Last Updated on January 15, 2024 by Kelly
Hawaii is one of the best places to travel with kids, and Honolulu is especially family-friendly! Honolulu has plenty of beaches, activities, and cultural experiences that are perfect for children of all ages. We recently traveled to Honolulu with our toddler, and she had a blast! In this post, we’re sharing 21 things to do in Honolulu (and Oahu!) with kids.
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.
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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 sand castle toys in advance. (We’ve linked the toys we used.)
You’ll need to make sure you have an approved sunscreen for Waikiki Beach. Some sunscreens harm the waters, so it’s important that you bring a reef-safe sunscreen.
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 and important cultural elements. The luau at the Royal Hawaiian takes place every Monday and Thursday night. You can read all about our experience at the Royal Hawaiian’s luau. Our daughter had a blast at the luau.
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 little kids to play in the water!
The Duke Kahanamoku 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 about the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. 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.
5. Shave Ice
When you’re visiting Hawaii, you have to try shave ice! In our experience, the shave ice in Hawaii is way better than shave ice we’ve had at home. We ordered the rainbow shaved ice, and it was a big hit with our toddler!
Kids are sure to love colorful shave ice as a treat!
6. Waikiki Aquarium
The Waikiki Aquarium has over a dozen exhibits showcasing local marine life. The aquarium is open from 9am to 5pm daily. At the time of this writing, tickets were $12 for general adult admission.
Kids will love the colorful exhibits and learning about wildlife in the waters surrounding Hawaii.
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. Our daughter especially enjoyed riding the train throughout the property. **Update: Two years later and our daughter is still talking about the train!
|See our Hawaii itinerary to help plan your trip!
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. We thought the gardens were super family-friendly. There are tons of trails and even a small lake to explore. Our toddler loved running through the grass, and we were amazed by the perfect garden backdrop!
Be sure to see all our articles about things to do in Hawaii!
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 thee resort 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 outdoor 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! There are tons of pools, beaches, and character sightings at the Aulani Resort.
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. The park is 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.
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. You can also book a tour in advance of your visit. I first visited Pearl Harbor as a teenager, and it has stayed with me throughout my life.
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. 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! Outside visitors need to have a reservation to visit Diamond Head.
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
At Hawaii CinemAttractions you can 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 freshly-made malasada. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts that 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 at Leonard’s Bakery 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 flavor and the guava malasada puff. Our daughter liked the chocolate-filled one the best. You can read our full post about Leonard’s Bakery for photos and more tips!
18. Have a Mermaid Photo Shoot
When you book a Mermaid Photo Shoot 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. Kids will love getting to dress up as a mermaid.
19. Look for Dolphins and Whales
One thing that kids are sure to enjoy is seeing dolphins and whales in the water! You can book a dolphin and whale-watching tour to get out on the water and see these beautiful creatures.
20. Go Sailing
Finally, kids will definitely enjoy getting out on a boat and sailing. See this sailing tour for a complete description and current prices.
21. Head to the Playground
Kids love to spend time at the playground, and there are several in Honolulu. The Paki Community Park in Waikiki is located near the Honolulu Zoo. There are slides, play structures, and swing sets at the park.
How to Get to Honolulu
One of the advantages of traveling to Honolulu with kids is that you don’t need to schedule a connecting flight to any of the other Hawaiian islands. Hawaii’s 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!
Summary: Things to Do in Honolulu with Kids
Honolulu 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 especially enjoyed the beach, lagoon, swimming pool, and luau. We hope this post inspires you to plan your own family vacation to Hawaii.
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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.