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Top 12 Things to do on Your Hawaii Family Vacation

Family Adventures in the Islands of Aloha

March 16, 2016

The Hawaiian Islands extend a warm, welcoming aloha to your ‘ohana (family) and your keiki (children). You’ll find family-friendly adventures and activities that showcase the natural splendor, authentic Hawaiian culture, and rich history of this extraordinary archipelago. Opt for the thrills of zip lines, whale watching, and helicopter tours. Take a plantation train tour, explore a magical garden, and learn about Hawai’i’s legendary paniolo (cowboys). All this and more await in Hawai’i.

Hawaii Family Vacation
Kauai Zip N’ Dip Located at one of Hawai’i’s first cattle ranches, Princeville Ranch Adventures offers outstanding activities like the thrilling Zip N’ Dip with nine picturesque zip lines and a suspension bridge over a waterfall. Soar over a lush valley, taking in gorgeous views. On the final zip line–King Kong—climb up a 26-foot-high tower and zip side-by-side on a 1,200-foot line. There’s also time to enjoy a dip and inner tube floating in a waterfall-fed swimming hole. Plantation Train Tour Travel back in time aboard the open-sided Kaua’i Plantation Railway at historic Kilohana Plantation. The 40-minute, narrated Signature Train Tour reveals the plantation’s 50-plus varieties of fruit tree orchards, vegetable gardens, rare and exotic tropical flowers, forests, hardwood trees, and animal pastures with donkeys, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, ducks, and wild geese. Children especially love to disembark and feed the animals. Mazes, Gardens, and More Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens & Sculpture Park is a magical 240-acre wonderland with a range of settings. Book the Family Tour and visit the Formal Gardens, the full-size hedge maze, and the Children’s Garden, where kids can explore Jack’s pond, a gecko maze, the treehouse, and a tropical jungle with bridges, tunnels, and slides, a kidsize train, and more. You can also come on Keiki Day one Saturday a month. Hawaii Tourism
Maui Family Vacation
Maui Take a Hike Discover the history and beauty of ‘Īao Valley State Park, home to the towering and iconic lava pinnacle Kūkaemoku, known as the ‘Īao Needle. In 1790, King Kamehameha I and his forces fought the Battle of Kepaniwai here against Maui’s army in his quest to unite the islands of Hawai’i. Walk along the pedestrian path from the parking lot to view the ‘Īao Needle and admire the valley vistas from the ridgetop lookout. Take the rainforest walk and explore the interactive exhibits at the Hawai’i Nature Center. Under the Sea Families love Maui Ocean Center, The Hawai’i Aquarium (mauioceancenter.com), home to sharks, turtles, stingrays, tropical fish, and live Pacific corals. More than 60 indoor/outdoor exhibits showcase Hawai’i’s marine life such as the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit with a 54-foot walkthrough tunnel, Turtle Lagoon, and Hammerhead Harbor. Kid-friendly activities abound, including the Keiki Passport Petroglyph Hunt, Story Time Saturdays, and Talk Story & Hula Lessons with Kahu Dane Maxwell and ‘Ohana. Discover Lāna’i Spend a day on one of Maui’s sister islands, Lāna’i, with Trilogy Excursions (sailtrology.com). The Trilogy sailboat leaves from Maui’s Lahaina Harbor and docks at Mānele Harbor on Lāna’i. You and your keiki will visit beautiful Hulopo’e Bay Marine Sanctuary for swimming, snorkeling, beach volleyball, and SNUBA. Take a guided tour of Lāna’i City, a historic plantation town, and feast on a barbecue lunch prepared by your captain and served at the Hale O Mānele Pavilion overlooking Mānele Bay. Tony LeHoven
Big Island Family Vacation
Hawaii Island Historic Ranch Evening Discover the history and lore of the Hawaiian paniolo (cowboy) at Kahua Ranch (kahuaranch.com) as you watch the sun sink into the Pacific from the western slopes of the Kohala Mountains. Legend has it that King Kamehameha I trained his warriors on these lands in the 18th century. The Evening at Kahua Ranch experience includes a barbecue dinner, live music and line dancing, roping instructions, and horseshoe pitching. Your kids can even brand a cedar shingle to take home, and they can meet the pet pig, Piggly Wiggly, who thinks she’s a dog. Puna Coast Drive Explore the Puna Coast with Native Guide Hawai’i (nativeguidehawaii.com), which focuses on the cultural and historical significance of Hawai’i Island. Experience Puna’s verdant ‘ōhi’a forests and thermally heated ponds, along with crystal-clear tide pools with stunning corals and brightly colored native fish. You’ll visit newly formed Kaimū Black Sand Beach and learn about the Kīlauea volcano lava flow that covered Kalapana Village in 1990. Witness stunning scenery along the famed shoreline Red Road (Kapoho-Kalapana Road 137), and snorkel and swim in the thermally heated ponds and tide pools. Kohala Coast Heli Tour Experience the spectacular scenery of Hawai’i Island with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (bluehawaiian.com). Opt for the Kohala Coast Adventure, leaving from Waikoloa, and view the towering sea cliffs and deep valleys of the Kohala Mountains, along with waterfalls cascading thousands of feet into the rainforest and remnants of ancient Hawaiian settlements. You’ll fly in total comfort aboard an ultra-quiet, spacious Eco- Star or A-Star helicopter with rigorously trained pilots who are also State of Hawai’i Certified Tour Guides. Kahua Ranch
Hawaii Dolphins
Oahu Year-Round Whale Watching While Hawai’i’s official humpback whale watching season ends in April, Wild Side Specialty Tours offers (sailhawaii.com) offers year-round whale watching, dolphin swimming, and turtle snorkeling on their Best of the West adventure. Join the crew of marine biologists on their 34-foot environmentally friendly Power Cat, Alaka’i, on a thrilling and intimate journey with just six passengers. Few adventures compare to encountering pilot whales and false killer whales, a variety of dolphin species, seabirds, and sea turtles, as the crew shares their knowledge of Hawai’i’s marine life, island culture, and living aloha. Lights, Camera, Action O’ahu’s Kualoa Ranch (kualoa.com) is an extremely popular filming location. More than 50 TV shows and movies have been made on this 4,000-acre working ranch and private nature reserve that spans mountains and valleys to the shoreline. Take Kualoa’s Movie Sites Tour and see filming spots for Jurassic Park, Windtalkers, Godzilla, You Me & Dupree, Hawaii Five-O, Lost, and many other productions as you explore this breathtaking property on O’ahu’s northeast coast. Marine Life Encounters Prepare for some close encounters at Sea Life Park Hawai’i (sealifeparkhawaii.com) and the thrill of swimming with dolphins, sharks, sea lions, or Hawaiian rays. Live shows—The Dolphin Cove Show, Hawai’i Ocean Theater, and Kolohe Kai Sea Lion Show— showcase the power, grace, and acrobatics of these incredible animals. Don’t-miss exhibits include habitats like the 300,000-gallon Shark Cave Tank and the Seabird Sanctuary. And the Oceanic Institute Tour is a behind-thescenes look at the research and conservation facility. Wild Side Specialty Tours
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