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Why Your Kids Might Hate Hawaii (And How to Guarantee They’ll Love It!)

Are you thinking about going to Hawaii this year? Find out some surprising reasons why your kids might not be on board!
This post about why your kids might hate Hawaii 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.

Hey there, fellow adventurers!

If you’re dreaming about whisking your family away to the tropical paradise of Hawaii, I’ve got some insights that might just make your trip unforgettable.

You see, after more than 40 trips to these enchanting islands, I’ve learned a thing or two—especially about traveling with kids.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Who wouldn’t love Hawaii?” Well, believe it or not, there are a few reasons your kids might not be as thrilled as you’d expect.

But don’t worry, I’ve also got the secret sauce to turn potential frowns upside down.

Image of two boys on the Hanakapiai hike on Kauai
I was really surprised that my kids wanted to do the Hanakapiai hike on Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Why Kids Might Not Love Hawaii at First

Long Flights Can Be a Drag

Let’s face it, getting to Hawaii often means long hours on a plane, and for kids, that can be tough. The anticipation of beach fun can quickly turn into restlessness and boredom.

Overwhelming Itineraries

In our excitement, we might pack the days with back-to-back activities. For kids, this can be overwhelming, leaving little time for spontaneous fun or much-needed rest.

Unfamiliar Foods

Hawaiian cuisine is a delicious mix of many cultures. But for picky eaters, new foods can be a challenge, leading to mealtime becoming a battleground.

Too Much Time in the Sun

Us adults might crave that warm Hawaiian sun, but for kids, too much sun (and heat) without enough breaks can lead to discomfort and crankiness. This is especially true for those of us from the Pacific Northwest!

My kids LOVE doing hands-on activities. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Guaranteeing They’ll Love It: A Parent’s Guide

Now, let’s check out how you can ensure your family trip to Hawaii is filled with joy and wonder for your kids.

Prep for the Flight

Pack a bag of goodies, including snacks, games, and a few new toys or books to keep them entertained. Consider also downloading their favorite shows or movies on a tablet for in-flight entertainment.

I’ve got a great Hawaii packing list specifically for the flight!

Plan with Plenty of Downtime

Remember, vacations are for relaxation, too. Balance out the sightseeing with plenty of downtime. Let some days be guided by what the kids want to do—even if it’s just playing in the hotel pool or building sandcastles on the beach.

Introduce Foods Gradually

Before your trip, try introducing Hawaiian-inspired meals at home to get them excited about the local cuisine. I’ve got a bunch of Hawaiian recipes on this site.

Once there, mix familiar foods with new Hawaiian dishes. Places with buffets or family-style servings are great for letting kids try a little bit of everything. And even the plate lunches are large enough to share.

Schedule Sun Smart

To avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion, plan outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day—early morning or late afternoon. And always have plenty of sunscreen, hats, and water on hand.

Image of a boy riding a bicycle that also juices sugar cane at a Kauai farm
My son asked if he could try out this bicycle that squeezes the juice out of sugar cane and it was a highlight of his trip to Kauai! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Making Hawaii Unforgettable for Kids

Choose Kid-Friendly Activities

Look for experiences that cater to young adventurers. Many tours and attractions in Hawaii are designed with kids in mind, offering hands-on learning and fun.

Think about snorkeling in a shallow reef, visiting a sea turtle sanctuary, or taking a hula lesson.

Here are our favorite kid-friendly activities on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Let Them Choose

Involve your kids in the planning process. Let them pick a couple of activities they’re most excited about.

My kids usually ask to go ziplining, hiking, swimming with dolphins, or going to a luau.

When kids feel like they have a say in the trip, they’re more likely to enjoy it.

Discover the Local Culture Together

Hawaii’s rich history and culture offer a fantastic learning opportunity. Visit a cultural center or a historical site, like Pearl Harbor, and talk about what life is like on the islands. It’s a great way to make the trip educational and fun.

Create a Scavenger Hunt

Turn sightseeing into a game by creating a scavenger hunt. List things for them to find throughout the trip, like a specific flower, a surfer, or a lava rock. It’ll keep them engaged and excited about what’s around the next corner.

Quick selfie at Byodo-in Temple on Oahu! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Learn from My Mistakes

On my first family trip to Hawaii, I made every mistake in the book.

I packed our schedule from sunrise to sunset, forgetting that what my kids often remember and cherish most are the moments of unscripted fun. I learned to slow down, to embrace the unexpected, and to see Hawaii through their eyes.

One of the best days we had was completely unplanned. We stumbled upon a small, local beach where my kids spent hours playing in the waves and making friends with local children. That day, there were no tours, no schedules, just pure, simple joy.

Final Thoughts

Traveling to Hawaii with your family is an incredible opportunity to create lasting memories.

By understanding what might turn kids off and planning with their needs and interests in mind, you can craft a vacation that’s as enjoyable for them as it is for you.

Remember, the goal isn’t to see everything but to experience the true beauty and culture of Hawaii together.

So, take it from someone who’s learned the hard way: The secret to a successful family vacation in Hawaii isn’t in doing

Looking for more Hawaii tips and tricks? Check out Is Hawaii Overrated? What Families Wish They Knew Before Going, 10 Hawaiian Experiences That Are Better Than Disneyland, 10 Secrets No Travel Agency Will Tell You About Hawaii Family Vacations, and The #1 Mistake Every Parent Makes When Booking a Hawaiian Vacation (And How to Avoid It)!