Finding things to do on Oahu with kids can be a bit of a challenge. Of course, there are the expected ones, like building a sandcastle at Waikiki Beach. But to expand on this list with a few more creative ideas, here are 60 things to do on Oahu with kids!
Outdoorsy Things to Do on Oahu with Kids
Head off the Beaten Path to Laie Point
As I’ve mentioned so many times before, Laie Point is one of Oahu’s most stunning viewpoints. There is honestly nowhere else on the island that has the same view and the same crashing waves as Laie Point.
Get Drenched on a Waikiki Catamaran Ride
A catamaran ride is such a fun activity for kids on Oahu to enjoy. From the safety of the boat, kids can get jostled up and down by the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, if the wave is big enough, they might even get a little bit wet (or even soaked!).
This activity is also great for parents, as it provides a great view of Oahu’s stunning Diamond Head. There are several companies that offer catamaran rides from Waikiki Beach out past Diamond Head for a variety of prices.
Take a Dive Under the Pacific Ocean in the Atlantis Submarine
If taking a trip on a catamaran on the surface of the water does not seem quite like your style, take an underwater trip in a submarine! Watch your kids press their faces against the glass to see all of the colorful fish that swim by. Maybe you will even catch a glimpse of Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Atlantis Adventures is the only company that provides submarine tours out of Honolulu.
Learn to Surf in Waikiki
You’re in Hawaii. Your kids are going to want to try the most well-known things to do on Oahu: surfing. The best place for those learning how to surf to start is in Waikiki. The waves at Waikiki Beach are very calm in comparison to those on other parts of the island. Plus, surfboard rentals and surf lessons are very conveniently located.
Watch the Best Sunset on Oahu at Ko Olina
I’ve said this many times before on Borders & Bucket Lists. Ko Olina has the best sunset on Oahu. I definitely think it’s worth a stop. Even your kids will sit still for a few minutes to watch the cotton candy clouds float away.
Try Out Wakeboarding at Koko Marina
If your kids are always looking to try out a new sport, this activity is for you! Wakeboarding will give you and yours kids the chance to – at least attempt to – glide on the surface of the water at pretty high speeds! Maybe if you get the hang of it, you can even pull off a couple of tricks!
Tackle the World’s Largest Maze at the Dole Plantation
Believe it or not, the Dole Plantation on Oahu, Hawaii is home to the world’s largest maze! Wander through tall bushes to find eight little landmarks. Want to make it a competition? Some of the fastest people have completed the maze in under ten minutes – even without a map!
Stand Up Paddle Board in Haleiwa Harbor
The current in Haleiwa Harbor is a little weaker than many places on the island, so it’s a great place for less experienced paddleboarders. Plus, you can wander down Anahulu River from Haleiwa Harbor, which is quite a unique paddle boarding experience. There are many places lining Haleiwa Harbor that have paddleboards that can be rented.
Take a Short Stroll to Waimea Falls
In order to get to any of Oahu’s waterfalls, there is some sort of “hike.” Waimea Falls has the shortest hike. As a matter of fact, it’s so short, I chose to call it a “short stroll,” making Waimea Falls the perfect waterfall to see if you have very young children with you on your trip to Hawaii.
Looking for other Oahu waterfall hikes? Here’s a list of eight.
Cliff Dive at Waimea Bay
Feel like experiencing just a little bit of the thrill? Cliff jumping at Waimea Bay is the activity for you! This fifteen-foot jump is a lot safer than it looks. The waves are chill, the water is deep (so you won’t hit the bottom), and hundreds of people (if not thousands) do it every day without getting hurt. It’s got a pretty good track record.
Spot Turtles at Laniakea Beach
In my opinion, one of the best things to do on Oahu with kids is to spot turtles at Laniakea Beach. Without getting in the water, your little ones can stare in awe at these beautiful sea creatures. Be sure not to let them get to close though! The Hawaiian green sea turtle (locally known as honu) is actually an endangered species, so we don’t want to harm them or their environment in anyway.
Do Some Shallow Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove
First of all, trust me, the name “Shark’s Cove” is deceivingly scary. This place is actually the perfect location to go snorkeling with children on Oahu. With water levels that barely goes above three feet and tons of fish swimming around in these shallow waters, it’s like a hands-on aquarium in the ocean!
Do note that during the winter, the waves can get quite high at Shark’s Cove, so snorkeling during that time of the year is not advisable.
Want to add Shark’s Cove to your North Shore itinerary? Here are some more ideas for you!
Take a Three-Hour Zipline Tour at Keana Farms
If you’ve got an adrenaline junky on your hands, this three-hour zipline tour at Keana Farms is perfect for you. While zipping around, you’ll also get to find out a lot of interesting information about Keana Farms, the North Shore, and Hawaii in general.
Feel Like Tarzan While Swinging on a Rope at Waimano Falls
Waimano Falls is one of the more difficult waterfall hikes on the island of Oahu, but it is still completely doable with teens. Plus, when you get to the end, you’ll see a stunning waterfall AND be able to swing on a rope into the waterfall pool. Isn’t that an amazing experience?
Snorkel with Colorful Fish at Hanauma Bay
Looking for a kid-friendly Oahu snorkeling destination that is easily accessible all year round? Hanauma Bay is perfect! Because Hanauma Bay is a bay, it is shielded by land that prevents big waves and strong currents, making it a great place for your little ones to try their hand at snorkeling.
Hike to Makapuu Lighthouse
The easiest hike to do on Oahu with children is the hike to Makapuu Lighthouse. This hike is completely paved, so you don’t have to worry about your children tripping over rocks or getting covered in mud. You could in theory even use a stroller if necessary. Plus, at the top, there is a stunning view of the southeastern coastline of Oahu.
Don’t think this is the hike for you and your family? Here are 14 more!
Do the Short Hike to Likeke Falls
If you and your kids want to dive a little more into nature, Likeke Falls is a fantastic hike for you! This short, 20-minute hike takes you to a hidden waterfall! Pretty much every time I do this hike, I come across a family or two or three with very young kids – and they are always capable of doing it.
The path has a couple unclear turns, so keep your eye out for trail markings (such as spray-painted arrows, markings carved into trees, brightly colored ties around branches). If that makes you wary, here is my thorough description of where to go on the hike to Likeke Falls.
Paddle Out to Chinaman’s Hat
This Oahu activity is definitely meant for older children, but it is probably one of my favorites on this list of things to do on Oahu with kids. A paddle out (whether by kayak or by stand-up paddle board) to Chinaman’s Hat takes about 45 minutes.
Once you reach to the island, there is a difficult 20-minute hike waiting for you. But at the top, all of that effort is completely worth it. The views of the Pacific Ocean and the Koolau Mountain Range are absolutely stunning.
Here’s a post for you with more details about how exactly to pull of this Chinaman’s Hat adventure.
Pose for Pictures at the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
While I’m not the biggest fan of social media, I’m not going to deny its existence. (Shameless plug, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!) If you’re looking for a stunning location to pose for some pictures with luscious green mountains in the background, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is the place for you!
Take a Guided Night Kayaking Tour
I know what you may be thinking. Night kayaking? That can’t be safe. Except I’ve found a place where night kayaking is safe! North Shore Explorers has created an environment where night kayaking is not only possible but encouraged. Paddle around the Lunar Legends Lagoon and discover the history of the six main islands of Polynesia as you sail on. What a fun, one-of-a-kind experience for your little ones to enjoy!
Hike to the Stunning Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is one of the most popular hikes on Oahu. It has a clear path, a relatively easy trail, and a stunning waterfall (especially if it’s rained recently).
Visit One of the Most-Instagrammed Beaches in Hawaii: Lanikai Beach
To continue with the social media topic, Lanikai Beach is easily one of the most-Instagrammed beaches in Hawaii, if not the world. And with its turquoise waters and two perfectly placed green islands, it’s no question why.
If your kids aren’t quite at the social media age yet, Lanikai Beach is also the perfect place for a calm swim or some sand castle building.
Hoping to visit other stunning beaches on your trip to Oahu? Here are ten of my favorites!
Stop by Kailua Beach Right Next Door
The one downside of Lanikai Beach is the parking situation, as it is all street parking. If you’re looking for a beach with a similar vibe to Lanikai Beach, head next door to Kailua Beach, where there is plenty of parking!
Take an ATV tour at Kualoa Ranch
In my opinion, one of the coolest things to do on Oahu with kids is to take an ATV tour at Kualoa Ranch. Granted, there is an age requirement of 16 years, so this is for the much older children. But this experience was just too exhilarating for it not to make it onto this list. Catch stunning views of the Koolau Mountain Range, munch of macadamia nuts and strawberry guavas, and even learn about all of the TV shows and movies filmed on this stunning natural set.
Or Maybe a Horseback Riding Tour
If your children aren’t quite 16 years old yet, but you still want an awesome tour of Kualoa Ranch and the Koolau Mountain Range, their horseback riding tour might be for you! The minimum age for this tour is ten years old.
Or a Movie Site Tour
If you really want to soak in the beauty of Kualoa Ranch and the Koolau Mountains (which I would highly recommend), but you have the smallest of children, the movie site tour may be the one for you. Learn about the many TV shows and movies that have been filmed on the property, including Jurassic Park, King Kong, Lost, and Hawaii Five-0. Minimum age is three years old.
There’s Even a Jungle Expedition Tour
If you and your family are more of nature fans and less of movie fans, the jungle expedition tour is the one I would recommend. Minimum age is three years old for this tour as well.
Try to Tackle the 1,000 Steps of Koko Head
Attempting to tackle Koko Head is another activity that would be better for older kids. This hike is one of the most strenuous on Oahu, as it is 1,000 steps up a rickety old train track. It’s definitely quite a challenge, but you feel like a champ once you reach the top and see the stunning views.
Watch the Water at Halona Blowhole
Halona Blowhole is quite a unique sight. It is kind of like a geyser, but the pressure that shoots the water into the air is caused by powerful waves! While you are watching Halona Blowhole, you may also spot a few turtles, and, if it’s winter time, maybe even a pod of whales!
Spot Whales in the Winter
Speaking of spotting whales! If you’re in Hawaii from November to February, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a whale pod or two! You can either take whale watching tours to get up close, or you can get glimpses of whale spouts (and perhaps tails and fins) from the shore.
Catch and Eat Your Own Fish at Lake Wilson
Despite the fact that Hawaii is a very water-oriented destination, most people don’t think of trying their hand at fishing during their trip to the islands. And it may not be for everyone. But if this idea intrigues you, Lake Wilson is the perfect place to go fishing! Have your little ones throw out their lines, catch some fresh fish, and even have it fried up, so your family can eat your delish, well-earned fish as fresh as possible.
Swim with Wild Dolphins
You know all of those dolphin encounters in pools at hotels or theme parks? They aren’t worth your money. Instead, find some WILD dolphins to swim with on the West Side of Oahu.
Trying to find these wild dolphins on your own can be quite difficult at times, even if you know the right location and the right time. Plus, it can require a lot of swimming. Instead, go with a company! Dolphin Excursions Hawaii, EO Waianae Tours, Wild Side Specialty Tours, and Dolphin Star are all companies that will take you to go see some wild dolphins!
Help the Environment with a Beach or Hike Clean Up
I believe that it’s important to teach kids from an early age to respect nature. After all, as evidenced by the past thirty or so activities on this list, it gives us so much to enjoy! To help keep nature in a healthy, flourishing condition, consider taking an hour or two of your Hawaii vacation to clean up a beach or a hiking trail. Grab a bag, maybe a pair of gloves, and just snatch up everything that isn’t supposed to be there. Beer caps, Styrofoam chunks, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and even toothbrushes tend to be the usual offenders.
Foods to Eat on Oahu with Kids
Lick your Way Through an Entire Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation
Dole whips from anywhere except the Dole Plantation are subpar. That’s why you have to devour a Dole whip at the Dole Plantation. I personally prefer the one with pineapple topping around the edges.
*Bonus: it’s vegan!
Taste the Superior Version of the Mainland “Snow Cone”: Shave Ice
While you can get this from multiple places around the island, my personal favorite is Island Shave Ice & Creamery. They have natural fruity flavors rather than fake sugary flavors.
*Bonus tip: ONLY go to places that say “shave ice” not “shaved ice” for an authentic treat.
Munch on a Malasada
On Oahu, instead of donuts, there are malasadas. Malasadas are Portuguese-style donuts that have been given a local Hawaiian flare. Think of a giant donut hole covered in sugar (and maybe some cinnamon or a local topping called li hing mui). Head to Leonard’s Bakery or Pipeline Bakeshop and Creamery to get this tasty treat for your toddlers!
Not sure which malasada joint to choose? Here’s my comparison of the two.
Slurp Some POG
POG. Also known as Passion (Fruit)-Orange-Guava Juice. It’s delicious. Get it at basically any grocery store.
Devour a Spam Musubi
Spam musubis are rectangles of rice with a slice of spam on top, all wrapped in seaweed. Ask any local person, and they’ll tell you that the best place to get a spam musubi is 7/11. If that’s too sketchy for you, the ABC store has some as well.
Take Part in This Boba Trend and Stop by Teapresso
Everyone knows that boba (also known as bubble tea) has been popping with young adults and kids. While there are tons of places to get boba on Oahu, Teapresso may have the best.
Educational Things to Do on Oahu with Kids
Visit the Byodo-In Temple and Ring the Giant Bell
Nestled within the Koolau Mountains is the Byodo-In Temple. This temple is a miniature version of the Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan (which also happens to be a United National World Heritage Site). While at the Byodo-In Temple on Oahu, your kids will have such a fun time ringing the giant bell. It takes some full body movement to get the momentum going, so it’s especially rewarding when the sound reverberates throughout the temple grounds.
Spend a Couple of Hours at the Children’s Discovery Center
The Children’s Discovery Center on Oahu has several different toddler-friendly exhibits, including the “Hawaiian Rainbows” exhibit. The section explains life in Hawaii from its plantation days to today.
Wander around the Honolulu Zoo
Zoos are always a kid-friendly activity, and the Honolulu Zoo is a special one, as it is home to over 900 species of animals! Despite this huge number, the penguins tend to be a crowd favorite!
Hop on the Train at the Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation in general is such a kid-friendly stop. It’s train ride, known as The Pineapple Express, also happens to be very educational. Learn about the history of Hawaii’s plantation days, as well as the plants that grow and thrive in the Hawaiian Islands today!
Pretend to Be Hawaiian Royalty at Iolani Palace
I’ll be honest. Iolani Palace may not be the most kid-friendly place. There are lots of old artifacts that shouldn’t be touched, and you have to walk in a certain area, which would require a lot of restraint for younger kids. However, I do think it would be a fantastic educational experience for them. They’ll have the chance to tour the same building that Hawaiian royalty lived in! They’ll learn about King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, two of the greatest rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii. And they’ll visit the only palace in the entire United States!
Go on a Fun Farm Tour at Kahuku Farms
Kahuku Farms is one of my favorite foodie spots on the island. And what makes it even better is the fact that all of the food served there is made from produce grown either at Kahuku Farms or one of the neighboring local farms. Find out about how they grow the produce that they do on the Kahuku Farms Farm Tour!
Looking for some of my other favorite Oahu restaurants? Here are my restaurant recommendations!
Remember the Victims of the Pearl Harbor bombing at Pearl Harbor Memorial
December 7, 1941 is an important day, not only in Hawaii’s history, but in the history of the United States. On that day, Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii was bombed by the Japanese Navy Air Service, prompting the United States to join World War II.
Take your children to visit the memorial and learn about this important part of United States history. The cost to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial ranges greatly depending on what exactly you would like to see. Refer to their website for more information.
Learn about Various Polynesian Island Cultures at the Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is such a unique cultural experience on Oahu. Learn about many Polynesian islands! See hula dancers and fire dancers! Take part in a luau! Maybe even watch the evening show, “Ha: Breath of Life.”
Ride the Hawaiian Railway’s Society Daily Scenic Train Ride
If you’re taking a family vacation to Hawaii with some little toddlers, you may be looking for something a little more chill than ziplining and cliff jumping. Instead, take a train tour across a good portion of West Oahu, as run by the Hawaiian Railway Society. On the ride, they’ll inform you about Hawaiian history and even life in Hawaii today.
See a Wholphin at Sea Life Park
Sea Life Park on Oahu is the only place in the world where you can see a wholphin (a mix of a whale and a dolphin), as it’s the only one in captivity. Pretty cool right?
Shops to Visit on Oahu with Kids
Get a Free Beginner Ukulele Lesson at The Ukulele Store
If you’ve got a child that’s into music, head to The Ukulele Store for a free lesson! Located on the second floor of Waikiki Beach Walk, The Ukulele Store offers free lessons every day at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If at the end of the lesson, you’ve found that your child has a knack for this local, four-stringed instrument, you can also find an ukulele to buy, regardless of your budget.
Try All of the Delicious Free Samples at the Honolulu Cookie Company
Have you ever seen those recognizable pineapple-shaped cookies? Those were made by the Honolulu Cookie Company. And not only do these cookies come in a fun shape, but they also come in tasty flavors like pineapple, lilikoi (passion fruit), and Kona Coffee. But wait – there’s more! When you go into any Honolulu Cookie Company store, they’ll have quite a few cookie samples for you to try! And don’t forget to take a box home as a gift or souvenir!
*Pro tip: there is a code word that frequently changes. However, if you know the code word, you can get a free cookie every time you enter a Honolulu Cookie Company store!
Shop at the Largest Open-Air Shopping Mall in the World: Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana Center is absolutely huge! That means that there are a lot of kid-friendly spots, including the Disney Store, Aloha Gelato, Flip Flop Workshop, Mr. Tea Café, and so many more!
Visit the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Check out the site of Hawaii’s largest stadium while also collecting all sorts of fun souvenirs from tikis to sunglasses to miniature surfboards! Do note that it is only open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
Stop by Disney’s Aulani hotel in Ko Olina
Disney’s Aulani hotel is a kid’s paradise. Combining Disney with a stunning beach? I mean, it’s basically everyone’s paradise! Float around the lazy river, rush down the slides, stock up on some unique Disney Aulani souvenirs, trade your pins, and meet your favorite characters! It is easily one of the best things to do on Oahu with kids.
Watch a Movie at a Hawaii Regal Theatre
In Hawaii, our Regal Theatres have a unique island introduction before every film. This introduction is filled with hula dancers, fire dancers, and even some ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs (their pictorial form of writing). If you don’t feel like spending some time in the sun, this could be a pretty cool indoor activity to do.
Festivals to Participate in on Oahu with Kids
Check Out the Street Art in Kakaako
The mind-blowing street art in Kakaako is revamped every single year due to the PowWow festival in February. Wander through murals painted by hundreds of globally-renowned street artists. Maybe even take a couple pictures to post – but be sure to tag the artist to give them credit for their fantastic work!
If you happen to be on Oahu the one week when the artists are painting their murals for PowWow in mid-February, some of the artists might be kind of enough to let your little ones paint a stroke or two! (I got to do that a couple years back!)
Take Part in an Obon Festival
This Japanese Buddhist custom has become very popular in the Hawaiian Islands. Around summer time each year, the Japanese Buddhists believe that their ancestors’ spirits return to the earth to visit them. Graves are visited, lanterns are hung, bon dances are performed, and food offerings are made. The largest Obon Festival on Oahu is easily the Moiliili Obon Festival.
Watch the Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a firework show. If you’re staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, watch the fireworks from the pool! If not, watch the fireworks from the shores of the lovely Waikiki Beach.
Go to a Luau
Learn How to Blow a Conch Shell
Blowing a conch shell would be one of the most unique children’s activities to do on Oahu. It is alsoa symbolic part of many Hawaiian ceremonies – both past and present ones. It is typically blown to signal the official beginning of a ceremony. Furthermore, it is blown only during daylight hours (except for luaus – perhaps try to learn how to do it there), in certain directions, and a certain number of times. Each of these details symbolizes a specific meaning in the Hawaiian culture. That means that as you learn how to blow a conch shell, please be mindful of Hawaiian culture.
Have you travelled to Oahu with kids? Are there other activities you think should be added to this list of things to do on Oahu with kids? Let me know in the comments! (I promise I’ll respond!)
Want more information on what to do on Oahu? Here is The Ultimate List of 100 Things to Do on Oahu.
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