If you’re planning a family vacation to Hawaii, who better to give you the insider tips of which are the best kids activities in O’ahu, than a parent who lives there. Here are Casey Harkleroad from This is Our Happy Place rundown of the top 15 of things to do in O’ahu with kids.
O’ahu with kids
What better place to go on a family vacation than tropical paradise?! The weather is perfect, the views are stunning, the people are overflowing with Aloha, and there are so many fun things to do in O’ahu with kids.
With activities ranging from below the sea to the tops of the mountains and everything in between, it can be hard to decide what is worth your family’s time. This list is going to fill you in on 15 of the best family-friendly things to do in O’ahu with kids. Let’s dive in!
1. Atlantis Submarines – Waikiki with kids
One of the great kids activities in Waikiki is to take your family below the water for a truly unique wildlife excursion. Atlantis Submarines offer passengers a fish-eye view into life below the sea. Whether you book the regular or deluxe tour, passengers are guaranteed to see wildlife, sunken ships, and much, much more. Although the boat is enclosed, there is a minimum height requirement of 91cm/36in so be sure to plan accordingly.
2. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum – Honolulu with kids
If you are interested in learning about Hawaiian culture and heritage, look no further than the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. Located just minutes outside of downtown Waikiki, this local relic has been educating visitors since 1889!
In addition to having the largest collection of Polynesian artifacts in the world, the museum offers multiple opportunities for the kids to get hands on. For more information regarding what you can expect at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, give this article a read.
3. Honolulu Zoo – Waikiki with kids
Whether your kids are 2 or 12, the Honolulu Zoo is one of the top kid-friendly activities in O’ahu. This massive 42-acre establishment is home to over 1,200 unique species. Every day there are opportunities to view animal feedings and talk with the zookeepers. The Zoo also offers a “Keiki zoo” for children 6 and under to interact with farm animals.
4. Hanauma Bay – Honolulu with kids
Hanauma Bay is the absolute best kid-friendly snorkeling destination on O’ahu. The calm waters are easy for beginner swimmers to navigate through and the wildlife is plentiful. For a more complete experience, your family can sign up for a guided snorkel tour. Your family will be led by a trained professional to the best spots for viewing sea turtles and other wildlife.
5. Sea Life Park – Waimanalo
Sea Life Park is one of the more versatile family-friendly activities in O’ahu. Children of all ages can enjoy the animal displays like a regular zoo. For those with children aged three and up, there are loads of animal encounter options to get hands-on with the animals. Your family can swim with dolphins, pat sea lions, and even swim with sharks.
6. Macadamia Nut Farm – Ka’a’awa
Tropical Farms of Hawaii is a locally owned and operated hidden gem on the East side of O’ahu island. Visitors are encouraged to sample the different flavours of macadamia nuts and crack open their own. The farm also offers a very educational Ali’i tour which includes fresh flowers, dancing, and a fire show. There are only two shows a day, so plan to be at the farm before 11 am or 1 pm.
7. Kualoa Ranch Excursions – Kaneohe
If you have ever wanted to visit the set of multiple blockbuster movies, look no further than Kualoa Ranch. Visitors are welcome to take a bus tour around the ranch to visit filming sights for movies such as Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates.
The ranch also offers a wide array of adventurous activities and tours. Whether your family feels like an ATV tour, kayaking, or even zip-lining, you can find it all at Kualoa Ranch. Be sure to book your excursions well in advance because spots fill up quickly.
8. Polynesian Cultural Center – Laie
While there are many places to attend a luau, the Polynesian Cultural Center takes the experience above and beyond. The programs begin at noon and go all the way up until 9 pm. Your family will take an interactive walk through six villages which represent each of the different Polynesian cultures. After playing games and dancing, visitors are treated to a delicious buffet-style luau followed by a unique fire show.
9. Waimea Valley and Falls – Hale’iwa
Waimea Valley and Falls provide visitors with a lush walk through nature. After paying a small admission fee, visitors are encouraged to take a complimentary guided walking tour. Your family will learn about a variety of native Hawaiian plants and shelters used by the original settlers of the island. Your family can cool off at the end of the 3/4 mile paved trail by taking a dip in the waterfall.
10. Laniakea Beach – Hale’iwa
For the best opportunity to spot sea turtles, head to Laniakea Beach on the North Shore. If you’re looking for kid-friendly beaches in Oahu, Laniakea beach is fantastic as it’s frequented by sea turtles year round. In the summer the water is very calm so it is an excellent spot to go swimming with the kids. After spotting a few turtles, head a few miles up the road to shop and dine in the historic downtown district of Hale’iwa.
11. Dole Plantation – Wahiawa
Nestled right in the centre of the island, the Dole Plantation is one of the really fun and delicious things to do in O’ahu with kids. Families have the opportunity to ride a train around the farm to the giant pineapple fields. The Dole Plantation is also home to the world’s largest maze with hidden stamps for the kids to locate. Most importantly, the plantation serves up Dole Whip all day long!
12. Historic Pearl Harbor Sites – Pearl Harbor
Arguably the most important stop during your family vacation to O’ahu is Pearl Harbor. These humbling monuments are rich with the history of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The most widely recognised monument is the USS Arizona where visitors are taken by ferry to view the sunken ship. Other tours include the Battleship Missouri, Bowfin Submarine, and Pacific Aviation Museum.
13. Aloha Stadium Swap Meet – Honolulu
Every Wednesday and Saturday the famous Aloha Stadium opens up for a giant flea market. This is the perfect place to buy Hawaiian clothes and souvenirs. The vendors are all local so the prices are better than anywhere else on the island. There are various stands for shave ice and fresh coconut water to keep the kids cool and hydrated.
14. Go For A Hike
O’ahu is home to some of the most beautiful and scenic kid-friendly hikes in the world. Whether you are looking to see a waterfall, bamboo forest, or gorgeous views of the water, there are trails suitable for even the smallest hiker. Be prepared to pack extra clothes because it does get muddy, but the hikes are more than worth it.
15. Have A Beach Day
The beaches on O’ahu are truly out of this world. No matter the age of your children, everyone can enjoy a day at the beach. If you are staying in Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park is the perfect kid-friendly beach with gentle waters and plenty of nearby amenities. For a list of other kid-friendly beaches in Oahu, check out this article.
Although there are many more things to do in O’ahu with kids, these 15 activities are going to provide you with the best experience. Your family will see a bit of nature, a lot of culture, and heaps of Aloha while travelling all around the island. Enjoy your stay and mahalo nui loa for reading!
About the Author: Casey Harkleroad from This is Our Happy Place
Casey Harkleroad has been living on O’ahu with her family since 2016. She has 2 children, ages 3 and 6, who love to adventure and learn new things through hands-on experiences around the island.