The Hawaiian Islands are incredible tropical masterpieces, each offering something slightly different to its visitors. After hours of flying over nothing but deep blue pacific water, the towering lush green peaks appear. Where the land meets the sea, you’ll see the beautiful sandy beaches that await you and your family. Looking to take your family on a vacation to Hawaii but wondering what is the Best Hawaiian Island for Baby? Here are my rankings of the best Hawaiian Islands for families as a former Hawaii resident and recent tourist myself.
Although there are 8 total Hawaiian Islands, only 6 of them are accessible to tourists. Ko’Olawe and Ni’ihau are non-accessible. Luckily, you are not missing too much because Ni’iahu is a deserted island with no mountains. It is inhabited by one small village of native Hawaiians who still use the Hawaiian language. This would be an intriguing group of people to interact with, but again, tourists are not allowed on this “forbidden island”.
Ko’Olawe is the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands but has been uninhabited for years. It was used as bombing grounds during WW2. There are now efforts being made to restore the historic cultural landmarks that once existed on the island.
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By far the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands, and the most family-friendly of them all, is Oahu. Because it has been developed more than any of the other islands, there is a wide variety of things to do for families. On Oahu, you will find the best selection of luaus to take your family to where you will gain an appreciation for the warm Aloha culture. You’ll find great snorkeling spots, beautiful white sand beaches, and the best selection of family-friendly resorts.
If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, Oahu has safe activities for the whole family. You don’t have to be high adventuring the entire time like some of the others. Read here to find the Best Family Beaches on Oahu.
With plenty of hikes and waterfalls to discover, there is an endless amount of fun to be had on Oahu with your baby & family. Leave with all your classic Hawaiian garb to show your family back home by visiting the local flea markets and shopping centers. Read my other post for my full 5 Day Oahu Itinerary! You can also opt in to receive my exclusive Oahu To Do List that includes all the best spots on the island, you won’t want to miss.
I can NOT wait to go back to Kauai with my husband and kids. I went as a tween and all I remember is how absolutely beautiful it is. Nicknamed the Garden Island, Kauai is just as easy to access as Oahu. You can fly directly into the Lihue Airport from overseas or from any other Hawaiian island. I have found that flight prices are usually pretty comparable to the other main islands when flying from Phoenix, Arizona. We generally fly on Southwest, and because we get free flights with their rewards credit card and 2 complimentary bags per person. Get yours HERE and get your free flight to Kauai!
While on Kauai, you will want to explore every bit of the lush terrain the island has to offer. Which won’t be too difficult as it’s only 4 hours from one side of the island to the other! There are TONS of beaches to visit and enjoy along the way if you are looking to relax and unwind on your Hawaiian vacation. But, there are also high adventure options if your kids are old enough to participate in those activities. Kayak through caves, hike to waterfalls and hidden beaches and take a boat to the most scenic place on the island. Kauai should definitely be on your list for Best Hawaiian Island for Baby!
Otherwise known as Valley Island, Maui is a beautiful Hawaiian island for your family to visit. You can fly into the Kahului Airport from both overseas, as well as the other islands within the Hawaiian chain. As you approach Maui by plane, you will immediately notice the steep valleys and volcanoes on the island leading into the ocean.
Maui is most famous for its scenic “Road to Hana” drive where you can get out and see numerous waterfalls along the way. Since this is a long drive (plan for at least 5 hours or more depending on how long you spend at each stop), you have to be prepared for making the drive. This might not be compatible for a family with a baby, but would be doable with older, willing kids. Other than Hana, there are plenty of beaches to be explored, impeccable snorkeling to see, mountainous views to take in, and one of the only active volcanoes in Hawaii to explore.
#4. Big Island
We visited the Big Island of Hawaii as a family when my daughter was only 5 months old. It was my husband’s first time visiting Hawaii and I was disappointed that he wasn’t more impressed. Although the island is gorgeous, it really is HUGE compared to the others. This made it a difficult trip for our family. We were having to drive at least 1 hour, and even up to 3 hours, to get to some of the best spots on the island from where we were staying in Kailua Kona.
This is the main reason I rank it at #4 for Best Hawaiian Island for Baby. There was too much drive time. I felt like too much of the time we were there was spent in the car which our 5-month-old baby did not appreciate. If you are considering the Big Island for your next family vacation, my biggest advice would be to split your time between 2 stays so you can see the entire island and avoid wasted drive time.
There is no shortage of things to do on the Big Island, with several climates to explore on the diverse island. Reach the 2nd tallest peak on earth, swim with turtles and dolphins, and wiggle your toes in several colors of sand. Be sure to read the post I’ve written on The Big Island of Hawaii: An Adventurous Traveler’s Paradise, a 7-Day Itinerary with all the top spots you need to visit.
Just off the coast of Maui, a few miles are Lanai and Molokai. Lanai, The Pineapple Island, is only accessible by plane or boat from one of the other nearby islands. It gets its nickname from the early 1900s when the founder of what is now Dole Food Co, James Dole, bought the island and covered it with pineapple fields.
While you’re there, you will want to check out Shipwreck beach. Still standing in the shallow water is a boat from the US Navy dating back to WW2. Lanai offers gorgeous shoreline hikes and an extremely unique landscapes in the Garden of the Gods. Since Lanai is such a small island, you can see all the island has to offer with your family.
Hoolehua Airport serves the residents and tourists of Molokai with inter-island flights only. Molokai is home to the largest population of native Hawaiians and is known as the Friendly Island.
To get a glimpse into this friendly Hawaiian culture, you will want to drop down into Halawa Valley. This is one of the most beautiful places on the island, but you will need to be prepared to hike several miles to see everything in the valley. If your baby is young enough that hiking with a carrier backpack is still an option, this could be doable! Otherwise, wait until they are a little older and able to walk longer distances on their own.
Want to know How to Raise Adventurous Kids & Good Travelers?? Read my full post with my Top 5 Tips for Raising Adventurous Kids.
Because both Lanai and Molokai are less accessible than the other islands, you will have a much more secluded, private vacation. It will not be the traditional Hawaii experience with luaus and shaved ice. Rather, you might get the chance to connect with the native people and land in a unique way, not possible on the other more developed islands.
Note that because these islands are not as easily accessible, there will be associated costs that go along with this. Getting to one of the main islands from overseas, then to the small airports on Lanai & Molokai, plus the added price of stays on those less touristy islands. If budget is not a concern, then by all means, do something that not everyone in the world gets to do! Flights seem to be around $300 more expensive to go to one of these more secluded islands than the other 4 islands.
Worried about What to Pack??
No need to worry! I have you covered there as well. Get my 5-Day Tropical Vacation packing list for him, her, and baby!
Here are the absolute MUST HAVES when you’re headed to any of the Hawaiian Islands with your family:
This one is a kid-sized, full-face snorkel mask! Obviously, your child will have to be comfortable enough swimming in the ocean to take them snorkeling, but these masks make the intimidating experience a little easier.
This is the adult size! I grew up using the traditional snorkel masks with tubes, and I actually think these are so cool. It is so easy to throw on and jump into the water with. You also can easily share these masks because you’re not swapping saliva with everyone who uses it.
- Swimsuit Cover
This is literally the cutest, most flattering romper. You have to get it! Casually wear it out to dinner or throw it on over your swim suit as you walk down to the beach. I have it in several colors because I can’t get enough.
- Water Proof Blanket
We love having this blanket for the beach, the park, or really anything outdoors! It rolls up super compact that you can easily find space for this in your luggage. It is a great alternative to getting your beach towels all sandy at the beach!
For more travel tips, lists, and to do lists, read through our other posts & be sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date with our new posts.