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Hawaii is an archipelago of eight large and several small, volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s easy to hop from one island to another on a short flight, so you can experience the different types of Island life that Hawaii has to offer.
When choosing the best island for your 2023 Hawaii family holiday, it is difficult to find the right one for you… Particularly when all of them are heavenly! As a general guideline, take a look at this in-a-nutshell analysis of the Mumsnet user Onthegrid:
"Hawaii is an island chain and each one is unique and your pick will make a huge difference to your trip.
Oahu - the commercial isle, with skyscrapers and many people. Plus Waikiki beach, north shore, Pearl Harbour, and filming locations.
Maui - the honeymoon isle, big hotels, expensive, nice beaches, great scenery.
Kauai - the garden isle, green, less commercial with wonderful beaches.
Hawaii - the big island, dramatic volcanic scenery, quiet (although much more developed than the first time we went), active volcano, amazing beaches."
We won’t try to sugarcoat it, though. A Hawaiin holiday can be expensive. Well, very expensive. “To give you an idea of price, we paid £6k for two adults and a child for two weeks in hotels plus domestic return flights to Maui in the middle, we then spent £2k on trips and food. We had no idea it would be this expensive”, says Mumsnet user offtocatchatrain.
Although travelling to Hawaii is not cheap, it is certainly doable. So if you’re dreaming of a tropical beach vacation in Hawaii, stop dreaming and start planning!
We’ve searched through the many tried-and-tested recommendations from Mumsnet users to bring you this selection of the 10 best family friendly resorts in Hawaii, all situated on the four major “tourist” islands.
Read on for the best family resorts in Hawaii…
Family hotels in Hawaii: editor's picks
Family-friendly resorts in Hawaii: quick look
- Best overall: Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach
- Best budget: Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach
- Best for young children: Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
- Best for older children: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
- Best self-catering: Big Island Awamoa Hale by Coldwell Banker Island Vacations
1. Best for young children: Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa | Check availability
Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa is a retreat perched above black lava rock cliffs. Although it is right next to the ocean, the nearest “real” sandy beach is around 1.5mi away.
This resort with enchanting gardens is wonderful for relaxing, for manta ray viewing, and for exploring the beautiful valleys, waterfalls and volcanoes of Hawaii, ‘The Big Island’.
It is also great for young children. They will love the almost 200ft-long winding water slide at the oceanfront lagoon pool, and you will enjoy the fantasy pool, set on several different levels and dramatically nestled along the ocean’s lava cliffs. Some say it is unequalled in all of Hawaii.
Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa is not within walking distance of any restaurants. If you don’t have a car, you will depend on the resort’s pricey fare.
- Distance from the airport: Kona International airport is around 15 miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“Have a look at Big Island - that's where you are most likely to see live volcanoes and lava and there's everything from deserts through to jungle to mountains. You could visit more than just one island as they're all different, hiring a car is the best way to get around each. Two downsides: cost of living isn't cheap and jet lag's a killer!” loofa
2. Best self-catering: Big Island Awamoa Hale by Coldwell Banker Island Vacations
Big Island Awamoa Hale by Coldwell | Check availability
Do you plan to visit Hawaii with a big family? Or a group of friends? Consider renting this holiday home which can accommodate six people. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a fenced private backyard with fruit trees, a fountain, and a BBQ grill. A children's playground is also available on site.
Awamoa Hale is set in a residential, family-friendly neighbourhood in the centre of Waikoloa Village on Big Island. When you stay at this holiday home, you will have access to the community swimming pool, fitness centre and tennis courts. Grocery stores and restaurants are in the vicinity, and it is only a short drive from Hawaii island's best beaches.
It’s worth mentioning that the home doesn’t have central air conditioning, but the primary bedroom and one of the guest rooms has a wall air conditioner unit to use during your stay.
- Distance from the airport: Kamuela airport is around 10 miles away.
3. Best budget: Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach | Check availability
When you stay at Waikiki Hyatt Place, you will be within walking distance of several beaches: Kuhio Beach, Queen's Surf Beach, the famous Waikiki Beach, and the Kapiolani Park Beach.
Your room at Waikiki Hyatt Place comes with breakfast included, and you will have at your disposal a swimming pool, sun terrace, and a fitness centre during your stay here. Plus on Friday afternoons, you’ll have a chance to learn how to make a lei.
There’s a coffee house on site, snack bar, and a bar, as well as a market that provides packaged food. Situated in Waikiki, a district of Honolulu, Oahu island, the hotel is also in the vicinity of many local restaurants, food trucks and stores.
All this makes Waikiki Hyatt Place one of the best affordable family hotels in Hawaii. Do note that there are often lengthy queues at the lifts!
- Distance from the airport: Honolulu airport is just under eight miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“We weren’t on a budget but we did stay at a hotel with free breakfast in Waikiki Hyatt place and that massively reduced food costs over two weeks. It was expensive everywhere we went, even just for snacks.” offtocatchatrain
4. Best overall: Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach
Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach | Check availability
Known as the honeymoon island, Maui is also great for families. And Aston at The Whaler is among the best resorts in Maui for families.
This self-catering condominium resort, set in a lush tropical landscaped garden, is 800ft from the pristine Kaanapali Beach. On site amenities include an ocean front pool, spa, fitness centre, barbecue grills, picnic areas, and a tennis court. It is close to Whaler Village and a short drive away from the town of Lahaina, so shopping and dining venues are right at hand.
The apartments accommodate four or six persons. Choose from extra-spacious studios to two-bedroom condominiums with complete kitchens, daily maid service, private lanais, and spectacular ocean and garden views.
Relaxing and laid back, the resort is perfect for families looking for a quiet spot that also offers easy access to the main highway for island sightseeing and exploring the wonders of Maui.
- Distance from the airport: Kapalua Airport is around three miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“I was at the Whaler in August and have been going for years. My DCs are 5 and 9. Some hotels have very fun pools (the Whaler isn't one of them). We do enjoy the slow pace of Kaanapali. Having Whaler's Village next door to our hotel is handy. There's no food shopping close by, other than the ABC store, so you would have to go into Lahaina, if you have self catering. There is easy transit from Kaanapali into Lahaina (like $1 per person each way and running relatively frequently). You could book a surfing lesson on Kaanapali beach for DD. There are shuttle buses from the airport to Kaanapali (maybe $20-30/person/each way) or a taxi (maybe $80 each way). If you rent a car, you pay for parking everywhere.” Happyspade
5. Best all inclusive hotel: Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Hilton Hawaiian Village | Check availability
Nestled among lush tropical plants and flowers, Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Hilton Hawaiian Village is two miles from the centre of Honolulu, Oahu island. When you stay here, you'll have all of the Village's facilities at your disposal: swimming pools with water slides, a spa, a fitness centre, over 20 restaurants and lounges, as well as complimentary shows and live events. A kids’ club is available at an additional charge.
Hilton Grand Vacations Club offers studios, one and two bedroom condos. All come with a kitchenette.
The stunning Waikiki Beach is a quarter of a mile away. The heart of the downtown area is also within walking distance.
Guests have noticed that the resort’s pools can get overcrowded and that there are long queues for the lifts at times. The beach chairs and umbrellas are also extra, and the rental prices are quite high - so it may make sense to buy some cheap ones at the beginning of your stay.
- Distance from the airport: Honolulu airport is around six miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“We have been to the Hilton Hawaiian Village a couple of times now and have enjoyed each visit there. It's a nice resort for children (there is a kids club and half days are available but you need to book this in advance), the Superpool does get very crowded though in the afternoon. It is very self-contained and has lots of shops and restaurants on site. I would strongly suggest you buy supplies like water, foodstuffs etc from the ABC store as it is much cheaper. Their beachfront is very nice with both calm and shallow water. Sand is soft but can become hot to walk on. The boat dock for the Atlantis submarine is on this beachfront area.” AttilaTheMeerkat
6. Best for families of all ages: Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore
Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore | Check availability
Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore has got to be the best Marriott resort for families in Hawaii. This informal hotel offers relaxed rooms with coffeemakers, microwaves and minifridges. Suites feature separate living areas with pull-out sofas. There's a restaurant on site, a snack bar, and a coffee house, as well as a hot tub and an exercise room.
For some splashing fun, head for the outdoor swimming pool, or make a bee-line for the Onini Beach, located just across the road. A little further away, about half a mile from this beachfront property, find the exceptional Laniloa Beach.
Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore is 0.6mi from the centre of Laie, Oahu island, and a three minute walk from the Polynesian Cultural Centre.
If you book the “breakfast included” rate, know that the free breakfast only applies to 2 persons. Additional breakfast can be purchased directly with the property.
- Distance from the airport: Honolulu Airport is about 22.3 miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“When we went to Oahu, we stayed up on the North Shore rather than down in the Honolulu/Waikiki area as it's really busy down there. We explored a lot all over the island, there's plenty to do, lots of hiking, the Polynesian Cultural Center, shopping in Honolulu, visiting pineapple plantations!” Themountainsarecalling
7. Best luxury resort: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa | Check availability
Money not an object? Lucky you! You get to stay in this stunning luxury, family-friendly hotel in the middle of paradise.
Located on the island of Kauai, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is only 650ft from the Shipwreck Beach, which (as the name suggests) is not safe for swimming. You can watch locals surf or jump off a high rock, but do not follow suit! Rather go to the lovely Poipu Beach Park, 1mi away.
You will have plenty of opportunities for swimming right inside this luxury resort. They have a vast pool complex with winding streams, waterfalls, and slides. Pools are open 24 hours, and swimming in them under the starry sky is quite an experience.
A golf course, a spa, three tennis courts, water sports centre and horse stables are all located on site. There is a kids’ club at an additional charge, and babysitting services can be arranged.
The resort has 7 restaurants. Right down the road, you will also find all the shops and food you could need.
- Distance from the airport: Lihue Airport is around nine miles away.
8. Best location: Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger | Check availability
Situated on Maui’s west coast on Napili Bay, Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger - No Resort & Housekeeping Fees is only 164 yards from the superb Napili Beach. Kapalua Beach, 656 yards away, is great for snorkelling.
This aparthotel offers accommodation with a kitchen, but there is also a restaurant on site if you do not feel like cooking lunch. The hotel is a bit far from town, so you need to plan for groceries.
Two swimming pools, a hot tub, croquet, shuffleboard, giant checkers, BBQ and picnic areas are also available to guests.
Outrigger Napili Shores offers an optional housekeeping service at an additional cost.
Guests appreciate the relaxing and quiet family vibe of this hotel, but were not happy with the long waiting at the restaurant and the limited front desk hours.
- Distance from the airport: Kapalua Airport is around two miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“We went to Maui when our kids were younger. It was one of the best holidays we have had. Maui was so beautiful - the mountains, the sea, We loved swimming/snorkelling, took surf lessons, and did the road to Hana which was stunning.” pallisers
9. Best rental condo: Turtle Bay Condo
Turtle Bay Condo | Check availability
This vacation rental condo can be yours during your stay in Kahao, on Oahu island's peaceful North Shore. The entire apartment is on the ground floor and consists of one bedroom, living room, kitchen, terrace, garden, and outdoor dining area. The bedroom features one king-size bed, and the living room has a sleeper sofa. All in all, the condo can accommodate four persons.
The property is well stocked with basic beach supplies, such as chairs and umbrellas. Two superb beaches are close by. Kaihalulu Beach is 600 yards away, and Turtle Beach is 700 yards from the property. Surfing enthusiasts will especially appreciate this location. The North Shore of Oahu island is known as the surfing capital of the world.
There are several restaurants within walking distance, as well as the community pool and tennis courts.
Some guests were not entirely satisfied with the maintenance and cleanliness of the condo.
- Distance from the airport: Honolulu airport is about 26.7 miles away.
10. Best for older children: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa | Check availability
Are you looking for a family holiday location in Hawaii close to all the action? You found it! Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa is right next to the dynamic centre of Waikiki on Oahu island. You will be close to designer fashion stores, cocktail bars, fine dining and hula shows. The famous Waikiki Beach with lots of water activities is just across the road.
Perfect for fun-loving parents and their older children!
The resort features an outdoor pool, a spa, fitness centre, 6 restaurants and no less than 60 shops. Their new cultural centre will give you a unique experience of Hawaii, teaching you to dance the hula, play the ukulele, make a lei, and so on. Hyatt Regency Waikiki has a long list of complimentary goodies offered to the guests. Make the most of it!
Since the resort is close to the city centre, be prepared for noises from the streets. In peak season, the pool area can get overcrowded, and the same goes for the lifts.
- Distance from the airport: Honolulu airport is just under seven miles away.
What Mumsnet users say
“We went to Hyatt Regency Hotel Waikiki for our honeymoon. It is just over the road from the beach, literally a stone's throw. We stayed in the EWA tower and had a sea view as well as a view for people watching walking along.” kangasantamummy
How to get to Hawaii
Flights are one of the most expensive components of a Hawaiian vacation. Depending on where you are coming from, they can make a big dent in your travel budget.
The aeroplane tickets to Hawaii from London start from around £1,000 for a family. The average flight time is about 14 hours and all routes involve at least one stop. There is little price difference between flights with one and two stops.
To save on the airfare, check your frequent flyer mileage and look out for airline sales and promotions. You also need to shop around, because prices can vary considerably from one airline to another, as well as from one month to another. Even the time of day can have an impact on the cost.
Some experienced travellers find that it can be cheaper to book tickets with two airlines, for example one to Los Angeles, and another to Honolulu. Such juggling, however, requires a ton of research and nerves of steel.
When to visit Hawaii
With beautiful weather and flowers that never stop blooming, Hawaii is worth visiting year-round. However, costs decrease considerably if you visit in September to October or April to May (avoid the holidays, though). The weather is generally good during these months and touristy spots are less crowded.
Where to eat in Hawaii
A good food plan is crucial for reining in the expenses during your Hawaii holiday. Many food items have to be transported to Hawaii by ship, and therefore tend to be pricey.
If you choose to stay in one of the self-catering establishments from our list of best family resorts in Hawaii and prepare your own food, know that the grocery stores around resorts are usually more expensive. So, shop where locals shop, and shop local produce whenever possible. Hawaiian avocados, apple bananas, papaya, and dragon fruit are reasonably priced, and all the more delicious for having travelled less to your plate.
When you feel like going out for lunch or dinner, why not eat off a food truck. They are all over Hawaii and serve delicious dishes. Their prices vary a lot, but you can find some that are very affordable.
You need not stay away from more formal dining either. Many restaurants offer “early bird” and “happy hour” discounts, which means that you’ll be able to enjoy a nice evening meal out, without paying high prices.
Also note that Hawaii is known for generous portions. Plate lunches are a popular local dish, sold at both food trucks and restaurants, and one plate can easily satisfy two hungry mouths.
What should a family on a budget do in Hawaii?
More precisely, what to do without spending too much money. There are many free and affordable activities available in Hawaii. Cycling, surfing and snorkelling entail a low equipment rental fee. Lounging on pristine beaches and hiking are free.
There are also plenty of free events all over the islands, such as hula shows, concerts, outdoor movies, and so on. Even visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial is free of charge!
Well, they are not really hidden, but people tend to overlook them and get a nasty surprise at check out. Be a smart traveller and budget for these costs:
- Taxes and resort fees: in addition to room rates, hotels in Hawaii impose a 3% levy on top of the state's 10.25% “tourist” tax. Several also charge resort fees, which can range from US$15 to $50 (about £13 to £43.50) per room per day. Hotels justify this fee with a list of amenities offered to the guests, such as local phone calls, pool chairs, fitness classes, reusable water bottles, and so on. You will find taxes and resort fees presented separately on Booking.com.
- Parking fees: many hotels also charge parking fees that can be anywhere from $15 to $60 (about £13 to £62) a night. If you still want to rent a car, plan your itinerary carefully to avoid unnecessary parking fees. Some tourists even return rented cars for the night! Alternatively, look for cheaper public parking lots. Of the 10 best family resorts and hotels in Hawaii on our list, three offer free parking: Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, and Big Island Awamoa Hale by Coldwell Banker Island Vacations.
What part of Hawaii has the best resorts?
Most people who have been to Hawaii will agree that the island of Oahu is one of the best to visit if you’re travelling to Hawaii for the first time. Our recommendation is to find out yourself and visit at least two, if not more, islands that make up Hawaii.
There are eight striking islands but only six are major tourist destinations. They are Oahu, Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai.
Is Hawaii safe for families and kids?
Family is very important in Hawaiian culture, and the families with children are welcomed with open arms. Hawaii is an incredibly safe holiday destination for families.
How we chose our recommendations
Our recommendations are based on feedback from real parents, our Mumsnet travel forums, customer testimonials, and review sites. Being parents ourselves helps us to understand what families need when booking a holiday, and we always offer unbiased, independent advice you can trust.
Why should you trust us?
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.