The Big Island of Hawaii is the perfect destination for your family to experience thrilling adventure, ultimate relaxation, a unique culture and stunning beauty! You’ll delight in exploring the world’s most active volcano, searching for humpback whales, swimming with dolphins, learning to roast organic coffee, and meandering along dreamlike black sand beaches spotting sea turtles and other marine life. Here are our family’s recommendations for the best family friendly things to do in Waikoloa, Hawaii!
What to do in Waikoloa with kids
1. Explore volcanoes, waterfalls, and caves
Our Hawaii Forest & Trail (HFT) Twilight Volcano Tour was a true family highlight. Their small tours navigate Hawaii’s distinctive natural elements while expertly guiding you off-the-beaten-path to find hidden gems. We loved hiking over a quarter mile into a lava tube, and relished the complete silence when we switched off our flashlights.
Our highlight was Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park where we gazed in amazement at the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea. Along the way we also stopped in the Jaggar Science Museum, climbed the hardened lava fields, witnessed the magic of smoke vents, and stood amazed at the dramatic ocean waves crashing into a beautiful sea arch.
We then dined under the stars on delicious picnic boxed meals. We ended this memorable day gawking at the fiery red caldera glowing in the night sky. We will never forget this magical experience!
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2. Swim with the dolphins in Hawaii
Our family was enchanted by the dolphins! We loved our time at Dolphin Quest, located at Hilton Waikoloa Village’s ocean-fed lagoon. The trainers expertly led the session educating us about the dolphins’ lives, habits and care. My girls delighted in watching them jump high in the air, respond to our hand signals, and swim under our legs. We even were able to rub their smooth skin and received some dolphin smooches!
3. Don’t miss a luau in Waikoloa
Book your dolphin experience the same day Hilton is hosting its famous Legends of Hawaii Luau, which presents traditional Hawaiian songs and dance in a stunning setting. Relax under the stars while feasting on a delicious Hawaiian buffet. No visit to Hawaii is complete without a luau!
4. Roast your own coffee
The Big Island is world famous for its Kona coffee. We wanted to teach our children (and to be honest, we wanted to see for ourselves too) how a coffee farm operates.
We ventured up in the lush cloud forest to Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, the largest organic coffee farm in the nation. Choose from either a three-hour VIP tour including exploring the orchards, picking coffee “cherry” berries from trees, navigating the complicated harvesting process, roasting your own coffee beans and eating lunch OR opt for their complimentary tour.
As a plus for parents, the tour includes free samples of their award winning Kona Coffee. My girls loved bringing home their own special roasted beans as gifts for our relatives!
5. Whale watching in Hawaii
Spend a morning sailing Hawaii’s gorgeous seas while searching for humpback whales. We set off on Ocean Sports’ beautiful catamaran with its friendly crew. It was a beautiful day enjoying the tropical sun as the expert crew of naturalists taught us about whales.
My girls were thrilled to spot at least a half-dozen different humpback whales in just two hours! We appreciated how helpful the crew was pointing out exactly where to look to find the whales. This was one to check off our bucket list!
The Big Island’s Aloha spirit amazed us, enchanted us, and left us with memories we will never forget.
About the author: From a young age, Lisa has loved traveling the world! Growing up in tropical Miami, she eventually settled in the bustling Philadelphia area. Although a former lawyer, travel is her true passion. Lisa writes for the family-friendly travel website, Hilton Mom Voyage, as well as top-rated We Said Go Travel.