Sun and Sand Havens in Hawaii

Picking the right family spot in Hawai‘i sometimes boils down to experience. Take the Edington family of Tiburon, for instance, who for the past five years have spent a week at the Grand Wailea on Maui. While there are other resorts they would doubtless enjoy, none would be able to match the comfort level they’ve established at the Grand Wailea, says Dyer Edington, mother of three. “It’s not the fanciest hotel,” she says, “and it’s certainly not a bargain. But the time we spend with the kids (there) is priceless.”

For one thing, they have the system down. The older kids do their snorkeling with Dad early in the day while she watches the baby in the man-made sand lagoon; they all meet up for lunch; then they spend the afternoon enjoying the resort’s expansive pools, surfing and kayaking; and they always make it to the beach for sunset cocktail hour. “We rarely leave the property, or even Wailea,” she says, “and that’s the best part of our vacation.”

Finding a family-friendly hotel in Hawai‘i is not hard; most have the crucial components of beach access, pool and sunshine. We narrowed down the choices to a few time-tested favorites.




Where to Stay


Big Island, Hawai‘i

Four Seasons Hualalai
When the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopens this December, it could have a hard time luring back its high-end customers from Hualalai. The little ones can enjoy multiple pools, a rock-climbing wall and the activities in the Kids for All Seasons program. For the parents there’s world-class golf, tennis and a spa. 808.325.8000

The Fairmont Orchid
With the temporary closing of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, many families also migrated to the Fairmont Orchid for its white-sand protected beach and large central pool. Kids under 5 eat free at some of the restaurants on the property, and the keiki program ($85) runs all day. 800.845.9905,

Kona Village
The fate of this island classic is looking bright now that it’s been acquired by MSD Capital & Rockpoint Group, which purchased the property last year (MSD also owns the neighboring Four Seasons Hualalai and Four Seasons Wailea). It has 125 individual thatched-roof hale (bungalows), 82 acres open for exploring, protected bay to snorkel and swimming, and a black sand and white beach of Kahuwai Bay frequented by sleeping honu (sea turtles). Parents appreciate the complimentary daily kids’ programs and the kids’ seating area at dinner. 800.367.5290,

Hilton Waikoloa Village
A veritable Disneyland in the islands, this poperty is undergoing a $90 million renovation. Kids can swim with the dolphins; take a paddleboat on the enormous manmade lagoon; swim through the Kohala River pool, which is three pools connected by waterslides; and splash in the Kona pool, which features a 176-foot twisting waterslide and waterfalls. 800.445.8667,

Mauna Lani
Named one of the most earth-friendly getaways by Conde Nast Traveler, the Mauna Lani has always followed the Hawaiian practice of stewardship called malama‘aina. It uses solar power, as well as drought-resistant grass on the golf course. Also in collaboration with O‘ahu’s Sea Life Park, the resort has raised juvenile honu in its saltwater ponds until they are large enough to be released in the wild. Camp Mauna Lani includes exploring, Hawaiian craftmaking and organized games, $50 a day. 800.367.2323,

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa
New on the family radar but a longtime favorite on the Kona coast, this newly refurbished 500-plus-room resort has just hired a director of fun, Jeremy Deiter. Part of Deiter’s job is to create a family-friendly environment; accordingly, new options include “dive-in” (poolside) movies, stargazing, nightly manta ray viewing and fireside Hawaiian storytelling. In the works are scavenger hunts and races down the 200-foot lava-tube-inspired waterslide. 888.488.3535,




Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa
Rain or shine, kids will have a blast exploring the swimming pools, slides, waterfalls and lagoons. The Camp Hyatt program runs daily ($70, full day). In summer there’s Rock Hyatt for teens and family movie nights featuring one of the more than 400 films made on the island. 808.742.1234,

Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club
Boasting one of the largest family-friendly pools in the islands, as well as two championship golf courses, this property recently earned the title of best place to stay from Hawai‘i Magazine. The Kalapaki Kids
program is $45 for a full day. 808.245.5050,






Fairmont Kea Lani
Families love the oceanfront all-suite and villa accommodations that come with private lanais and barbecues. Kid-friendly activities include swimming at either the beach or pool, tennis and golf. 808.875.4100,

Four Seasons Maui
Named the most kid-friendly hotel on Maui by, this property also offers three excellent restaurants­—Spago, Duo and Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante and a spa that has been voted one of the top in the country. Children are greeted with a customized welcome basket (parents need to help with information ahead of time). The complimentary Kids for All Seasons program runs every day from 9 to 5, and includes crafts and games. 800.311.0630, fourseasons/

Grand Wailea
This truly grand (large) property boasts 780 guestrooms on 40 acres fronting Wailea Beach as well as the 100-room Napua Tower, complete with concierge services. The Wailea Canyon Activity Pool contains nine separate sections, including a “baby beach,” seven waterslides, waterfalls, caves, white-water rapids, grottos, a whirlpool and sauna and the world’s first water elevator. In keeping with the “big” theme, Camp Grande is a 20,000-square-foot “children’s resort” (full day $125). 808.875.1234,

Hyatt Regency Maui
The pool is close enough to the beach that parents can settle into one lounge chair for the day as kids meander back and forth. The pools include a swinging rope bridge, waterfalls and slides. Supervised play at the Camp Hyatt program runs daily from 9 to 3 ($65 to $80). 800.233.1234,






Moloka‘i Ranch
For a slice of untouchable Hawai‘i, bring the family to Moloka‘i. The seclusion means beaches are generally empty—but beware: there’s also a lack of lifeguards. Besides the sand and the sun, island activities include free kite-flying lessons at the Big Wind Kite Factory, a trek to Hawai‘i’s longest waterfall or a peek at real cowboys on the 53,000-acre Moloka‘i Ranch. And leave the car seat, stroller and portable crib behind—travel lightly by renting the gear for reasonable prices at Moloka‘i Outdoors Activities (in the lobby of Hotel Moloka‘i). Stay in a two-bedroom tentalow at the Beach Village, or at the lodge. Before heading home, don’t forget to send a postcard—the Hoolehua post office supplies free coconuts to be mailed; you supply the postage. 888.627.8082






The Kahala Resort
This property is classic Hawai‘i down to its studs, which were erected in 1964 under the purview of Conrad Hilton. The first phase of “Kahala Chic” guest room renovations has been completed, which includes 310-thread count Egyptian cotton Italian Frette linens and towels as well as rain showerheads. The entire resort is slated to be finished by 2009. Little ones are greeted with a beach bag and dolphin stuffy upon arrival and then kid-size robes and rubber duckies in the rooms. The private beach is protected from the surf, making it ideal for new and untested swimmers, and the dolphin program has been a favorite for decades. The keiki club runs full $65 or half day $45. 800.367.2525,

Turtle Bay Resort
Luxury and the natural beauty of the North Shore of O‘ahu come together at this 880-acre property. Besides the white sand beaches and kid-friendly pool, little ones can partake in horseback riding or surfing lessons. The Keiki Turtle Club offers swimming, night crab hunts, Hawaiian games and more ($75 a day). 808.293.6000