Oahu is such a beautiful place to visit and even live at. In this travel guide I want to share with you the BEST THINGS TO DO IN OAHU WITH KIDS. I will be featuring family friendly things to do around the island of Oahu such as hiking trails, best kid-friendly beaches, attractions, and more. I hope that with this guide I can help you make the most of your family vacation to Oahu, Hawaii.
After having lived on Oahu for 2 years we made sure to visit and do as much as possible around the island. We were always looking for a new hiking trail to enjoy as a family, the best kid-friendly beaches to swim at, and even the best state parks, attractions, tours, and even restaurants. We tried to soak in as much ALOHA as we could during our time on Oahu.
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MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN OAHU, HAWAII
All of the locations I am going to mention in this travel guide I have pinned on this Google Map. Make sure to save this map on your Google Maps for future planning and to use during your visit to Oahu, Hawaii.
1. VISIT THE DOLE PLANTATION IN WAHIAWA
The Dole Plantation is one of our favorite places to visit on Oahu. One of the main reasons we visited so often was for their pineapple ice cream. It was the best and you can’t find any pineapple ice cream like it anywhere else. A few other things you can do at the Dole Plantation are:
- The large maze through their pineapple field.
- Tour the botanical gardens.
- Take the train and learn about the history of the Dole Plantation and tour the pineapple fields.
- Buy a fun souvenir at the gift shop.
READ NEXT: GUIDE TO THE DOLE PLANTATION
2. VISIT BYODO IN TEMPLE
Another family friendly place to visit in Oahu is the Byodo In Temple. If you are into learning about different cultures and touring beautiful temples then this is one you should add to your list. The Byodo In Temple is absolutely beautiful and a perfect replica of the original temple in Japan. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop and grab some food for the Koi fishes to eat too at the end of the tour.
READ NEXT: GUIDE TO BYODO IN TEMPLE
3. DO A KID-FRIENDLY HIKE IN OAHU
Hiking is one of our favorite things to do with kids on Oahu. We always found ourselves searching for new hiking trails around the island that were kid-friendly. Some of the beginner and kid-friendly hikes that I recommend you do as a family are:
EHUKAI PILLBOX HIKE
Ehukai Pillbox Hike is known for the famous peace sign graffiti found on the top of the pillbox that everyone photographs with. However, the view from up here is absolutely breathtaking. This hiking trail is located on the North Shore side of the island of Oahu.
DIAMOND HEAD CRATER TRAIL
We did this hike several times because we loved it so much. The climb up to the top Diamond Head Crater absolutely worth it. The views overlooking Honolulu as well as the Windward side are absolutely breathtaking. It is a fairly easy hike but can take about 2 hours to do. Make sure to hike prepared with snacks and water. Note: There is a small fee to enter the park.
MANOA FALLS TRAIL
Manoa Falls Trail is a beautiful hiking trail located in Honolulu. This hike will take you through the rainforest and lead to a beautiful waterfall.
LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE
Lanikai Pillbox Hike can be a little strenuous in the beginning but definitely worth the climb as long as you proceed with caution. We did this hike several times as well. The views of the famous two islands off the coast of Lanikai are stunning and definitely worth the hike up the mountain and across the ridgeline. Pro tip: Make sure to arrive early to get a good parking spot.
READ NEXT: TOP 5 KID-FRIENDLY HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII
4. GO SWIMMING AT A KID-FRIENDLY BEACH
You can’t go to Oahu and not go to the beach! This is one of our favorite things to do on Oahu with kids. While Hawaii is known for their big surf loving waves, you can still find some kid-friendly beaches to go to. I am sharing all of our favorite family friendly beaches below.
- Ewa Beach at Pu’uloa Beach Park
- Ko’Olina – Honu Lagoon (Lagoon 2) and Nai’a Lagoon (Lagoon 3)
- Sand Island in Honolulu
- Waikiki at Kapiolani Park Beach
- Lanikai Beach
- Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach
- Hale’iwa Beach Park
- Hanauma Bay
- Waimanalo Beach
- Bellows Beach (This is on a military base so check their website for hours and regulations on how to access the public beach park area. Generally the beach is open to the public on weekends. Please follow all signs and avoid entering the restricted areas. You can find more information here. )
** All these family friendly beaches can be found on the map above under ‘Kid-friendly Beaches.’ **
READ NEXT: BEST KID-FRIENDLY BEACHES ON OAHU
5. WATCH A SURF COMPETITION
We loved going to watch the surf competitions when we lived on Oahu. It was fun watching all the surfers compete on the waves. It’s not something we got to do much on the main land so it was a different experience. I would check online and see if there are any competitions going on. You can find their surf events and contests here. Some of the beaches that these are held at are:
- Banzai Pipeline
- Turtle Bay
- Sunset Beach
- Hale’iwa Beach Park
- Waikiki Beach
6. EAT SHAVED ICE AT MATSUMOTO
Shaved ice is one of our favorite ways to cool down after a long beach day. Our most favorite place to grab shaved ice at is Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice. They are by far the best on the island of Oahu and definitely worth the wait in line. The best time to go is during the week days. We find that there is little to no lines during that time especially during the off peak season.
READ NEXT: MATSUMOTO’S SHAVED ICE IN HALEI’WA
7. VISIT THE HONOLULU ZOO AS A FAMILY
Another fun thing to do on Oahu with kids is visiting the Honolulu Zoo. Zoos are always such a great way for your kiddos to enjoy a day around animals that they can’t see anywhere else. Honolulu Zoo is located close to Waikiki and Diamond Head area making it the best location. Once you’re done at the zoo, you and your family can hit the beach or even go on a hike.
READ NEXT: HOW TO SPEND A DAY IN HONOLULU
8. EXPLORE WAIMEA FALLS STATE PARK
This is such a beautiful state park to visit with your kids on Oahu. You can learn about the history of the Hawaiian culture here as well as see a huge botanical garden with lots of native plants, fruits, and flowers. At the end of the trail you can find the waterfall and even swim at the gorge if you use one of their life jackets.
READ NEXT: HIKING AT WAIMEA FALLS STATE PARK
9. GO BEACHCOMBING FOR SEASHELS AND SEA GLASS
One of our favorite family activities to do on Oahu was beachcombing. We would spend hours just walking up and down the shore looking for seashells and sea glass. We actually have even found some pretty cool things along the way as well like a spoon that belonged to the US Navy back in the times of World War II. Some beaches that are good to go beachcombing at are:
- Sand Island in Honolulu
- Ewa Beach at Pu’uloa Beach Park
- Waikiki has a few but get taken up pretty quickly so its best to arrive early during low tide.
- Hale’iwa Beach Park
- Ka’ena Point on both sides of the state park.
10. GO PADDLEBOARDING AT HALE’IWA
I actually bought my paddle board at Hale’iwa at a cool surf shop called Surf and Sea. You can also rent a paddle board and go paddle-boarding at the beach behind the shop. Surf and Sea also gives surfing lessons as well if you’re interested in trying that out.
11. GO TO A LUAU WITH YOUR KIDS
You can NOT visit Hawaii and not go to a luau. This is a must in my opinion. The experience overall is magical. I absolutely love watching the native dances and rituals and even eating their foods. Two luaus that I highly recommend are:
- Germaine’s Luau: We actually attended this one twice and loved it both times.
- Polynesian Cultural Center Luau: I will go more in detail about this location later on but they do have a luau that you will really enjoy.
12. VISIT PEARL HARBOR MEMORIAL
Pearl Harbor is a location of history and has a memorial right above the sunken ships that are still gravesites for many of our fallen service members. I really enjoyed coming here and learning more about the history of Pearl Harbor as well as getting a closer feel of the place. If you are into US history and military history then I highly suggest you spend a day here visiting and touring the museums.
READ NEXT: GUIDE TO THE PEARL HARBOR MEMORIAL
13. GO TO AULANI’S DISNEY CHARACTER BREAKFAST
We never stayed at the Aulani Resort but we did visit and were able to do some of the things that the resort has to offer. We enjoyed the spa during our anniversary and it was amazing. However, if you are looking for something to do with your kids then the Disney Character Breakfast. You get to enjoy a delicious buffet of food with a mix of American and Hawaiian foods alongside your favorite Disney characters. The kids even get to dance and sing with the characters throughout the visit. You can learn more about their Disney Character Breakfast here.
14. LET YOURS KIDS TAKE SURFING LESSONS AT WAIKIKI
Waikiki is the place to learn how to surf. You can find various places that teach people how to surf along the Waikiki strip even kids. You can also find some other places to learn how to surf around the island but as far as waves go for children, I feel like Waikiki is one of the best areas to learn at.
15. EAT MALASADAS AT LEONARD’S BAKERY IN HONOLULU
I absolutely love the malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery. They are like a sugar doughnut ball filled with a delicious cream inside. They are all so warm and gooey. Leonard’s Bakery also has various other baked treats to try as well. If you are in Honolulu, Hawaii then definitely check them out.
READ NEXT: GUIDE TO LEONARD’S BAKERY IN HONOLULU
16. VISIT THE WAIKIKI AQUARIUM
The Waikiki Aquarium is another great place to visit. I usually prefer snorkeling or going on a boat tour but I know that’s not always possible. Visiting the aquarium at Waikiki is the next best option to get your kids closer to what lies beneath the ocean.
17. VISIT HAUNAMA BAY STATE PARK
If your kids know how to snorkel and swim then I highly recommend taking them to Haunama Bay instead to see the fishes, turtles, and other marine life. Haunama Bay is such a beautiful state park in which you can also find a few hiking points with gorgeous overlooks and a beautiful history. Please keep in mind that you do have to watch a mandatory video in order to enter the state park but its a precaution just to take extra measures about the marine life and how to preserve it. It is a short video and will still make the trip worth it. Click here to learn more about Haunama Bay and what they have to offer.
18. TAKE A WHALE WATCHING BOAT TOUR
This is such an amazing experience. If you are opting out of the aquarium or even the zoo then a boat tour is the most conscious way to experience marine life in their own habitat. We did a whale watching boat tour with our kids and absolutely loved it. When we went we did Star of Honolulu but there are definitely other options as well that you can check out. They even do dinner cruises as well so that can be an option too. Plus the views from the boat to Diamond Head Crater are absolutely beautiful. Other whale watching boat tours that have been recommended to me are:
- Hawaii Nautical, Waikiki
- Majestic by Atlantis Cruises
- Diamond Head Cruises
- Pink Sails Waikiki
- Hawaii Glass Bottom Boats
- Holokai Catamaran
- Royal Hawaiian Catamaran
19. EAT LOCAL FOOD AS A FAMILY
This is such an amazing experience to have as a family. Visiting a new place and trying the local food is a must for us. We always loved going to various restaurants to try different dishes and Hawaii definitely didn’t disappoint with their cuisines.
LOCAL FOOD TRUCKS
Local food trucks especially fish taco trucks. Our favorite fish taco truck is located on North Shore and its called North Shore Tacos in Pupukea. Hale’iwa also has a nice area where you can find food trucks at as well. I pinned it on the map above so don’t forget to check it out.
If you are into healthy acai fruit bowls than Hale’iwa Bowls is the place to go to. I absolutely love their acai bowls. See what my favorite toppings are in this Hale’iwa Bowls post.
TEDDY’S BIGGER BURGER
Teddy’s Bigger Burger is a fast food styled joint but their sandwiches are so good. I definitely miss this place. There are several on the island.
Hale’iwa Joe’s is a local Hawaiian restaurant by the water. Their food is very delicious and I highly recommend trying their foods. It was one of our favorite places to go to for dinner.
Maui Mike’s is another local restaurant in Wahiawa. We love their chicken. If you like places like Buffalo Wild Wings, then this place tops it over the top. Nothing can quiet compare to their flavors.
KOA PANCAKE HOUSE
Koa Pancake House is definitely our favorite Hawaiian style pancake house to eat breakfast at. There’s several on the island but we always went to the one on Wahiawa.
GREEN WORLD COFFEE FARM
Green World Coffee Farm is such a cute place to let the kids go run around at while sipping on some delicious local coffee. No worries, there are also drinks and treats for the kiddos too. This local coffee farm is located in Wahiawa close to the Dole Plantation. Check out our experience at Green World Coffee Farm here.
KONA BREWING COMPANY
This is our favorite place to eat at in Honolulu. Perfect place to grab some delicious Hawaiian food for the entire family.
** You can find all of these locations on the map I shared above. **
When trying new foods it is fun for each family member to order a different dish and sample each others just to try more of the different local foods.
20. VISIT KUALOA RANCH WITH YOUR KIDS
Want to see where Jurassic Park was filmed? Then Kualoa Ranch is the place to go. The mountain views here are absolutely stunning and the tours are definitely something your kids will love. You can plan your trip to Kualoa Ranch here. This location has a lot to offer from ATV tours, Jurassic Adventure tours, to even mountain biking and ziplining.
21. VISIT THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
We visited to the Polynesian Cultural Center numerous times. It is by far one of our favorite places to visit as a family. One of the reasons we kept coming back was to be able to experience and learn about all the Polynesian islands. Our favorite part was when they did the native dances on the boat but you have to make sure that you and your family snatch a spot close to the water to truly enjoy it.
READ NEXT: GUIDE TO THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
22. CATCH THE SUNSET AT KA’ENA POINT STATE PARK
Ka’ena Point State Park is such a beautiful park to visit. It is located on the Leeward side looking west so it is the perfect location to catch the sunset. Sometimes you can even see the whales swimming from the coast. There are a few hiking spots and overlooks in this state park along with two entrances. One on the Leeward side (highly recommend) and one on the North Shore are coming from Hale’iwa.
23. SWIM WITH DOLPHINS AT SEA LIFE PARK HAWAII
If your kids have come to Oahu with the dream of swimming with dolphins then Sea Life Park Hawaii is the place to go! Sea Life Park Hawaii has been featured as one of the best things to do on Oahu and it really is. This Sea Life Park has a lot to offer for families like dolphin encounters, sea lion encounters, luaus, and much more. You can view all of their experiences here.
24. DO AN ISLAND SIGHTSEEING ROAD TRIP
When we first arrived to the island of Oahu, the first thing we did as a family was rent a car and take a road trip around the windward side of the island up to North Shore and down to Honolulu where we were staying at at the time. It was such an amazing experience and we got to see so much. It turned into a fun trip to do when we just wanted to go for a drive around the island. Another route that we did was the Leeward side. We would travel up to Ka’ena Point and then travel down to Ko’Olina, out to Ewa Beach and up to Wahiawa where we lived.
25. ENJOY THE SUNRISE AT MAKAPU’U LIGHTHOUSE
One of our favorite things to do on Oahu with kids is hiking. We were always finding a new hiking trail to do as a family around the island. From pillboxes, overlooks to even lighthouses. Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is one is a perfect location to catch the sunrise at. It is a paved and moderately easy hike to do with kids. Every time we went we saw whales out at sea splashing around.
READ NEXT: HIKING GUIDE TO MAKAPU’U LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL
These are the best things to do on Oahu with kids that we highly recommend. By careful planning you can make the most of your Hawaiian vacation with this travel guide. From kid-friendly hikes and beaches to some of the best local restaurants to even scenic destinations around the islands. Oahu has a lot to offer for the entire family.