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Hawaii for Families

February 15, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent



Hawaii’s beaches and parks offer a wealth of fun—and economical—activities for the whole family.


Whether your clients want to explore on their own or be part of an escorted tour, they can experience much of Hawaii without having to break the bank. We spoke with several tour operators and travel agents to find out how they can help families have the vacation of a lifetime while keeping to their budget.

What to Do

Melissa Sutton of All About Travel, Sioux Falls, SD, says her clients tend to believe that Hawaii is out of their reach. “Nothing could be farther from the truth,” she says. “Hawaii has so much to offer; from a wide variety of flight choices to hotels, resorts, condos and rental homes. There really is something for every family and every budget.”

Families with young children, she adds, tend to want a mixture of relaxation for the parents and fun time for the kids. “They like safe beach areas and child-friendly activities like trips to parks, zoos and aquariums, and interactive cultural activities, such as lei-making or ukulele or hula lessons.” On the other hand, families with older children enjoy the cultural activities but also want more exciting choices like snorkeling, sailing and biking.


Inside Info

Family activities in Hawaii don’t have to break the bank, say the experts from Blue Sky Tours, an island-based tour operator. “A day on the beach is an inexpensive way to go,” says Vice President and General Manager Kevin Wilmore, while Director of Marketing Susan Kownacki points out the hiking opportunities and inexpensive attractions such as museums and zoos. “Lots of properties offer hula lessons or a free cocktail hour,” she adds. “It gives you a taste of what Hawaii is about.” Wilmore suggests sending guests to Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. “There’s nothing like it on the planet,” he says. “They can stay in Hilo and see lava glow at night. On the way around from Kona, they could stop at a black sand beach. The whole day costs almost nothing.”


“When I travel to Hawaii, I always save up to do one or two paid tours that really mean a lot to me,” Sutton says. “On Kauai, it would be sailing the Napali Coast or a helicopter tour. On Oahu, perhaps the Polynesian Cultural Center and a whale-watching cruise. The rest of my time, I spend doing the things you can only find on Hawaii, the things that do not cost very much, or may even be free. There is free music and hula on every island, amazing botanical gardens, torch-lighting ceremonies, sandcastle-making, snorkeling on a gorgeous bay, watching steam rise from Kilauea. I keep a long list of these types of things for each island and share them with my clients to round out their trip and make it more than just a beach vacation—make it a Hawaiian vacation!”

John Hanratty, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Travel Impressions, says agents should encourage their clients to travel during the off-season to get the best price. “Families with younger children can really save by traveling in non-summer months,” he notes. He also suggests finding a resort with a good all-inclusive program for onsite activities. “All three Hyatt resorts have children’s programs,” he notes.

Where to Stay

Jack Richards, Pleasant Holidays’ president and CEO, enthusiastically recommends Aston Hotels & Resorts for families. “It offers great value for the travel dollar with family-friendly rooms that are as comfortable and accommodating as they are affordable,” he says. “In addition, many Aston hotels have special offers, including kids’ stay, play and/or eat-free packages.”

Families could also stay in a four-star resort, he adds, many of which offer condos with the creature comforts of home, including kitchens that help stretch the vacation dining budget further.

For families who choose to book the condos, Richards suggests the four-star Honua Kai Resort & Spa for its one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. In Maui, Outrigger’s Kapalua Villas have two championship golf courses and complimentary tennis for active families. The Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa in Kauai has a dedicated children’s pool, a heated saltwater river pool, water slides and three sand-bottomed whirlpools.

Michael Hennes, founder and president of, an affiliate of San Diego Travel Group, also vouches for the Kapalua Villas in Maui as a good value for family vacations.

“The units are huge, and guests can use all the pools, beach and dining facilities at the Ritz-Carlton, including signing purchases back to their villa,” he says. “The Kapalua Villas has an on-demand shuttle, so there is no need to pack up the car to head to the DT Fleming Beach or to Kapalua Bay...all your family needs to do is call the front desk; they are then whisked away to the beach of their choice.”

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About the Author

Jena Tesse Fox
Jena Tesse Fox covers Europe, Africa, Australia/South Pacific and business travel for the Questex Travel Group's publications. The daughter of history teachers, she can spend...

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By Jena Tesse Fox | February 15, 2011
Be it on the beach or away from it, a Hawaii vacation has something for every family and budget.