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 Honolulu!
Hawaii cruises for families often start or end in Honolulu, the state capital on Oahu.
The top attraction – 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.
Hot stuff on the Big Island of Hawaii
Over on 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).
Whales like Maui too
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.
Paradise Found: Cruising the Pacific Islands
If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know this post on Hawaii cruises for families is the final part of a 3-part series of posts on cruising the Pacific Islands. Part 1 covers Fiji in “Cruising the Pacific Islands: Blue Fiji.” Part 2 covers Tahiti and French Polynesia in “Cruising French Polynesia: As romantic as it gets.” This trio of posts is adapted from our travel article “Paradise Found: Cruising the Pacific Islands,” published in the Fall 2014 issue of Dream Voyages (you’ll find the link to the PDF of that print article on our Cruise Articles page).