Whale watching. Festive luaus with hula dancers. Drool-worthy shopping at Waikiki. And an incredible live volcano. Say aloha to Hawaii!
More cosmopolitan and developed than Fiji and French Polynesia, the Hawaiian islands have something for everyone. There are more fun things for kids to do too, so Hawaii is a better option than the South Pacific for a family cruise.
Hawaii cruises for families – hello Oahu!
Hawaiian island cruises often start or end in Honolulu, the state capital on Oahu.
The top attraction in Honolulu – and most poignant – is Pearl Harbor, where a film shows the 1941 attack and a boat trip takes you to the wreck of the USS Arizona battleship.
Fancy catching a wave instead? Ever since Duke Kahanamoku and fellow “Waikiki Beach Boys” introduced surfing to the world in the 1920’s, Waikiki Beach has been known as one of the best spots in Hawaii to learn to surf.
Or you could surf the stores at Ala Moana, the world’s largest outdoor shopping center.
And let’s not forget the Polynesian Cultural Center. This Polynesian-themed living museum in northern Oahu offers fire and war dances, spear throwing activities, canoe rides and many more experiences.
In fact, because there are so many kid-friendly things to do in Honolulu and beyond, Oahu is perhaps the best Hawaiian island for families.
Hot stuff on the Big Island of Hawaii
When your Hawaii cruise hits the Big Island of Hawaii, you must visit Volcanoes National Park.
Standing at the rim of the Kilauea Caldera, you inevitably see clouds of smoke and steam spewing out of the enormous (over two miles in diameter) grey-black depression. After sunset, a vivid red glow illuminates the plume billowing into the night sky.
The moon-like landscape is constantly changing because the volcano is active, so you might even see red lava flowing when you visit.
Kids (and adults) also like walking through the cool dark tunnel of the Thurston Lava Tube – it feels like you’re inside the belly of some giant prehistoric monster.
The garden island of Kauai
Blooming with bougainvillea and bird-of-paradise flowers, Kauai is nicknamed the “garden isle.” And wandering around the Allerton and McBryde Gardens is a delightful way to spend a few hours on the island.
Kauai is also the place for a helicopter ride over jungle scenery where King Kong and Jurassic Park were filmed (choose a “no doors” chopper for great pics).
What to do in Maui
Maui is best for whale watching.
In winter, thousands of humpbacks migrate from Alaska to Maui to mate and give birth. You’re pretty well guaranteed to see them on a whale watching tour – they may even breach just feet away from you!
Some boats have hydrophones so you can listen to their whale songs too.
The Hawaiian islands also have dream courses for golfers (the PGA and LPGA host many events here), Hawaiian luaus (try the pit-roasted suckling) and beaches galore.
Best Hawaiian cruises for families
Cruises to Hawaii typically sail from Vancouver, Seattle or San Diego. Some sail round-trip from Honolulu. Some Hawaii cruises sail round-trip from Hawaii.
Family-friendly cruises in Hawaii are offered on these cruise lines:
Cruising the Pacific Islands
This post on Hawaii cruises for families is one of a 3-part series on cruising the Pacific Islands. Read the other two posts below!