Hawaii

10 Hawaii Family Resorts That Spell Fun for Both Kids and Parents

Perfect weather and kid-friendly fun for all, these family resorts in Hawaii are ideal for your next family bonding getaway.

Keiki, as we call kids in Hawaii, might not notice the palette of fiery hues that set the horizon ablaze on warm evenings in the tropics. That’s because as their parents gaze skyward, youngsters will be vying for just a few more minutes of frolicking in the islands’ crystal tides.

Your family might want to be in the thick of Waikiki’s cosmopolitan hub or you might want to head straight to a quiet retreat tucked along a tranquil stretch of ivory sand. With weather that can’t be beat and endless options for playing in the water, this little paradise in the middle of the Pacific is a destination celestially tailored for families. These 10 Hawaii family resorts boast the ocean as their backyard, and each offers special attractions to surprise and delight guests of all ages.

Dolphins Make this a Family-Must Location

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Oahu’s answer to Beverly Hills is the eastern district of Kahala, with its wide avenues and manicured mansions. Nestled in the neighborhood is the exclusive Kahala Resort where children are awed by reflection ponds teaming with yellow tang, striped sailfin tang, and yellowfin surgeonfish. But it’s the green sea turtles gliding gracefully by that inspire gasps of delight—unless it’s dolphin feeding time. Then, all eyes are fixed on the big lagoon beyond the turtle ponds, where six of the mesmerizing mammals zip below the water’s surface and launch themselves into the air, flipping, and diving with a dramatic splash.

While the family settles in on the rippling shoreline that laps gently against powdery sands, I sneak off for a unique spa treatment that my therapist, Lala, commences with an oli or Hawaiian chant. She then invites me to choose from a selection of locally sourced scents that she uses for my foot bath, body scrub, and deeply soothing massage. Each new segment is a treat, as she applies hot rocks and a lomilomi stick to loosen my muscles.

Afterward, Lala tells me to visit the resort’s Seaside Grill for what she promises is an “insanely good” Royal Pine. It’s a whole pineapple, filled with a frothy smoothie of fruits and rum—a refreshing ambrosia I won’t soon forget.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (6194 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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A Kid-Friendly Resort Made for Surfers and Horses

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Turtle Bay is the only hotel on this northernmost point of Oahu, far from the madding crowds. It’s built on a peninsula so that every room looks out on expansive ocean views. Waves glide parallel to that peninsula, crashing against the rocks and throwing spray into the air as they roll into the bay. Sit on one of the many shaded benches at the ocean’s edge, and enjoy an up-close view of surfers dextrously riding those waves.

With no man-made distractions in the vicinity for miles in both directions, my family strolls westward past crashing waves, under the shade of ironwoods. On our walk, we discover horse stables where my daughter and I sign up for a group ride. As Buster carries me along the shores of Kawela Bay, time slows for a moment. There I am, riding a horse on a beach in Hawaii, and not any beach I’m told, but the one where the watery battle scenes in Hunger Games: Catching Fire were filmed.

Turtle Bay Resort

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (2746 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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A Hawaii Family Resort That Has Everything You Could Want

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My mother-in-law gets a suite at Hilton Hawaiian Village when she visits so that she doesn’t have to leave the property. The grounds are home to dozens of restaurants and boutiques so that she can’t possibly visit them all even during her 10-day stay.

In the shadow of the 31-story Rainbow Tower with its iconic rainbow mosaic that bookends the western edge of Waikiki, is a lagoon with the purest swimming water anywhere on the island. It’s clear and chilly, even on a blistery day. Floating tricycles, canoes, people doing yoga on SUP boards and kids with floaties dot the lagoon. A man in an aloha shirt and a million-dollar smile at the concierge desk offers: “The lagoon is that nice because we have a filtration system that brings in freshwater from a mile offshore every day, deep below the surface.”

When evening drops on Friday, Hilton’s weekly fireworks erupt. There’s something about the shared experience of looking into the sky and feeling like a kid, marveling at the explosions that instantly puts everyone in a festive mood.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

8.1 Very good (41938 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
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Where Modern Movie Stars Congregate

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Moana Surfrider’s tall white pillars that greet guests from Kalakaua Avenue bespeak of the hotel’s grandeur. Built in 1901, this Waikiki hotel rolls out a red carpet each year welcoming a parade of glittering celebrities to the Hawaii European Cinema Awards’ gala each year. Johnny Depp once rented out the Beachhouse at the Moana for a romantic dinner while in Hawaii for shooting one of his Pirates films. The restaurant’s spacious elegance, its floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach and its use of fresh, local ingredients make it one of Waikiki’s finest dining experiences.

The food at the Moana is fabulous. Tea time on the Veranda with a three-tiered offering of sandwich bites, cookies and cakes make for a leisurely experience. In the courtyard is the Beach Bar beneath a sprawling banyan. Here you can enjoy the salty breeze while sipping on a signature cocktail, such as the Cabana Coconut’s vodka with passion fruit and coconut cream, Mangoes at the Moana’s Maui distilled Kula coconut rum with mango puree, or a simple and refreshing Guava Limeade, featuring organic vodka and lime sour.

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach

8.1 Very good (12648 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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A Pretty and Pink Hawaii Family Resort

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Call it the Pink Hotel and anyone knows you’re talking about Royal Hawaiian Resort. Even the beach umbrellas are pink at this grande dame of Hawaii hotels. Cinematic royalty like Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Shirley Temple all made their mark here during the golden era of travel on Matson luxury ships.

The gardens are layered with plumeria trees, red ginger blossoms, purple ti leaves and giant monstera whose peculiar leaves project dappled shadows onto the meandering paths. In the courtyard are massive monkeypods with wide shade canopies, banyans hanging with roots and lanky coconut palms. The International Society of Arboriculture once selected these groves for their International Tree Climbing Championship and thousands craned their neck toward these towering specimens to see the experts in action.

Hotel The Royal Hawaiian Resort

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (8161 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
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The Sand Sculptures Are a Must See at This Hawaii Family Resort

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When staying at Sheraton Waikiki, the lobby’s array of shops, sitting areas, fish ponds, and table games—from billiards to shuffleboard and foosball—keep my family busy. But as the day winds down, we head to the infinity pool.

As the colors in the sky deepen into outrageous pinks and purples, waves occasionally splash so boisterously against the sea wall that the foam leaps over the edge of the pool, reminding me that the ocean and pool are separate, as much as they optically appear to blend seamlessly together. Meanwhile, a musician with flowing hair and a flower-printed muumuu stands onstage with her guitar, crooning lovely island songs into the night air.

Another memorable element at Sheraton is the sand sculptures that go up in the lobby a few times a year, with especially intricate works appearing during the holidays. I once saw the artists, Jill Harris, and Thomas Koet, at work and I had a few questions for them. The world sand sculpting champs confirmed that they use only sand and water to make their creations. Their larger, more detailed masterpieces have necessitated 20-plus tons of sand and taken over a week, working eight to 12 hours a day, to complete.

Hotel Sheraton Waikiki

8.1 Very good (7645 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Your Kids Will Love the Kaleidoscope of Fish at These Lagoons

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On Oahu’s western shore, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel anywhere for miles. However, where the island’s main thoroughfare, H-1 Freeway, tapers into Farrington Highway, there is a resort oasis. Here, on these wide, welcoming avenues and acres of manicured green is where you will find Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club.

Walk along a 1.5-mile shoreline path to four large lagoons and some additional minor inlets. Without restraint, run down the white sand slopes and submerge yourself into the saltwater pools. In the morning, they’re pleasantly temperate. Each also hosts its own variety of aquatic life, like the shallow pool on the westernmost end at Paradise Cove Beach, where sand and water are shaded by low hanging trees. Equipped with snorkels, my family spot a dizzying array of fish in stripes and polka dots, neon yellows and blues, a couple of eels, and a small green sea turtle to boot.

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club

8.8 Excellent (1000 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Atmosphere Aplenty at this Kauai Family Resort

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Land in Lihue on the island of Kauai and take a short ride from the airport to reach Kauai Beach Resort. Driving through the banyan-lined tree tunnel at the entrance is to be transported to a wonderland, where all you see for miles in either direction are trees and ocean. Head to the beach at dawn or dusk and moody views have guests mesmerized. On the northern border of the resort, enjoy a picturesque sight where an idyllic stream flows lazily into the ocean. Bleached driftwood is deposited along its banks, and where it empties, the ocean’s reef structure enhances the setting with swirling eddies.

The resort sits in a wilderness of forest so that whether your room is mountain-viewing or ocean-facing, you’ll find pristine views. The rooms are spacious and the beds and pillows offer a restful evening’s sleep. Step onto your lanai at dusk or dawn and you’ll be taking in the stunning strokes of one of nature’s loveliest landscapes on Hawaii’s oldest island.

Kauai Beach Resort

8.3 Very good (7976 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
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Check in Here and Feel Like You're on the Moon

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For miles and miles, the Kona Coast of Hawaii Island appears to be a desolate moonscape but nestled between all that black lava rocks are some choice resorts, like Waikoloa Beach Marriott. On the footpaths between the hotel and beach are twisting tide pools that are host to swarms of fish. These water features have existed ever since flowing lava deposited its magma and the hotel has made a point of preserving this unusual habitat.

The first impressive moment at Waikoloa is stepping into the vast lobby with its grand ceilings and instant view of the ocean from tall glass windows. Upon entering, you’re greeted by a woman dancing the hula. Her smiling warmth provides the feeling of a family gathering, like you’re genuinely welcome and enjoying an authentic taste of Hawaiian culture.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

8.3 Very good (7650 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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A Hawaii Family Resort on the Shores of Kamaole Beach

For a laid back, townhouse setting, try a stay at the Maui Banyan Vacation Club. Without the lobbies and fanfare of a resort, you get a “we live here” vibe. The walk-up rooms have a homier touch than a hotel might. Ask for a condo with a kitchenette so that you can prepare our meals at “home.”

Stepping out of the retreat, cross the street and make your way to the beach. Unlike many Hawaii hotels that are built along serene seas, Kamaole is rambunctious with waves. Take in the adventure of being tousled by the Hawaiian sea until the evening sky dramatically throws out its final blaze.

Maui Banyan Vacation Club

7.5 Good (189 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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