Ten Hawaii Beach Vacation Ideas

  • 01 of 10

    Waikiki, Oahu

    Waikiki beach. Photo © Teresa Plowright.
    Photo © Teresa Plowright.

    Below find ten suggestions for beach getaways in Hawaii, starting with Oahu. A few points to note first, about the Aloha state:

    • All inclusive beach resorts aren't part of the scene here.
    • At some beaches, the surf may be beautiful but too rough for swimming. Beach resorts in these settings will have lagoons or a pool complex to compensate.
    • Condo rentals are a very popular way for families to have a beach vacation in Hawaii. See, for example, info about Maui condos at About.com's Hawaii Travel website

    1. Waikiki Beach

    One of the world's most famous stretches of sand, Waikiki is busy and famous, yet is still a lovely place with many good features for families.

    Waikiki is flanked by many hotels of different styles and price range. You can take surf lessons with the kids, go for a hike up Diamond Head, or a catamaran sail, or an outing to Pearl Harbor, and maybe even a free outdoor movie on the beach. For a return to a bygone era, take High Tea at the Sheraton Moana Surfider Hotel. (See Top Things to Do on Oahu.)

    The most resort-like of the hotels on Waikiki Beach is the Hilton Hawaiian Village, with 22 acres on the west end of the beach. The resort has a kids' pool, fish ponds, flamingos, kids' club, shopping village, spa, and 22 restaurants and lounges.

    Right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, which has water toys for rent, and a walkway around it-- a popular spot.

    • Read more about Hilton Hawaiian Village
    • Take a photo tour of Waikiki.
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  • 02 of 10

    Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu

    Turtle Bay Resort -overview. Photo © Teresa Plowright.
    Photo © Teresa Plowright.

    Turtle Bay Resort has 880 acres and 5 miles of beach on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu, which is a very different and undeveloped part of Oahu, though just an hour away.

    Features include at Turtle Bay Resort include a novelty pool with waterfall and waterslide; snorkeling on-property; horseriding; on-site surfing school takes kids as young as 5. Check for family packages.

    Read more about Turtle Bay Resort, and take a photo tour. See also a Driving Tour of Oahu's North Shore.

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  • 03 of 10

    Hanauma Bay, Oahu

    Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo credit: Bianca Photography.
    Photo credit: Bianca Photography.

    The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, on the island of Oahu, is actually a State Underwater Park, and is an excellent --and popular-- place for snorkeling.

    Hanauma Bay has often been picked by "Dr. Beach" as one of "America's Best Beaches". (Read more.)

    Visit the beach early, to beat the crowds. Hanauma Bay is a short drive from tourist center Waikiki Beach.

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  • 04 of 10

    Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, Maui

    Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea Resort & Spa.
    Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea Resort & Spa.

    This luxury resort is known for its 25,700 sq. ft. Canyon Activity Pool. Nine pools are connected by a lazy-river that speeds up to white-water in some parts. There are jungle pools, slides, Tarzan rope swing, caves, plus Baby Beach and infant pool.

    Read more about the Grand Wailea, and see photos.

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  • 05 of 10

    Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Maui

    Photo courtesy of Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
    Photo courtesy of Kaanapali Beach Hotel.

    Kaanapali Beach -- on Maui's northwest coast, just north of Lahaina -- has some terrific features: a huge sweep of sand where kids can play, that's good for beach-walking too; a walkway/jogging path along the beach; a snorkeling area at one end; a convenient departure point for snorkeling tours; and an opportunity to spot whales at certain times of year.

    Several resorts dot the beach, and many families return year after year to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (above), which has 11 acres and a choice spot on the beach. The Hotel prides itself on being Maui's "most Hawaiian resort", and offers free Hawaiian cultural activities such as lei-making and nightly hula for guests to watch. The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel has been voted "#1 Best Value Hotel in Hawaii" in Travel & Leisure Magazine.

    Read more about the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.

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  • 06 of 10

    Kona Village Resort, on the Big Island

    Photo courtesy of Kona Village Resort.
    Photo courtesy of Kona Village Resort.

    This resort closed in March 2011 due to extensive damage done by the tsunami that followed the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and hopes to re-open by the end of 2013.

    Kona Village is a luxury resort on the Kohala Coast, on the west side of Hawaii's Big Island. Eight upscale properties dot this 20-mile coast, and 38,000 Conde Nast readers voted them among the "Top Fifty Tropical Resorts Worldwide." Another claim to fame: sunshine year round. (Certain areas of Hawaii are prone to rain.)

    Kona Village is an unusual property in several ways:

    • no phones, radio, or tv in your room
    • guests stay in traditional-style cottages
    • price includes meals, and most activities are complimentary, so the end result is a close-to-all-inclusive price

    Complimentary kids programs for ages 6 to 12 aim to provide an "interesting, educational, and entertaining experience"; teens have complimentary programs too.

    Read more about Kona Village.

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  • 07 of 10

    Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa, on the Big Island

    Photo courtesy Sheraton Keauhou Resort.
    Photo courtesy Sheraton Keauhou Resort.

    On the south Kona coast of Hawaii's Big Island, this resort features a multi-level pool complex, including connecting river system, waterfall, children's pool, lava tube waterslide. Meanwhile, out in the natural environment, guests can stroll by the ocean and see manta rays feed along the shore.

    This resort has kids' programs, and also programs for all ages to learn about culture and history. Read more about the Sheraton Keauhou.

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  • 08 of 10

    Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Kaui - river, units
    photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

    Kauai is known as "The Garden Isle", and the Grand Hyatt Kauai has 50 acres in the southeast, a short drive from the airport.

    Outstanding features are the pools and large saltwater lagoon. The pool complex has "river pools", caves, waterfalls, 150-foot water slide. The meandering lagoon has five acres, for swimming or even kayaking.

    Camp Hyatt has koi fish feeding, hula lessons, lei-making, etc. Guests can also take great outings on beautiful Kauai.

    In winter months, watch whales swim by!

    Read more about Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

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  • 09 of 10

    Big Island: Hilton Waikoloa Village

    Big Island: Hilton Waikoloa Village. Photo © Teresa Plowright.
    Photo © Teresa Plowright.

    On the Kohala Coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the 65-acre Hilton Waikoloa Village is a big draw for families.

    The resort is on the Kohala Coast, amid the striking scenery of the coastal lava fields. With this setting, the resort has no real swimmable beach, but guests can snorkel in the ocean-fed saltwater lagoon, where they might see giant green sea turtles. Around the lagoon is a sandy beach, and kayaks and other water toys are available. Guests can also take a free shuttle or a twenty-minute walk to a nearby beach.

    Meanwhile, the Hilton Waikoloa Village has pools galore, with waterfalls, grottos, and waterslides. The resort also has a novelty that kids love: families can get around the large grounds by a monorail or on canal-boats.

    Read more about Hilton Waikoloa Village for families -- lots of photos too.

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  • 10 of 10

    Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa on Oahu

    Photo courtesy of Aulani Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai'i.
    Photo courtesy of Aulani Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai'i.

    This beautiful resort at Ko Olina -- about 20 miles west of Waikiki-- has a perfect spot on a gentle lagoon beach that's great for toddlers and little kids. The lagoon is also an easy place to try stand-up paddle-boarding.

    The Resort also has amazing landscaped grounds: the 7-acre Waikolohe Valley has a lazy river, a volcano with two waterslides, a water play zone with squirters etc., a snorkeling lagoon, and more. The Aulani also has one of the best kids' clubs you'll ever see, and its complimentary for guests (which is not so usual in Hawaii, where "all inclusive" resorts are not part of the landscape.) Read more about Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa.