Hawaii is a children’s playground, with a plethora of natural wonders and a vibrant ecosystem. Between the magnificent nature of Paradise and the observatories, monuments and historical parks, it’s easy for children to have a blast and learn at the same time. Here are the 9 best educational activities for them in the state!
Tsunamis are one of nature’s disasters that tend to fill people with a morbid curiosity to learn more. Hawaii, and Hilo in particular, have experienced many tsunamis over the years. You can take a trip through history at the Pacific Tsunami Museum to see how the impacts of the tsunamis have shaped the landscape of these islands.
Exhibits at 'Imiloa are divided into two main areas—Origins and Explorations. The museum does a great job of provide Hawaiian cultural beliefs around astronomy, as well as the modern science and findings occurring everyday. There is a full dome planetarium here as well, with a daily showing included in the price of a general admission ticket—check out the website for details on programs each day.
Mauna Kea Observatory atop the almost 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world to observe the stars, planets, and other astronomical phenomena. Strict light ordinances on the island and perfect conditions allow us to observe the faintest galaxies at the edge of the observable universe. Bundle up in your warmest clothes to head to the top and you’ll be rewarded with Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s Red Spot and at least a few shooting stars.
For your more adventurous little ones, a night dive or snorkel with the giant Manta Rays in Kailua-Kona is an awesome treat. These manta rays can be counted on to come to one of a couple of regular feeding spots, as their favorite plankton are attracted to the divers’ lights. These gentle giants can reach a 13-14-foot wingspan and swim right next to you as they feed. Make sure to take some Dramamine if you tend to seasickness, but expect a beautiful sunset, dolphins more often than not, and a one of a kind encounter with some giant rays.
Hawaii’s surf culture is legendary and there is no better spot to see the best in action than the beaches of Oahu’s North Shore. Check out the site for competitions and surf conditions and if one happens to occur during your trip, the kids will love checking out some of the best surfers in the world carve the biggest waves on Earth.
Surfing is something the kids are sure to enjoy and the open bay, sandy bottom and reliably tame waves at Waikiki allow beginners to learn the basics in a safe environment. Hook Up Surfing is one highly recommended company with more personalized attention as you learn for the first time—Ivan and Jules seem to have great reviews. There are several companies to choose from though, and conditions will ensure that the whole family has a shot at standing by lesson end.
This sacred historical spot on the Big Island of Hawaii was a place of refuge for those who had broken sacred laws, punishable by death. If you were able to escape your persecutors and arrive at this place of refuge, no physical harm could come to you. You can see the traditional statues, along with the royal huts of old, and enjoy the beautiful beach as well. Dolphins frequent this area, so bring your snorkels for a quick dip after wandering the grounds and museum.
November through May is peak humpback whale migration season in Hawaii and there are companies on Maui and Hawaii that take out boat tours to get up close and personal. You can see adults with their young babies and hear them sing to one another. You will also see typical behavior like breaching and jumping, which is always a magical spectacle.
Hawaiian luaus are definitely the typical tourist activity, but it is a festive and memorable event that the kids will enjoy. To experience the traditional food, music, and dancing provides insight into some of Hawaii’s cultural background. You can find luaus on all islands, typically thrown by the larger hotels, but some of the most recommended are the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, the Paradise Cove luau on Oahu, Germaine’s Luau on Oahu and Smith’s Family Garden Luau on Kauai.