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.
Article Updated September 2018
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.
USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS
- #01 – #11 – THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN HONOLULU-WAIKIKI AREA
- #12 – #21 – THINGS TO DO IN THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU
- #22 – #27 – THINGS TO DO IN THE SOUTH SHORE OF OAHU
- #28 – #30 – THINGS TO DO IN THE WEST SIDE OF OAHU
- #31 – #42 – THINGS TO DO IN THE EAST SIDE OF OAHU
- #43 – #50 – THINGS TO DO ANYWHERE IN OAHU
- BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
- BONUS TIP #2 – WHERE TO STAY IN OAHU
#01 – #11 – THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN HONOLULU-WAIKIKI AREA
#1 – Street art in Kakaako
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 – Children’s Discovery Center
Learn about the world’s rainforests, different world cultures, and the special Hawaiian-Island life at the Children’s Discovery Center.
#3 – Free Ukulele Lesson
Got a musician on your hands? Visit “The Ukulele Store” in Waikiki for a free beginner ukulele lesson. during the lesson, willing participants are taught to play “Happy Birthday” on the ukulele. It is located on Lewers Street and is open from 10.00am to 10.00pm every day.
#4 – Honolulu Zoo
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 – The Bishop Museum
Delve into the history of Polynesian culture at the Bishop Museum. It is open form 09.00am to 05.00pm everyday and according to the Bishop Museum, the Museum was established to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian objects and royal family heirlooms of the Princess, and has expanded to include millions of objects, documents and photographs about Hawai‘i and other Pacific island cultures.
#6 – Catamaran Ride in The Open Ocean
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. We set sail on the Makani Catamaran, which is known as the most child friendly. Luckily for us that day we manage to spot some large green turtles frolicking in the water.
#7 – Free Fireworks at The Hilton Hotel
Watch the spectacular fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Friday. Get there around 07.45pm as it happens between 07.45pmand 08.00am. We watched it from our accommodation at the Ilikai and it was quite a show. Sounds like a spectacular way to start the weekend!
#8 – Atlantis Submarine – Under The Sea Adventure
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 – No Better Place to Learn to Surf!
Learn to surf in Waikiki. It is the perfect place for beginners due to the smaller waves and sandy ocean floor. When you get to Waikiki Beach, there is no shortage of kiosks you can approach to hop on a surf lesson.
#10 – Shopping at Ala Moana Center
Shop at the largest open-air shopping mall in the entire world, Ala Moana Center.
#11 – Let’s Go Wakeboarding!
Test your wakeboarding skills at Koko Marina.
#12 – #21 – THINGS TO DO IN THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU
#12 – Visit The Dole Plantation
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 – Paddle Boarding in Haleiwa Harbor
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 paddle boarders.
#14 – Laie Point
Dying to find somewhere that’s off the beaten path? Visit Laie Point for some stunning views and crashing waves.
#15 – Smoothie Tour in Kahuku Farms
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 – Easy Hike to Waimea Falls
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 – Cliff Diving
If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, cliff diving at Waimea Bay should do the trick!
#18 – Spot The Turtles in Laniakea Beach
Check out the turtles just chilling on the sand at Laniakea Beach.
#19 – Polynesian Cultural Center
Learn about half a dozen different Polynesian island cultures at the Polynesian Cultural Center. During your visit to the cultural centre, you will experience thousands of years of culture from 6 different island nations.
#20 – Shark’s Cove
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 – Ziplining at Keana Farms
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.
#22 – #27 – THINGS TO DO IN THE SOUTH SHORE OF OAHU
#22 – Pearl Harbor
Take the time to remember those who were the victims of the Pearl Harbor bombing at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There is a wonderful 23-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.
Pearl Harbor is a huge visitor centre and as it is an active navy base, there are many things you need to know before going. We have done all the research for you and here is everything you need to know before visiting Pearl Harbor.
#23 – Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
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 – Pacific Aviation Museum
Have a future pilot on your hands? Check out the Pacific Aviation Museum.
#25 – Train Ride at The Hawaiian Railway’s Society
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 – Shopping at Waikele Premium Outlets
Do a little shopping and take a free trolley ride around Waikele Premium Outlets. The variety is quite extensive and you’ll find great shop family. We managed to pick up some serious bargains!
#27 – Hiking at Waimano Falls
Hike down to Waimano Falls and swing on a rope into a waterfall pool.
#28 – #30 – THINGS TO DO IN THE WEST SIDE OF OAHU
#28 – Sunset at Ko Olina
Trying to find the best place to watch the sunset? Visit Ko Olina amidst the mountains and long stretches of coastline.
#29 – Must Try Shave Ice!
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 – Visit Disney’s Aulani Hotel
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.
#31 – #42 – THINGS TO DO IN THE EAST SIDE OF OAHU
#31 – Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay
Snorkel with all of the colorful fish at Hanauma Bay.
#32 – Hike to Makapuu Lighthouse
Hike up to the Makapuu lighthouse. It requires only minimal effort, and, in return, you can get some great views.
#33 – Hike to Likeke Falls
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 – Kayak Out to Chinaman’s Hat
Pick up some oars and a kayak and paddle out to the small island known as Chinaman’s Hat.
#35 – See a Wolphin
See a wholphin, a mix of a whale and a dolphin, at Sea Life Park.
#36 – Visit Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
Pose for some pictures at the Instagram-famous, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.
#37 – Visit Lanikai Beach
Visit one of the most-Instagrammed beaches in Hawaii: Lanikai Beach. Enjoy a calm swim, some castle-building in the sand, or a photo shoot. Parking can be a bit tricky as you’ll have to fight for a spot in the residential area and the entrance is also a little obscure. Look out for the signs that take you down a narrow walkway to the beach.
#38 – Visit Kailua Beach
Stop by Lanikai Beach’s sister beach, Kailua Beach, for some more fun in the sun! There is a dedicated parking lot at Kailua Beach so if you something easier, opt for Kailua Beach instead of Lanikai Beach.
#39 – Hike to Manoa Falls
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. No swimming however is permitted here.
#40 – Take a Tour at Kualoa Ranch
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
Visit the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe, a miniature replica of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan and ring the giant bell.
#42 – Hike Up to Koko Head
Try to tackle the 1,000-step hike known as Koko Head.
#43 – #50 – THINGS TO DO ANYWHERE IN OAHU
#43 – Hawaii Regal Theatre
Watch a movie at a Hawaii Regal Theatre for the sole purpose of watching the special island intro.
#44 – Eat a Malasada
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 – Get Some POG
Slurp down some POG – passion orange guava juice. Get it at basically any grocery store.
#46 – Eat a Spam Musubi
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 – Free cookies at Honolulu Cookie Company
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 – Try The Best Milk Tea
Hop on this boba trend at Infinitea which is one of the best boba milk teas you can get on the island.
#49 – Watch a Luau
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 – Go Hawaii Tours
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.
BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
BONUS TIP #2 – WHERE TO STAY IN OAHU
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!
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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.
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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.
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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
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.”
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.