Published December 24, 2012
The kids are begging for a beach, your spouse craves an adventure and all you want is a chance to relax. Whatever your getaway wish list, Hawaii vacations are the perfect fit for the whole family.
Beach lovers and nature nuts should head straight for the white sands of Kaanapali Beach to marvel at the cliff divers and sea life near Black Rock. Once you've gotten your feet wet, ride the waves with the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, Maui's top surf school. Finally, hit the skies with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters -- soaring through the West Maui Mountains will truly take your breath away.
Hotels you'll love: Kids dig Honua Kai Resort and Spa for its primo Kaanapali Beach location and boogie boarding equipment, while parents appreciate the babysitting service at Grand Wailea, home of date-night favorite Amasia Restaurant from celebrity chef Ken Wong.
Oahu is a tropical mix of cultural and natural delights. Happy Trails Hawaii offers horseback tours for guests six and over through the orchards and shady groves of the famous North Shore. The family fun continues at the Polynesian Cultural Center with Samoan-style tree climbing, Tahitian spear throwing and Hawaiian canoe racing. Afterward, kick back at Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach), a favorite sunning spot for wild green sea turtles.
Hotels you'll love: Moana Surfrider's decadent spa will steal your heart, while Disney's Aulani features the popular Fish are Friends program, offering your kids a chance to play marine biologist.
The Big Island
For a stellar experience, check out 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii's planetarium show, featuring the night sky as seen from the summit of Mauna Kea. Come back down to earth for the Hilo Farmers' Market, where you can sample the white pineapple and take home some delicious, customs-friendly Wao Kele honey. Complete your Big Island experience at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Younger visitors can earn a Junior Ranger badge through the park's educational programs, and kids of all ages will be thrilled by a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube.
Hotels you'll love: Royal Kona Resort's salt-water lagoon offers a private beach and kids' snorkeling lessons, while the Four Seasons Hualalai provides special touches such as a milk-and-cookies welcome and treasure hunts for young guests.
Don't leave Kauai without experiencing a zipline adventure -- the sights from above are just too good to miss. Kauai Backcountry Adventures, which also offers tubing tours, is a great place to start and is best for kids 12 and over. For spectacular sunrises, visit Waimea Canyon and watch the rays creep into the deep, lush valleys. Finally, no Kauai vacation is complete without a Hawaii Alive! luau. This family-run Kauai classic boasts fire dancing, traditional drumming, outstanding local cuisine and a generous kids' menu.
Hotels you'll love: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa offers the helpful Babies Travel Lite delivery service so parents of little ones don't have to pack diapers or baby food. All ages will enjoy the Castle Kiahuna Plantation and Beach Bungalows, family-sized cottages with beautiful Poipu Beach views.
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