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Hands on Hawaii
Hilary Doling and her family find themselves whisked away to island-hopping heaven.

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"This is a real Jurassic lark,” says my son Alex, making a pun on the title of the famous dinosaur movie filmed in Kauai. Our helicopter swoops over the jagged green peaks of the Napali Coast, over Waimea Canyon and finally the very waterfall (Manawaiopuna Falls) that inspired Spielberg. “I’m glad there is no T-Rex,” laughs Alex – although who knows what is in the thick, curling jungle below us. Movie-makers love Hawaii, especially photogenic Kauai.

An island with it all
Kauai is all about nature – stunningly beautiful from its wild emerald heart to its surf-happy shores. Hibiscus and bougainvillea spill over walls, longboards lean against buildings and locals have a laidback, barefoot, back-to-nature charm that makes everyone feel welcome. The island offers something for all the family: hiking, swimming, snorkelling, surfing, shopping,horse riding and zipline adventures. Life moves a little more slowly here, but that doesn’t mean it is dull. Aston Hotels & Resorts have four properties on Kauai, so you can trust they know the island well.

So much to do…
We tick nearly everything off the list while we are there; the helicopter tour is a definite highlight as is the Kauai Plantation Railway with its oldfashioned wooden seats and quaint station. Best of all we love the vibe of Hanalei Bay on the north coast, with surfboards stacked in racks outside shops as if they too are sunbathing.

Our favourite breakfast joint, the Wake Up Café, had plastic tables and surf pictures all over the walls. Here you can stay at the family-friendly Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas with four pools, a two-storey clubhouse, restaurant and poolside bar, a general store and barbecues. There’s also an active kids’ club.

Up the road, families can stay in style at the palatial St Regis Princeville. Though the nearby golf course appealed to my husband, it was the Princeville Ranch Adventure Centre that enticed the kids. Poor dad was yanked off the green and clipped onto a zipline for a heart-in-mouth four-hour ‘Zip‘n’Dip’ through rainforest canopies. We experience nine ziplines, each more thrilling than the last. For the grand finale we climb an eight-metre-high tower for a King Kong tandem zipline where you can hold hands or race a partner across a 370-metre span.

On the other side of the island, at Koloa, Hawaiian hospitality is at its finest at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. Sweeping ocean views and the Camp Hyatt kids’ club complement cultural experiences, including an authentic luau for the whole tribe.

Drop in on Waikiki
You can’t leave Hawaii without experiencing infamous Waikiki. The island boasts an array of kid-friendly hotels. Aston Hotels and Resorts offer several great options on the island, from the beachside Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel to the Aston Waikiki Sunset for families wanting to also be close to attractions such as the zoo. Embassy Suites is Oahu’s only all-suite resort, while Hilton Hawaiian Village has eight hectares of beachfront gardens. Complete with oceanside pool, newly renovated Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is just minutes from shops, Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.

REPORT CARD
Information: Hawaii Tourism Authority - www.gohawaii.com

Stay: Aston Hotels & Resorts - www.astonhotels.com
Westin Princeville - www.westinprinceville.com
Grand Hyatt Kauai - www.kauai.hyatt.com
St Regis Princeville - www.stregisprinceville.com
Hilton Hawaiian Village - www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com
Embassy Suites - embassysuiteswaikiki.com
Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach - www.outriggerwakikihotel.com

Thumbs up: Whichever island you choose there’ll be something for the family to enjoy.

Want more? Read about the buzz from Waikiki here!

 

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