When it comes to family-friendly activities on the island of Oahu, we’ve got you covered with our list of 21 things to do. Whether you’re exploring Waikiki, Honolulu, or the North Shore, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From visiting the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and experiencing interactive exhibits to indulging in delicious malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery, there’s no shortage of fun and exciting activities to keep the whole family entertained. Plus, we’ve included recommendations for restaurants, beaches, hikes, and cultural experiences to make your vacation on Oahu truly unforgettable. So pack your bags, grab the sunscreen, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime!
As parents ourselves, we understand the need for family-friendly activities that cater to both kids and adults. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive list of 21 things to do on Oahu with kids. We’ve personally vetted these activities to ensure they are not only enjoyable for children but also provide educational and cultural experiences. So whether you’re planning a vacation with your little ones or just looking for some fun activities to do as a family, our guide has got you covered. From exploring the beautiful beaches and hiking trails to immersing yourselves in the rich history and culture of Hawaii, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on the vibrant island of Oahu. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your family adventure today!
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Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
When it comes to water activities in Oahu, the Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a must-visit destination. This beautiful man-made lagoon offers a pristine beach experience without the worry of rough waves or strong currents. Whether you’re traveling with family or simply looking for a relaxing day by the water, the Kahanamoku Lagoon provides the perfect setting. You can swim, paddleboard, kayak, or simply lounge on the sandy shores and soak up the sun. The calm, clear waters of the lagoon make it an ideal spot for beginners and those who prefer a more peaceful beach experience.
For a breathtaking view of Oahu’s coastline and a chance to explore nature, head to Makapuu Lighthouse. This iconic landmark sits atop a hill and offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The hike to the lighthouse is relatively easy, making it suitable for individuals of all fitness levels. As you ascend the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the sparkling blue ocean and the rugged cliffs that line the shore. Keep an eye out for the native seabirds that call this area home. Once you reach the lighthouse, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and snap some photos to capture the memory.
Ala Moana Beach Park
If you’re searching for a beach that offers a little bit of everything, look no further than Ala Moana Beach Park. This expansive park features a wide stretch of sandy shoreline, perfect for beach games, sunbathing, and picnicking. The calm waters are ideal for swimming and paddleboarding, and you can even try your hand at windsurfing. The park also offers amenities such as showers, restrooms, and picnic areas, making it a comfortable and convenient spot for a day at the beach. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and beach essentials for a fun-filled day at Ala Moana Beach Park.
Located in the heart of Waikiki, Kuhio Beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. This lively beach offers energetic waves, making it a haven for surfers of all skill levels. If you’ve always wanted to give surfing a try, Kuhio Beach is the perfect place to take a lesson or rent a board. Even if you’re not interested in catching waves, the beach itself is a vibrant spot filled with sunbathers, beach volleyball players, and families enjoying the coastal atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shoreline, cool off in the inviting water, or simply relax and people-watch.
Ko Olina Lagoons
For a more secluded and luxurious beach experience, make your way to the Ko Olina Lagoons. Situated along Oahu’s western coast, this collection of four man-made lagoons offers pristine shoreline and crystal-clear waters. The lagoons are known for their calm conditions, which make them ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. If you’re visiting with young children, the lagoons provide a safe and family-friendly environment. Each lagoon is surrounded by well-maintained lawns, picnic areas, and convenient amenities. With its tranquil atmosphere and stunning sunsets, the Ko Olina Lagoons are a true oasis.
Cultural and Historical Experiences
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich history of Oahu at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. This iconic museum showcases the fascinating aviation history of World War II and provides a unique perspective on the events that unfolded in the Pacific. Explore the collection of vintage aircraft, including a restored Japanese Zero. Learn about the brave men and women who served during the war and hear their stories through interactive exhibits and documentaries. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic hangars and take a guided tour to fully appreciate the significance of this site. The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in learning about the impact of aviation on World War II.
Take a journey through time at the Bishop Museum, Hawaii’s premier natural and cultural history institution. This expansive museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, artworks, and exhibits that explore the history, geology, and culture of Hawaii and the Pacific. Learn about the Polynesian voyagers who first settled in Hawaii, discover the richness of Hawaiian traditions and crafts, and marvel at the awe-inspiring exhibits on natural history. The Bishop Museum also offers educational programs, planetarium shows, and interactive exhibits that engage visitors of all ages. Whether you’re interested in anthropology, geology, or simply want to delve into the fascinating culture of Hawaii, the Bishop Museum provides a comprehensive and captivating experience.
Chinatown Walking Tour
Immerse yourself in the vibrant sights, sounds, and flavors of Chinatown with a guided walking tour. Explore the bustling streets lined with colorful storefronts, traditional Chinese herb shops, and bustling markets. Marvel at the stunning architectural landmarks that blend East and West influences, and learn about the history and culture of Oahu’s Chinese community. As you stroll through the narrow alleys and hidden courtyards, your knowledgeable guide will share fascinating stories and insights about Chinatown’s evolution. Don’t forget to sample the delectable street food and authentic cuisine that makes Chinatown a culinary haven.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Embark on a cultural journey through the Polynesian islands at the renowned Polynesian Cultural Center. This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the traditions, arts, and customs of Hawaii and its neighboring island nations. Explore the various villages that represent different Polynesian cultures, including Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and more. Witness traditional dances, music performances, and ceremonies that showcase the unique heritage of each island. Enjoy a delicious luau feast, try your hand at traditional crafts, and participate in interactive activities that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the Polynesian way of life. The Polynesian Cultural Center offers an enriching and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.
Diamond Head Hike
For an exhilarating outdoor adventure and panoramic views of Oahu, embark on the Diamond Head hike. This iconic volcanic crater is one of Hawaii’s most recognizable landmarks, and hiking to its summit is a must-do activity. The trail takes you through a series of switchbacks and tunnels before reaching the 760-foot summit. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, and the Pacific Ocean. As you reach the top, take a moment to catch your breath and soak in the breathtaking scenery. The Diamond Head hike is a moderately challenging activity that is suitable for most fitness levels and offers a memorable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Food and Dining
Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to Leonard’s Bakery, a beloved Honolulu institution. Known for its delicious malasadas, Portuguese-style donuts, Leonard’s Bakery has been satisfying cravings since 1952. These fluffy, pillowy pastries are handcrafted and can be enjoyed plain or filled with a variety of delectable fillings such as custard, chocolate, or tropical fruit. Pair your malasadas with a cup of freshly brewed coffee for the ultimate treat. Leonard’s Bakery also offers other mouthwatering goodies, including cakes, pies, and cookies. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime fan, a visit to Leonard’s Bakery is a must for any food lover.
Experience the vibrant craft beer scene in Oahu by visiting Aloha Brews, a local brewery that celebrates the flavors and spirit of Hawaii. This family-owned establishment prides itself on creating high-quality, small-batch beers that showcase the unique ingredients and cultural influences of the islands. Take a tour of the brewery to learn about the brewing process and the inspiration behind each beer. Afterward, head to the tasting room to sample a flight of their signature brews or enjoy a pint of your favorite. From refreshing IPAs to creamy stouts, Aloha Brews offers a wide range of flavors that cater to all beer enthusiasts. Raise a glass and say “cheers” to a true taste of Hawaii.
Honolulu Fish Auction
For a unique and immersive culinary experience, visit the Honolulu Fish Auction, one of the largest fish markets in the United States. Located near the docks of Honolulu Harbor, this bustling auction offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the local seafood industry. Witness the exciting bidding process as buyers compete for the freshest catches of the day, which include a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and even Hawaiian delicacies like opihi (limpets) and tako (octopus). While the auction is mostly geared towards commercial buyers, visitors are welcome to observe and learn about the industry that plays a vital role in Hawaii’s economy. Witnessing the energy and passion at the Honolulu Fish Auction is an unforgettable experience for any seafood lover.
Waiola Shave Ice
Cool off from the Oahu heat with a visit to Waiola Shave Ice, a legendary local establishment that has been serving the island’s favorite frozen treat since 1940. Made with finely shaved ice and flavored syrups, shave ice is a refreshing and beloved Hawaiian treat. Waiola Shave Ice offers a wide array of flavors, from classic choices like strawberry and pineapple to more unique options such as li hing mui (salty dried plum) and haupia (coconut). Top your shave ice with a scoop of ice cream or sweetened condensed milk for an extra indulgence. With its inviting atmosphere and mouthwatering treats, Waiola Shave Ice is a must-visit destination for a taste of authentic Hawaiian shave ice.
Famous Shrimp Trucks on the North Shore
When it comes to savory delights, the famous shrimp trucks on Oahu’s North Shore are not to be missed. These iconic food trucks have gained a cult-like following for their mouthwatering shrimp dishes that highlight the local flavors of the island. Featuring shrimp sourced from the nearby waters, these trucks offer a variety of preparations, from garlic butter to spicy Cajun. Each plate comes heaping with plump, succulent shrimp and is served with a side of rice and salad. Grab a plate of shrimp, dig in, and savor the flavors while basking in the laid-back atmosphere and stunning views of the North Shore.
Traditional Hawaiian Food Options
Immerse yourself in the flavors of traditional Hawaiian cuisine by indulging in local favorites and classic dishes. From kalua pig, which is slow-roasted in an underground imu oven, to laulau, a bundle of pork and fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed, there are numerous dishes that showcase the unique culinary heritage of Hawaii. Don’t miss out on tasting poi, a traditional staple made from taro root, or lomi lomi salmon, a refreshing salad made with diced salmon, tomatoes, and onions. For a true taste of Hawaiian cuisine, sample dishes from local restaurants and food stalls that showcase the rich flavors and cultural influences that make Hawaiian food so special.
Snorkeling at Sharks Cove
Discover a dazzling underwater world by snorkeling at Sharks Cove. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this natural lava-rock formation provides a unique snorkeling experience. The crystal-clear waters are teeming with colorful fish, coral reefs, and other fascinating marine life. Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler or a beginner, Sharks Cove offers a variety of depths and formations to explore. Be sure to bring your own snorkeling gear or rent equipment from a nearby shop. After your snorkeling adventure, take a break and relax on the rocky shore, and enjoy the stunning views of the North Shore’s rugged coastline.
Visiting Haleiwa Town
Experience the laid-back charm of Haleiwa Town, a historic surf town nestled on Oahu’s North Shore. This vibrant community is known for its iconic surf shops, art galleries, and charming boutiques. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s colorful streets and immerse yourself in the local surf culture. Browse the unique shops for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, sample the delicious shave ice stands, or simply sit back and people-watch. Haleiwa Town also offers an array of dining options, from casual food trucks to upscale restaurants serving fresh seafood. With its relaxed atmosphere and infectious aloha spirit, Haleiwa Town is the perfect destination for a leisurely day of exploration.
For an unforgettable snorkeling experience, head to Hanauma Bay, a protected marine preserve known for its vibrant reef and abundant marine life. This stunning bay is nestled in the remains of a volcanic crater, creating a unique environment that attracts snorkelers from around the world. Explore the clear waters and get up close and personal with colorful fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional dolphin. The bay offers guided snorkeling tours and equipment rentals, making it accessible for snorkelers of all skill levels. Keep in mind that Hanauma Bay has limited daily entry, so be sure to arrive early to secure your spot and make the most of your snorkeling adventure.
Step into a picturesque paradise at Kualoa Ranch, a sprawling nature reserve on Oahu’s east coast. This scenic ranch offers a wide range of outdoor activities and adventures that allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the island. Take a horseback ride through lush valleys and pristine beaches, embark on an ATV tour to explore hidden trails, or cruise along the picturesque Hakipu’u Bay on a catamaran tour. Kualoa Ranch also offers guided tours that showcase the stunning landscapes that have been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, including Jurassic Park and Lost. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or simply want to connect with nature, Kualoa Ranch has something for everyone.
Escape to paradise at Lanikai Beach, often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With its turquoise waters, powdery white sand, and picturesque offshore islands, Lanikai Beach offers a breathtaking setting for relaxation and recreation. Take a leisurely swim in the clear waters, bask in the sun on the soft sand, or simply enjoy a seaside stroll while marveling at the stunning views. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the calm waters surrounding the nearby Mokulua Islands. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquility, Lanikai Beach is a slice of paradise that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Ali Agriculture Farm
Discover the agricultural wonders of Oahu at Ali Agriculture Farm, an oasis of tropical plants and fragrant flowers. This lush farm offers guided tours that provide insight into the island’s rich agricultural heritage. Join a knowledgeable guide as they lead you through the farm, pointing out exotic fruits, vegetables, and flowers that thrive in Hawaii’s fertile soil. Learn about traditional farming practices, and even get the opportunity to taste some of the farm’s bounty. Ali Agriculture Farm also offers interactive activities, such as lei-making workshops and fruit picking, for visitors to fully experience the natural beauty and bounty of the island.
Travel Tips and Recommendations
Oahu Itinerary for Family-Friendly Activities
If you’re traveling to Oahu with your family, planning a well-rounded itinerary is essential to ensure that everyone has a memorable and enjoyable experience. Start your trip with a visit to the Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where you can relax and let the kids enjoy the calm waters. Spend a day at Ala Moana Beach Park, where you can picnic, swim, and partake in various water activities. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you and your family can learn about the various island cultures through interactive exhibits and performances.
For an educational experience, make a visit to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and the Bishop Museum, which offer captivating insights into Hawaii’s history and natural heritage. Plan a hike to the Makapuu Lighthouse or Diamond Head for a fun outdoor adventure that allows the whole family to enjoy the island’s stunning landscapes.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Partnership
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is proud to partner with various organizations to enhance the visitor experience and preserve the legacy of World War II aviation. These partnerships enable the museum to offer additional exhibits, educational programs, and community events that engage visitors of all ages. By working together with like-minded organizations, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum continues to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the brave men and women who served during the war.
Partnerships with Favorite Oahu Companies
To provide visitors with a comprehensive Oahu experience, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has established partnerships with some of the island’s favorite companies and attractions. These partnerships allow visitors to enjoy exclusive discounts, package deals, and enhanced experiences when they visit the museum. From discounted car rentals to special rates on guided tours and activities, these partnerships ensure that visitors can make the most of their time on the island while enjoying a variety of activities and attractions.
Hawaii Discount Car Rental
When exploring Oahu, having a reliable and flexible mode of transportation is key. Hawaii Discount Car Rental offers a wide selection of vehicles at competitive rates, ensuring that you have the freedom to explore the island at your own pace. From compact cars to larger SUVs, Hawaii Discount Car Rental provides options that cater to different travel preferences and budgets. Enjoy the convenience of having a car at your disposal, allowing you to easily access Oahu’s various attractions, beaches, and dining destinations.
Free Hawaii Cheat Sheets
To help you make the most of your Oahu vacation, take advantage of the free Hawaii Cheat Sheets provided by local experts. These comprehensive guides offer valuable insights and tips for navigating the island, from must-visit attractions to hidden gems. Whether you’re looking for the best hiking trails, the most delicious local eats, or recommendations for family-friendly activities, these cheat sheets provide all the information you need to plan a memorable and enjoyable trip. Download and print them before your visit to have a handy reference throughout your Oahu adventure.
Disclaimer regarding use of information and participation in activities
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided in this article, it is important to note that conditions can change, and it is always advisable to check for the most up-to-date information before embarking on any activity or visit mentioned. Participating in water activities, cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and exploring Oahu’s various attractions carries inherent risks, and it is recommended to exercise caution, follow safety guidelines, and consider personal abilities and limitations when engaging in these activities. By using the information provided in this article and participating in any activities or visits mentioned, you do so at your own risk, and neither the writer of this article nor the publisher can be held responsible for any incidents, accidents, or losses that may occur.
Camera Gear Recommendations
Capturing the beauty and excitement of Oahu requires the right camera gear. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply want to document your adventures, having the right equipment can make a difference in the quality of your shots. Consider investing in a versatile DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera that allows for interchangeable lenses. Wide-angle lenses are ideal for capturing the stunning landscapes, while telephoto lenses can be used to zoom in on wildlife and distant subjects. Don’t forget to bring a tripod for stability and neutral density filters for long exposure shots. With the right camera gear, you’ll be able to preserve your Oahu memories in breathtaking detail.
Music from Epidemic Sound
Enhance your Oahu experience with the perfect soundtrack by utilizing music from Epidemic Sound. This online music platform offers a vast library of high-quality royalty-free music that can be used in your vacation videos, slideshows, or any other creative projects. Whether you’re looking for upbeat tunes to accompany action-packed adventures or calming melodies to set the mood for a relaxing day at the beach, Epidemic Sound has a diverse collection that caters to all preferences. Accessible and user-friendly, Epidemic Sound allows you to find and download the perfect tracks to complement your Oahu memories.
Sign up for Licensed Music
Support local artists and immerse yourself in the unique sounds of Hawaii by signing up for licensed music platforms. These platforms provide access to a vast array of songs and albums from local Hawaiian musicians, allowing you to create a playlist that reflects the island’s rich musical culture. By licensing music, you contribute to the music industry and ensure that artists are properly compensated for their work. Discover the soulful melodies of traditional Hawaiian music or explore the contemporary sounds of local artists, and let the music transport you to the enchanting world of Oahu.
Connect with Oahu even before setting foot on the island by checking out popular videos that showcase the beauty and highlights of this tropical paradise. From breathtaking drone footage capturing the island’s stunning landscapes to food vlogs that explore the diverse culinary scene, these videos provide a glimpse into what Oahu has to offer. Whether you’re seeking inspiration for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or mouthwatering food spots, these popular videos can help you plan your itinerary and get a taste of the Oahu magic. Sit back, relax, and let these videos transport you to the tropical paradise that awaits you.