Family friendly Visit to the Big Island

Visiting Hawaii is a fantastic place to visit with family and share so many wonderful family friendly experiences. The entire island is filled with lots of cool places to visit with children, kid’s focused activities to enjoy and exploring adventures with family fun in mind. If you are looking for the best family friendly things to do on the Big Island, check out all these wonderful tips and suggestions on what to do around the island.

Kid friendly activities on the Big Island of Hawaii

Family friendly fun on the west side of Hawaii Island

Family beach day on the Big Island
Family beach day at Hapuna Beach, Big Island

Have a beach day on the West Side

The west side of the Big Island have many of the best beaches in all of the islands with a variety of different types of beaches that are perfect for family fun, surfing and snorkeling fun and other water activities. You have your pick of popular beaches like Hapuna beach, Kua Bay and Spencer Beach or find more secluded and lonely stretches of sand that only a few visitors get to check out. Check out all these amazing beaches on the Big Island for more inspiration and planning your perfect beach day.

Fun snorkeling adventure at Kahalu’u Beach Park

Probably one of the best snorkeling beaches just a few miles outside of Kona town is Kahalu’u beach park. A family friendly beach with a lifeguard station and public facilities. Kahalu’u is well loved by locals that also volunteer to share coral and tropical safety, awareness and ocean care for the environment.

With a protected cove area, it doesn’t take to far outside of the beach to see some amazing sea life, corals and tropical fish at Kahalu’u which makes it a very popular place to go to snorkel on the west side of the island. A visit to Kahalu’u for snorkeling is very popular and one of the top things to do in Kona area on the west side of the island.

Exploring the historic district in Kona, Big Island
Exploring the historic district in Kona, Big Island

Walk through historic Kona town

The waterfront area of Kona is compact and easy to walk through and see the major attractions in town including the shops, historic monuments and harbor area. You can pass through the main drag, drop into a local farmers market and see some of the historic places to visit in town. Check out this site for more information on visiting Kona town and images around town.

Taste Fresh Portuguese bread, demo and sale at Greenwell farms

Located in the South Kona area at Greenwell Farms, you can check out the weekly oven bake sale of fresh Portuguese breads. Volunteers and members of the Kona Historical Society sponsor these Thursday morning bake demonstrations in an authentic stone oven. There is a free demo and oven display of how the breads are made that you can see and then try some really delicious breads made locally and benefits the community activities. The breads are typically sold that afternoon in a small pop up by the roadside for locals/tourists to try and purchase.

Go to a Luau with children

A fantastic way to really enjoy a traditional meal along with culture and education is to participate in a local Luau. Most luaus are kid friendly and an easy way for the family to try local food and entertainment that is fun, friendly and even participate in a hula or learn a craft at these events. You can check out the various Luaus on the island here to choose and plan your next Luau venue.

If you plan on going to a Luau, check out all these local favorites on the island for your next Luau event here.

Go on a submarine tour on the west side of Big Island

For something unusual and fun to do with children would be to do a submarine tour around the scenic coastlines around Kona. The submarine tours with Atlantic Submarine caters to families with their educational program and tour leaving from Kona harbor and exploring the unique and colorful coral areas and tropical fish along Kona’s beautiful coastlines. You can check out the details to the submarine tour here for more information and booking a tour with your family.

If you plan on going to a submarine, check out all This site for prices and updates on your next submarine tour here.

Visiting the  Place of Refuge in South Kona
Visiting the Place of Refuge in South Kona

Go on a cultural tour of historic monuments on the west side of the Big Island

The west side hosts many important historic sites that are quite impressive and worth visiting. Starting with the massive Heaiu (temple) in Kawaihai called Pu’ukohola, the national historic park, the Place of Refuge or Pu’uhonua O Ohaunau, Kaloko Honokohau National historical park and even an ancient healing and fishing village at Lapakahi Historical state park. If you are into Hawaiian history and culture, take some time to explore these wonderful places on the west side of the island.

Fluming the ditch

Originally set up as a irrigation system to bring water to the fertile agricultural parts of the island, the ditch systems are still used but also fun to flume the ditch. Basically this outfitter sets you off on a guided tour on rubber rafts through the main ditch on a fun and entertaining experience in the Kohala region, an easy drive from Kona town. You can check out more details Fluming the Ditch here for information and booking your next adventure tour with your children.

If you’re planning on doing the fluming the ditch experience, check out all the details ad information for prices and updates on your next fluming the ditch tour here.

Exploring Polulu-Valley with family

Go on a road trip through the scenic and historic western kohala district and coastline

One of the easiest things to do with kids is to take a road trip through different parts of the island. One of the most scenic and easy to do trips on your own time is to drive through the coastal roads on the west side and visiting the old western towns of Hawi and Kapa au all the way to the end at Polulu Valley overlook. You can even hike down the canyon to the stunning black sand beaches at Polulu or just take a picture from the overlook if you don’t have that much time to explore the valley floor and beaches.  For something unique, you can visit the birthplace of Kamehameha (first king of Hawaii) and check out the heiau (temple) and grounds where the king lived.

Go to a paniolo rodeo on the island

Rodeos are big events all around the Big Island of Hawaii with equestrian oriented activities for all of the family to enjoy on the island. The big rodeos happen mostly in Waimea and at Panaewa in the Hilo area with a full roster or rodeo-oriented displays and all day shows that are really unique for island fun. Check out their website for Waimea here and Panaewa here for more details.


Go on a snorkel sail experience

One of the best things to do with children with an easy adventure built in is a snorkel sail experience from Kona. These outfitters provide some fantastic tours that are kid friendly an inclusive experience with whale tour, snorkeling instruction and equipment and a nice buffet lunch after all the water fun. You can pick and choose from any of these local outfitters that can fit your time and budget to book your next adventure experience with your kids in mind.

If you’re planning on doing a snorkel and sail experience, check out all the details ad information for prices and updates on your next snorkel cruise tour here.

Family friendly fun on the south side

Snorkeling Green-sand-beach-with kids

Visit a rare green sand beach in South Point

One of the most unique parts of the island to visit is the green sand beach in the South Point area. The hike is about an hour and a half in one direction and if this is too much to do with children, there are also casual cabs in local pick up trucks that will take you on a round trip to the green sand beach and pick back up on scheduled return. You can spend a few hours or just visit and take pictures if your timeframe is limited, but definitely worth an experience to see this beautiful beach and coastline.

Jumping the cliffs at Green Sand Beach

Jump the cliffs at the tip at South Point

Even though this experience is for older kids or adults, it’s easy enough to just do the drive from Green sand beach area to the southern tip of the island at South Point and enjoy the views and crazy cliff jumpers into the ocean from a 20 foot drop to the ocean. Although this is not recommended for most children, it’s easy to walking along the scenic cliff areas of the South Point area and enjoy the stunning views along the coastline.

Trying some delicious malasadas at Punaluu bakery

Delicious Malasadas in Punalu’u

One of the most popular bakeries to visit on the island is the wonderful Punalu’u bakery in Punalu’u. A local favorite, you have to try all the wonderful malasadas here ( Portuguese style donuts) in original sugar or filled with tropical flavors for a delicious Hawaiian dessert you should try. They bake local breads, desserts and other café style foods for a nice eating break to this area of the island. Try some of the free samples before you decide on what you want to order for take away or eat onsite.

Finding sea turtles at Punaluu beach
Finding sea turtles at Punaluu beach

Visit the turtles and black sand beach at Punalu’u

One the scenic coastline and black sand beach at Punalu’u, you’ll see the famous sea turtles that hang out on the beach. This wonderful sandy beach is picture perfect even on cloudy days and definitely walk the entire length to the pretty lagoon at the end of the beach. You’ll find the mostly green turtles all along the black sand beach warming along the entire stretch of beach.

Family friendly fun in the Big Island’s east side

Exploring downtown HIlo, Big Island
Exploring downtown HIlo, Big Island

Lots of family friendly beaches in the Hilo area

The smaller beaches and inlets around Hilo are perfect for family with protected lagoons, beach areas and shallow swimming holes. You’ll find plenty of easy and cool kid friendly beach areas to explore and enjoy in the hilo area.

You can visit family friendly beaches around Hilo including beautiful and safe places like Coconut Island, Reeds Bay, Carlsmith Beach park and Richardson Ocean Beach. These are along the string of beaches in Hilo’s east side and popular family friendly beaches in the area.

Exploring Kaumana cave with kids

Go into a lava tube just above Hilo area

A unique and fun visit to an actual lava tube just above Hilo at Kaumana Caves which is descends into a dark lava tube created by Moana Loa. From the parking lot, you go down a series of stairs to the opening of the Lava Tube which has no illumination so you need to bring flashlights. There are no trails once you enter, so you will be crawling over lava rocks which is a challenge and fun at the same time. The lava tube is long and very dark so it is up to you do decide how far you want to go into the tube or just take a shorter walk around after checking out the waterfalls and downtown Hilo in a DIY city tour.

Visiting Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park with kids

Visit the famous lava activities at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The national park at Hawaii Volcanoes national park is reopened with trails and observation areas open for the public to explore. First drop by the visitors center to see the movie or listen to a ranger give a nice history and cultural observations of the park and other Hawaiian legends and “Talk Story” with guests. You’ll love visiting all the attractions at Volcanoes National Park and even staying up at night to see the live lava, steam and gas for a red fiery show to enjoy from the many observation areas around the park.

Waterfalls in East Hawaii above Hilo
Waterfalls in East Hawaii above Hilo

Check out the waterfalls around Hilo town

There’s a series of waterfalls coming down the main river called Wailuki starting with Rainbow falls closer to downtown and further uphill to the boiling pots with Pe’epe’e falls and even the smaller waterfalls in front of the old bridges crossing the river downtown. You can easily do all three waterfalls in an easy morning exploration and short road trip. Both Rainbow Falls and Boiling pots have easy walks to the observation areas and you can walk up to the top of Rainbow falls to check out the top and areas below. There’s also a cool forest further up with some immense banyan trees that look very magical and story like.

Visiting the Hilo farmers market photo shoot
Visiting the Hilo farmers market photo shoot

Hilo Farmers Market

Visiting a farmers market in Hawaii is a must and the Hilo Farmers market is the biggest on the island to experience. The main downtown market at Hilo is daily but the big markets are on Wednesday and Saturday and spreads through various market areas in town. The rest of the week has a daily market on the areas around Mamo Streets to shop and explore the market.

One section is tropical fruits, vegetables and prepared foods, Hawaiian snacks and delicious Hawaiian desserts to try in the produce area. Close by, there is section is mostly locally made, souvenirs and cheap products right next to the produce market.

There’s also a food eating court area with food trucks and other standalone vendors selling local comfort food like spam musubi for take out service.

Visiting Makuu market in East Hawaii Island

Sunday Maku’u Farmers market

On Sundays, the largest farmers market on the East side happens just outside of Pahoa area at the Maku’u farmers market. It’s kid friendly with local foods to try, local produce, entertainment and cool thrift, collectibles and even souvenirs that you can buy from locally made products or cheap imported merchandise. The Sunday Maku’u market is lively towards noon time with all the food venues in full swing and free enterment in the seating area.

The new black sand beach in Opihikao, Big Island

Check out the new black sand beach in Opihikao

After all the recent lava destruction of homes and land in East Hawaii just in 2018, a newly created black sand beach was left in the aftermath. A new gravel road has been constructed to allow the public to enjoy the beach for the first time along with some hot ponds in the area to enjoy.  The expansive black sand beach is beautiful but also dangerous at times, so caution should be taken to see if the surf is too rough for entry.

Enjoy a night market at Uncle Roberts in Kalapana

The popular night market at Uncle Roberts in Kalapana is free (parking is an additional $2) and a fun time at this local style market.  Filled with local vendors that sell crafts, herbal remedies and delicious foods, it’s fun to explore all the unique booths and food offerings along with the lively music in the bar/dining area. A popular local activity, visitors really get a flavor of how a community celebrates hump day Wednesdays in Kalapana.

Free events around the island

There are so many wonderful  events around the Big Island happening every week. Many of these events around the island are free or inexpensive to bring your children. You can check out the calendar of events here for more details on what’s currently happening on the island now.

With so many fantastic choices and activities to do around the Big Island with kids, you’ll keep busy exploring different parts of the island. You definitely can be as active as you want or have a more laid back experience while visiting the island. Hopefully these ideas and tips will help you to plan all the fun things to do with kids  on the Big Island in your own interest and time frames.

Check out these other posts on Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii

Why Visit Volcanoes National Park now

Must visit Big Island Waterfalls

Free of cheap things to do on the Big Island

Top things to do in Kona

Kona snorkel and cruise experience

Top things to do in Hilo now

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  1. Elaine Masters

    I’d love to follow your suggestions and my kids are grown! Would love to flume the ditch and snorkel of course. I love the islands and it’s been too long. Mahalo and happy holidays.

    • emorata

      There are so many family friendly choices here on the Big Island to choose from, hope you get to visit soon and look me up!



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.