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- Best Overall: Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There are plenty of dining options that'll please even the pickiest little eaters."
- Best Budget: Courtyard Kaua’i at Coconut Beach – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Rooms are clean, in good condition, and provide free high-speed Wi-Fi, refrigerators, and private lanais."
- Best for Surfing: Turtle Bay on Oahu – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Each of the 452 beach cottages, ocean villas, and guestrooms has an ocean view."
- Best Beach: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Upon arrival, families will be greeted with welcome drinks for the kids made by the hospitable staff."
- Best for Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Lana’i – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Here, kids will be in heaven, thanks to a wide array of top-notch amenities and activities."
- Best History: The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor "With more than 500 rooms and suites, guests can choose between staying in the older historic wing and the newer Mailani tower."
- Best Pool: Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor "When parents want alone time, they can usher kiddos off to The Rock — a kids club for swimming and other activities."
- Best Activities: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The resort features a cultural center that offers everything from ukulele lessons to Hawaiian language lessons."
- Best New Resort: The Westin Hapuna – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There's a family pool and cabanas, an adult-only pool, a golf course, and a fitness area with TRX and Peloton equipment."
Best Overall: Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
If you’re looking for the ideal family vacation — the place where every member, no matter their age, will be delighted — look no further than Aulani. Located on Oahu’s small Ko Olina waterfront community, the resort sprawls across twenty-one acres and overlooks a quiet, calm beach perfect for kids. Disney touches are ample here —hidden Mickeys, sightings of Goofy by the waterslide, character breakfasts and dinners, and more. There are also plenty of dining options that'll please even the pickiest little eaters, like Hawaiian-themed Ulu Café, ‘Ama’Ama fine dining, a fish and chips shack, and a shaved ice counter. The complimentary kids club, Aunty’s Beach House, is a 5,200-square-foot kiddie paradise, complete with themed activities, superhero and princess dress-up, trivia, arts and crafts, and more.
While the kids are at Aunty’s, mom and dad can play a round of golf at 18-hole, Ted Robinson-designed Ko Olina Golf Club or get a massage at Laniwai. If kiddos want to get in on the pampering, you can also schedule a family treatment or group massage. Of course, there’s plenty on the property to keep everyone occupied; water slides, lazy river, numerous pools, grotto, splash zones, and a private snorkeling lagoon provide ample opportunity to soak up the sun. Rooms vary in size and price, with everything from standard 382 square-foot-rooms sleeping four to 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom villas sleeping twelve.
Best Budget: Courtyard Kaua’i at Coconut Beach
Located on ten beachfront acres on the east side of lush Kaua’i, the three-star Courtyard Kaua’i is excellent for families looking for spacious accommodations at a decent price. Overlooking Coconut Beach — in a historic bustling area known as the Royal Coconut Coast — the resort offers both mountain and ocean views and is an excellent jumping off point from which to explore Kaua’i. It’s also walking distance from numerous dining and shopping options, including a nearby grocery store and drug store.
Rooms are clean, in good condition, and provide free high-speed Wi-Fi, refrigerators, and private lanais. The resort offers a DIY laundry room, and also has a pool, fitness center, and full-service spa, with dining options including two restaurants and a twice-weekly lu’au. The hotel is close to Lydgate Beach Park in Wailua, with two lava rock enclosed ocean pools ideal for families and beginning snorkelers, as well as Wailua River State Park for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and low-intensity hiking for all ages.
Best for Surfing: Turtle Bay on Oahu
A four-star hotel on Hawaii’s largest island of Oahu, Turtle Bay is a surfer’s paradise. The 850-acre resort is located directly in front of the North Shore’s monster waves, an area that's is home to some of the biggest waves in the world — not to mention the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing contest. Hans Hedemann Surf School provides lessons to a variety of ages and learners, including singles, groups, families, and even with dogs. Kids will also love the area’s turtle watching, quiet swimming bays, bird sanctuary, and horseback riding.
It’s impossible to get bored at Turtle Bay, where a bevy of activities await: stand-up paddling, kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, four tennis courts, and two golf courses are just some of the things on offer. Each of the 452 beach cottages, ocean villas, and guestrooms has an ocean view, and guests can borrow a complimentary GoPro to capture their adventures during their stay. The resort features eight different dining options, including Roy’s Beach House from chef Roy Yamaguchi, Pa'akai ocean-to-table seafood, and Lei Lei’s bar and grill. In addition to the beach, there’s also the main resort pool, an ocean villa pool complete with a barbecue area, a kids pool with a waterfall and 80-foot water slide, and two hot tubs.
Best Beach: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Located on Maui’s famous Wailea Beach, the Four Seasons Maui is a showstopper of a resort. Wailea is renowned for its golden beaches, gentle surf, and shallow entrance — not to mention minimal rain and plenty of sun — making it the perfect place to enjoy swimming as well as family-friendly activities like stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling. The resort, which has 383 rooms and 76 suites, underwent a complete renovation in 2016. Accommodations are extremely large and comfortable, with amenities including customized Four Seasons beds, 65-inch flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines (crucial for early-morning wake-ups with boisterous littles), and private lanais.
Upon arrival, families will be greeted with welcome drinks for the kids, as well as children’s names spelled out in sponge letters in the deep bathtub. There are numerous restaurants on-property, including Mediterranean-Italian Ferraro’s, poolside Duo Steak and Seafood, a beachfront café serving poke bowls, homemade gelato and shaved ice, and — for nights with childcare — an outpost of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago. The resort’s complimentary Kids for All Seasons club offers a wide array of activities for children ages 5 to 12, including hula lessons, sand castle building, tide pool visits, and lizard hunts. For those who prefer pools to the beach, there are three offerings, including an adult-only serenity pool with Missoni cabanas, and a kids pool with a water slide. The resort offers 64 cabanas on a first-come, first-serve basis, and best of all: they don't cost a penny to use. The hotel also offers a complimentary photographer and features a large destination spa and wellness center. There is no resort fee, which is something of a rarity in Maui.
Best for Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Lana’i
The sublime awaits at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, a secluded beachfront property on one of Hawaii’s most remote and relaxing islands. The resort is owned by billionaire Larry Ellison, who reportedly set out to create the finest hotel property in the world with no expense spared. The attention to detail and commitment to excellence shines through on every level: from the priceless artwork to the stellar restaurants (which include a NOBU and a Malibu Farm) to the spacious, Japanese-inspired tech-forward rooms featuring lanais.
Even at full capacity, the spacious resort feels quiet and serene, allowing guests room to breath and reflect. Here, kids will be in heaven, thanks to a wide array of top-notch amenities and activities including two pools (one for adults, one for the whole family), an archery range, a dedicated kids’ boutique with toys, clothes, and sweet treats, 4x4 jeep rides, horseback riding, helicopter tours, whale watching, and a Kids For All Seasons kids’ club. There’s also a Jack Nicklaus golf course on property, a destination spa, and private jet service offered from nearby Maui. .
Best History: The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
Presiding in the heart of world-famous Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian is Oahu’s second oldest hotel, having recently celebrated its 90th birthday. Known the world over as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” guests at the Spanish-Moorish style resort have ranged from Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, and Elizabeth Taylor to Eddie Vedder and Ellen DeGeneres. It’s here that the creator of the Mai Tai, Victor J. Bergeron, was tasked with making a version just for the hotel — a pineapple potion still available today at the beachfront Mai Tai Bar.
With more than 500 rooms and suites, guests can choose between staying in the older historic wing and the newer Mailani tower, where each room has a private lanai. Restaurants include elevated seafood at beachfront Azure, freshly baked goods at the on-property bakery, and relaxed beachfront spot Surf Lanai, where kids under 12 eat free. The resort’s prime location means families are within walking distance of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment, as well as a fifteen-minute walk from Honolulu Zoo. With sister SPG properties the Sheraton Waikiki and the Moana Surfrider located within the same massive complex, guests can also enjoy their dining options and easily charge meals back to the room. When adults need alone time, there’s a children’s center at the Sheraton Waikiki with arts and crafts, beach and pool activities, and in-room babysitting.
Best Pool: Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort
This massive 40-acre property may sit directly on kid-friendly Wailea Beach, but that's not the only thing that makes it a swimmer's paradise; step inside and you'll find an epic water complex. At the heart of the resort sits the showstopper: a 25,700-square-foot pool with five slides, whitewater rapids, a rope swing, six waterfalls, grottos, three Jacuzzis, a water elevator, and a swim-up bar. Guests older than 12 can also take complimentary scuba lessons in the pool through DIVE Wailea. There’s also a shallow sand beach within the complex for the littles to paddle and splash around in, and free sunscreen and water stations.
When parents want alone time, they can usher kiddos off to The Rock — a 20,000-square-foot kids club for swimming and other activities. Adults will find solace in the spa which incorporates a Hydrotherapy Circuit, Roman tub, sauna, Swiss jet showers, Japanese furo, specialty baths, and more. Rooms are simple but cheerful, many with beach views or pool views.
Best Activities: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Located on the Big Island’s Kona-Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Hualalai provides the ideal atmosphere for adventure-seeking families. The 192-room, 51-suite resort features a cultural center that offers everything from ukulele lessons to Hawaiian language lessons. You can also sign up for exclusive experiences, which include Kona coffee farm tours and gourmet sunrise breakfasts atop the world’s tallest island mountain peak, Mauna Kea. Meanwhile, Kids for All Seasons offers movie screenings, campfire s’mores, games, and a kid’s masquerade ball, in addition to the usual children’s club fare.
There are six on-site restaurants and bars which serve mainly local ingredients. The resort also features eight tennis courts, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, a basketball court, a 24-foot climbing wall, and seven pools — including a family pool and a sand-bottomed wading pool for youngsters.
Best New Resort: The Westin Hapuna
Perched over iconic Hapuna Beach, a half-mile stretch of white sand along Big Island’s Kohala Coast, the brand-new Westin prides itself on Ha’ena — a sense of place. Close to both sister property Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, with ruins from the last ancient Hawaiian temple, there’s much to do here. The resort features 232 airy guestrooms, 17 suites, and private residences; outside of accommodations, there's also a family pool and cabanas, an adult-only pool, a golf course, and a fitness area with TRX and Peloton equipment.
Four new culinary concepts include Mediterranean-inspired Meridia, casual poolside Naupaka Beach Grill, outdoor breakfast buffet and a-la-carte restaurant ‘Ikena Landing, and a coffee bar. The hotel supplies a free shuttle to nearby Mauna Kea, which offers multiple restaurants, including both casual and fine dining. The Westin Hapuna also features the Westin Family program, which offers a Kids Club, family experiences, branded child amenities, and interactive programs such as the new Bee Mauna Kea program — a raw honey tasting and walking tour of beehives in beekeeper suits.