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Hawaii Explored by Land and Sea

Upcountry Crater
If you're willing to drag your crew out of bed at four in the morning, go see the sunrise from the top of Haleakala, considered the most spectacular sight in all Maui. Best place to catch the view?Puu Ulaula observatory, at the top of the mountain. You can let the kids sleep in the car on the drive to the top and sightsee on the way down. Be sure to bring warm clothes. For a range of guided hikes in the area, contact Hike Maui, run by naturalist Ken Schmitt. On the 21/2-mile, half-day rain-forest walk, easy trails lead to a gentle waterfall with a rope swing and pool. Bottled water, organic fruit, lunch, backpacks, rain gear, and water shoes for the pool are provided. Hike Maui, 808/879-5270; $75 for adults, $55 for kids 6-15.


Grand Canyon of the Pacific
A mile wide and 14 miles long, the amazing Waimea Canyon is a must on any Kauai itinerary. From Waimea State Park, drive up the winding mountain road and make your first stop at Waimea Canyon Lookout, with its spine-tingling view of the canyon. Families with older kids should consider biking down from the top with Outfitters Kauai. Its new Bicycle Downhill Canyon-to-Coast Tour offers 13 miles of cruising from Waimea Canyon to Kauai's western beaches. All you do is ride; it provides the bikes, helmets, drinks, guides, and great commentary on native history and canyon geology. Outfitters Kauai, 808/742-9667; $65 for adults, $55 for kids 10-14.

Cruise the Na Pali Coast
Speed alongside the cliffs of the legendary Na Pali Coast in the Na Pali Explorer, a 32-seat Zodiac-type craft. Day cruises stop for snorkeling, and, in season, whale-watching. The trip lasts a little more than five hours and includes breakfast, lunch, and beverages. 808/335-9909; $122 for adults, $65 for kids 5-11.

Take a Walk on the Wet Side
The difficult, 11-mile hike along the Na Pali Coast is definitely not recommended for families. But the first 21/2 miles are fine for kids eight and up who like to get muddy. It's not flat by any means, but the views are out of this world, and your goal, secluded Hanakapiai Beach, is lovely. If your gang is geared up to cross the beach at Hanakapiai, a trail at the opposite end leads to a gorgeous waterfall a half-mile farther on.

Big Island

Real-Live Lava
Don't miss the chance to explore Kilauea, the most active volcano on our planet, at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Cruise around Crater Rim Drive and watch lava spit, ooze, and blast from deep inside the earth. If you're game for a hike, a good place to start is Devastation Trail, a paved path that's perfect for kids. It leads half a mile through a forest of stark trunks and leafless branches in a charred, spooky landscape. You can delve deeper into lava at the Thurston Lava Tube, an incredible 450-foot-long lava cave. Be sure to bring a flashlight! Eruption updates: 808/985-6000.

Talk to the Animals
Find out if you see eye to eye with the tigers at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. The residents here are provided with the space they need—you'll probably feel as if you're the one being fenced in. Other creatures to look for are monkeys, anteaters, hippos, mongooses, and several endangered indigenous birds, including a Hawaiian coot and Laysan ducks. Learning stations help your brood identify who's who. 808/959-7224; open daily 9-4.

Snorkel Mania
For prime snorkeling, head to Kealakekua Bay, where your kids can float and peer their way through natural underwater playgrounds. The best access to the bay is via Napoopoo Beach Park, which has rest rooms and picnic tables. You can rent snorkels and fins at Snorkel Bob's (808/329-0770), next to the Royal Kona Resort in Kona, and keep them for the duration of your stay.


Croquet, Anyone?
If you're guests at the Lodge at Koele, consider a civilized afternoon of croquet or lawn bowling. Then, if you're still on your best behavior, take tea beside the garden at the Terrace café. 808/565-7300 or 800/321-4666; doubles from $325.

A Day of Beachcombing
It's a gorgeous drive to Shipwreck Beach. Named for the grounded World War II ship that sits offshore, the beach has expansive views of Molokai and Maui—but once you've taken in the view, start poking around for treasures in the sand. The coast here is relatively untouched, and you never know what may wash ashore. Most prized finds?Glass floats that have drifted thousands of miles over the open ocean from Japanese fishing nets.

Hunting for Petroglyphs
Some of the best-preserved rock carvings in all the islands are on southern Lanai. Finding them, however, requires perseverance and four-wheel drive. Head south on Manele Road and turn left onto Hoike, a gravel road. Turn left again at the second irrigation ditch, keeping the ditch on your right. After a while, you'll see a No Trespassing sign, where you should park. (Since this is private property, be respectful of your surroundings.) Take the trail that leads off to the left up the hill; you'll spot most of the petroglyphs on the south faces of the large brown boulders there. Tell the kids to look for images of gliding canoes, snarling dogs, and galloping horses—all drawn on these rock faces more than 100 years ago.

KIMBERLY BROWN, a freelance writer, lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons.


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