The Best Hotels and Resorts for a Family Vacation to Hawaii

written by LINDSAY COHN

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Source: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Source: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

If you like breathtaking tropical landscapes—including lush rainforests and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world—outdoor adventure, and vibrant cultural traditions, few places compare to Hawaii. For first-timers, the process of planning a bucket-list trip with kids to the Paradise of the Pacific can be a bit overwhelming with so many options for things to see and do and places to stay. To take the guesswork out of traveling to the Aloha State, we’ve answered a few of the most frequently asked questions and rounded up the best family-friendly hotels and resorts at a range of price points. 


How long is the flight to Hawaii?

Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines operate nonstop flights to Honolulu (HNL) from major hubs across the United States, including New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Seattle (SEA). The trip from New York (JFK) takes approximately 11 hours, while passengers coming from Los Angeles (LAX) can expect a much shorter journey with the option to fly direct to Maui (OGG) and Kauai (LIH) as well. 


When’s the best time to visit Hawaii?

The best period weather-wise is between April and October when the islands see the lowest rainfall. Keep in mind that June and July are especially busy—and expensive—thanks to summer vacation. Budget-conscious travelers might want to consider February and March, as the rates tend to be most favorable after the holiday tourism surge, as well as the spring and early fall shoulder seasons.


Should I go island hopping or stick to one spot?

For some parents, the thought of changing planes after a long-haul flight with kids feels incredibly daunting. Don’t worry! Honolulu—home to the largest airport and the launchpad for exploring the rest of the Hawaiian archipelago—is a standout vacation destination on its own. Of course, with so many incredible places to explore in the Aloha State, it’s not surprising that many families decide to split their time between two or even three islands.


The Best Hotels for Families in Hawaii


1. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection (Puako, Hawaii)

Hawaiian resort beach

Ringed by mountains and the breathtaking coastline, Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection raises the bar on a family vacation in virtually every conceivable way. Not only is this Big Island retreat exceptionally beautiful, but it has swimmable beaches, a Hawaiian cultural center, two-bedroom suites and connecting rooms with flexible sleeping arrangements, and a kids’ club with a boatload of hands-on activities—including cooking classes, water sports, moonlight storytelling, and movies under the stars. The world-class spa and babysitting services give parents a well-deserved break. 


2. Turtle Bay Resort (Kahuku, O’ahu)

Hawaii resorts poolside

When selecting a place to bring kids and parents who can’t (or simply won’t) sit still, Turtle Bay Resort is a no-brainer. This 1,300-acre oasis on the North Shore of O‘ahu boasts seven beaches, both keiki and adult pools, and a mile-long list of things to do. You can learn how to hang ten with pro surfer Jamie O’Brien, but there’s also stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, forested hiking trails, paniolo kūʻaus that celebrate Hawaiin cowboy culture, hula lessons, tennis, and guided bike tours.


3. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)

kids on rock beach

Fronted by sandy beaches and calm waters, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Kona Coast of the Big Island is paradise for the whole family. Consistently ranked among the best—and most family-friendly—stays in Hawaii, the property offers seven pools, ukulele lessons, a complimentary kids program, plus Camp Manitou for tweens and teens. It’s also a great place to lean into the edu-vacation trend. Budding eco enthusiasts will love learning about different underwater species and ocean health from the team of on-site marine biologists at Kumu Kai Marine Center.


4. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (Kapolei, O’ahu)

With its oceanfront address on the leeward coast of O‘ahu, water slides, lazy river, private saltwater snorkeling lagoon, cove splash zone, and the chance to pal around with everyone’s favorite iconic characters, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is definitely in the running for the most magical place in the Aloha State—especially for the under-10 crowd. After a day of aquatic adventure, the evening lū’aus bring Hawaiian culture to life for guests young and old through live music, traditional hula dancing, and a special island buffet for children.  


5. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Poipu, Kauai)

For a memorable holiday with the whole family, look no further than the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. The lush gardens, Shipwreck Beach, saltwater lagoon, multi-level pools, lava rock-lined lazy river, easy hiking trails, and lū’aus on Wednesday and Saturday nights are great for keiki of all ages. Older kids who meet the height requirements can whiz down the waterslide. Between the 45,000-square-foot spa, championship golf course, savory surf ‘n’ turf served inside thatched-roof bungalows at Tidepools, and generous guestrooms with private lanais, adults will find plenty of relaxation, too. 


6. Montage Kapalua Bay (Lahaina, Maui)

Montage Kapalua Bay is a major splurge. But if your budget allows, it’s well worth spending more to stay at one of the most luxurious resorts in Maui—and you really do get what you pay for. That means five-star service, first-class amenities, residential-style accommodations, Hawaiian cuisine that even picky eaters won’t be able to pass up, and complimentary family photo sessions. Keiki can learn to hula, make leis, and strum the ukulele alongside cultural ambassadors, swim like Ariel at Mermaid Academy, go on nature walks and stargaze through the Paintbox children’s program, and collect Montage Merit Badges.


7. The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua (Kapalua, Maui)

Golden beaches, miles of easy-to-navigate hiking trails, thrilling ziplining, and two-bedroom residences make The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua a phenomenal family escape. Yes, it’s on the more expensive side, but that comes with the five-star oceanfront territory. Kids have the opportunity to take surf lessons and participate in Ambassadors of the Environment, a program in partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society that teaches tots through teens about the environment through guided, hands-on excursions. There are also fabulous spas and championship golf courses for parents.


8. Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu (Poipu, Kauai)

Situated on the sun-drenched south shore of Kauai, Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection takes the stress out of a vacation with LOs (well, as much as any resort reasonably could) with a boatload of ways to keep even the most energetic youngsters entertained. Kiddos will have a blast zipping down waterslides and swimming under cascades in the 350,000-gallon main pool. Keiki get to role-play as little explorers with binoculars, compasses, and activity books full of clues. Making s’mores with the whole crew is a sweet ending to a fun-filled day. 


9. Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui (Wailea, Maui)

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui sits on Polo Beach, which is basically a picture-perfect playground for kids to build sand castles, splash in the warm water, and play tag. You’ll also witness many young guests having the time of their lives running back and forth between the waves and the sparkling pools. This oceanfront property has both casual eateries for meals with the kiddos and upscale restaurants for date night (just ask concierge to arrange a babysitter). And as the only all-suite and villa luxury resort in Hawaii, families don’t have to worry about sharing cramped quarters.


10. The Twin Fin (Honolulu, O’ahu)

hawaii hotels

Source: The Twin Fin

Families who prefer a centrally located hotel that’s walkable to shops and restaurants should consider The Twin Fin. Perched directly across from world-famous Waikiki Beach, the property combines the perks of a condo with attentive service and resort-caliber amenities such as a swimming pool. Guests are greeted with a warm island welcome. Suites with tubs (because baths over showers with tots) and one, two, or three bedrooms give everyone room to breathe. Accommodations also come stocked with midcentury furnishings and reusable water bottles from Mananalu.

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