Where are the best accommodations and places to stay for family vacations in Hawaii?

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The Hawaiian Islands are a fantastic place to take family vacation with many beautiful beaches, cultural activities and adventures to enjoy. As many people are turning their thoughts to the annual family vacation, we wanted to provide some suggestions for the best places in Hawaii for families to stay.

Our first recommendation for families is to find accommodations that have a full kitchen such as you’d find in condo, villa or home vacation rental or resort hotel. Access to a full kitchen with a refrigerator, cooktop, pots, pans, dishes and utensils allow families the flexibility to make some of their own meals. Though you could opt for a lavish hotel breakfast buffet, a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on fruit, cereal, milk, etc can save a family a bundle every morning — especially when a typical Hawaii hotel breakfast buffet can range from around $20 to upwards of $45 per person. You can see how quickly that can add up.

Condos and villas also provide a bit more space for families. For example, in comparison to a family of four sharing a single hotel room, a typical two-bedroom condo provides much more space with a kitchen and dining area, living room and separate bedrooms. In many cases, the cost of a vacation condo rental is on par and even below the cost of a hotel room.

Condos and villas are normally equipped with a washer and dryer, which for obvious reasons is very convenient to have. For even more reasons to consider a vacation condo or home rental see our article: Why staying in a condo on a Hawaii vacation is a savvy choice.

How to find a Hawaii vacation condo or home or an accommodation with the equivalent set up:

  • Find a rental offered by an individual. VRBO.com is normally our go-to site. From a quick check of their data, they have over 17,000 rentals in Hawaii ranging from basic to luxury units. These rentals are individually owned, decorated and maintained, so there’s quite a variety. Before you book a rental, be sure to read our tips for selecting a Hawaii vacation rental. For more options beyond VRBO, this Smarter Travel article has some useful suggestions.
  • Find a reputable vacation rental agency.
  • Book through a resort company that also manages vacation rentals. Outrigger and Aston are two of the biggest resort companies that book Hawaii vacation condos.
  • Book a hotel that offers a condo/villa-style set up. These options are very low risk in that all rooms are generally the same, with the same decor, layout, amenities, etc. See the below list.

Hawaii hotel resorts that offer a condo-style accommodation:

Oahu

Maui

Kauai

To our knowledge, there aren’t any hotels in a villa-style set up on Hawaii, the Big Island, Lanai or Molokai.

As previously discussed, accommodations with a full kitchen make an ideal base for a family vacation in Hawaii. That being said, hotels aren’t necessarily a bad choice. In fact most hotels in Hawaii are very kid-friendly. Many of the four and five-star hotels offer kids’ clubs for recreation and cultural activities for children ages five to twelve years. Some Hawaii hotels have kid-friendly swimming pools.

Another important consideration when choosing accommodations is finding a place that’s near or on a beach that’s somewhat sheltered from strong waves and/or has a lifeguard station. The ocean is not always predictable and we caution you to check conditions before you go out. You can learn more about Hawaii beaches, current conditions and find beaches with lifeguards at this link.

A Hawaiian sailing canoe along one of the sheltered Ko Olina lagoons on Oahu.

A Hawaiian sailing canoe along one of the sheltered Ko Olina lagoons on Oahu.

Beaches/areas that tend to be somewhat sheltered from stronger waves. (Big waves can be seasonal as explained in this article. Winter swells are particularly large and strong. Always check conditions before going out.)

Oahu

  • Within the Waikiki Beach area, Kuhio Beach Park has a wall that provides some shelter from heavy surf. Also the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village offers  protection from waves.
  • In Ko Olina, there are manmade lagoons that offer some shelter from strong surf. Disney’s Aulani, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club and the soon to open Four Seasons Oahu are all situated on lagoons in Ko Olina.
  • Check this link for more Oahu beach suggestions and safety advice.

Kauai

  • Lydgate Beach has a sheltered, sandy bottom that’s generally calm except for when surf is big on the east shore – particularly in winter months.
  • Kalapaki Beach at Kalapaki Bay is generally sheltered except when strong swells hit the eastern shore. The Kauai Marriott Beach Resort is on Kalapaki Beach.
  • There’s a sheltered section at Poipu Beach Park, though conditions are once again subject to surf conditions.
  • Check this link for more Kauai beach suggestions and safety advice.

Hawaii (Big) Island

We’d like to reiterate that even though walls, lagoons and manmade shelters may be in place, they are not 100% protected every day.

We didn’t accidentally leave Maui off the list. We didn’t feel that there are any areas that have notable lagoons or shelters. That doesn’t mean that Maui beaches aren’t generally safe for ocean activities. See this link for more information on Maui beaches, current conditions and safety advice.

Where are your favorite family-friendly places to stay in Hawaii?


About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

8 comments

  1. Do you recommend all inclusive spots for vacations in Kauai

  2. Hi, i am looking to go to hawaii at the beginning of january, family with 4 kids ranging from 11 to 16.
    We will rent a car and want to go site seeing, and don’t know which island has the most places to see, or should we stay 4 nights in 2 islands. Can someone recommend to us where should we go?
    Tia.

  3. Hello. I’m looking to surprise my husband for his 50th birthday and our 10th anniversary next year. Was looking at going in May. I’m trying to find something that’s private,relaxing,and kind of quiet for a couple but has fun stuff close by. Also how do we get from island to island? Stupid question, I know…lol I’d appreciate any advice.

  4. Hi Shelia-

    My family of 5 is going to Maui in July. Rather than stay at a high-rise, condo resort, we would prefer to stay in an area with cozy cottages- budget friendly, of course. I saw the information on the Nona Lani Cottages, but their maximum occupancy is four people. Do you know of any other locations that are similar? Or, travel agents that specialize in these types of rentals?

    • Read the section “How to find a Hawaii vacation condo or home or an accommodation with the equivalent set up:” in the article and check out the links. You can easily search for rentals on VRBO and airbnb. As most rentals are individually owned, it’s really something travel agencies can keep on top of.

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