Our life motto is to collect moments and memories, not possessions. Hawaii is one of the best destinations in the world that offers your family the opportunity to bond over these priceless memories in a tropical location that is beautiful, laid back and full of Aloha – that’s Hawaiian for love.
Here are five ways you can go deep and wide with your memories on your family holiday to the Hawaiian Islands.
1 REFLECT AT PEARL HARBOR, OAHU
Family travel doesn’t just have to be about fun and adventure. It can be a time of reflection, learning and a chance for your children to understand more about the world they live in - past and present. I wasn’t expecting my daughters to gain so much from the Pearl Harbor experience.
They were quiet and respectful as they listened, read and watched the story of this catastrophic event in 1941 that changed the course of the Second World War and America’s history. They absorbed the USS Arizona Memorial, cried during the movie and with an innocent confusion asked, “Mummy, why would people do such things to each other?” If only I had an answer.
2 LEARN ABOUT HAWAIIAN CULTURE AND ALOHA SPIRIT
“This kukui nut lei represents the spiritual connection between the giver and the receiver,” Malihini said as she placed it around our necks and embraced us for a final farewell. The lei is a parting gift for all who stay as part of the family at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel on Maui. The hotel is dedicated to sharing their Aloha with visitors through songs, crafts, educations and special cultural ceremonies.
There are scavenger hunt games for the kids to help them learn Hawaiian words, lei making classes, hula and ukulele lessons, a Hula performance and show daily, and weekly luaus. The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel will fill up your mana (spiritual energy). It has been recognised as the most Hawaiian hotel in Hawaii and the best resort for families. Our girls learned so much about Hawaiian culture and the Aloha spirit during our stay, we’ve never felt more loved and honoured by a culture before.
3 SWIM WITH THE MANTA RAYS, BIG ISLAND
It was only as our 12-metre double-hulled Hawaiian canoe sailed towards the setting sun that it hit me what we were about to do - night swimming with manta rays, with my five-year-old child! My fear disappeared once our guide carefully lead us to the surfboard in the water, which helped us lay flat so we could peer into the depths below.
Like butterflies, the gentle giants of the sea flapped up to greet us, barrel rolling so close we could peer into their stomachs and could have easily planted a sloppy kiss on their horned fins. It was perhaps the most thrilling and beautiful wildlife experience I’ve ever had. With hot chocolate warming us up on the way back, I think the girls gave it a double thumbs up, too.
4 WATCH VOLCANOES CREATE THE LAND, BIG ISLAND
Throw out the textbooks and get to know a volcano by sitting as close as you safely can to its bubbling lava. Kilauea, on the Big Island, is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. A visit to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most fascinating learning experiences your children (and you) can ever have.
My girls loved walking across lava fields, looking at the lichen and baby fern beginnings of a future forest and following the frozen bubbly patterns of lava down to the coast. For the really adventurous, you can hike or cycle near where the lava continues to flow down to the ocean, expanding the size of the Big Island as it goes. Make sure you come back at night so you can really see the lava’s fiery dance.
5 SUP WITH GREEN TURTLES, MAUI
There’s no family water activity we like better than supping. Ka’anapali Beach, on the island of Maui, is one of the best places to SUP in Hawaii. With crystal clear waters, picturesque views out to Lanai Island and plenty of fish and green turtles swimming underneath, the kids will love it. Paddle over to Black Rock and jump off the board with your snorkel gear. Resident turtles like to feed off the rocks and are not bothered by your presence.
Be sure to hang around for sunset. Every evening, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliffs of Black Rock and then dives off in a re-enactment of a feat by Maui’s much loved King Kahekili. We recommend watching it (and a stunning Maui sunset) from the Cliff Dive Bar located in the Sheraton Hotel.