Big Island, Hawai‘i with a Toddler: 6 things to do
1. Stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village
This ginormous resort is perfect for young families. There's a few kid-friendly pools (slide! caves!) and an ocean-fed lagoon (frequently visited by honu or green sea turtles). There's options to kayak, paddleboard, or use water bikes. There's also complimentary cultural activities with each stay such as learning how to play the ukulele, make leis, or dance the hula. My son particularly loves riding the tram and canal boats that connect all three hotel towers. View my full review on the Hilton Waikoloa here.
2. Take a roadtrip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The drive from Kona to the park takes about 2 hours. Head up Crater Rim drive to the viewing area at Jagger Museum where you'll see Halema'uma'u Crater and learn about Hawaii's goddess of fire, Pele. On one of our visits, we were lucky to see bright, red lava spraying up against the crater wall. If you don't see lava on your visit, then I highly recommend returning after sunset and witness the crater emit an enchanting fiery glow. While at the park, take a quick 30-minute hike to the Thurston Lava Tube (my son loves the fern forest!) and for another great photo spot, walk past the steam vent parking lot to see another view of the crater.
3. Visit Hilo for some mouthwatering treats
I only got to taste the strawberry mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen on my third visit to the Big Island and it.blew.my.mind. It was sooo good! I guarantee you'll keep wanting more. Plan ahead as they are closed Sundays and Mondays. While in Hilo, you will also want to stop at Big Island Candies for a box of the richest, mouthwatering brownies you'll ever have in your life. Milk chocolate covered peanut butter brownies. These babies are insanely delicious that you will end up fighting over the last bar with your husband (or baby). After all that eating, you may want to visit Rainbow Falls or Akaka Falls nearby.
4. Tour a coffee farm
While in Big Island, why not sip some world-famous Kona coffee and learn about the harvesting and roasting process? When my son was 7 months old, we went to visit Greenwell Farms, which offers free tours and tastings daily.
5. Enjoy breakfast with a view
We keep coming back to this sweet breakfast spot. The Coffee Shack is a 1.5 hour drive from Kona to Captain Cook. Enjoy a large mug of coffee with some freshly baked scones in the lanai overlooking coffee trees and miles of coastline. I'm a big fan of the papaya lilikoi yogurt breakfast plate. And don't forget to pick up a couple of slices of pie on your way out (key lime is a winner!).
Worth checking out: 15 minutes from the Coffee Shack is Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Explore the ancient historical grounds where Hawaii's royalty or alii used to live.
6. Visit the southernmost point of the United States
Isn't the southernmost point in Key West, Florida? Aha! Yes it would be for the continental U.S. but not the U.S. as that title belongs to Ka Lae, or South Point in Hawaii. Go ahead, check it out on Google Maps! I must say that it was a pretty long-two hour drive, but it is one of the most scenic drives on the Big Island. You'll pass through groves of macademia nut trees, see towering windmills, and drive into pretty pastureland that'll make you want to do several photo stops along the way (go for it!). Anyway, if you have the time, it's worth the visit!
- Time required: At least 4 days (with 1 full resort day)
- Car rental required: Definitely
- Stroller-friendliness: 3/5. It's an island - expect to use your baby carrier!
- Supermarket access: 5/5. Convenient but pricey in Waikoloa Village
- Family-friendly restaurants: 4/5.