The Big Island of Hawaii at it’s best. Photo courtesy of Dana Zucker, Triathlon Traveling Mom.

Dana spends a lot of time in Hawaii with her family.  So, she’s the perfect person to tell you how to enjoy the Big Island with your teens.

The Big Island of Hawaii is one of our favorite places to vacation with the teens. Many times when we travel to Kona, my husband is only able to spend half of the day with us, due to his triathlon training schedule and/or work schedule. This leaves much of the day for just the twins and me. I always try to fill these days with adventure, discovery, and fun. Many times, the three of us will “test” the activity and then we bring dad back on another day, because we had so much fun.

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Taking a break while exploring the Island. Photo courtesy of Dana Zucker, Triathlon Traveling Mom.

Big Island fun is endless with the beaches, snorkeling spots, surfing, and land activities all over the Island.  We spend many days in our SUV just exploring new areas.  We literally get a real paper map, pick a spot, and go.  Then, we stop along the way at any place we want to explore, staying very flexible.  Always in the car is our bag full of water, towels, snorkel gear, sunscreen, and plenty of room to add fresh fruit and veggies we pick up to eat along the way.

A note about our travel: Doing a bulk of it solo with the twins, when my husband is with us, his time is a bit limited. So, we tend to use private tours a lot.  Many people shy away from private tours, because they believe they are “too expensive” just by the term, private.  But, often when you factor in the price per individual, it can be near the same and sometimes less than going it on your own.  The BIG plus is that the experience is priceless; getting to do exactly what you want and not having to worry about anything.  You can just enjoy your family and the beauty of the island.

Here are my top 4 experiences on the Big Island with teens:

Helicopter Tour

Take a helicopter tour of the Island with a drop and hike. You get a totally different perspective of the terrain.  In reality, the Big Island is small, but getting to some of the most precious spots can be very time-consuming.  Whether it is our first or tenth time, we always book a tour to a new location.  Our operator of choice is Paradise Helicopters,  The twins and I tend to save our family favorite “to do” for the four of us.  Heading to one of the waterfalls is our favorite tour.

Zip Line

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The twins zip lining at Kohala. Photo courtesy of Dana Zucker, Triathlon Traveling Mom.

Zip lining is so much fun and there are so many great places to experience the thrill, including a nighttime trek to see the lava glow.  Our favorite location is Kohala,  The staff is amazing and so knowledgable about not only zip lining, but also about the environment and history of the land the course sits in.  We tend to zip line on a day dad has a long workout, plus work, so we make a day out of it, including lunch in Hawi.


WooHoo, surfing is one of our absolute favorites.  We do it with dad, without dad, and even the twins do it without mom and dad!  Although we always do it with Kona’s most wonderful instructor, Ossian, owner of FBI Surf School.  Enough said, do it and do it often!

Zodiac Trips & Snorkeling

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Syd obviously enjoying snorkeling. Photo courtesy of Dana Zucker, Triathlon Traveling Mom.

For Zodiac trips and snorkeling, we tend to hire a boat for half or full day excursions, to explore from the water.  It is always better to work with an experienced captain that knows the ins and outs of the Island.  We have requested the same Captain year after year, because of his knowledge of the Island, not just the tourist hotspots. He also works to customize what the twins would like to do and see.  We tend to work with Captain Zodiac and met our Captain through them.

So, I hope you find as much to do and love about the Big Island as we do.  It’s simply magical.  For more information on vacationing on The Big Island, you may enjoy:

Aloha Big Island/Kona Bound – Best Activities 

Hawaii’s Family-Friendly Eco-Tours

What To Do On The Kohala Coast Of Hawaii