Throughout the islands is a tremendous list of attractions and
activities that are particularly suitable for families. Following
is a sampling, arranged by island.
The Big Island of Hawaii
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitors Center. Here, families will
drive through macadamia nut orchards and learn how they are
planted, harvested and made ready for sale. Candy making also is
demonstrated, and guests can enjoy samples of the finished product.
There is no admission fee and the factory tour is self-guided. The
center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (808)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is definitely something the
kids won't see every day. The park, which spans over 375 square
miles in size, is the location of both Mauna Kea, which towers
almost 32,000 feet from the ocean floor, and its sister volcano,
Mauna Loa, which is known as the world's highest active volcano. At
Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, visitors may see molten
lava oozing from the earth, forming new land. And at Thurston Lava
Tube Trail, kids can walk through a giant lava tube.
The park is a study in contrasts, with parts of it barren,
covered in molten lava, and the rest a huge, lush rain forest. Some
places are very, very hot; others bitter cold as elevations rise.
In fact, Mauna Kea is the site of skiing in the winter. The
visitors center is open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is
by vehicle: $10 per car. Call (808) 985-6001.
The Bishop Museum, which offers displays relating to the
history, culture and geology of Hawaii and the Pacific, also has
hands-on exhibits in its Hall of Discovery. Planetarium shows as
well as demonstrations of Hawaiian crafts take place daily. Call
Hawaii Children's Discovery Center. Housed in Honolulu's old
city incinerator, this 37,000 square foot museum opened in December
at Kakaako Waterfront Park. Here children can learn about living in
Hawaii through hands-on exhibits and interactive videos.
The center is open from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays through Fridays,
and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Expanded hours
are being planned as volunteers are trained to staff the nonprofit
museum. Admission is $8 for adults, $6.75 for children under 17.
Call (808) 592-5437.
Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. One of the most
awesome sights on the island is the vision of the sunken Arizona,
final resting place for those who went down with the World War II
battleship on Dec. 7, 1941. The memorial is built over the ship,
and a quick shuttle ride takes visitors out to the site. Visitors
also see a movie about the event prior to going to the
The visitors center is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visitors can see the film and shuttle to the memorial from 8 a.m.
to 3 p.m. (duration for both: One hour, 15 minutes). Admission is
free on a first come, first served basis. Call (808) 422-0561.
Polynesian Cultural Center. An hour's drive from Honolulu, the
Polynesian Cultural Center presents detailed recreations and
exhibits relating to distinct cultures of the Pacific. In the
Pacific Theater, guests can enjoy an action-packed show featuring
volcanoes, fountains and numerous special effects.
The center is open daily 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to the
center is $27 for adults and children over 11, $16 for children
ages 5 to 11. Children under 5 are free. The center also has luau
packages available. Call (800) 367-7060.
Planet Hollywood Honolulu in Waikiki (and Planet Hollywood Maui
in Lahaina) provide the fun and excitement for which the chain has
become known. Its collection of authentic movie-star memorabilia is
sure to be a treat for the kids. Call (808) 924-7877 for the
restaurant in Waikiki, (808) 667-7877 for the Maui location).
On Oahu's North Shore, Waimea Valley and Adventure Park features
36 tropical gardens filled with rare plant life; daily cliff-diving
shows; Hawaiian crafts demonstrations, and its own resident hula
troupe. Kids will view the routines of ancient Hawaiian lifestyles
in recreated home sites, and can take Hawaiian language lessons at
the Orientation Center.
The center also offers guided walking tours, and has a pavilion
open for lunch and a restaurant serving dinner.
The park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is
$24 for adults, $12 for children 4 to 12. There is round-trip
shuttle transportation available from select Waikiki hotels for an
additional $5. A variety of optional adventure tours, with themes
such as all-terrain challenges, mountain biking and kayaking, are
available for an additional fee depending on the tour and its
duration. Call (808) 973-9835.
Sea Life Park, a marine park on Oahu's beautiful Makapu'u Point,
will thrill youngsters with a huge reef tank, dolphin shows, an
open-air theater and a replica of an historic whaling ship. A
special treat is the new Pirate's Lagoon, where kids can operate
miniature boats they can steer themselves and board a giant pirate
ship maze with climbing, crawling and swinging activities.
Marine life shows and lectures take place continually throughout
the day. Those who want to get up close and personal with the
park's dolphins (and are over 42 inches in height) can do so at
Splash University. For an extra $50 charge, kids and adults can
touch, feed and interact with the dolphins for one hour in
knee-deep water (wear shorts).
Other optional tours are available for an extra charge.
The park is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and has an
on-site cafe. Admission to the park only is $24 for adults, $12 for
children 4 to 12. Shuttle service from select Waikiki hotels is
available for $5. Call (808) 973-9835.
The $20 million, five-acre Maui Ocean Center, which opened in
March 1998, boasts a 750,000-gallon, walk-through acrylic ocean
tank, the largest aquarium in Hawaii, complete with sharks and
other sea life unique to Hawaii. At the Whale Discovery Center,
huge models of humpback whales are on display, and kids can try out
the computerized interactive learning stations. There are also four
outdoor pools, including a turtle pool, a wave surge pool, a touch
pool and sting ray cove.
Have lunch at the center's open-air restaurant overlooking the
Pacific, or a quick sandwich or salad at the self-service outdoor
Reef Cafe. The center's gift shop has a great selection of books,
toys and much more. Admission is $17.50 for adults, $12 for kids 3
to 12 and children under 3 are free. The center is open daily from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (808) 270-7000.
The Hawaii Nature Center in Maui's Iao Valley has been a staple
for school kids for years, and now the natural science center has
more than 30 hands-on exhibits and experiences at its interactive
arcade, as well as a solarium. Kids can try the various touch pools
and see the island's unique marine life in its aquariums, as well
as experience a simulated ride on a dragonfly, en route through a
stream. The arcade is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6
for adults, $4 for children. Call (808) 244-6500.
The 60-acre Maui Tropical Plantation highlights the history of
Hawaii's sugar-growing industry by taking visitors on a trolley
ride tour of this working plantation. The 40-minute narrated tour
gives visitors a firsthand look at how the island's major
commercial crops are planted and harvested. Bananas, sugar cane,
macadamia nuts, coffee, even coconut groves are part of the tour.
Throughout the tour, staff involves visitors in such local
activities as lei-making and coconut husking.
The Plantation Cafe offers both buffet and a la carte lunch
menus, offering a bevy of local favorite dishes. The plantation is
open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8.50 for the tour
for adults, $3.50 for children 5 to 12, under 5 free. Admission
simply to the grounds remains free. Call (800) 451-6805.
Kauai's National Tropical Botanical Garden is a great place for
kids to learn about native Hawaiian flora. A visitor center offers
exhibits as well as a gift shop, and is located adjacent to two of
the gardens, the 186-acre Lawai Garden and the 100-acre Allerton
Tours of the gardens are $25 for adults, $15 for ages 13 to 18,
$10 for ages 6 to 12 and kids 5 and under free. Tours take place
Tuesdays through Saturday at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Admission to the visitor center for the exhibits is free.
The other garden operated by the National Tropical Botanical
Garden is the 17-acre Limahuli Garden on the north shore of Kauai.
It displays the more endangered and rare species of plants and
Tours of this garden are offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tuesdays through Fridays and on Sundays. Guided tours are $15;
self-guided are $10. Call (808) 742-1354.
Spouting Horn, located near Poipu Beach, is another bit of
nature the kids will enjoy. At high tide, water shooting through
this cluster of lava rock forms a spectacular geyser, which
sometimes reaches a height of 60 feet.