Say Aloha to Paradise: Tips for a Memorable Family Vacation in Hawaii
With gorgeous beaches, sublime geological formations and rich cultural offerings, the Hawaiian Islands are a dream destination for a family getaway. Choosing the right time to go based on your family's interests and budget is an important part of planning your trip. Your optimal window for visiting the Aloha State may depend on which of its six island —Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, Lanai or Molokai—has caught your eye.
A Word about Weather
A perk of choosing Hawaii as a vacation destination is that you have a good chance of experiencing favorable weather no matter when or where you go. Temperatures in Hawaii remain pleasant throughout the year. From April to November, considered summer, averages are usually between 75 and 88 degrees F. In the winter, from December through March, they range from 68 to 80 degrees F. Temperatures tend to drop about 10 degrees at night and are typically about 30 degrees cooler at high elevations, such as Mt. Haleakala on Maui. Hawaii experiences the heaviest rainfall between November and March. Rain is usually confined to one area, however, so you can travel to another part of your chosen island to find sunshine.
Avoid the Crowds and Save Some Cash
The high season for visitors to Hawaii is roughly between December and mid-April. The last two weeks of the year tend to be particularly busy. If you plan a visit during this time, make reservations well ahead of time, be prepared to reckon with crowds and expect high rates for accommodations and airfare. The months of July and August are cheaper and less crowded. You'll save the most, however, if you visit during one of the islands' low tourist seasons, between mid-April and early June or September through mid-December.
Car Rental 101
Renting a car is almost a necessity in Hawaii, especially if you are visiting an island other than Oahu which has the most extensive comprehensive public transportation system, made up of buses and trolleys. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is a good idea on the Big Island and essential on Lanai. Note that rental cars tend to sell out on Kauai, Molokai and Lanai during holiday seasons, so booking well in advance is important.
One of the most kid-friendly activities you can pursue in Hawaii is taking a boat tour to see the humpback whales that migrate to the shallow waters around Maui each year. Whale-watching season falls between December and May. For the best experience, plan your visit between April and January, the peak period for observing these majestic creatures.
Find a Family-Friendly Festival
Hawaii offers an eclectic mix of family-friendly festivals throughout the year that are worth taking into account when planning your trip. Interested in learning more about hula, one of the most iconic elements of Hawaiian culture? Consider visiting the Big Island during the week right after Easter to experience the famous Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, which features presentations and competitions. Chinese New Year, which falls between mid-January and mid-February, is also a fun time to visit Hawaii with children; they'll get a kick out of the parades featuring Chinese dragons in Oahu's Chinatown and performances by lion dancers at Wo Hing Temple (858 Front St., Lahaina, HI) on Maui.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.