One of the best parts of traveling with your family is having adventures together.
For the last year, many of us have been stuck at home and are now dreaming of traveling again. For families seeking new experiences, the Islands of Hawaii provide endless opportunities.
The state of Hawaii has been very cautious during the pandemic and required a quarantine or proof of a negative covid test for all arriving passengers. During the rest of 2021 and into 2022, the restrictions for travel to Hawaii should continue to ease, but be sure to check for the latest rules. Most attractions are open but some have reduced occupancy and may require advance reservations — check their websites before you visit.
Outfit yourselves for adventure
Before you depart home, check with your hotel or condo to see if they have beach items available to borrow during your stay. Upon arrival in Hawaii, hit a store to get any remaining items such sunscreen, a Frisbee, soccer or football, bubbles, boogie boards, sand buckets and shovels along with lots of water bottles and snacks. Bring or buy an insulated beach bag so you can fill it with frozen juice boxes and water bottles for your beach days. Everyone needs sport sandals (not just flip-flops) to wear in and out of the water.
Fun for free
If you ask my kids what is their favorite thing to do in Hawaii, the list will include climbing and swinging from Banyan Trees. These giant trees grow all over Hawaii, sending out aerial roots from upper branches that kids can grab to swing like Tarzan. They are also great for climbing and taking some beautiful photos. Do respect any signs that may prohibit climbing and swinging.
There are over 100 public parks on the Hawaiian Islands, and the vast majority have free admission and some have a small parking charge. Just grab a map or an app, your beach stuff and take a drive in any direction. There are miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, mountains and of course, beaches! Do not leave anything visible in your car as thefts from vehicles can occur. Beach parks have picnic tables and restrooms. Some of the more popular beach parks have lifeguards but you always have to be careful of waves and currents.
Your family can try out new activities in Hawaii. The Kualoa Ranch covers 4000 acres on O’ahu and is the site of many movies and TV shows. At Kualoa you can zipline, take an ATV tour, an ocean voyage or ride horses. One of the best places for family fun is their Secret Island tour. They take you by catamaran to a secluded beach that features hammocks, volleyball, badminton, ping-pong, kayaks, outrigger canoes, stand-up paddleboards and snorkel equipment. There are shaded picnic tables so you can bring your own food and beverages, and spend three hours playing on their equipment and relaxing in the sun. The cost is $49 per adult and $37 per child for a super day at the beach.
On the island of Kaua’i you can ride inflatable rafts through the ditch and tunnel system of a former sugar plantation. This unique three -hour tour is $140 for adults and $80 for ages 5 - 11.
On Maui you can ride bikes down the Haleakala volcanic crater. Tours go up in the wee hours of the morning so you can watch the sunrise and then bike down 6,500 feet. You can also go up during the day then stay to watch the sunset. There are many different options, including a bike and zipline package, with prices ranging from $70 to $250 per person.
Hawai’i Island (formerly called the Big Island) is the home of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, where you can explore and learn about Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Admission is $30 per vehicle and you can hike and go through 500-year-old lava tubes.
Adventures in dining
After all this fun in the sun, you have to feed your family. Luckily there is a great alternative to the expensive hotel restaurants: food trucks are all over the islands, and many times there are two or more together so everyone can choose what they like to eat. And for dessert, get the Hawaiian favorite: shave ice!
I hope this inspires you to make plans for a family vacation to remember. You can fly from Eugene Airport to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. Contact a professional travel agent and say aloha to adventure!
Stay up-to-date with travel information
Hawaii COVID info Hawaiicovid19.com/travel
Centers for Disease Control cdc.gov/travel
Oregon Real ID Oregon.gov/realID
Hawaii Parks HawaiiStateParks.org
Meet Vacation MOM
Donnita Bassinger has been a travel agent for three decades and enjoys sending families on vacations around the world. She lives in Oregon with her husband and three boys, is the owner of VIP Vacations and is an active volunteer with local organizations.
Contact Donnita at 541-913-5272 or on facebook @VacationMOM