Oahu, Hawaii often referred to as the “Gathering Place,” is a paradise for families looking for a memorable vacation.
With its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and numerous family-friendly attractions, Oahu is often considered the best choice among all the Hawaiian islands for families with kids. In fact, a trip to Oahu with kids offers great food, exciting experiences, and plenty of water activities that are sure to make this beautiful island your child’s favorite destination.
In this guide to Oahu kid friendly activities, we’ll explore the 19 best things to do in Oahu with kids, to guarantee that your family vacation is filled with unforgettable moments.
Where to stay in Oahu with kids
When you are planning a family vacation to Oahu one of the first things you’ll want to decide is where to stay.
While there are a lot of great places to stay in Oahu for families, you want to consider which things to do with kids in Oahu you want to add to your Oahu itinerary, the location of those activities, and the proximity to your hotel of choice.
Traffic on Oahu can be brutal and gridlocked. Getting around the island takes some time, so the closer your hotel is to your top family activities on Oahu, the better!
For families, Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki is one of the best places to stay. Other options include OHANA Outrigger Beach Resort and Halekulani Hotel, which are also both located on Waikiki Beach.
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Best Things to Do in Oahu with Kids
Here are the best things to do in Oahu with kids:
1. Hit the Beaches
Oahu has some of the most beautiful and family-friendly beaches in the world.
And the world-famous Waikiki Beach is a must when in Oahu with kids. Waikiki Beach has beautiful golden sand, a wide variety of beach activities, and the iconic Diamond Head as its backdrop which makes for one of the most picturesque views in Oahu.
Lanikai Beach is another great beach to visit when in Oahu with kids. It’s a serene beach with calm water, soft sand, and a beautiful setting with the Mokulua Islands in the distance.
Along the North Shore, Sunset Beach Park and Hale’iwa Beach Park are both great family beaches with amenities like playgrounds, picnic tables, and restrooms.
Oahu has many more fabulous beaches that are great for building sandcastles, swimming in the clear water, and enjoying water sports such as snorkeling and paddleboarding.
2. Explore the Polynesian Cultural Center
Exploring the Polynesian Cultural Center is another one of the best things to do in Oahu with kids.
Your family will become immersed in the rich cultural heritage of the Pacific Islands at this popular Oahu family attraction.
This living museum offers interactive experiences, traditional performances, and authentic village displays that transport you to all the different Polynesian cultures. It’s super fun and at the same time an educational experience for the whole family.
Give yourself plenty of time if you plan to visit this incredible attraction. You could spend an entire day at the Polynesian Cultural Center when visiting Oahu with kids.
3. Tour the Dole Plantation
Dole Plantation is one of the most popular attractions in Oahu for families.
And a trip to Oahu with kids isn’t complete without a visit to Dole Plantation. After all, pineapples are synonymous with Hawaiian culture and are among the best foods to eat in Hawaii.
Kids will love taking a ride on the Pineapple Express train, wandering through the pineapple garden maze, and eating the world-famous Dole Whip ice cream. It’s a sweet and enjoyable way to experience a piece of Hawaiian culture.
4. Experience a Luau
A luau is a must when in Hawaii with or without kids. This is the best way to immerse your family in Hawaiian culture.
These lively feasts feature Polynesian music, hula dancing, and delicious traditional Hawaiian cuisine. It’s a fantastic way to learn about the island’s history while enjoying a night of entertainment and feasting.
Aside from the dinner and hula show, you can learn to make a traditional headdress or lei, play Hawaiian games, and watch live demonstrations, like coconut harvesting.
5. Visit Kualoa Ranch
For families who love adventure and beautiful scenery, Kualoa Ranch is a must while in Oahu.
If you haven’t heard of this place before, trust me you have probably seen it on TV!
The stunning landscapes of Kualoa Ranch have served as the backdrop for numerous iconic films, including the legendary “Jurassic Park.” In fact, many of the props for the movie are still here. It’s fun to step into the scenes of some of your favorite movies and see where it all happened!
From horseback riding and ziplining through picturesque valleys to embarking on an exhilarating UTV tour through rugged terrains, Kualoa Ranch offers many fun and unique activities for all ages.
6. Explore the Honolulu Zoo
Zoos are always a great family activity and one that kids love, and the Honolulu Zoo is an excellent one! Honolulu Zoo is home to a diverse range of animals from all around the world.
The zoo offers educational exhibits and interactive programs that will keep kids entertained for hours. It’s a chance to learn about wildlife conservation in a fun and interactive way.
7. Visit the Waikiki Aquarium
For families who have kids who love underwater life, plan a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium.
This aquarium is small, but big on fun! Your kids will be amazed by the vibrant fish, the beautiful coral reefs, and the exciting exhibits that show them all sorts of things about the ocean.
They can even touch and play with some things to learn more! The aquarium is not only about fun – it’s also about learning important stuff. too. Plus, the people at the aquarium are really friendly and can teach the kids lots of interesting things.
It is a wonderful place for kiddos who are too young for activities like snorkeling in the ocean to learn about and develop an appreciation for sea life.
8. Explore Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited places in all of Hawaii.
At the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, there are quite a few meaningful and educational experiences that allow families to learn about the history of World War II and pay tribute to those who were affected.
The USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most iconic sites to see when visiting Pearl Harbor. Families can take a boat ride to the memorial, which stands above the sunken battleship USS Arizona. You can also explore the USS Missouri, a battleship known as the “Mighty Mo,” where the Japanese surrendered ending World War II.
There’s also the USS Bowfin, a World War II submarine that you can explore to see how sailors lived and worked during wartime.
Finally, don’t miss the Peak Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island, now a registered National Historic Landmark.
9. Eat Shave Ice
Shave ice is a super popular treat in Hawaii, so needless to say eating authentic Hawaiian shave ice is one of the best things to do in Oahu with kids.
This colorful and flavorful dessert is a must-try, not just for kids, but adults, too! With lots of different tropical flavors and creative toppings to choose from, shave ice is the perfect way to cool down after a day of exploring Oahu.
While commonly referred to as “shaved ice” in most parts of the world, in Hawaii it is known as “shave ice”.
One of the best spots to grab shaved ice in Oahu is Waiola Shave Ice. The texture of their shaved ice is absolutely delicious!
10. Experience Disney’s Aulani Resort
Disney’s one and only resort in Hawaii, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is located on Oahu.
Aulani Resort is the perfect place to stay for the Disney-loving family. It’s the ideal blend of Hawaiian culture and the magic of Disney.
With character interactions similar to what you will find at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, an amazing pool area, and plenty of resort activities like making your own Mickey Ears, this resort should be top of your list for a family-friendly resort in Oahu.
But even if you don’t stay here, you can still dine here! Book a reservation for the character breakfast at Aulani. Your kids will enjoy meeting their favorite Disney characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Stitch.
ALSO READ: REAL PLACES THAT INSPIRED DISNEY MOVIES
11. Hike Diamond Head Crater
For the most breathtaking view in all of Oahu take an exciting family hike up Diamond Head Crater, an iconic volcanic cone.
Along the way, you’ll discover unique rock formations and local plants. Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and a spirit of adventure as you explore Oahu’s natural beauty. The summit offers breathtaking vistas of the coastline and city skyline, creating lasting family memories against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
This hike is best for older kids because the hike to the top can be quite challenging. It’s all paved but it involves walking up lots and lots of steps.
12. Discover Sea Life Park
Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Sea Life Park offers exciting marine animal encounters for families. It’s a place where kids can explore the secrets of the ocean and learn about taking care of marine animals.
At Sea Life Park you can go swimming with dolphins and watch sea lion and dolphin shows. You’ll also get an opportunity to view sharks native to Hawaii.
There’s also a fun playground for the little ones to enjoy in between exhibits.
13. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
Introduce your kids to the incredible world beneath the water by taking them snorkeling at the stunning Hanauma Bay.
This special place is carefully protected to keep the underwater world safe. It’s home to many kinds of colorful fish and beautiful coral reefs.
Whether your kids are new to snorkeling or have done it before, this is a perfect place for them to explore because the waters are calm and clear.
14. Leonard’s Bakery
Leonard’s Bakery is a must-visit on your Oahu family vacation. Established in 1952, this iconic bakery introduces kids to the unique Hawaiian treat of malasadas. Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts that have become a local favorite in Oahu.
Sharing a box of delicious malasadas in Oahu with your kids will become a memorable family moment, connecting you with Oahu’s history and culture.
15. Learn to Surf
Oahu is renowned for its surfing culture, and there’s no better place for your kids to learn to surf than in Oahu.
Enroll your kids in a surfing lesson in Oahu with experienced instructors who will teach them the basics in a safe and enjoyable environment. Surfing lessons provide not only a thrilling and memorable experience but also valuable lessons in patience and determination.
The North Shore is known for its surfable waves, but beginners will find plenty of great gentle waves to catch on beaches all around the island.
16. Visit the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center is a top destination for families with young children in Oahu.
It offers interactive exhibits, hands-on learning, and a safe space for kids to explore. Some of the exhibits here include Your Town, Rainbow Adventures, and Hawaiian Rainbows. With a wide range of fun and entertaining exhibits, you’ll have trouble getting your little ones to leave here.
17. Hike the Manoa Falls Trail
Manoa Falls Trail is one of the best family hikes in Oahu. This hike takes place in a lush rainforest and leads to a stunning waterfall.
This trail is perfect for kids, as it’s easy to walk and the path is flat and safe.
The highlight of this trail is the impressive Manoa Falls, where kids can view the rush of water surrounded by vibrant greenery. This hike is a great way for families to spend time together in the great outdoors and make happy memories.
18. Shop and Dine at Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana Center is the world’s largest open-air shopping center. It features a wide variety of shops and restaurants for the whole family.
Spend a leisurely day with the kids shopping, indulging in local cuisine, and enjoying all the entertainment options available. Some kid favorites at Ala Moana include IT’SUGAR, LEGO Store, and Squishable.
19. Visit Turtle Beach
Last but not least, head to Laniakea Beach, also known as Turtle Beach, to see green sea turtles in their natural habitat.
Kids will be amazed by these incredible gentle giants as they bask in the sun or swim close to the shore. Remember to maintain a respectful distance and follow guidelines for protecting these endangered creatures.
If you prefer a guided tour, you can book an Oahu Circle Island tour which takes you to Laniakea and other Oahu Highlights.
The Wrap-Up: Best Things to Do in Oahu with Kids
Oahu offers a wide range of activities for families with kids of all ages.
From its pristine beaches and cultural experiences to its educational attractions and outdoor adventures, visiting Oahu with kids ensures that every moment of your family vacation is filled with lots of fun and adventure.
Whether your kids are exploring marine life, hiking volcanic craters, or indulging in local treats, Oahu will undoubtedly create unforgettable memories for the entire family.
I hope this guide of the 19 best things to do in Oahu with kids has helped fill your itinerary with lots of fun things to do!
So, pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable journey to the heart of Hawaiian paradise.
Do you have a question or comment about any of these Oahu activities for families? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author of this Thing to Do with Kids in Oahu Guide: Kim is founder of the family travel blog Traveling Swansons. She is a wife and mom of 3. She has a passion for everything travel and enjoys sharing her travel tips and resources with others.
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