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Best Family Activities On Hawaii's Big Island

Updated on May 11, 2011

The Most Beautiful Beaches, Amazing Sites, and Fun Activities on the Big Island

Hapuna Beach State Park in Hawaii.
Hapuna Beach State Park in Hawaii. | Source

When most people think about visiting Hawaii, the islands of Oahu and Maui are usually the first places that come to mind. When traveling with a family, the big island of Hawaii should be at the top of the list. The variety of terrain, natural wonders, incredible beaches, and fun activities, make this a trip that everyone will remember for a lifetime. After five trips to the island of Hawaii with my family, I am happy to share these suggestions with you.

WHERE TO STAY: The family resort with the most to offer is definitely the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Just a 20 minute drive from Kona International Airport, it is very easy to access. Most of the major airlines fly into this airport from the mainland. Situated on the Kohala Coast, the Hilton Waikoloa Village offers breathtaking views, top-notch dining, and seemingly endless amenities. See my last article, "Hawaii's Best All-Around Family Resort" for more information (link at the top right side of this article.)

BEACHES TO VISIT: The Kohala Coast, on the northwest side of the island, features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. At the top of the list is Hapuna Beach. This is actually a state beach with lifeguards, free parking, a long stretch of white sand, bathrooms, showers, and a full service snack bar (you have to try their Hawaiian shave ice.) Another top choice is the Mauna Kea. This beach is home to the Mauna Kea hotel. The parking is limited for visitors not staying at the hotel, so make sure to get there early. The hotel has a restaurant right on the beach that offers a large lunch menu. Puako Beach is a small, hidden gem. Lots of little pockets and coves intertwined with beautiful trees, make this an interesting place to visit. Puako provides lots of photo opportunities. It is also home to the Puako Petroglyph Archeological Preserve. Another Hawaiian treasure is 'Anaeho'omalu Bay, known by the locals as A Bay. The salt and pepper sand here is very rare. All of these beaches are less than a 15 minute drive from the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort.

ACTIVITIES IN KONA: At just a 25 minute drive from the Hilton Waikola Village, a day in Kona is a must! In addition to the restaurants, shops, and street vendors (Note...although all are located in a very small area, the vendors farthest from the pier offer the best prices) that call the Kona Harbor home, there are many water activities there as well. Call for reservations a few days in advance to be sure to reserve your spot with UFO Parasailing and Kona Jet Ski. Both are located at the Kailua Pier, and both companies offer safe, exciting and fun experiences for kids and adults as well. While waiting on the pier, ask one of the locals to point out Lucky, the 100 year old turtle who lives in the harbor there.

A DAY ON THE HILO SIDE: The eastern side of the island has a very different climate and terrain than the western side. If you don't mind driving a few hours each way, the eastern side of the island is worth the trip. The three top places to visit are Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Akaka Falls State Park, and Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. Volcanoes National Park is home to the Kilauea Volcano. This volcano has erupted almost continuously since 1983. Visitors will be directed to the areas of the park that are safe to visit, and can stand on and touch the hardened lava. Akaka Falls State Park is filled with unique plants, flowers, and waterfalls. Walking paths take you through it all. In addition to the jet black sand and tall palm trees, Punalu'u Black Sand Beach features a pond with exotic ducks, a natural, freshwater wading pool, and green turtles. Voted the World's Best Black Sand Beach by, this is a natural wonder not to be missed.

Hawaii has much, much more to offer than what is listed above. You can also go horseback riding, take a helicopter tour of the island, ride scooters, and cruise the ocean at sunset. The big island of Hawaii is the largest and most diverse of all of the Hawaiian islands. You will not be disappointed if you take your next family vacation to this tropical paradise.

Paddling Boarding on the Lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village

Paddle boarding on the lagoon at The Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Paddle boarding on the lagoon at The Hilton Waikoloa Village. | Source

Puako Beach

Puako Beach in Hawaii.
Puako Beach in Hawaii. | Source

Lucky the Sea Turtle Swimming in Kona Harbor

Huge sea turtle in Kona, Hawaii.
Huge sea turtle in Kona, Hawaii. | Source

UFO Parasailing in Kona

UFO Parasailing in Kona, Hawaii.
UFO Parasailing in Kona, Hawaii. | Source

Jet Skiing in Kona

Jet skiing in Kona, Hawaii.
Jet skiing in Kona, Hawaii. | Source

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii.
Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. | Source

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park in Hawaii.
Akaka Falls State Park in Hawaii. | Source

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach in Hawaii.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach in Hawaii. | Source


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    • orangecountyjill profile imageAUTHOR

      OC Jill 

      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thanks, Jyoti!

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      7 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi, Beautiful photos. Rated up and awesome!

    • orangecountyjill profile imageAUTHOR

      OC Jill 

      7 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you! It is an awesome place to vacation.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A great hub with beautiful photos.

      Take care


    • BizGenGirl profile image


      7 years ago from Lake Stevens

      Oh! those pictures so make me regret my rebelous teenage period when I turned down a hawaii trip with my parents.... lol


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