Dream Family Vacation: Big Island, Hawaii

This trip to Hawaii&s Big Island is on our dream family vacation bucket list! Here are 11 tips for exploring, plus where to stay and eat.
By Samantha Brody
Apr 09, 2013



Apr 09, 2013

Must-See Highlights: 

  • Lapakahi State Historical Park Wander the remains of a village on the west coast to learn how native Hawaiians lived hundreds of years ago. You’ll see a burial site, a fire pit, a fishing shrine, a well, and more. Best yet, it’s free!
  • Pololu Valley Climb down a steep path (bring your hiking shoes!) to a gorgeous black sand beach at the northwest tip of the island. Amazing views from the top of the path. 
  • Fair Wind Cruises A variety of fantastic snorkel trips take your family to Kealakekua Bay, which is well known for its teeming marine life. Guides teach you about the creatures you’ll spot along the way. 
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park The island’s most famous attraction, this park offers the chance to see the orange glow of an active volcano. Take a walk through Thurston Lava Tube, a long cave through which molten rock once flowed. It’s surrounded by jungle that feels prehistoric! 
  • ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii Astronomy is a vital part of Hawaiian culture. Explore the origins of native Hawaiian beliefs, ancient navigation systems, and modern science.

Good Eats:

  • Village Burger Pastured beef, local ingredients, vegetarian options. Try the tuna burgers! 
  • Kiawe Kitchen Excellent thin crust pizza just minutes from the volcanoes. (Call 808-967-7711.)
  • Kohala Coffee Mill A great spot for coffee and snacks right near Pololu Valley. We love the toasted coconut and macadamia nut gelatos. (Call 808-889-5577.)

Where to stay:

  • Hilton Waikoloa Village This thoughtfully designed, Disney-like resort on the western shore includes a seawater pool where you can swim with turtles, take a walk across a rope bridge, swim with dolphins, and more! 
  • Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa Almost every night, this resort, also on the west coast, hosts manta ray talks. You can learn about and see the massive sea creatures in action. They have a 20-foot wingspan! 
  • Kilauea Lodge Cozy rooms and an intimate, low-key atmosphere down the road from the volcanoes. 

Plus: Discover more great family vacation tips!

If you like this destination, and are interested in a variety of other travel spots, feel free to visit the following websites:

You will find travel information for a number of agencies including Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.


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