From Adventure Sports to Spam on Sushi, There So Many Things to Do in Oahu With Kids. This American State Possesses A Wonderful Cross Section of Attractions and Native Hawaiian Cultures That All Families Will Love.
Top 50 Things to Do in Oahu For Kids is written by Sarah. Edited by Family Globetrotters.
Aloha! My name is Sarah, and I was born, raised, and currently live on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. While I absolutely love to travel around the world, I also love sharing some of the local sites and adventures of the island. I hope to try to encourage visitors to the islands to actually take part in some aspects of the beautiful local culture, rather than living in the artificial tourist bubble that can sometimes seem so tempting. Follow more of my Hawaiian Island adventures on my blog, “Borders and Bucket Lists.”
Oahu is the third-largest island of the Hawaiian Islands. For most families travelling to Hawaii for the first time, Oahu is usually the first pit stop as Honolulu airport is located on this island. Oahu is home to about two-thirds of the population of Hawaii and has a wonderful fusion of Western and Eastern cultures. There are so many things to do in Oahu with kids and thus making a perfect destination for family vacations.
The best beaches in Oahu are all easily accessible and will suit kids as young as babies seeing sand for the first time to the more adventurous teenagers looking for a bit of water action. There are plenty of places to stay in Oahu and families can opt for fun Disney themed resorts right through to AirBnb homes in the quieter parts of the island. Here is a comprehensive list of things to do in Oahu for kids of all ages.
DOWNTOWN HONOLULU-WAIKIKI AREA – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS
1. The street art in Kakaako is revamped every single year due to the POW WOW festival in February. According to Pow Wow Hawaii, Pow Wow is a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art. Take some selfies with the work of these international artists and some of the best street art in the world.
2. Learn about the world’s rainforests, different world cultures, and the special Hawaiian-Island life at the Children’s Discovery Center.
3. Got a musician on your hands? Visit “The Ukulele Store” in Waikiki for a free beginner ukulele lesson.
4. Wander around the Honolulu Zoo – the penguins tend to be a crowd favorite. Honolulu Zoo also invites families join them Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:30-7:30pm for a twilight tour! Just as everyone else leaves the Zoo, you will be guided by educators on a two-hour walking tour to learn about and visit with some of the Zoo’s most intriguing animals. Watch some of our animals prepare to sleep, while others are just waking up.
5. Delve into the history of Polynesian culture at the Bishop Museum.
6. Get soaked on a catamaran ride in Waikiki. There are several sailing companies that can take you out in the water and you can also do a spot of snorkeling whilst you’re out or even opt for a sunset, fireworks or marine life sail.
7. Watch the spectacular fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Friday. Sounds like a spectacular way to start the weekend!
8. Feeling like an under-the-sea adventure? Hop on board the Atlantis Submarine. These submarines environmentally safe and it dives 100 feet underwater. Be prepared to see some of the most beautiful marine life such as green turtles, sharks, stingrays, yellow tangs and eels.
9. Learn to surf in Waikiki. It is the perfect place for beginners due to the smaller waves and sandy ocean floor.
10. Shop at the largest open-air shopping mall in the entire world, Ala Moana Center.
11. Test your wakeboarding skills at Koko Marina.
ON THE NORTH SHORE – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS
12. Stop by the Dole Plantation which is Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience”. Lick your way through an entire Dole Whip, which is the super famous and delicious soft serve pineapple-flavored ice cream, ride the Pineapple Express train, and conquer the world’s largest maze. And if you haven’t had enough of pineapple by the end of it all, you can buy some fresh ones to take home with you. They are truly the sweetest pineapples I have ever tasted.
13. Stand Up Paddle Board in Haleiwa Harbor. The current here is a little weaker than many places on the island, so it’s a great place for less experienced paddleboarders.
14. Dying to find somewhere that’s off the beaten path? Visit Laie Point for some stunning views and crashing waves.
15. Go on a fascinating farm tour at Kahuku Farms. Perhaps the best tour for the kids is the 30-minute Smoothie Tour which incorporates a wagon ride of the family farm, so you can see where all the fresh Papaya and Apple Bananas for their smoothies are harvested. The tour includes a yummy fresh fruit Papaya Power smoothie.
16. Looking for a stroll (rather than a hike) that’ll lead you and your little ones to a waterfall? Waimea Falls is the waterfall for you and it is the only waterfall in Oahu you are permitted to swim in.
17. If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, cliff diving at Waimea Bay should do the trick!
18. Check out the turtles just chilling on the sand at Laniakea Beach.
19. Learn about half a dozen different Polynesian island cultures at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
20. Looking for a shallow area for the little kiddos to check out some fish? Stop by Shark’s Cove (trust me, the name is deceivingly scary).
21. Take a three-hour zipline tour at Keana Farms. Keana Farms created Oahu’s very first zipline course and now offers 8 ziplines, 3 suspension bridges and 2 rappels that are adrenaline-pumping. After that, 2 minutes form Keana Farms you can grab lunch at the famous Giovanni’s food truck for seriously finger likin’ good shrimp.
ON THE SOUTH SHORE – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS
22. Take the time to remember those who were the victims of the Pearl Harbor bombing at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There is a wonderful 30-minute documentary with real life footage that explains what happened on this dreaded day so even if you don’t know anything about Pearl Harbor, this sets a good starting point for you.
23. Knock out two birds with one stone by visiting the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. Check out the site of the annual football competition, the Pro Bowl, while also collecting all sorts of fun souvenirs.
24. Have a future pilot on your hands? Check out the Pacific Aviation Museum.
25. Hop on board the Hawaiian Railway’s Society daily scenic train ride. You can take food and drinks on board so you’re welcome to have a picnic before or after the train ride.
26. Do a little shopping and take a free trolley ride around Waikele Premium Outlets.
27. Hike down to Waimano Falls and swing on a rope into a waterfall pool.
ON THE WEST SIDE – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS
28. Trying to find the best place to watch the sunset? Visit Ko Olina amidst the mountains and long stretches of coastline.
29. Get the sweet, icy treat of the islands: shave ice! While you can get this from multiple places around the island, my personal favorite is Island Shave Ice & Creamery. *Bonus tip: ONLY go to places that say “shave ice” not “shaved ice” for an authentic treat.
30. Got some major Disney fans in your group? Visit Disney’s Aulani hotel in Ko Olina, where you can sneak into the pool, buy some Disney souvenirs, and meet some of your favorite characters.
ON THE EAST SIDE – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU FOR KIDS
31. Snorkel with all of the colorful fish at Hanauma Bay.
32. Hike to Makapuu Lighthouse ¬– it requires only minimal effort, and, in return, you can get some great views.
33. Looking for a short, off-the-beaten-path hike to take you to a waterfall with a small pool for kids to splash around in? Hike to Likeke Falls!
34. Pick up some oars and a kayak and paddle out to the small island known as Chinaman’s Hat.
35. See a wholphin, a mix of a whale and a dolphin, at Sea Life Park.
36. Pose for some pictures at the Instagram-famous, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.
37. Visit one of the most-Instagrammed beaches in Hawaii: Lanikai Beach. Enjoy a calm swim, some castle-building in the sand, or a photoshoot.
38. Stop by Lanikai Beach’s sister beach, Kailua Beach, for some more fun in the sun!
39. Take a well-trodden hiking trail to the stunning Manoa Falls. Suitable for kids and takes about 30-45 minutes each way pending on their agility.
40. Visit Kualoa Ranch and take one of the many stunning tours. They have an ATV tour, a horseback riding tour, a movie tour, and a Jurassic tour. Just take your pick!
41. Visit the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe, a miniature replica of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan and ring the giant bell.
42. Try to tackle the 1,000-step hike known as Koko Head.
ANYWHERE ON THE ISLAND – TOP 50 THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS
43. Watch a movie at a Hawaii Regal Theatre for the sole purpose of watching the special island intro.
44. Devour a malasada, which is a type of Portuguese donut, from either Leonard’s Bakery or Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery. Give the local favourite Li Hing flavour a try which is sweet and sour.
45. Slurp down some POG – passion orange guava juice. Get it at basically any grocery store.
46. Pick up a spam musubi. Locals usually get it from 7/11, but the ABC Store has some as well if you’re close by.
47. Visit the Honolulu Cookie Company and try all of their delicious free samples. If you’re looking for a souvenir, you could get a box of these amazing cookies.
48. Hop on this boba trend at Infinitea which is one of the best boba milk teas you can get on the island.
49. Watch hula and fire dancers while scooping up some kalua pig at a luau. Paradise Cove and the Polynesian Cultural Center have two of the most popular luaus on the island.
50. If you’re short on time but want a comprehensive snapshot of the island, Hawaii tours are your best bet. At Family Globetrotters we highly recommend the circle island tour with Go Hawaii Tours. We were picked up on time, visited some of Oahu’s hidden gems and even went snorkeling with the green turtles! The tour guide was native Hawaiian, super friendly and a world of information.
Gosh we love Oahu! There is such a wide variety of culinary, cultural and outdoor attractions and activities to do. It is one of those destinations where you can visit over and over again as your children grow up and their travel interests grows as there are simply so many things to do in Oahu for kids of all ages. It is also a great destination if you wish to just be lazy and looking to relax and rejuvenate. For those on a bit of a budget, there are heaps of things to do in Oahu for free and still be able to have a wonderful family vacation.
Oceanfront Resort: Outrigger Waikiki Beach
Located directly on Waikiki Beach, this is one of Oahu’s favourite resort. It also features ocean front restaurants and pool which puts you and your family right in the midst of all the Waikiki action. Free child-friendly Hawaiian cultural activities are offered daily and may include fresh flower lei-making or ukulele lessons. Should you be renting a car the hotel offers valet parking whilst they can also arrange for your airport transfers. The Outrigger Waikiki Beach has so much to offer, you may not even need to leave but with so many things to do in Oahu with kids, we certainly hope you’ll explore the island!
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Resort in the North Shore: Turtle Bay Resort
If you’re thinking of staying away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, you might like to consider staying in the North Shore. The Turtle Bay Resort is a world class golf resort suitable for families and is only a 5-minute walk from the beach. All their rooms offer ocean views and they have rooms with 2 queen beds so perfect for families of four. Guests are also privy to the resort’s private beach area which is perfect for those wanting a quieter space for the kids. They have a wellness center, access to a plethora of activities for kids including horse riding, wind surfing and fishing as well as ample parking for those renting a car. If you have enough time you might even want to split your holiday between the north and the south.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Apartment – Ilikai Condo Rental
Family Globetrotters recently stayed at the Ilikai and loved it! We stayed on the 19th floor and had beautiful views of the marina with the lagoon and Waikiki beach to the left. Waikiki Beach is only a couple of minutes’ walk from the apartment and literally half the price of the central beach front hotels on Waikiki. It is also close to the lagoon for those who have babies. Located next to the Hilton, we could see the Friday night fireworks whilst it is also of close proximity to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. We always prefer to stay in apartments with a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge space for the family. The balcony is a good size from which we had breakfast every day.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Mid-Priced Hotel – Pagoda Hotel
Finding cheap accommodation in Honolulu is not an easy task. The Pagoda Hotel in downtown Honolulu is a 2-star property and does not have beach front. It is however comfortable and accessible Oahu’s premiere shopping and local dining district. The hotel offers rooms with 2 double beds so a good option for families without having to pay for a second room. They also have a renovated pool & sun deck for lounging.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Disclaimer: The Family Globetrotter’s website contains affiliate links which help us to maintain this blog and assists us with our travels, at no extra cost to you. Family Globetrotters have also posted articles based on sponsored products and/or services, but all opinions are our own, truthful and unbiased.