Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hawaii is for Adults--California is for Kids

My husband went on a business trip to Hawaii (Oahu).  I tagged along.  It was everything I thought it would be--romantic walks on the beach, hula dancers, swimming in a waterfall, seeing Pearl Harbor.   It was a wonderful second honeymoon, but I would not bring the kids for a future family vacation.  Frankly, Southern California would be more fun for children and much cheaper than Hawaii. 

What Hawaii is best known for is the beaches and ocean.  I spent hours walking along the sand.  I swam in the ocean and let the waves crash on me.  But these were not little waves.  As a grown adult, I found the waves large.  They also crash extremely close to the shore.  Wading in shallow ocean water was not really an option.  I could stand on the edge and let the large waves hit me (usually waist high or higher) or I could swim out a little and float in water so deep I could not stand.  As a seasoned swimmer, it was heaven, but there was no place for small children to play enjoy the water.  Also, there are no seashells on the beaches.  My favorite ocean excursion was snorkeling.  It was like sticking my head into a large tropical fish tank.  It was amazing to see brightly colored fish swim inches from me and to see a myriad of coral.  But I cannot imagine trying to help my three- or five-year-old navigate the fragile and sharp coral reefs with masks.  Similarly, surfing would be fine for older children but not the little ones.  And Scuba diving is definitely out.

Another highlight was Pearl Harbor.  It was deeply moving.  Powerful.  My husband's grandfather (who married us and was influential in our lives) was a pilot in WWII.  We toured the aviation museum connected to the Pearl Harbor Memorial.   I could feel the debt we owe that generation as I wandered through the exhibits.  The impossible odds.  The miracle we call the Battle of Midway.  But hardly an exciting activity for my younger children.

From luaus that lasted late into the night to hiking to the top of Diamond Head crater to shopping at the flea market,  children would find Hawaii to be boring and exhausting.  Though some venues have child friendly activities like Dole Plantations, the aquarium, or the Polynesian Cultural Center, the bulk of Hawaii's allure can only be experienced by adults and teens.

After considering the cost of flying to Hawaii (and the length of the flight), most families would find that the money would be far better spent in a place like southern California.  With a myriad of amusement parks, world class animal parks, and child friendly beaches, California may offer more bang for the buck for kids under ten.

So save Hawaii for the grown-ups and leave California for the kids.


  1. Another post from the Stay blogging empire... :)

    I have lived in southern California for over a quarter century, but have never been to Hawaii. However, if southern California is inexpensive compared to Hawaii, then perhaps the trip to Hawaii may even be tough for some grownups.

    I'm not sure why southern California is so kid-friendly. This actually predates Walt Disney - Walter Knott was active in Orange County back when the Disney brothers were concentrating on animated shorts. But southern California and central Florida certainly rank high on kid-friendly destinations.

  2. This is great- my wife and I are considering a trip to Hawaii, any recommendations on places to stay or favorite things to do besides those mentioned in the post?

  3. Christopher, Please check out my latest post on my top 10 things to do in Oahu.

  4. I agree with you. Hawaii is such a nice place especially for people who love beaches just like me. I always make sure to bring with me my family whenever I go to those places. I'd love to get back to Hawaii and experience the new breeze.

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  5. Hawaii is one of the best places to visit. Last summer, I had the chance to visit Hawaii and I can say that it was one of my best vacations. I simply loved the breeze especially when it touched my skin.

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  6. This is one of the places in the US that I really want to visit. I heard a lot of good reviews about Hawaii. This will be my next destination on summer.

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