Students look forward to school breaks like marathon runners reaching the finish line — they’re ready to be rewarded for all their hard work. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of visitor experiences in Hawaii that can make your special scholar feel like they won the grand prize on spring break or summer vacation. Show them that you’re their biggest fan with these favorite spots to enjoy the break together.
Have fun learning on Oahu
Even if class is dismissed, students can continue to enrich their minds. Oahu has plenty of places that keep them entertained by a little extracurricular education. Elementary-age kids let their imaginations soar at Children's Discovery Center, where they can pretend to fly a Hawaiian Airlines airplane. Middle-schoolers enjoy swinging poi balls and learning about Pacific traditions at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. For future zoologists, go see the animals at Honolulu Zoo or swim with tropical fish (and near Disney characters) at Aulani Resort's Rainbow Reef. Teens give themselves extra credit at Bishop Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts, whereas college students and the young at heart get dirty harvesting kalo (taro) with the Malama Experience at Kualoa Ranch.
Splash in the water on Maui
The opposite of sitting in class just might be jumping into the water. Cool off those post-finals jitters with a surf lesson at the beginner-friendly breaks of West Maui. For a full day of adventure that’s much more immersive than textbook, join a snorkel tour to the reef-filled waters of Molokini, a crescent-shaped island just three miles south of Maui. Teens ready for a selfie can wear a tail, frolic in the ocean and take photos with Hawaii Mermaid Adventures in Kihei. Little ones flock to the touch pools and 'Open Ocean' tunnel at Wailuku’s Maui Ocean Center, while kids of all ages get giddy during underwater adventures with Atlantis Submarine, which can be paired with snorkeling or whale-watching tours, too.
Meet the animals on Hawaii Island
Make some new friends on school break with Hawaii Island’s unique animal encounters. North of Kona, families can take a walk on the wild side at the fully accredited Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary, which is home to zebras, nene, flamingos and more. Southbound, seahorse-loving visitors age 5 and older can hold actual ‘sea dragons’ at Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. Or stay up past bedtime to join a moonlit manta ray snorkel tour that would make most teachers jealous. Near Hilo, the lush Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden has a macaw aviary that’s more exciting than the school bell. You also might see wildlife elsewhere, so always remember to Travel Pono and keep a safe distance.
Burn off some energy on Kauai
Turn every day into recess on Kauai. The group can release some steam with a pedal-powered excursion down Kapaa Bike Path, stretching almost 8 miles along the eastern coast, with several bike shops in Kapaa offering rentals. To the north, Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden boasts a fun children’s garden complete with a splash pad, whimsical sculptures and a maze. Pick up the speed with a horseback trail riding at Princeville Ranch, or opt for a lesson in arena riding. Hawaii’s sugar plantation history is on the lesson at Kauai Backcountry Adventures in Lihue, all while riding ATVs, tubing down canals and soaring on ziplines. Families that pack their hiking shoes can lace up for the epic trails of Waimea Canyon, plus the laughter-inducing Hanapepe Swinging Bridge along the way.