Luau’s, Hikes, and Fun For Kids (AND adults) On the Big Island


Are you bringing your kids with you on your vacation to the Big Island?  Are you wondering what you can do to make it a family adventure where you can enjoy yourselves AND your kids can, too?

A 365Kona reader reached out to me and asked:

We will be in Kona with our 3 boys.  I would love for them to experience a Hawaiian Luau.  Do you have any recommendations for one that would be good for boys ages 8, 10 and 12?  Any other experiences that are a “must do” for this age range?  

Although I have not taken my kids to a luau, I DID enjoy the fire dancers with my daughter at the Fairmont Orchid for the New Years Eve show-see the video!  If your family would like to see a luau for the fire dancers, Polynesian flair and buffett, go, but read further below for another avenue to see a representation of the Hawaiian culture:
Below is a list of some of the more notable luau shows:


The Haleo Luau Dinner & Show at the Sheraton Kona [link]


  • The Island Breeze Luau at the Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel [link]
  • The Royal Kona Luau at the Royal Kona Resort [link]


  • Gathering of the Kings Luau at the Fairmont Orchid [link]
  • Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa [link] or phone: 808-886-8111.
  • Mauna Kea Luau at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel [link]
  • Legends of Hawaii Luau at Hilton Waikoloa Village [link]

I always believe in providing a cultural learning experience to children who visit the island so they get the wonderful opportunity to see the “real” Hawaii.  (and women dancing with coconut shell bras is NOT Hawaiian..if you look back on early photos of Hawaiian wahine with their hula skirts on, they were topless. But I digress..)

Many of the regional shopping centers on the Big Island organize free cultural events which are very family friendly.  Most of these events are organized on a weekly or monthly basis, so you can plan to attend one during your visit to the Big Island.

The free events include Polynesian shows, Hula performances, music shows and Hawaiian craft demonstrations that your children may enjoy which include lei making classes and carving out gourds to make musical instruments.


  • The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park calendar [link] (Suspended until the park is able to re-open)
  • The Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Park calendar [link]
  • The Pu`ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site calendar [link]
  • Weekly events at the King shops [Waikoloa resort, link]
  • Upcoming events at the Queens marketplace [Waikoloa resort, link]
  • Events calendar at the Mauna Lani shopping center [Kohala coast, all events linkor the bi-weekly free hula shows]
Other Personal Recommendations For Kids Over 6

Charter Boats

Depending on your budget, the FairWinds Cruise is great for kids that age. It has a high dive and a water slide that the kids can play on along with the amazing snorkeling they offer in Kealakekua Bay.  Bar is open after swimming for the adults..;) My kids always love this cruise.


Kids may enjoy a trip to Volcanoes National Park. It is always on the schedule for field trips for all schools here as you get a great geology opportunity and if you can get on a tour with one of the park guides, you have fulfilled your duty as a parent providing “teaching moments”. We like to hike across Kilauea Iki, the crater near the visitors center. Plumes of steam are coming up from the ground (kids love that) and its enough of a hike that everyone gets some exercise but they won’t hate you for it later.  If we can make it the full 4 miles, I promise them hot chocolate and cookies at Volcano House afterward-they serve fresh baked cookies in the early evening if you happen to be in the lobby!
(Update October 2019-Just finished the hike again yesterday, it’s really a beautiful experience. Be aware that the Thurston Lava Tube is closed indefinitely due to the 2018 eruption.)  Here is a video I took from the top looking into the lava lake. 
Families can also do the Pololu Beach hike, which I have written about before. Great for an exciting hike down to the beach where there are some fun things to do like swing on ropes/wooden swings and rock stack. Another of my kids favorites to do after this hike is stopping at Tropical Dreams Ice Cream in Hawi which is sure to garner you extra “cool parent points”, too.
(If you are looking for further adventures, you can also check out Hawaii Forest and Trail.)

Beach Time

Boogie boarding at Hapuna Beach is always a blast, BUT NOT ON HIGH SURF DAYS. Kids (and adults) sometimes can’t gauge the waves very well, so just make sure to check to see if there is a high surf advisory while you are here.  On those days. your hotel or condo pool is good. 😉
Wailea Bay (Beach 69) also has rope swings that make for great photo opps. (nature’s playground, right?) This beach has some good snorkeling and PLENTY of shade so kids are less likely to get sunburned while Kua Bay and Hapuna Beach have basically no trees near the beach to sit under (although Hapuna has some pavilions away from the sand).

Waimea and Waterfalls

Ānuenue Playground in Waimea just had a major renovation which was completed in the fall. There are some brand new things to play on that make the playground structures we grew up with seem caveman like. We went last weekend to check it out and my 13 and 16-year-old played on the structures like little kids! I did a video  so you can see!
While in Waimea, perhaps on your way to see Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Boiling Pots (all great family fun places) check out Village Burger in the Parker Ranch Center. Again, my kids swear by the grass-fed burgers and tasty french fries there AND its located in a food mall with other tasty opportunities for the family.  (if you click on that link and see the photo of that burger, you will start to salivate..)
So, as you can see, you can have as much fun as your children when you pinpoint some of these things to include in your trip to the Big Island!

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Taira Nagasawa says:

    I think it must have slipped your mind that the Volcanoes National Park is closed indefinitely and unlikely to re-open anytime soon because of extensive damages to infrastructure therein.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Au Contraire Mon Frere! The park is scheduled to re-open on September 22, 2018. And, I appreaciate your pointing it out to me about the post, so I put a caveat in the post for those finding it now.