Say Aloha to spring break in Hawaii. The only U.S. state not located in North America, this tropical archipelago offers some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, plenty of activities for nature lovers, and a deep dive into Polynesian culture without you ever having to leave the United States. It’s perfect for families looking for a spring break vacation they’ll never forget, and the possibilities for what to do and where to go are nearly endless. Here’s our guide to adventure on the four most popular Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii Island (The Big Island)
The largest of the Hawaiian Islands (hence its nickname), Hawaii Island is the best place to experience the archipelago’s iconic volcanoes. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you can see lava flows and two of the world’s most active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. In the evening, take in the best sunset viewing on the island and some stargazing via one of the world’s largest telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s highest peak.
In addition to volcanoes, the Big Island is also known for its stunning black sand beaches along the Hamakua Coast, as well as for its tropical rainforests. Here you’ll find the famous 442-foot tall Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls, the latter of which is almost 100 feet in diameter.
Other unique family activities perfect for your spring break getaway on the Big Island include night diving with manta rays, whale watching, horseback riding from one of the island’s many ranches, and soaking in the hot springs and ponds in the Puna District.
Home to 30 miles of alabaster beaches, Maui has repeatedly earned its listing as one of the world’s best islands. With landscapes ranging from dense tropical forests to the volcanic mountains of Haleakala National Park, this island offers an array of things to do with kids, as well as a host of romantic settings for mom and dad.
Take the family on a drive down the scenic Road to Hana, clinging to lush, green hillsides overlooking the Pacific. For even bigger thrills, experience the nightly cliff-diving ceremony at Black Rock along Ka’anapali Beach. Routinely called one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Ka’anapali has three miles of sparkling white sand for lounging the days away.
Enjoy even more ocean views with a walk along the coast on Ka’anapali Beach Boardwalk, or snorkel off the lava cliffs of Black Rock. Charter a boat to watch migrating humpback whales or schedule a sunset cruise off Haleakala. And don’t forget to take the kids to a traditional Hawaiian luau to soak up the dance, sounds, and tastes of Polynesia.
Maui has a long Polynesian whaling heritage, which you can explore at the Whalers Museum in the popular Whalers Village retail district, complete with art galleries and boutiques. Take the kids to Makawao, a rural arts community and home to the Hawaiian cowboys, as well as a variety of shaved ice shops and bakeries sporting the village’s signature cream puffs.
Oahu is the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands and home to the capital city of Honolulu, so if your family is looking for lots of action, you’ll definitely find it here. Oahu is famous for a lot of reasons but not the least for Waikiki Beach, a two-mile stretch of white sand with calm waters perfect for families. This is also a great place to start learning that iconic Hawaiian sport — surfing!
Other island must-dos during your spring break stay include a sunrise hike up Diamond Head, a once-active volcano rising more than 700 feet above Waikiki Beach. It’s probably the Hawaiian Islands’ most easily recognized (and photographed) landmark. Oahu is also home to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where you can honor those who lost their lives during the attacks of December 7, 1941, during World War II.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds (or at least the tourists), go where the locals go, including sunbathing and cliff diving at Waimea Bay and sunset watching on the rocky and stunning shores of China Walls. Take a family day trip to the village of Haleiwa, which is loaded with local art galleries and is home to local favorite Matsumoto Shave Ice. On the way back to your Marriott home base, take in dinner at the beautiful rainforest hideaway of Haleiwa Joe’s.
Often referred to as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands and is famous for its stunning mountains and cliffs that plunge into the sea, its deep emerald rainforests, and plummeting waterfalls. For an experience with equal parts adventure and stunning scenery, arrange for a jungle kayak trip down the Wailua River.
If the seaside is more your speed, go snorkeling off crescent-shaped Poipu Beach, and be sure to keep an eye out for Hawaiian monk seals. If scuba diving is in your skillset, take the kids to explore the lava tunnels off aptly named Tunnels Beach.
Off the water, you can explore 45 miles of hiking trails loaded with wildflowers and mountain vistas at Kokee State Park. Or spend a day visiting the north shore town of Hanalei with its plethora of shops, restaurants, and historic architecture. If you’re up for it, rent some surf or paddleboards and hit the beach at Hanalei Bay.
Ready to plan your spring break trip to Hawaii? Enjoy low rates on flights, accommodations, and rental cars when you book your trip with Vacations by Marriott.