As anyone who's seen Disney's animated Lilo & Stitch knows, ohana means "family" and has central importance in Hawaiian life. For visitors, this means that families are welcome even at high-end luxury brand resorts.
See below to find many family-friendly Hawaii resorts, grouped by island. Many Hawaii resorts have kids' clubs, and lavish pools with slides, waterfalls, and other features—just don't expect to find all-inclusive pricing in Hawaii.
Maui, Hawaii's second-largest island, offers plenty to do, from attending an authentic luau to trying out the gorgeous beaches along the Kapalua Coastal Trail. You can go whale watching, learn to surf, go ziplining, or drive the famed Hana Highway. Maui has an upscale reputation and has been voted "Best Island in the World" by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Along with a Four Seasons and a Fairmont, there is a slew of other high-end resorts that roll out the Aloha carpet for families.
Oahu is the most-visited Hawaiian island, offering iconic beaches such as Waikiki along with Pearl Harbor and the capital city of Honolulu. You can learn about Hawaiian culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center and take a tour of the Dole Plantation. Oahu's resorts are concentrated in Waikiki, but Ko Olina on the west coast tempts with the JW Marriott Ihilani as well as Disney's Aulani Resort. On the north coast, consider the 880-acre Turtle Bay Resort with its five miles of beach, swimming pool with waterfall and slide, and on-site snorkeling, horseriding, surf lessons.
The Big Island
Hawaii's largest island—92 miles long by 76 miles wide—is still growing, thanks to lava flow from the world's most active volcano, Kilauea. You'll also find idyllic waterfalls, black-lava deserts, tropical rain forests, meadows, lakes, and beaches that come in a variety of colors—from gold to black to green sand. The Big Island offers some very nice family-oriented resorts, too, particularly on the Kohala Coast, on the west of the island.
Kauai lives up to its nickname of the "Garden Isle," offering verdant natural beauty and slower, more relaxed pace. It's a fabulous pick for families who love outdoorsy activities such as kayaking or hiking. Standout beaches include Po'ipu Beach and Kalapaki on the south coast and Hanalei Bay and Hanakapi'ai Beach on the north coast. Though small, Kauai has plenty of wonderful resorts with kid-friendly appeal.
The sixth-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago can only be accessed by ferry or small plane via Maui or Oahu. For families that really want to get away from it all, Lanai's seclusion is a definite plus. Don't assume there's nothing going on here. Don't miss the Garden of the Gods, a natural rock garden brimming with local folklore. As for places to stay, the island boasts two Four Seasons resorts as well as other hotel options.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher