Best Parks for Kids on the Big Island of Hawaii: Discover Top Family Havens

Looking for a slice of paradise where your kids can run free and explore? The Big Island of Hawaii’s got you covered with some of the most incredible parks you’ll find anywhere. Think lush green spaces, playgrounds with ocean views, and nature trails that’ll spark the imagination of every little adventurer.

Hot Spots Hawaii Featured Image

Top Parks for Kids on the Big Island of Hawaii

You’ll find the Big Island is a paradise for kids and an absolute wonderland of exploration and play. Each park on this magnificent island promises a unique adventure that’ll keep the whole family entertained for hours.

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is one of the most renowned, with its expansive white-sand beaches perfect for sandcastle building and gentle waves ideal for a family swim. Picnic areas are abundant, and the facilities include showers and restrooms, so you can easily rinse off the saltwater and sand before heading out.

Kailua Park, known to locals as Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, offers more than just open green spaces. Your kids can bike along the old runway, giving them a taste of history while they pedal. With the backdrop of the ocean, you’re getting scenic views alongside an impromptu history lesson.

Then there’s Kalopa State Recreation Area nestled in the heart of the island’s lush upland forests. Here, you’ll find trails suited for all ages which weave through native Hawaiian plants and trees. It’s not just a park; it’s a retreat where your kids can learn about the island’s unique flora and fauna.

  • Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area: Sandcastles, swimming, picnic spots
  • Kailua Park (Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area): Biking, historical runway
  • Kalopa State Recreation Area: Nature trails, educational opportunities

If your family loves to watch wildlife, consider the Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Dolphins and sea turtles are common sights here, and if you’re up for it, a kayak trip across the bay can be an unforgettable experience. Remember to respect the local wildlife and maintain a safe distance.

Each of these parks encapsulates the spirit of Aloha, offering a space where your family can bond, learn, and make lifetime memories. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore historical sites, or hike through verdant forests, the Big Island’s parks are where your family’s adventure begins.

1. Parker Ranch Playground

Nestled within the historic Parker Ranch in Waimea, Parker Ranch Playground is a hidden gem that’ll capture the imagination of kids and adults alike. Steeped in the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture, this park offers more than just slides and swings: it’s a peek into Hawaii’s ranching history combined with modern-day fun.

As you enter the playground, you’re greeted by vibrant play structures that stand out against the backdrop of Mauna Kea. The equipment is maintained well, ensuring a safe environment for your little ones to climb, slide, and explore. Your kids can gallop imaginatively on spring-mounted horses, fostering a kinship with the island’s equestrian past.

Surrounding the playground, vast fields invite families to spread out for a picnic. Open green spaces are perfect for a game of frisbee or some free-spirited running around. You’ll often find locals here too, which means it’s a wonderful opportunity to mingle and perhaps hear stories about the ranch’s storied past.

  • Details for Families:
  • Play structures suitable for various ages
  • Picnic areas with tables
  • Wide open spaces for games
  • Historical ambiance

Beyond the playground, Parker Ranch also offers guided tours that can enrich your understanding of Hawaii’s ranching heritage. While the little ones play, you can plan a separate visit to explore the manicured gardens and historical homes that punctuate the landscape.

Remember, visiting here isn’t just about playtime; it’s about connecting with a different side of Hawaii, one that contrasts yet complements the island’s beaches and volcanic terrain. As you watch your kids play against the scenic backdrop, take a moment to breathe in the cool upland air of Waimea and revel in a side of the Big Island that perfectly blends history with recreation.

2. Liliuokalani Gardens

Imagine strolling through Liliuokalani Gardens, the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan, located on the picturesque Banyan Drive in Hilo. Named after Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, the gardens span 30 acres bordering Hilo Bay. As you wander the grounds, you’ll find meticulously landscaped gardens, teahouses, and tranquil ponds that truly reflect the harmonious design of a Japanese garden.

The gardens are a haven for families who revel in the lush greenery and peaceful surroundings. Your kids will love feeding the vibrant koi fish that animate the ponds, and you’ll appreciate the stone lanterns and bridges that make for perfect photo ops. With its well-kept walkways and expansive grassy areas, it’s as fitting for a leisurely walk as it is for youngsters running off some energy.

At Liliuokalani Gardens, the combination of tropical fauna and Japanese architecture provides a unique educational opportunity. Children can learn about the plants and wildlife native to Hawaii, and the cultural significance of Japanese gardens. You’re likely to come across a festival or a demonstration of traditional Japanese arts during your visit, which adds depth to the cultural mosaic that is Hawaii.

Highlights Include:

  • Koi Ponds filled with colorful fish
  • Traditional Japanese Teahouses
  • Breathtaking views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea
  • Gazebos and pagodas ideal for a family picnic

The gardens boast not just beauty but also tales of history and international relations. They stand as a testament to the enduring friendship between Japan and Hawaii, inviting you and your family to imbibe in the spirit of aloha and peace. As the sun sets on the bay, the silhouette of Mauna Kea graces the horizon, contributing to the serene ambience that makes Liliuokalani Gardens a must-visit as you explore the Big Island with your kids.

3. Hapuna Beach State Park

When your toes sink into the soft white sand of Hapuna Beach State Park, you’ll know you’ve arrived at a destination beloved by both locals and tourists. Widely regarded as one of the finest beaches in the world, Hapuna Beach isn’t just about stunning shorelines; it’s an oasis for families with an adventurous spirit.

Hapuna’s shores stretch half a mile and provide ample space for sandcastle construction while the clear, calm waters during the summer months are perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The underwater world here teems with colorful fish and you might even spot a sea turtle gliding by. It’s important to note, however, that during the winter, the waves can be quite strong, so always pay attention to the safety signs posted around the park.

For your convenience, there are lifeguards on duty, picnic areas, and restroom facilities. The beach also features paved walkways, making it accessible for strollers and those with mobility challenges. Don’t forget to pack a lunch or grab a bite from the concession stands; the local shave ice is a must-try to cool down after a day under the sun.

Besides the beautiful beach, Hapuna Beach State Park offers hiking opportunities on the Ala Kahakai Trail which winds along the coast. The trail not only offers exercise but also a chance to witness the rugged coastline and lava landscapes that are characteristic of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Remember to stay until dusk if you can – the sunsets here are nothing short of extraordinary, painting the sky with hues of orange, pink, and purple. It’s these moments, with the sound of the waves and the beauty of nature surrounding you, that create the lasting memories of Hawaii’s splendor.

Facility Availability
Lifeguards On Duty
Picnic Areas Available
Restroom Facilities Available
Concession Stands Available
Paved Walkways Yes
Ala Kahakai Trail Accessible

4. Wailoa River State Recreation Area

Nestled in the heart of Hilo, Wailoa River State Recreation Area offers a refreshing change of pace from the bustling beach scenes. This park, a favorite among locals and visitors alike, embodies serenity with its vast open spaces and calming waters. It’s an ideal spot for families looking to relax, picnic, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the Big Island.

You’ll find yourself drawn to the Wailoa Center, a cultural hub within the park that showcases a fascinating array of local art and cultural exhibits. Artisan crafts and paintings provide a deeper understanding of the island’s rich heritage and the immense talent that thrives here. This experience isn’t just entertaining; it’s enriching for kids with curious minds.

  • Easy access paths for strollers
  • Boat tours on the placid Wailoa River
  • Well-maintained playgrounds

Beyond the art center, the park’s centerpiece is the Wailoa River itself, inviting you to partake in leisurely walks along its banks or engage in a peaceful boat ride. Observing the gentle flow of water, you might spot local fishermen skillfully casting their lines, a testament to the park’s integration with the community.

Safety is paramount, so rest assured that the playgrounds are well-maintained, allowing you to relax while the little ones play. The pavilions and picnic areas are perfect for a family lunch, with ample shade providing refuge from the Hawaiian sun.

The verdant landscapes are peppered with monuments and statues that tell their own stories—stories of the island’s history and the people who have shaped it. Among these is the Vietnam War Memorial, which offers a somber lesson in history and the sacrifices many have made.

Don’t forget your camera, as the park is also a sanctuary for various bird species, making it a hidden gem for budding ornithologists and nature enthusiasts. The flutter of wings and the melodic sounds of native birds create a soundtrack that’s distinctly Wailoa.

5. Kalakaua Park

Nestled serenely in the heart of Hilo town, Kalakaua Park offers a peaceful respite where memories are just waiting to be made for your keiki—Hawaiian for children. Picture yourself meandering through the sprawling greenery, a perfect setting for a family picnic or an impromptu game of tag.

At the very heart of Kalakaua Park, you’ll find a bandstand. Imagine your kids’ delight as they discover various local performances here, offering them a taste of the island’s vibrant culture. It’s more than just play; it’s an experience that enriches both the mind and spirit.

  • Heritage is at the forefront, with statues and historical markers that celebrate the legacy of Hawaii’s past monarchs and significant events.
  • Play areas are dotted around the park, where your kids can climb, slide, and let their imaginations soar.
  • For relaxing strolls, the walking paths are shaded by towering trees that have stood witness to decades of Hilo’s history.

Safety is a thoughtfully considered feature, with the park being well-lit and patrolled. This ensures you can enjoy the ambiance of dusk hours with peace of mind. While the kiddos are playing, you’ll also find chess tables where locals gather to spar with words and wits—a hidden gem for those craving a slice of local life.

And let’s not forget that Kalakaua Park is merely steps away from Hilo’s enticing storefronts and eateries. So should you seek a refreshing treat or a unique souvenir, venture forth—it’s all within a stone’s throw.

Remember, a day at Kalakaua Park isn’t just about letting your kids run off steam; it’s about stepping into the easy pace of island time. Here, amidst the laughter of children and the gentle sway of palm trees, you can’t help but feel that sense of true aloha spirit.


You’ve got a treasure trove of options when it comes to parks on the Big Island that are perfect for kids. From the serene beauty of Liliuokalani Gardens to the endless fun at Hapuna Beach and the cultural immersion at Wailoa River State Recreation Area, there’s something to satisfy every young explorer’s curiosity. And don’t forget Kalakaua Park, where the aloha spirit is as palpable as the gentle Hawaiian breeze. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of education, these parks offer a slice of paradise that’ll create lasting memories for your whole family. Pack your sunscreen, grab a hat, and get ready to explore the best kid-friendly parks the Big Island has to offer. Happy adventuring!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some top parks for kids on the Big Island of Hawaii?

The top parks for kids on the Big Island of Hawaii include Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Kailua Park, Kalopa State Recreation Area, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, Liliuokalani Gardens, Hapuna Beach State Park, Wailoa River State Recreation Area, and Kalakaua Park.

What is unique about Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo?

Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo is the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan, featuring meticulously landscaped gardens, teahouses, tranquil ponds, and stone lanterns and bridges, it offers a unique insight into Japanese culture and the natural beauty of Hawaii.

What does Hapuna Beach State Park offer?

Hapuna Beach State Park offers a half-mile stretch of soft white sand, clear calm waters, lifeguard services, picnic areas, restroom facilities, paved walkways, and hiking opportunities along the Ala Kahakai Trail. It’s also known for its spectacular sunsets.

What can visitors experience at Wailoa River State Recreation Area?

Visitors to Wailoa River State Recreation Area can enjoy open spaces, calming waters, a cultural hub at the Wailoa Center, well-maintained playgrounds, easy stroller access paths, boat tours, picnic areas, and a variety of monuments and statues that narrate the island’s history.

What amenities does Kalakaua Park in Hilo offer?

Kalakaua Park offers a peaceful environment with sprawling greenery, a bandstand for performances, play areas for children, shady walking paths, chess tables, and is close to local storefronts and eateries, embodying the relaxed pace and aloha spirit of the island.

Scroll to Top