Planning a trip to the Big Island with kids and want to find the best kid-friendly attractions, activities, restaurants, and more? Scroll to check out this mega list of the best things to do on the Big Island with kids!
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Are you planning a family vacation to the Big Island?
You might be wondering what to do on the Big Island of Hawaii with kids. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Keep scrolling to find out the best things to do on the Big Island with kids.
In this post, I’ll share the best kid-friendly restaurants, activities, attractions, beaches and so much more. By the end of this post, you’ll have tons of ideas to help you plan your Big Island itinerary.
The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s home to active volcanoes, lush rainforests, and miles and miles of white-sand beaches. There are so many things to do with kids in Hawaii that I can’t even fit them all into this post!
And don’t forget about the food – there are tons of kid-friendly restaurants on the island where you can try everything from fresh fish tacos to local Hawaiian fares like kalua pork and poi (a purple paste made from taro root).
If you want an unforgettable experience for your whole family then look no further than Hawaii!
Let me show you how easy it is for your whole family can enjoy a trip together without any fighting over what to do!
This list will save your sanity when planning your next Hawaiian getaway as well as give them something exciting and new that they’ve never done before! So let’s get started… shall we? 🙂
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting the Big Island with kids.
Best Kid-Friendly Big Island Tours/Activities
- Swim with Dolphins (this is a unique experience for kids of all ages)
- Private Surf Lessons for Kids (this is the BEST way for your kids to learn how to surf in Hawaii)
- Kona Submarine Tour (my kids love seeing sunken shipwrecks)
- Legends of Hawaii Luau (the is the most popular luau for families)
- Waterfall Ziplining (this is the top kid-friendly zipline on the Big Island for families)
- Kona ATV Tour (we love this one because they also do cultural activities)
Best Kid-Friendly Big Island Resorts
- Hilton Waikoloa Village (this is a mega kid-friendly resort where you can swim with dolphins or just enjoy their massive pool area)
- Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel (this is a moderately-priced Kona hotel right on a little lagoon)
- Fairmont Orchid (this is a swanky resort with incredible kids’ programming and an awesome pool area)
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Big Island Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
101 Best Things to do on the Big Island with Kids
Big Island with Kids: Best Big Island Beaches
1. Kamakahonu Beach (King Kam Beach)
Kamakahonu Beach (commonly called King Kam Beach) is one of the best kid-friendly beaches in Kona. It’s situated right by the King Kamehameha hotel on the popular Ali’i Drive.
This is a great place for kids to learn how to snorkel or just play in the sand. It’s a pretty small beach, so it’s a nice place to spend an hour before heading somewhere else.
2. Hapuna Beach
Another awesome beach on the Big Island for kids is Hapuna Beach in the South Kohala area. It’s the longest white sand beach on the Island of Hawaii.
A few of the perks here include a year-round professional lifeguard, tons of shade, proximity to the Ala Kahakai coastal trail, and there are places to buy food, drinks, and even rent beach gear.
3. Spencer Beach Park
Families love Spencer Beach Park, which is just North of Hapuna Beach, because of the calm water and on-site amenities.
Here, you’ll find a covered pavilion, lifeguards, restrooms, picnic tables, showers, and more. It’s a great place for families with little kids who want to play in the water or build sandcastles on the beach.
Get my full Hawaii beach packing list for babies!
4. Anaehoʻomalu Bay (A Bay)
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly beach in Waikoloa, Anaeho’omalu Bay (commonly called A Bay) is where you’ll want to go.
This is a white sand beach that also has ancient Hawaiian fish ponds, a hiking trail, tide pools, petroglyphs, and more. Plus it’s a great place for snorkeling, kayaking, or stand up paddleboarding.
5. Old Kona Airport State Park
One of the best secret beaches on the Big Island is Old Kona Airport State Park. Like the name implies, it used to be an airport landing strip. Today, it’s a kid-friendly beach with tide pools filled with little sea creatures.
There are picnic tables and showers. Plus, it’s a great place for snorkeling, surfing, or just hanging out at the beach.
We actually did a photo shoot here because the beach is gorgeous!
6. La’aloa Beach Park (Magic Sands)
A great Big Island beach for swimming is La’aloa Beach Park on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona. The water is smooth and it’s a great place for kids to learn how to body surf or boogie board.
There are lifeguards, showers, restrooms, and a picnic area. Plus, it’s only a mile from Da Poke Shack, one of the best places for poke on the Big Island.
It’s nickname is Magic Sands because in the winter, the tides shift and the sand disappears overnight.
7. Onekahakaha Beach Park
The best kid-friendly Hilo beach is Onekahakaha Beach Park. Here, you’ll find picnic pavilion, restrooms, and showers. And the water is protected by a lava rock seawall.
There are lifeguards and shallow water, making it great for kids to go swimming or learn how to snorkel. Plus, it’s a great spot for seeing Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles!
Big Island with Kids: Best Places to Eat on the Big Island
Right next to the Royal Kona Resort is Huggo’s as well as Huggo’s on the Rocks. Huggo’s on the Rocks is a bit more casual and it’s great for kids. They have a full kids menu and lots of tasty non-alcoholic drinks for little ones.
Plus, you’ll get sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. They even have live music and hula dancing on some evenings.
If you’re looking for authentic Hawaiian food, you’ll definitely want to hit up Ka’aloa’s Super J’s in Captain Cook. They specialize in chicken and pork lau lau (meat steamed in taro leaves) as well as traditional kalua pork.
You can eat there or get take out and enjoy it at Kealakekua Bay. You can even buy frozen lau lau if you want to put it in your luggage to take home!
Plus, they were featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Food Network.
This is a Hilo institution. It’s a retro diner with classic American dishes as well as local favorites like saimin and teriyaki beef.
They offer kid sizes for many of their menu items. It’s the perfect place to go for breakfast lunch or dinner. While they are usually open 24 hours (making it great for families dealing with jet lag), they are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. as of November 2021.
11. Cafe 100
If you’re a loco moco fan, you’ll definitely want to stop at Cafe 100 in Hilo. This is the place that first created loco moco.
It’s an old school drive in spot that makes it easy to pick up food to take back to your hotel or the beach. In addition to a variety of loco mocos, they also have burgers and other items to suit even the pickiest eater.
Another kid friendly Kona restaurant is Lava Lava Beach Club up in Waikoloa. It’s the same company as Huggo’s on the Rocks and they have a similar menu.
What’s really cool about this place is that they have lawn games that are perfect to keep kids occupied while waiting for their food. Plus, they often have live Hawaiian music.
13. Tex Drive In
If you’re driving up the Honoka’a Coast, make sure to stop by Tex Drive In in Honoka’a. They are most famous for their malasadas (which are super cheap).
But, they also have a great drive in menu with items like loco moco, burgers, fries, hot dogs, Hawaiian food, and so much more. You can enjoy their outdoor patio or take your food to go.
If you’re looking for a place to eat in Kona with kids, head to the Kona Brewing Company. It’s a fun restaurant with an array of locally made beer for grown ups and an awesome kids menu with food they will actually eat!
While I haven’t personally eaten at the Kona location, I used to eat at their Washington State location a lot.
Big Island with Kids: Best Big Island Attractions
One of the coolest national parks in Hawaii is the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. It’s commonly called the Place of Refuge in Hawaii.
This is a great place to learn about Hawaiian history and culture. The Place of Refuge was a safe haven for people escaping the death penalty after breaking a strict Hawaiian law (called a kapu).
Here, you’ll be able to walk along a path to see Hawaiian tiki statues and replica structures that show what life in Old Hawaii was like.
Read my full guide to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park HERE
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Kona near the airport, head over to Kaloko-Honokahou National Historical Park. This celebrates the ancient Hawaiian style of fishing.
Here, you can explore Hawaiian fishponds, see a replica canoe house, and even look for petroglyphs.
Read my full guide to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park HERE
17. Seahorse Farm
One of the most unique things to do on the Big Island with kids is to visit the seahorse farm. Here, you can learn all about these incredible sea creatures and there’s even an opportunity to hold them!
If you’re heading on a Big Island vacation, you’ll definitely want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s an easy day trip from Hilo or Kona and it’s always a hit with kids.
Here, you’ll be able to walk through lava tubes, go hiking on lava rocks, and even get to see the glow (when Kilauea is active). There are tons of volcano tours that are totally worth it.
Read my full guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park HERE.
19. Waipio Valley
One of the most beautiful places on the Big Island is the Waipio Valley. It’s really tricky to get to (you can’t take your rental car) so your best bet is using the Waipio Valley Shuttle. You can read my full Waipio Valley Shuttle tour review HERE.
They will take you into the valley and show you a view of the top sights while being respectful to the people who live in the valley. The views are epic and you’ll probably see a few wild horses! Check the latest rates and more information.
20. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
If you’re looking to see a black sand beach in Hawaii, head down South to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. It’s pretty accessible, which makes it a great stop with kids.
But, what’s even cooler is that it’s also one of the best places to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles on the Big Island! They like to sunbathe in the sand here. It’s a great Big Island Instagram spot!
21. Papakolea Green Sand Beach
One of the most unique places in Hawaii is Papakolea Green Sand Beach in Ka’u. Here, you’ll find sand that’s a mixture of green crystals, white coral, and black lava rock. It’s absolutely breathtaking!
However, it will take some effort to get here. You’ll either need to hike for 5 miles (roundtrip) or pay a local to drive you in their truck.
22. Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo
If you’re looking for a zoo in Hawaii Island, you’ll definitely want to check out Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo. It’s a pretty small zoo and it’s perfect for families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
In addition to animals like tigers and primates, they also have a pretty awesome play area for kids. It’s a top thing to do in Hilo Hawaii for families.
23. Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden
There’s a nice paved walking path that will take you through gardens where you’ll see a waterfall, tiki statue, wishing well, reflecting pond, and more. It’s one of the most beautiful places on the Big Island. Check out our full guide HERE.
One of the most underrated things to do in Hilo Hawaii is walk through Liliuokalani Gardens. It’s just steps away from the Grand Naniloa Hotel and Hilo Bay Cafe.
There’s a cute Japanese gazebo to walk through and you’ll probably see people fishing. It’s a great place for little ones to stretch their legs while driving around the Big Island.
25. Coconut Island
If you’re heading to Hilo on a cruise ship, you can’t miss Coconut Island. It’s a cute area in Hilo Bay with calm water perfect for kids to swim in.
There’s also picnic tables and a grassy field, so it makes a great lunch spot as you tour the Big Island.
26. Kaumana Caves Park
One of the coolest hikes near Hilo is Kaumana Caves Park. Here, you’ll be able to hike down to see a lava tube. It’s a pretty short hike to get to the cave.
It helps to bring flashlights or headlamps to explore the mouth of the cave. The rest of the cave is actually on private property, so it’s best not to venture to far in.
One of the most famous macadamia nut factories in Hawaii is Mauna Loa, which is located in Hilo, Hawaii.
While the visitor’s center is still closed (as of December 2021), it’s normally a great place to learn about the process it takes to dry the macadamia nuts and get them ready to sell. Plus, they have free macadamia nut tasting.
If you want to learn more about Hawaii sea animals, head to Kanaloa Octopus Farm in Kailua-Kona. They offer one-hour tours where you can meet the octopuses and learn about what we can do to help them thrive.
Plus, it’s super close to the airport so it makes a great last stop before flying home from Kona.
Big Island with Kids: Best Big Island Luaus
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.
They also have some of the BEST luau food I’ve ever had. Plus, they do the show oceanfront with a great view of the sunset. And kids ages 5 and under are FREE.
Read my full Voyagers of the Pacific Luau review HERE.
If you’re staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village (or anywhere in Waikoloa) this is a great luau for kids. It’s also located right in front of the ocean with beautiful sunset views.
The food is great and there are activities for kids before the show. And grown-ups will appreciate the unlimited drinks. And kids ages 4 and younger are FREE.
Another great Big Island luau is the Island Breeze Kona Luau at the King Kamehameha Hotel on Ali’i Drive.
They do a really cool royal court presentation since it takes place on the location where King Kamehameha lived. And you can even see a replica of his home right on the bay. Kids ages 3 and younger are FREE.
Another luau on the Big Island for kids is the Hawaii Loa Kohala Luau at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. It’s a beautiful show, fantastic food, and unlimited drinks. And kids ages 5 and under are free!
Big Island with Kids: Best Big Island Shopping
33. Ali’i Drive
If you’re looking for Big Island souvenirs, you’ll definitely want to check out the boutiques along Ali’i Drive. You’ll find everything from clothing to home decor that you’ll want to bring home.
Whether or not you shop at Walmart on the Mainland, you’ll probably find yourself at Walmart at least once on your trip. They have great prices on Hawaiian snacks, souvenirs, Hawaiian clothing, and just about anything you forgot to pack.
Target is my favorite place to shop on the Big Island because they have the cutest Hawaiian clothes, a great toy section, souvenirs, etc.
We’ve been to both the Kona one and Hilo one and the Hilo one is definitely the nicest.
If you’re staying on the Big Island for a week or more, you can save a lot of money by stocking up on drinks and snacks at Costco. They also have Hawaiian food like fresh poke and the best prices on food souvenirs.
And you’ll definitely want to get gas here before you return your rental car.
Big Island with Kids: Best Big Island Activities
A lot of kids have listed 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.
Not only can you swim with the dolphins but you’ll learn a lot about them as well as hand signals so you can communicate with them. This is one of the top things to do on the Big Island with kids.
Read my full guide to swimming with dolphins in Kona HERE.
One of the newest Big Island adventures is the Aloha Adventure Farms ATV tour through the jungle near Kona. Here, you’ll drive up trails and stop at 4 Polynesian villages to participate in hands-on cultural activities.
People ages 16+ can ride their own ATVs while kids ages 5-15 (and adults who are too nervous for the ATV) can hop in the UTV driven by the tour guide.
This is hands-down one of the coolest Big Island tours for families who want a mix of adventure and culture.
Read my full Aloha Adventure Farms ATV tour review HERE.
If your family would like to explore underwater without actually getting wet, the Kona Atlantis Submarine is a great Kona activity.
It’s located at the Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel. You’ll spend about 50 minutes underwater in a real submarine. There are tons of coral and tropical fish and you never know what you might find.
There are also a few shipwrecks that are cool to see!
Read my full Kona Atlantis Submarine review HERE.
41. Kayaking on the Big Island
There are lots of cool places to kayak on the Big Island. A popular Big Island kayaking spot is at Captain Cook. There’s actually a neat snorkeling and kayaking tour you can take there and see the famous Captain Cook monument.
If you’re traveling to the Big Island with kids who are too young to snorkel, you might consider a glass bottom boat ride in Kona. This Kona boat ride is really affordable and kids ages 5 and younger are FREE.
43. Rent a Bike
A really cool (and eco-friendly) way to explore the Big Island is on a bike. This Big Island bike rental company even has kid bikes and e-bikes available.
If you have a limited amount of time on the Big Island, you might consider going on a Big Island helicopter ride. It’s the fastest way to see gorgeous waterfalls, volcanoes, and other top Big Island attractions.
If you’re looking to make your trip to Hawaii a bit more special, book a lei greeting at the Kona Airport. Kids will get a kick out of receiving a fresh flower lei as soon as they land.
The Big Island is famous for its ranches and paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys). So, it’s only fitting to go horseback riding there.
This is an awesome horseback riding tour through the Waipio Valley where you’ll get to see waterfalls. Kids as young as 7 years old can ride.
47. Take a Hike
There are tons of places to go hiking on the Big Island of Hawaii. A few kid-friendly hikes include Akaka Falls, the Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and walking around the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Plus there are plenty of Big Island waterfall hikes.
One of the coolest Big Island snorkeling tours happens at night where you’ll swim with Manta Rays in Kona. This is the best Manta Ray tour for families because it’s for all ages (plus kids ages 2 and younger are FREE). Check out our Big Island Manta Ray snorkel tour tips.
49. Go Parasailing
Another fun Kona adventure is going parasailing. Kids as young as 5 years old can participate, making this an awesome thing to do in Kona for families.
One of the most iconic things to do in Hawaii is learn how to surf. And there’s no better way than a private surfing lesson. Kids as young as 3 years old can try surfing for the first time!
51. Go Scuba Diving
If you have teens who are interested in learning how to scuba dive, this Hilo scuba diving introductory lesson is worth checking out. It’s perfect for people who aren’t certified but still want a scuba diving experience.
The Big Island is famous for its local chocolate. And many of the Big Island chocolate farms have tours and tastings available.
We really like the Lavaloha Chocolate Farm Tour in Hilo. You can ride an electric mini-bus and learn all about growing cacao, meet farm animals, and even see a secret waterfall!
Read my review of the Lavaloha Chocolate Farm in Hilo HERE.
Did you know the Big Island is also home to a few honey bee farms? One of the most popular is Big Island Bees in Captain Cook. You can learn a lot about the honey-making process as well as enjoy some honey tastings.
Kona is the best place to taste authentic Hawaiian coffee. 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 worth a visit. They have free guided tours where you can learn exactly how to make coffee and why Kona coffee is so special. Check out the best Kona coffee farms and tours worth booking.
55. Go Camping
If you want to really experience the outdoors or enjoy adventurous vacations, you might consider going camping on the Big Island. Many of the parks offer legal campsites. Plus, it’s one of the best things to do at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
While surfing has always been popular in Hawaii, stand-up paddling is quickly becoming one of the premier water sports.
This is a cool stand up paddling lesson in Waikoloa for kids ages 5 years old and up. It’s a fun way to get on the water with and without kids.
One of our favorite things to do in Hawaii is professional photoshoots with our family. It’s the best Hawaiian souvenir that we’ll treasure for years to come.
It’s an easy way to get our family Christmas card photo, plus I like to print them and hang on our walls at home to remind me of our trip. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Read my top Big Island family photography tips HERE.
58. Go Ziplining
There are tons of places to go ziplining in Hawaii and the Big Island has a few great options. This Hawaii Zipline Tour was voted the best in Hawaii and it takes place at a waterfall. Kids as young as 10 years old can participate.
You’ll probably want to go snorkeling in Hawaii at least once. While you can snorkel at some of the beaches, it’s really best to do a Big Island snorkel tour like this one at Kealakekua Bay. You’ll even get to explore sea caves along the Kona coast. Kids as young as 5 years old can participate.
Did you know there are spinner dolphins in Hawaii? Your best chance of seeing them is on a dolphin boat tour like this Kona kayak adventure. Kids as young as 5 years old can keep their eyes peeled and row right next to spinner dolphins!
Hawaii has some of the best sunsets in the world and one of the coolest places to see it is from a boat.
While there are several Big Island sunset cocktail cruises, I think this dinner cruise is a good option for families since they serve a full Hawaiian dinner. Plus, kids ages 5 and younger are FREE.
62. Go Fishing
Another fun Big Island boat ride is to go on a fishing charter. The Big Island is a popular place to go fishing in Hawaii. This is a great Kona fishing tour where you have a good chance at catching Mahi Mahi and Marlin.
The Big Island is HUGE, so it may feel daunting to do a Kona road trip. However, there are tons of cool things to see on the Big Island outside of Kona.
I really like Shaka Guide audio tours. You just download it to your phone and it will give you turn by turn directions to see some of the coolest Big Island attractions. Plus, there’s an interesting narration about the history of the island and Hawaiian culture.
Remember when Segways were really popular and people thought it was going to be mainstream? Well, while their popularity might have fizzled, it’s an awesome way to explore a town without walking. This is a fun Segway tour of Kona for kids as young as 14 years old.
65. Private Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Tour
There are tons of amazing volcano tours on the Big Island but one of the best is this private tour with the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
You’ll get to spend a few hours with an expert who will show you all the best places to explore at Kilauea and give you tons of tips for what to do in the area. It was the highlight of our last trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with kids.
Read my full post about the Friend of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tour HERE
One of the best places to see what real Hawaiian cowboy life is like is at Parker Ranch in Waimea. You can do a self-guided tour to check out the historic homes on the ranch. These tours are currently suspended as of December 2021 and hopefully will resume soon.
Have you ever wanted to see a royal palace in Hawaii? Hulihee Palace is located right in Kona and it was the home of King Kamehameha the Great.
They have docent-guided tours where you can learn more about the Hawaiian monarchy and this historic Big Island attraction.
Is your family interested in astronomy? You’ll want to stop at the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo Hawaii. They have a really awesome planetarium and your kids will love learning about the ancient Polynesian art of wayfinding (just like Moana!)
One of the most unique Hawaii botanical gardens is the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. This is an awesome place for kids to learn about eco-systems and experience a real cloud forest.
70. Go Bird Watching
The Big Island is home to lots of unique wildlife including birds. This tour is for kids ages 8 and older who want a quiet activity in a wildlife refuge.
Best Foods to Try on the Big Island with Kids
71. Hawaiian Plate Lunch
One of the best things to eat in Hawaii with kids is a Hawaiian plate lunch. This usually consists of a few meat entrees, white rice, and macaroni salad. These are easy to share with kids and it’s a great way to taste a lot of different foods.
72. Loco Moco
As I mentioned before, Cafe 100 is the birthplace of loco moco. However, you can find this dish at many restaurants on the Big Island. It’s white rice topped with a hamburger patty and fried egg and the entire thing is smothered in gravy.
73. Spam Musubi
One of the best Hawaiian snacks is Spam musubi. It’s like Spam sushi. The Spam is usually cooked with teriyaki sauce, placed on rice, and then wrapped in seaweed.
You can find them in the deli sections of grocery stores or at 7-11 in Hawaii. These are individually wrapped and make a quick breakfast or snack.
74. Drink POG
One of the best things to drink in Hawaii is Passion-Orange-Guava juice (commonly called POG). If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, they call it “Jungle Juice.”
You can order it at restaurants or buy it at the grocery store. And if you fly Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll get it on the interisland flight.
75. Hawaiian Pie
While you might not associate Hawaii with pie, they actually have some of the tastiest pies. It’s easy to find custard pies, coconut cream pies, and even pies with tropical fruit like mango!
76. Fresh Coconut
Something special about Hawaii is that you can easily find fresh coconuts. Some places will crack it open and let you drink the pure coconut water (it’s so hydrating). Or you can try the fresh coconut meat.
One of the best things to order at a Hawaii bakery is fresh malasadas. Tex Drive In is pretty famous for its square-shaped malasadas.
Punalu’u Bake Shop is another great place to try malasadas on the South end of the Big Island.
78. Punalu’u Sweet Bread
Speaking of Punalu’u Bake Shop, you’ll also want to grab a loaf or two of their famous sweet bread. It even comes in guava and taro flavors and they make for an easy (yet tasty) breakfast. You can get them at any grocery store but it’s pretty cool to visit their South Point location.
79. Li Hing Mui Candy
While this isn’t specific to the Big Island, I highly recommend getting a few bags of li hing mui candy from a grocery store. My family likes the Sour Patch Kids and the sour watermelon gummies, but they come in all sorts of flavors. And the li hing mui dried mango is pretty tasty!
Best Big Island Shave Ice to Try
One of the best places to get shave ice in Kona is One Aloha. Their space is HUGE and there’s plenty of seating indoors to beat the heat.
They have a pretty extensive menu including ice cream at the bottom and even getting is snowcapped (drizzled in condensed milk).
If you’re staying near Ali’i Drive, Gecko Girlz Shave Ice is pretty convenient. All their syrups are made in Hawaii with real cane sugar. And they have a ton of toppings including mochi balls, popping boba, and even macadamia nuts.
If you’re heading to Hulihee Palace, you’ll definitely want to plan a stop here. Scandi’s has been voted the best shave ice in Hawaii for good reason. They have 65 different flavors to choose from and you can get ice cream or frozen yogurt at the bottom.
This iconic Maui shave ice company has a location at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona. They have some of the tastiest shave ice in Hawaii made with real fruit syrups. This is a must-stop place.
Big Island with Kids: Free Things to do on the Big Island
One of the best things to do in Hawaii with kids is to tour the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory up on the North Shore of the Big Island.
Here, you’ll get to taste all the best flavors of macadamia nuts, watch an informative video, and even see the whole process through their showroom windows.
And if you’re ready for a sweet treat, they have locally made ice cream!
Read my full guide to the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory Tour HERE.
85. See the Original King Kamehameha Statue
While you’re driving through Hilo, be sure to swing by the King Kamehameha statue. It’s in a huge parking lot so it’s easy for kids to see from the car or you can get our and take photos.
One of the most beautiful churches in Hawaii is St. Benedict’s Church (commonly called the Painted Church).
It’s located in Honaunau near Captain Cook and it makes a great stop on a scenic drive from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
It’s free to enter although there are places to donate if you feel moved. It’s one of the most beautiful Hawaiian churches and definitely worth a peek.
Read my full guide to the Painted Church in Hawaii HERE.
87. Explore Waimea Town
If you want to explore a part of the Big Island where most tourists don’t go, head to historic Waimea Town. It’s up in the mountains so the temperature is a bit cooler (so it’s a great place to go on a hot day to beat the heat).
Here, you’ll find lovely shops and restaurants worth a stop. And you’ll definitely want to hang out at their big playground if you have little kids.
88. See a Big Island Waterfall
The Big Island has some of the most spectacular waterfalls, especially near Hilo. Several of them are really easy to get to.
The best kid-friendly waterfalls on the Big Island include Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Onomea Waterfalls.
89. Go Cliff Diving in South Point
If you’re visiting the Big Island with teens who want a real adventure, head to South Point. This is the most popular place to go cliff diving on the Big Island. Be sure to ask the locals whether or not the conditions are safe before you jump.
90. Walk Around Hawi
While you are driving around the Big Island, be sure to stop in Hawi. This is a little town on the North part of the island that is known for it’s artsy vibe. It’s part of the Kohala coast and it’s a great spot to walk around to shop and dine.
91. Look for Petroglyphs
Another cool thing to do on the Big Island with kids is to look for ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs. These are rock carvings made hundreds of years ago.
A few top spots to see these include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Park, and the Puako Petroglyph Archeological Preserve.
92. Visit a State Park
It’s easy to check out a state park on the Big Island. There’s Wailuku River State Park, Akaka Falls State Park, and Hapuna Beach State Recreational Area that are easy stops.
93. See Historic Hilo Town
If you have some time, park your car and walk around the historic Hilo shopping district. Here, you’ll find lots of unique shops and businesses.
Plus it’s an interesting place to step back in time and get a feel for Old Hawaii.
94. Free Hula Shows
If you want to see Hawaiian dancing but don’t want to splurge on a luau, head to one of the free hula shows on the Big Island. You can find free hula shows in Waikoloa at the Kings’ Shops and Queen’s Marketplace.
95. Go to a Playground
Parents of toddlers and preschoolers will appreciate the array of playgrounds all over the Big Island. A few of our favorites include the free play area at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo, Kamakana Playground near Kona, and Waimea Community Park.
96. Browse Art Galleries
It’s easy to come across a few art galleries on your trip to the Big Island with kids. There’s the Volcano Art Center at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Isaacs Art Center Museum and Gallery in Waimea, and Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery in Hilo.
97. Visit an Ancient Hawaiian Heiau
The people of Old Hawaii used to build impressive buildings and altars out of lava rock. Today, you can visit the ruins of these historic monuments. A few popular heiau on the Big Island include Pu’ukoholā Heiau, Mo’okini Heiau, and Hapaiali’i and Ke’eku Heiau.
98. Explore Tide Pools
Because of the abundance of lava rocks on the Big Island, many of the beaches also have tide pools where you can spot little sea animals like crabs and urchins.
We really liked the tide pools at Old Kona Airport.
99. Look for Rainbows
I had to include this on the list because Hawaii has some of the most beautiful rainbows on the world. It’s easy to spot them in Hilo since that’s the rainy side of the island.
100. See a Big Island Sunrise
Because Hilo is situated on the East shore of the island, you can see some pretty amazing sunrises over the ocean. Hilo Bay is one of the best places to watch a Big Island sunrise.
Despite it being on the West side of the island, we actually saw some pretty amazing sunrises from over the mountains in Kona.
101. See a Big Island Sunset
Since it’s located on the West side, Kona is the best place to enjoy an epic Big Island sunset. You can get the ultimate view from anywhere along Ali’i Drive.
Where to Stay on the Big Island with Kids
One of the best places to stay in Kona with kids is the Royal Kona Resort. It’s right on the popular Ali’i Drive so it’s easy to walk to many Kona shops, restaurants, and attractions. Plus, they have an on-site luau and even a private lagoon. Check the latest rates and availability.
Read my full Royal Kona Resort review HERE
One of the most unique places to stay on the Big Island is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hotel Volcano House. This historic Hawaii hotel sits on the rim of a crater where you can see the volcanic glow when it’s erupting!
Read my full Volcano House review HERE
Our favorite place to stay in Hilo is the Doubletree Grand Naniloa Resort. The entire place is decked out with Kim Taylor Reece hula photography and they even play the Merrie Monarch videos in the lobby. Plus, there are free cookies! Check the latest rates and more information.
Read my full Grand Naniloa Resort review HERE