The 7 Best Places in Hawaii to Raise a Family

Man carries daughter on his back

Written by Erica Scassellati

Published: February 19, 2024

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Hawaii is the only U.S. state completely made up of islands. The Aloha State consists of 132 islands, though only seven of them are inhabited: Hawaii (also known as the Big Island), Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau.

Overall, Hawaii is a beautiful place and an ideal location for raising a family. The state’s breathtaking scenery offers children a plethora of opportunities to exercise and take in the fresh air. Family values are of great importance and locals are friendly and welcoming. So where exactly are the best places in Hawaii to raise a family?

1. Mililani

Waianae, Hawaii

The city of Mililani lies on a plateau between two volcanic mountains, one of which is Waianae.

Mililani is a city located on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. It consists of two census-designated places known as Mililani Town and Mililani Mauka. Mililani is located at the center of the island, on a plateau between two volcanic mountains.

The city is frequently highly rated for families, thanks in large part to its tight-knit community. According to Movoto, Mililani is primarily a residential community and offers families and children plenty of activities and opportunities to be a part of the group. Additionally, Mililani has high-performing school systems. Its high school, Mililani High, emphasizes hands-on learning and preparing the city’s youth for adulthood.

2. Haleiwa

Aerial shot of the river anahulu and the twin arched road bridge in the North Shore town of Haleiwa

The Rainbow Bridge carries passengers over the Anahulu Stream.

Haleiwa is a small, safe community on the island of Oahu. With a population of only 4,589 (as of the 2020 census), Haleiwa is a great escape from bustling city life and an ideal place to raise a family. Despite the town’s small size, there are still plenty of activities for children to participate in.

Perhaps the best reason to raise a family in Haleiwa is the town’s exceptional school system. According to Motovo, Haleiwa’s elementary school received a National Blue Ribbon for exceptional standards.

3. Hilo

Hawaii, Rainbow Falls in Hilo. Wailuku River State Park

Hikers in Hilo can visit Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park.

Hilo is the first town on this list located on Hawaii’s Big Island. Located on the northeastern side of the island, Hilo is a bustling farming and fishing area with no shortage of outdoor wonders to explore.

One of the most famous is Wailuku River State Park, which features Waianuenue, or Rainbow Falls. There are a plethora of parks in Hilo and the town offers a close community with friendly locals and above-average public schools. Young adults can even attend university close to home at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

4. Maunawili

A blue tractor ready for a hayride

Communities in Maunawili host family gatherings such as Easter egg hunts and hay rides.

Maunawili is another small CDP on the island of Oahu. Like the other entries on this list, Maunawili is a safe community with above-average schools. It has a small, rural population of only 2,026 as of the 2020 census. Locals on Niche report safe and cozy neighborhoods where families participate in community Easter egg hunts, Halloween gatherings, hayrides, and more.

5. Kula

Maui Upcountry Pumpkin Patch

Located on the island of Maui, Kula offers a wide variety of farm fresh produce.

Kula is the first entry on this list located in the Upcountry region of the island of Maui. A quaint, rustic area, Kula lies on the slopes of the Haleakalā. Living in the city offers unbeatable views of Maui and an escape from busy city life.

Despite its rural location, Kula still offers above-average public schools. Thanks to the area’s rich, volcanic soil, locals can enjoy freshly grown regional cuisine and tour some of the area’s farms and gardens. Kula is an amazing place for families looking to enjoy local, seasonal products.

6. Kailua

Scenic view from Lanikai Pillbox hike to the town of Kailua and Koʻolau mountains in the background, Island of Oahu, Hawaii

Locals in the town of Kailua can see the Koʻolau mountains in the distance.

Kailua is a CDP in Honolulu County that lies on the east side of the island of Oahu. The dense suburban area was home to Barack Obama’s winter White House. It is also where first World Champion windsurfer, Robby Naish, spent his childhood.

Those who have lived in Kailua recalled beautiful beaches and a family-friendly, active community on Niche. Plenty of restaurants and public parks fill the area, and public schools in Kailua are above average.

7. Honolulu

Skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii and the surrounding area including the hotels and buildings on Waikiki Beach

Although Honolulu is the most populous city in Hawaii, it’s still an incredible place to raise a family.

As the capital and most populous city in Hawaii, non-locals may doubt that Honolulu is family-friendly. However, the city is frequently ranked as one of the safest big cities in the world and offers plenty of kid-friendly activities, such as the Honolulu Zoo.

For families seeking the best schools in Hawaii, Honolulu may just be their best bet. Located within the large city, Punahou School is known for a number of accolades, including its status as the greenest school in the United States and the high school of Barack Obama. As one of the best schools in the nation, Punahou School prepares students to attend the best colleges in the state.

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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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