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25 Things to do on the Big Island with Kids

25 Things to do on the Big Island with Kids

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Are you planning a trip to the Big Island for 2022 and want to start working on your Hawaii itinerary? Check out these awesome things to do on the Big Island with kids!

Are you planning a trip to the Big Island with kids and want to find the best kid-friendly attractions, activities, restaurants, and more? You’ve come to the right place!

Check out this list of the best things to do on the Big Island with kids!

The Big Island is home to some amazing adventures that will thrill your whole family. From exploring lava tubes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or hiking through lush rainforest trails at Akaka Falls State Park or swimming next to dolphins at Dolphin Quest.

There are so many fun things for families like yours (and mine) on this island paradise.

I’m excited for you because I know how much fun it can be when you have a great guide who knows where all of these hidden gems are hiding!

So let me help make your vacation an unforgettable one by giving you my personal recommendations on what not to miss while visiting each area of this incredible island.

Keep scrolling for my top 25 things to do in Kona, Hilo, and all across the Island of Hawaii.

Need help planning? Save time and money with this Big Island with Kids guidebook!

Want a Hawaii travel guide? I’ve got detailed guides and 7-day itineraries!

Top Things to do on the Big Island FAQs

Is the Big Island of Hawaii a good place to visit?

Yes, depending on what you’re looking for. The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its tropical climate, gorgeous waterfalls, impressive beaches, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. People come from all across the world to experience a more laid-back island and to swim with Manta Rays.

How many days you do need on the Big Island?

I know I’m stating the obvious but the Big Island is, well, BIG. It takes a while to drive just about anywhere you’d like to go. That’s why I recommend at least 5 days on the Big Island if you want to explore Kona, Hilo, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Is it better to stay in Kona or Hilo?

It depends on what type of vacation you want. Hilo is the more affordable area so it’s perfect for budget travelers and people who want to spend a lot of time exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the many waterfalls on the Big Island. However, if you’re looking for a resort vacation, you’ll want to stay in either Kona or Waikoloa.

25 Must Do Things on the Big Island for Families

1. Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

When you’re on the Big Island, it would be a shame not to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This beautiful park features tons of lava tubes and hiking trails through interesting rock forms that can only be found in this place!

Image of a mom and boy standing on a wooden boardwalk surrounded by Sulphur Banks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Sulphur Banks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

Not only will your children get their fill with all these activities but so too should adults who enjoy seeing new things outside everyday life.

There’s always something happening at HVNP–whether during active times or otherwise (when Kilauea is sleeping).

2. Snorkel with Manta Rays

One of the coolest Big Island snorkeling tours actually happens at night. This is an opportunity to go swimming with Manta Rays in Kona.

Image of a Manta Ray swimming in the ocean in Hawaii.
Go swimming with Manta Rays in Hawaii.

It’s a unique opportunity that you won’t find anywhere else in Hawaii.

This is the best Manta Ray tour for families because it’s for all ages (plus kids ages 2 and younger are FREE).

3. Try Loco Moco

Loco Moco is a Hawaiian dish that was actually created in Hilo at Cafe 100. It’s basically white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and the whole thing is smothered in gravy.

If you want to taste this popular concoction, you can still go to this old school drive in diner. They have a bunch of varieties of Loco Moco or you can get burgers and other plate lunch items.

4. Go on a Cultural ATV Ride

One of the newest Big Island adventures is the Aloha Adventure Farms ATV tour. It launched in 2019 and it’s one of the coolest jungle treks for families with kids ages 5 and older.

Image of ATVs parked in front of the Aloha Adventure Farms sign on the Big Island of Hawaii.
This is the COOLEST ATV tour!

Here, you’ll drive up trails and stop at 4 Polynesian villages to participate in hands-on cultural activities. And if your kids are at least 8 years old, you can also add on a Polynesian wood carving workshop!

5. Tour a Chocolate Farm

The Big Island is famous for its delicious and locally-made chocolate. And many of the Big Island chocolate farms have tours and tastings available.

Image of a boy and a woman holding umbrellas while looking at cacao fruit at a chocolate farm in Hilo Hawaii.
Learning about Cacao fruit at the Lavaloha Chocolate Farm in Hilo.

Our favorite place to taste chocolate is the Lavaloha Chocolate Farm in Hilo. Not only is the chocolate amazing, but the farm itself is awesome for kids. There’s even a place to feed the ducks!

6. Play at Hapuna Beach

When it comes to the best beaches for kids on Big Island, Hapuna Beach in South Kohala is a top destination.

Image of a sandy beach with blue water and blue skies.
Hapuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Not only does this area have tons of sand and shade from palm trees but there are also professional lifeguards who will keep your little ones safe during their vacation here!

You can buy food or drinks at nearby stores while enjoying some restful time under an umbrella with friends

7. Hike to Akaka Falls

One of the best kid-friendly hikes on the Big Island is Akaka Falls. It’s located at a Hawaii state park and it’s an easy, paved trail that takes you to one of the best Big Island waterfalls.

Image of a mom and a boy with his arm in a sling taking a selfie in front of a waterfall on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Along this loop trail, you’ll cross a bridge and see lots of tropical plants and flowers.

8. Swim with Dolphins

If your kids love animals, they probably have swimming with dolphins in Hawaii on their bucket list. Kids of all ages (and even adults) can do this with Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

Image of a boy using a hand motion to talk to a dolphin in Hawaii.
You can use hand movements with the dolphins!

Even if your kids are shy, the instructors are great at getting them comfortable in the water and letting them interact with the dolphins to their own comfort level. Plus, they can practice sign language with them!

9. Get Malasadas

Hawaii is famous for its malasadas, which are Portuguese-style donuts. They look like oversized donut holes and they are usually rolled in sugar and cinnamon.

Image of a big square malasada from Tex Drive In on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Huge malasada at Tex Drive In on the Big Island.

The best place to get malasadas on the Big Island is at Tex Drive In on the Honoka’a Coast. They have the tastiest and most affordable malasadas with a variety of toppings and fillings.

10. Visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

The best way to learn about Hawaiian history and culture is by visiting the Place of Refuge in Hawaii. That’s the common name for the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

Image of a mom and boy taking a selfie with tiki statues in Hawaii.
Selfie with tikis at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park near Kona.

This national park showcases the area of land that provided Hawaiians with a safe haven from the death penalty after breaking strict laws (called kapu).

Today, you can take walks along paths that are lined with replica structures showing old ways of life for those who found refuge here centuries ago!

11. See the Painted Church

One of the most beautiful churches in Hawaii is St. Benedict’s Church in Captain Cook. Most people refer to it as the Painted Church because of the beautiful interior paintings.

Image of a colorfully painted interior of a church in Hawaii.
This is on the wall inside the Painted Church in Hawaii Island.

It’s free to enter but donations are accepted and encouraged. It’s one of the most beautiful Hawaiian churches and definitely worth a peek.

It also makes a quick stop when driving from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

12. Check out a Macadamia Nut Factory

One of the best things to do in Big Island with kids is to tour the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory up on the North Shore of Hawaii Island.

Image of a woman giving samples of Hamakua Macadamia Nuts in Hawaii.
Hamakua Macadamia Nut tasting.

It’s a bright, clean factory with show windows so you can watch them pack up the macadamia nuts in real-time. Plus, they have an informative video, macadamia nut tastings, and even locally made ice cream!

13. Enjoy a Big Island Luau

One of the best Big Island luaus is the Voyagers of the Pacific Luau at the Royal Kona Resort. They have dancing from all across the Polynesian islands.

Image of men wearing orange grass skirts and holding wooden oars as they dance at the Royal Kona Luau in Hawaii.
Royal Kona Luau.

If you’re staying anywhere in Waikoloa, the Legends of Hawaii luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village is a great luau for kids. It’s also located right in front of the ocean with beautiful sunset views.

And there’s the Island Breeze Kona Luau at the King Kamehameha Hotel on Ali’i Drive that has a really cool royal processional.

14. Shop on Ali’i Drive

If you’re looking for fun Big Island souvenirs, you’ll definitely want to check out the boutiques along Ali’i Drive. They have everything from Aloha shirts and dresses to artwork that you’ll want to bring home.

Plus they have a bunch of gift shops where kids will have a blast finding the perfect toy, book, or tchotsky.

15. See Waipio Valley

I think that one of the most beautiful places on the Big Island is the Waipio Valley. It’s one of the last remaining valleys that truly showcases what Old Hawaii was like.

Image of a tall waterfall surrounded by lush green hills at Waipio Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Hi’ilawe Falls in Waipio Valley is spectacular!

It’s really tricky to get to (you can’t take your rental car) so your best bet is using the Waipio Valley Shuttle.

16. Take a Submarine Ride

The Kona Atlantis Submarine is the perfect way to explore underwater without actually getting wet! It’s located at the Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel.

Image of a boy posing inside a submarine with a shirt with a shark on it.
Throwing shakas inside the Atlantis Kona Submarine.

You’ll spend about 50 minutes exploring a real, live sub with tons of coral and tropical fish. There are even shipwrecks waiting for you on your adventure.

17. Do a Big Island Ziplining Tour

There are tons of places to go ziplining in Hawaii and the Big Island plenty of options.

This Hawaii Zipline Tour was voted the best zipline in Hawaii and it takes place at a pretty waterfall. It’s perfect for families with kids at least 10 years old.

18. Get Shave Ice

One of the best places to get shave ice in Kona is One Aloha. Their space is HUGE and there’s plenty of indoor seating to beat the heat.

Image of a big shave ice in a bowl in front of a painting of butterfly wings.
One Aloha Shave Ice in Kona Hawaii.

The iconic Maui shave ice company Ululani’s Shave Ice has a location at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona. They have some of the most flavorful shave ice in Hawaii made with real fruit syrups.

And Scandinavian Shave Ice (aka Scandi’s) was voted the best shave ice in Hawaii!

19. Visit the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

If you’re looking for cute a zoo in Hawaii, you’ll definitely want to check out Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo. It’s a very small zoo and it’s perfect for families with little ones.

Image of a boy sitting on tiger statues at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in Hawaii.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo Hawaii.

In addition to animals like tigers and tropical birds, they also have a pretty awesome play area for kids. It’s a top thing to do in Hilo Hawaii for families.

20. Check out a Big Island Farmers Market

The Big Island has some of the best farmers markets in Hawaii. That’s because there are a ton of farms here and the climate allows them to grow a variety of things.

Image of a man shopping for fruit at a Big Island farmers market in Hawaii.
Try all kinds of fruit at a Big Island farmers market.

The most famous farmers market on the Big Island is the Hilo Farmers Market. It’s right in Hilo town and it’s the best place to get fresh produce and baked goods whether you are driving by or staying a few days.

21. Tour the Imiloa Astronomy Center

If you are traveling with children or want to get them into the solar system, then I recommend Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo Hawaii.

They have an awesome facility that will leave your little ones awe-struck! Plus your kids will love learning about the ancient Polynesian art of wayfinding (just like in Moana)!

22. Look for Petroglyphs

Kids will love exploring ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs on the Big Island. They are rock carvings that depict animals, people, and things.

Image of peoples' feet as they look down at ancient Hawaiian rock carvings.
Checking out Hawaiian petroglyphs.

There are tons of top spots to find these rock carvings, including in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kaloko-Honokohau National Park among other places!

23. Visit a Seahorse Farm

One of the most unique things to do on the Big Island with kids is to visit the seahorse farm.

This is where you can learn about these adorable sea creatures. Plus, there’s even an opportunity to hold them!

24. Explore a Kona Coffee Farm

Did you know that Kona coffee is famous around the world? That’s because it’s grown on the slopes of a volcano and has a unique taste that’s hard to match.

Image of red and green berries on a Kona coffee plant in Hawaii.
Kona coffee berries at a coffee plantation in Hawaii.

There are tons of coffee farms all over the Big Island so you won’t have any trouble stopping by at least one of them.

Greenwell Farms is a popular Kona coffee farm families like to visit because they have free guided tours.

25. See Rainbow Falls

One of the best waterfalls on the Big Island is Rainbow Falls right in Hilo. There’s no hiking involved, which makes it the easiest Big Island waterfall for kids.

Image of a pretty Hawaiian waterfall surrounded by green trees and plants.
Rainbow Falls in Hilo Hawaii.

You simply park and walk a few steps to have an incredible view of Rainbow Falls. There are a few different viewing platforms.

Best Things to do on Big Island with Kids Wrap Up

Now you know what to do in Big Island with kids of ages. There are so many Big Island activities and attractions that are kid-friendly.

I hope you’ve found this list of the top 25 things to do with kids in the Big Island helpful and informative. There is something for everyone on this list, whether your family likes outdoor activities or a more relaxing vacation.

We also have other content related to Hawaii that may be worth checking out as well if you’re not just looking for ideas for what to do in Big Island with kids.

Looking for more Hawaii travel resources? Learn how to plan a trip to Hawaii, the best Hawaiian island for kids, how to book affordable Hawaii family photos, how to plan a trip to Hawaii with toddlers, and do you need Hawaii travel insurance.

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