Big Island. Be sure to show up early, as parking can become a nightmare later in the day. Another valuable tip is to be respectful of the locals that live in the area; don’t park on their property or use it as a turn-around.
Pro Tip: Makes sure to make a stop at Kohala Farmstand– Fresh Off the Grid. Try their fresh poke bowl and crack open a coconut to re-hydrate!
Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary
This was one of our favorite spots on the island. Maximus enjoyed the colorful surroundings and the nature that just spilled from everywhere! While this is a kid-friendly spot, it is also a sanctuary. If your children are having a tough day, you may want to save this excursion for another time.
Hang out on a chocolate plantation
Before our trip, I searched through many of the chocolate farms that the Big Island had to offer. We landed on Lavaloha based on a review that truly showcased how family-friendly their farm is. Once we showed up, that review absolutely lived up to our expectations. The staff was hospitable and knowledgeable about chocolate, sharing the history of their farm and the area. Another plus for the farm was the coffee, YUM! On your visit, make sure to catch the stunning view of Hilo from the shop’s patio. It is one of a kind!
PRO TIP: Visit the Duck Pond and bring a couple of quarters for the Duck Food machine. Maximus loved feeding the ducks!
Whether you are on the hunt for family-friendly activities or seeking a more adventure-filled itinerary, we hope you found some ideas to add to your list. Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, it is so rich in beauty and culture.
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