Mauna_Kea_snorkelingIt is easy to create memorable family experiences on Hawaii’s Big Island with golf, outrigger excursions, stargazing, music and welcoming Hawaiian people.

Activities at this beach-front destination center on the water, natch. But this is a place for early risers. By 11 a.m., the trade winds can make the waters too choppy for a pleasant snorkel or a quiet paddle in an outrigger canoe.

Outrigger Canoe at the Four Seasons

Families who paddle together… either argue about rhythm or stay together. The Four Seasons at Hualalai Resort treated us to an outrigger experience. It was windy because we started our excursion at 11am – it’s best to go earlier to avoid trade winds.

We forged ahead and, as a family team, paddled out and back without tipping the boat or tempers. Upon return, our captain Stacy, who competes on a team and as a single paddler, took me out on a 2-person canoe and we ran a similar route. I’m hooked and will have to do this again and again.

Note: Book your excursion early in the day. Once the trade winds kick up, generally after 11a.m., there’s a chance the excursion will be canceled if the winds are too strong. Park at the Four Seasons resort. The canoes and paddleboards are housed at Kona Village, a 10 minute walk on the sand from the King’s Pond beach house. The road to Kona Village is closed and will be under construction for a couple of years.

Mauna Kea Resort

Historic and multigenerational, Mauna Kea Resort boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Kauna’oa Bay. The folks at Manua Kea treated us to a guided snorkeling trip around the bay. Tommy, our personal guide, took us on a route where we would see sea urchins, coral reefs, colorful fish and turtles. We arrived at 9:30 to get our snorkel in before the the high winds of mid-day made the water too choppy for snorkeling. Once that happens, retire to one of the covered beach chairs on the white sand beach or rent one of the water toys on the bay. My son the golfer said the golf course at Mauna Kea was “incredible” and that he felt like a celebrity playing there.

See more about Hawaii’s Kohala Coast:

Kohala Coast on Hawaii’s Big Island

Mauna Lani Resort: Hawaiian Culture

Mauna Kea: Stargazing for the whole family 

Fairmont Orchid

Hilton Waikoloa Village