Navigating Hawaii's Big Island With Little Ones

This April, my family and I were fortunate enough to visit the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime due in part to all of the kid friendly activities. Some gems we discovered on our own while others we were told not to miss. Check out our favorites below and be sure to add them to your own "to do" list. 

1. The Fairmont Orchid


If you're a guest at the hotel, there's a great kids club for ages 5 and up.  We stayed in a nearby timeshare, but got the pleasure of sampling the resort during the day. The toddler beach is a small, super warm pool with a pebble bottom. While the main pool doesn't have a true shallow end, this is a spot where you can let the kids go and sit back worry free. There's also a wonderful beach located down a short path that's fairly sheltered from the waves so the kids can wade, build sand castles or attempt to catch minnows in their pails. For the older set, the beach is an ideal setting for paddle boarding and snorkeling.

2. Dolphin Quest

Down the road from the Fairmont is the Hilton Waikoloa. It's such a large resort, there's a shuttle running through the main lobby to transport you around. It was here that we got the rare opportunity to touch, talk to and even kiss a dolphin. I admit that the price threw me at first (1 child 2-4 years old and 1 adult: $110 for 10 minutes) but if your kids are into it, it's worth it for the experience. I believe my four year old truly enjoyed and will remember it. My three year old would have been happier with the stuffed animal in the gift shop. As kids get older, the programs get longer and more involved which definitely seems like a good investment. In short, if you have children under 5, do it because you want to, not because you think they'll miss out if they don't.

3. Kilauea Volcano Adventure

My four year old read books and watched YouTube videos about volcanos for months before we embarked on the volcano tour. Despite being a fairly windy 3 hour drive from the Fairmont Hotel (you can take a bus, but the tours last a full day), being able to see and feel real steam vents emerging from the ground was an unforgettable adventure. Both of my kids enjoyed the museum and witnessing the active craters, but their favorite part was walking through a lava tube formed by an eruption centuries ago. Thankfully, it's a short and easy walk because due to a narrow walkways and some steps, strollers aren't an option.

4. Lava Lava Beach Club

This ocean front restaurant was such an incredible find we ended up skipping a luau and eating here two nights in a row. You can get a table directly on or next to the sand so you can enjoy your meal while your kids collect shells, play with a beanbag game set up nearby or hunt for crabs. The kids menu has a decent selection and the wait staff allows you to order for them before you even consider your meal which lessens the cries of "i'm hungry!!" later on. Best of all, a different musician and hula dancer is featured nightly which really makes you feel like you're on vacation.