Hawaii: Oahu and Big Island

Hawaii: Oahu and Big Island

Hawaii: Oahu and Big Island

Fly in/out: Honolulu, Oahu (HNL) / Kona, Hawaii, “Big Island” (KOA)

Recommended ages: 5 and up (past strollers and naps)

Ball Park Price: $1,800 per person for family of five (not including airfare)

Best Season: Whale watching December-April;

Least expensive season and well worth it: July-August

Pace: Fast (A daily adventure)


DAY ONE: Land in Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on the island of Oahu, rent car and check into J.W. Marriott Ihilani-Ko-Olina Resort and Spa. (Point A)

DAY TWO: Self guided tour to Pearl Harbor. (Point B)

DAY THREE: Surf Waikiki (Point C) and drive north to Opal Thai (as seen on foodnetwork) for dinner and stop at Turtle Bay Resort.

DAY FOUR: Whale watching and snorkeling morning cruise in Oahu (Point D)  Take in a Luau at night at resort.

See Oahu Map

DAY FIVE: Take go! Airlines to Kona, Big Island. (KOA) (Point A) Rent car and drive to Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort. (Point B)

DAY SIX: In the morning, stop at the Coffee Shack  and Kayak and Snorkel by Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay. (Point C)  In the afternoon, beach hopping Mauna Kea  and Hapunu Beach.

DAY SEVEN: Ziplining Northern tip of the Big Island. (Point D)  Take a night scuba/snorkeling tour with Manta Rays.

DAY EIGHT: Take a long drive touring through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park taking Crater Rims Drive Tour (Point E)

DAY NINE: Drive to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (Point F)  and jump off a cliff.

DAY TEN: Another snorkel cruise, this one a ½ day. Depart late evening out of (KOA) Kona back home.

See Big Island Map

Oahu Map

View Larger Map

Big Island Map

View Larger Map

Vacation Highlights

Pearl Harbor Memorial

  • This was an action packed trip with a vast amount of choices of things to do with kids in truly one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  • Whether you’re a history buff or not, Pearl Harbor is a beautiful memorial and an excellent history lesson for kids.
  • In Waikiki Beach, having all family members “catching a wave” by fabulous surf instructors was exhilarating!
  • Whale watching with a kid friendly tour company was fabulous.  We were on a smaller boat and they knew where the whales were and they took us to a nice snorkeling locations.
  • Flying between the islands was a lot easier and less expensive than expected.  As you land in the Island of Hawaii (Big Island) you are overwhelmed by the “Island of Black Lava.”
  • Surfing at Waikiki Beach

  • On the Big Island, taking a self-guided tour in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you feel like you were in the middle of a “heartbeat of a volcano.”
  • Beach hopping the pristine beaches of the Big Island you felt a sense of freedom.  So much to explore and great spots to snorkel.
  • Both islands were very easy to explore and enjoy.  Although as “Big Island” infers, some of the drives were longer but all doable.
  • The “world famous” snorkel and scuba night dive was remarkable for some of the kids and completely freaked out others.  Make sure your kids are ok with up close and personal manta rays!

Great Excursions

Hawaii Zip Lining

  • Pearl Harbor Memorial: Great history lesson for kids and very humbling for adults.
  • Zip Lining Northern Tip of the Big Island in Kapa’au: 90 lbs is the minimum weight. About an hour drive north of our hotel. Fabulous ¾ day.
  • Whale Watching: What a life time experience for a child to spot a whale.
  • “World Famous” Snorkeling and Scuba Night Dive-once in a lifetime adventures watching the manta sea rays eating their planktons under the lights.

Snorkeling with Manta Rays

Places to stay

Hawaii Marriot
Marriott Ihilani-Ko-Olina on Oahu
Mauna Lani
Mauna Lani
Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort

  • The J.W. Marriott Ihilani-Ko-Olina on Oahu had remarkably larger size rooms than a traditional Marriott. We were able to fit our family of five in one room comfortably. Although a 30 minute drive to Waikiki beach, the hotel was located in a beautiful spot on the island and well worth the small drive.
  • The Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort is a timeshare rental but can be rented to the public here. It was lovely to have two spacious bedrooms and a kitchenette at an affordable price.
  • Other places to stay that came recommendeded: http://www.maunalani.com/big-island-hawaii-hotels

Opal Thai
Opal Thai


  • Opal Thai- As featured in Diners, Drive -Ins and Dive on Food Network, this restaurant is worth waiting for. Try to go early to avoid long lines. Call for reservations.
  • Coffee Shack: What’s better than gorgeous views and a cup of coffee before Kayaking?

Helpful Hints

  • The first 24 hours, we had jet lag. Order room service to make life simpler first night or get take out. Our kids fell asleep on their plates!
  • No need to book a more expensive Pearl Harbor tour when you can go online and reserve tickets in advance now to the Visitor’s Center of the USS Arizona Memorial and other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites at http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm
  • Book an early morning surfing lesson to avoid crowds if possible.  Purchase the picture package from the surf company, we have some amazing images well worth it.
  • Renting a villa on the Big Island ended up being a cost saver as we ate breakfast, and packed lunches for the longer drive days.  Resort restaurants are pricey!
  • For the long driving day through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, pack many extra necessities for food, change in weather, water etc.  There was so much to see, it could be up to a 12 hour day!
  • We never successfully made it to the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.  The roads were impassable in our rental car.    However, it was a beautiful long drive through a part of Hawaii very few visit. If you dare to attempt the entire drive, rent a 4WD.
  • Bring a fleece layer to wear after the night scuba/snorkel dive.


  • If your a T.V. buff, Brady Bunch Hawaii series is a hoot to watch.  It was all filmed in Oahu.  Find out the locations of where they went here.

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