KinderHop :: Family-Friendly Big Island

[trip style = sun + beach]

{KinderHop is published on the third Monday of every month and written by Trip Styler’s Seattle-based kid ‘n family writer Keryn.}

The Big Island of Hawaii isn’t known for its nightlife or high-rise hotels, Mother Nature’s playground is day-centric leaving plenty of time for a family to explore. Parents will fall in love with the food, diverse activities and endless escapes far from the hectic pace of everyday life. Kids will be thrilled to try their hand at boogie boarding, swimming with tropical fish and building black sand castles. Here's a few of our family's top spots:

Beaching It Kahalu’u Beach Park just south of Kona boasts the perfect playground for small children: rock-protected pools. Bonus: parents can take turns snorkeling at one of the best spots on the island. On the east side of the park, be sure to check out the Wai’opae ponds. Toddlers can peer into the tide pools while mom or dad take older siblings into the deeper pools.

Your little ones will be screaming for more at Kua Bay where the surf is just big enough to do some boogie boarding. Inexperienced swimmers should stick close to an adult. The undertow can be fierce.

For the much younger set, head south to Ho’okena Beach Park for some gentle waves to introduce young riders to the art of boogie boarding and wave jumping.

Hiking Trekking through Volcano National Park is a must whenever you are on the island. If you can spend the night in the area it will give you even more time to fully explore this seismic wonder. Kids will love creeping through the lava tubes and walking around the top of Kilauea Crater. Make sure you stay after dark to see the crater’s smoke glowing bright orange.

Up Close with Nature For a peak at the island’s famous black sand beaches drive down to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach to say hello to sea turtles taking a siesta in the sun. Keep your distance though; state law protects these creatures from sticky fingers {and adults are the worst culprits}.

Eat Let your taste buds take over at Island Lava Java, a breakfast hot spot with a view. Don’t’ be fooled by the beach-bum coffee shop interior; the menu is anything but. Weekends feature a guava bread pudding French toast, which is a hit with diners both young and old. For a little more romance head back after dark to dine by candlelight.

Shopping/ Meet the Locals Stock up on exotic fruits and local wears at any number of farmers markets around the island. The Kona Farmers Market is the easiest to find, but for a true peak into local life head to the Pahoa Farmers Market on Sundays.

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[photos via keryn of @walkingontravel]