Last Updated on December 8, 2022 by admin
Hawaii is one of the best places to travel with kids, and the island of Oahu is especially family-friendly! Oahu has plenty of beaches, activities, and experiences that are perfect for children of all ages. We recently traveled to Hawaii with our toddler, and she had a blast! (And so did we!) In this post, we’re sharing 20 things to do in Honolulu (and Oahu!) with kids.
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Oahu is one of the 8 Hawaiian islands. The island is known as The Gathering Place, which continues to be true to this day. Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island, but it’s the most populous Hawaiian island. The city of Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is located in Oahu. Oahu is also the most popular island for tourists!
|See our Hawaii itinerary to help plan your trip!|
How to Get to Oahu
One of the advantages of traveling to Oahu with kids is that you don’t need to schedule a connecting flight to any of the other islands (if you don’t want to). The primary airport, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), is located on the island of Oahu. When we visited Hawaii this year, we were able to travel to Honolulu with a direct flight, which made it much easier traveling with a toddler!
Tip: If you’re looking for flights, I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to see the best prices for your dates of travel!
20 Things to Do in Honolulu and Oahu with Kids
1. Waikiki Beach
The first thing you should do with kids in Honolulu is take them to the beach! Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in all of Hawaii. The beach is two miles long and is absolutely breathtaking. Waikiki Beach is actually comprised of 9 distinct smaller beaches: Kahanamoku Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach Park, Gray’s Beach, Royal Moana Beach, Kuhio Beach, Kapiloani Beach, Queens Beach, Kaimana Beach, and the Outrigger Canoe Club Beach. We especially loved being at the Kahanamoku Beach, because it was close to a lagoon and lots of restaurants.
Things you can do with kids on Waikiki Beach include: swimming, going for a walk, building sand castles, and taking surf lessons (for older kids). We recommend that you buy a sand castle toys in advance. (We’ve linked the one we used here.) See our full list of things to do at Waikiki Beach here.
You’ll need to make sure you have an approved sunscreen for Waikiki Beach. Some sunscreens harm the waters, so it’s important you bring a reef-safe sunscreen. (You can purchase some here.)
Tip: Take a look at the Go City Oahu all-inclusive pass. You’ll be able to save money by bundling multiple attractions on the island!
2. Attend a Luau
There are several venues in Honolulu that offer luaus. Most luaus will include a traditional Hawaiian dinner as well as a dinner show. The luau at Paradise Cove includes hula dancers, fire twirlers, and musicians. You can also choose to have transportation included from select Waikiki hotels.
We attended the luau at the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, to experience an authentic luau. We got to feast upon traditional Hawaiian food while watching hula dancers. We also learned a lot about the island’s history. The luau takes place every Monday and Thursday night. You can read all about our experience at the Royal Hawaiian’s luau here. We brought our toddler and we saw some other children there, but I will say it felt like more of an elegant event.
3. Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon near the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is the perfect place to enjoy the water without having big waves. It was the perfect place for our toddler to play in the water! The lagoon is maintained by the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort, but it’s free to the public. It’s very similar to a large saltwater pool. The water is very clear, there are no big waves, and there’s an island in the middle of the lagoon. We enjoyed taking our toddler to the lagoon because the water was more calm for her to more freely play. We also found some shady areas where she could play in the sand and water, which was a huge win! To see more photos of the lagoon, you can read our full article on it (linked here). We think it’s a great place to take kids while you’re vacationing in Honolulu.
4. Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo has a variety of animals, including giraffes, zebras and lions. The zoo even has a twilight tour on Saturday evenings after close. If you book the tour, you’ll have 2-hours with an educator and you’ll learn all about the animals after the other visitors have gone home. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Honolulu Zoo during our trip, but we hope to next time!
5. Shaved Ice
When you’re visiting Hawaii, you have to try shaved ice! In our experience, it’s waaay better than shaved ice we’ve had at home. We ordered the rainbow shaved ice, and it was a big hit with our toddler!
6. Waikiki Aquarium
The Waikiki Aquarium has over a dozen exhibits showcasing local marine life. The aquarium is open from 9am to 4:30pm daily. At the time of this writing, tickets were $12 for general adult admission. We didn’t get a chance to visit the aquarium this time, but we’re sure our toddler would have loved it!
7. Dole Pineapple Plantation
The Dole Pineapple Plantation is the perfect place to take kids. With booked tickets, you can ride their Pineapple Express Train Tour, take the Plantation Garden Tour, and walk through the Pineapple Garden Maze. Kids will especially enjoy trying their world-famous Dole Whip. If you’re a Disney fan like us, then you’ve probably tried Dole Whip at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. At the Dole Pineapple Plantation, you can try it straight from the source! We wrote all about our visit to the Dole Pineapple Plantation here. It was a huge hit with our daughter!
8. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden contains over 400 acres of verdant plant life. Admission is free, and you can walk or drive through the garden. Please be aware that there are updated policies that prohibit photos from being taken on the main road. All photography must be taken safely off the road. See our full guide to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden here. We thought it was super family-friendly. There are tons of trails and even a small lake to explore.
9. Choose a Resort with a Swimming Pool
Our daughter loved swimming in the pool while we were on vacation. We were really happy staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village because they had 6 different pools. The Paradise Pool has a water slide, and the Keiki Pool is a shallow pool for younger kids. We also liked the Ali’i Tower pool, which is exclusive for Ali’i Tower guests.
10. Resort Activities
We really loved staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village because they had tons of programming scheduled each day for children. Our daughter participated in a hula dancing class (so cute!), a lei-making class, a fish-feeding time, and a children’s games time. We tried to attend something different each day. We really liked how the resort was well-catered to children!
11. Disney’s Aulani Resort
Disney has a resort property on the island of Oahu (Aulani Resort) that has beautiful pools and a beach. You’ll need to book reservations to stay there. The entire resort is catered to families!
12. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay is a popular snorkeling beach. In 2016, it was voted Best Beach in the United States. At the time of this writing, it costs $25 to enter the park. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. First-time visitors will watch a 9-minute educational video prior to entering the beach, as it’s critically important that all visitors preserve the ecosystem. Under the new Pilot Program, reservations are required. (See more info here.)
13. Pearl Harbor
About 10 miles away from Honolulu is the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. There is a memorial theater, several exhibits, a circle of remembrance, and a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. You can reserve your tickets in advance of your visit here. You can also book a tour in advance here. We didn’t take our toddler to Pearl Harbor, but I do think older kids would learn from the experience.
14. Hike Diamond Head (Le’ahi)
The giant crater that you can see from Waikiki Beach is called Le’ahi in native Hawaiian, and is otherwise known as Diamond Head. You can actually hike to the top and be rewarded with excellent views of Waikiki. The trail is 1.6 miles long roundtrip and takes approximately two hours to complete. There’s a total elevation gain of 560 feet, which makes this a moderately difficult hike. It might be harder to hike this trail with younger kids if you’re not an experienced hiker. (Trail information linked here.) Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the trail and bring lots of water. I hiked this trail the last time I was in Hawaii, and I definitely felt the burn for the final set of stairs! As of May 12, 2022, outside visitors need to have a reservation to visit Diamond Head. You can read more here.
15. Foster Botanical Garden
The Foster Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Honolulu. It’s a beautiful green oasis located right in the center of the city. The garden contains a conservatory, outdoor butterfly garden, palm garden, and more. If you’re interested in tropical plants, it’s the perfect place to visit.
16. Hawaii CinemAttractions
Watch a film with fully immersive 4DFX technology. There are a variety of different films you can choose from. At the time of this writing, we recommend checking out Soaring Over Hawaii and Adventure Quest Hawaii. The seats are equipped with special effects for motion, vibration, water, wind, and scent.
17. Malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery
Head to Leonard’s Bakery and try a malasada. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts and are extremely popular in Hawaii. The malasadas can be coated with different flavors, and the malasada puffs can be filled with different flavors. Examples include macadamia nut, haupia, and guava. The line can be really long, so I recommend that you visit early on a weekday morning. I got there around 7am on a weekday and there was almost no line. The malasadas are made to order, so there is a bit of a wait after you order. But when you do get your order, they will be fresh and hot! We loved the original malasada and the guava malasada puff. Our daughter liked the chocolate-filled one the best. You can read our full post about Leonard’s Bakery here.
18. Have a Mermaid Photo Shoot
With this tour, you’ll learn how to snorkel while also being dressed as a mermaid for a photo shoot. They’ll provide you with a mermaid tail and show you the best poses.
19. Look for Dolphins and Whales
Kids will absolutely love seeing dolphins and whales in the water! See this tour for a complete description and current prices.
20. Go Sailing
Finally, kids will definitely enjoy getting out on a boat and sailing. See this tour for a complete description and current prices.
Where to Stay in Honolulu (Best Hotels!)
We recommend staying in Waikiki when you visit Honolulu. You’ll be steps away from the beach, and you’ll have a dazzling array of restaurants and shops within walking distance.
|See our full review of our stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort here!|
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort: When we visited Waikiki in 2022, we stayed at the Ali’i Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Ali’i Tower is the most luxurious tower on the resort property, and it has its own private pool, lounge, and check-in. The Ali’i Tower has ocean-view and oceanfront rooms, and it’s just steps away from the beach and lagoon. We wrote a full review of our stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village here.
- Halekulani Hotel: This luxury 5-star hotel has a beautiful pool overlooking Waikiki with a mosaic floor of 1.2 million pieces of glass tiles. The hotel also offers daily surfing demonstrations.
- The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort: This is another 5-star located right on the beach with two pool options. (Plus poolside cabanas!)
Moderately Priced Hotels
- Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel: This hotel is located within walking distance of the beach, as well as other attractions such as the Honolulu Zoo and Kapahulu Avenue.
- Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach: Waikiki Beach is just a 3-minute walk from this hotel. This hotel also offers daily complimentary breakfast.
- Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki Hotel: This hotel is located just a few blocks away from Waikiki Beach. There’s also a small outdoor pool.
- Ilima Hotel: This hotel is just a couple of blocks from the beach, and it has free parking.
What to Pack for a Trip to Hawaii
When you visit Hawaii, expect to spend a lot of time at the beaches! Here’s a few things I recommend bringing:
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen: You have to use reef-safe sunscreen while you’re in Hawaii, because other sunscreens can harm the waters. Make sure you buy yours in advance, as they tend to be more expensive on the islands.
- Portable Charger: We like this cell phone charger because the cord is embedded. (That’s one less thing to search for in your bag!) This charger will let you charge your phone when you’re out exploring. You don’t want to run out of battery while you’re on the go, because you don’t want to miss a photo opportunity.
- Waterproof Phone Case: Protect your belongings with a waterproof phone case.
- Quick Dry Towel: This is perfect for hikes where you wouldn’t want to pack a bulky towel from the hotel. It’s easy to throw into a beach bag.
- Flotation Strap: If you’re going to be snorkeling or surfing, and you want to bring a camera or GoPro, you should make sure you have a flotation strap. That way, if you drop your equipment, it won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean.
- Water Bottle: Stay hydrated while you’re out in the sun! We like this water bottle because it’s insulated and will keep your water cooler for longer.
- Vacation Hat: Protect your face from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat.
- GoPro: A GoPro will let you take amazing underwater footage. We highly recommend getting one if you want excellent underwater photos and videos!
(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)
The island of Oahu is the perfect place for a family vacation. There are plenty of activities and experiences that are specifically catered to children and families. We visited Hawaii with our toddler this year, and we all had a blast. We hope this post inspires you to plan your own family vacation to Hawaii!
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If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in the following articles:
- 53 Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii
- The Best Hawaii Itinerary for Your Trip to Oahu
- Full Guide to Waikiki Beach
- 22 Foods You Have to Try While in Hawaii
- Review of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
- Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon: A Hidden Gem in Waikiki
- How to Spend a Day at the Dole Pineapple Plantation
- The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden: A Lush Tropical Garden in Hawaii
- Full Review of the Luau at the Royal Hawaiian
- Malasadas and More: All About Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu
- The International Market Place: An Outdoor Shopping Center in Waikiki
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please see individual websites embedded in this post for the most current trip-planning information.
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