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‘I Thought We’d Have the Beach to Ourselves!’ How to Avoid the Crowds in Hawaii

Are you heading to Hawaii this year but are worried about crowds? Find out how to visit Hawaii with kids where you can sit back and relax!
This list of tips for visiting Hawaii with kids was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Ah, Hawaii. Just saying the word out loud makes you think of paradise, doesn’t it?

Warm breezes, swaying palm trees, and those stunning beaches that seem to stretch on forever.

Before our family’s first trip to the Aloha State, I had this image in my head of us having these beautiful beaches all to ourselves, the kids splashing in the waves without a care in the world.

Well, reality hit us like a big ocean wave. Turns out, we weren’t the only ones who thought Hawaii would be the perfect vacation spot.

Who knew, right?

Beaches were packed, and finding a spot just to lay our towels down felt like a competitive sport.

After a bit of trial and a lot of error, I’ve picked up some tips on how to avoid the crowds in Hawaii and make your family vacation feel a little more like that paradise you’ve been dreaming of.

10 Easy Ways to Avoid Crowds in Hawaii

Choose Your Time Wisely

First things first, timing is everything. Our first trip was right in the middle of summer. Yep, peak tourist season.

We love visiting Waikiki in the fall! Photo credit: Natalie with Flytographer

If you can swing it, try visiting during the shoulder seasons — late spring or early fall. The weather in Hawaii is pretty amazing year-round, so you’ll still get to enjoy all those warm, sunny days, but with fewer people around.

This is the #1 tip that will make or break your trip if you’re trying to avoid crowds.

Get Up with the Sun

I know, I know. You’re on vacation, and the last thing you want to do is set an alarm. But trust me on this one.

Poolenalena Beach Sunrise on Maui
Poolenalena Beach sunrise on Maui.

Getting to the beach early not only guarantees you a prime spot by the water but also gives you a few quiet hours to enjoy the beauty of the place before the crowds arrive.

Plus, watching the sunrise on a Hawaiian beach? Absolutely magical.

Go Off the Beaten Path

Waikiki Beach might be famous, but Hawaii is full of stunning beaches that aren’t on every tourist’s radar.

Do some digging before your trip to find those hidden gems. We found a few secluded spots that felt like they were our little secret. Here are some of our favorite beaches on Oahu, Big Island, and Kauai.

The kids had all the space they needed to build sandcastles and chase waves, and my husband and I could actually relax.

Consider Other Islands

Oahu is amazing, with Honolulu being a vibrant, bustling city worth exploring.

The Big Island is always laid back! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

But for a more laid-back vibe, consider islands like Kauai or the Big Island. They’re less crowded but equally beautiful, with plenty of beaches, parks, and natural wonders to explore.

Plus, the change of scenery can be a nice contrast if you’re planning a longer stay.

Stay Close to Lesser-Known Beaches

When booking your accommodation, look for places near those less popular beaches you’ve discovered in your research.

Staying close means you can beat the day-trippers to the beach each morning and might even enjoy a quiet sunset swim. Here are our favorite kid-friendly places to stay on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Join the Locals

Sometimes, the best way to avoid tourist crowds is to go where the locals go.

That little beach park without a parking lot, or the stretch of sand at the end of a residential street, might not look like much in the guidebooks, but it could end up being your favorite spot. There are no private beaches in Hawaii.

Just remember to respect the area and the people who live there. Leave no trace, and keep the noise down.

Hawaii hosts some amazing festivals and events that are definitely worth checking out. However, these can also mean bigger crowds.

If you’re set on a peaceful vacation, planning your trip outside of these dates might be a good idea. A quick search before you book your flights can save you a lot of hassle.

Embrace Other Activities

There’s so much more to Hawaii than just its beaches.

When the popular spots are just too crowded, why not explore some of the islands’ other incredible offerings?

Image of Marcie Cheung and her son climbing on hardened lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
We love exploring the lava fields on the Big Island. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Hiking in lush rainforests, visiting volcanic craters, exploring historical sites, or even just enjoying some local cuisine can all be part of your Hawaiian adventure.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are plenty of apps and websites that can help you find the best times to visit popular spots or even alert you when certain areas are less crowded. A little bit of tech can go a long way in planning your day-to-day adventures.

Adjust Your Expectations

Finally, and maybe most importantly, adjust your expectations.

Yes, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, and yes, you will likely encounter crowds at some point during your trip.

But often, it’s not about having the beach to yourself; it’s about the memories you create with your family. A crowded beach day can still be a great beach day if you’re all together, having fun.

Avoiding Crowds in Hawaii Wrap-up

After our experiences, I’ve learned that with a little planning, flexibility, and the willingness to explore beyond the obvious, you can indeed find your slice of paradise in Hawaii.

It might require waking up early, driving a little further, or even changing your plans on the fly, but it’s all worth it when you see the joy on your kids’ faces as they play in the waves or discover a new favorite spot.

So, to all the parents out there worrying about navigating the crowds in Hawaii with their kids, take a deep breath.

With these tips in your back pocket, you’re well on your way to creating those perfect vacation memories — yes, even in paradise. Happy travels!

Looking for more Hawaii travel resources? Check out The Hawaii Planning Guide Every Mom Needs: When to Book Everything from Flights to Fun, Beware of Hawaii’s Vacation Rentals: What No One Tells You About Staying with Kids, The Truth About Renting a Car in Hawaii: Mistakes You’re Making Now!, and 10 Insider Tips for Planning an Unforgettable Hawaii Family Adventure!