A Peek at the Fun: Are you planning to take a family trip to Oahu, Hawaii? If so, we have lots of fun things to do in Oahu with kids. Start planning your dream trip now!
~Written by Danetta~
My husband and I both LOVE Hawaii. We’ve traveled there many times, and I even went to BYU Hawaii for a semester, which is where I fell in love with the island. So when we had the chance to take our kiddos, we jumped at the opportunity. We had such a fun time exploring the island and we found so many fun things to do on Oahu with kids, I’m excited to tell you all about it.
Hawaii With Kids:
As you know traveling with kiddos can get tricky, so planning ahead helps to make vacations roll along a little more smoothly. My advice with any family vacation…don’t over schedule it. Kids get tired and hungry quickly, and when those two things happen the mood can turns south quickly. Keeping those things in mind, plan what you have the time for. We stayed on Oahu for a week, leaving us plenty of time to see all of the things we wanted to. If you have a shorter vacation, just choose what sounds like the most fun to your tribe.
Things to do on North Shore Oahu:
There are so many fun and amazing things happening on the North side of Oahu, known as North Shore. It’s about 30 miles from the Waikiki area, but depending on traffic it will take you an hour or so to get there. It’s a beautiful drive, whether you go through the center of Oahu or stick to the coast, the views are superb.
I would recommend giving a few days to the North Shore…you’ll be glad you did.
Polynesian Cultural Center:
I’m starting with the Polynesian Cultural Center because it is AMAZING! If you choose one thing to do with your kiddos…this is it! You’ll take a trip around the Pacific Ocean, getting a feel for each of the islands.
The cultural center has so many fun things to do, so make sure to get there when the park opens. You will be able to visit the islands of the Pacific and learn all about the cultures and customs. There are so many great activities to keep your family busy, and an amazing luau to top things off.
If you get your tickets ahead of time on the website, they offer them at a discount. So I would recommend thinking ahead on this one. It’s totally worth the price…such a fun way to learn about the islands.
Our kids loved getting “tattoos” at one of the islands. Even the adults got in on the action. All of the activities are included in the price of admission. The only extra charge is the luau.
My youngest spent a lot of time trying his hand at fishing. They were using dough, and many of the people were successful. Sadly, we didn’t catch any fish…but it was fun to try.
All the kids tried spear throwing. It was fun to see them learning a new skill. I would definitely recommend trying all of the activities while you are there.
This is a fantastic way to spend a little time on the North Shore. The Dole Plantation gives your family the opportunity to learn about some of the fruits grown on the Hawaiian Islands. The Dole Plantation provides enjoyable activities for the entire family, including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, the Plantation Garden Tour, and the Pineapple Garden Maze. What you do really comes down to the amount of time you have.
We only had a bit of time, so we spent it on the train ride. I would definitely recommend it. The train gives you a chance to sit and enjoy an audio tour of the plantation.
Our family loved listening to all of the information while taking in the sites of the beautiful plantation. It was a perfect way to enjoy all of the scenery.
Of course, one of thee best things about visiting the Dole Plantation is enjoying a delicious Dole Whip. I got mine with fresh pineapple…and it was AMAZING!!
Did anyone mention shave ice? If not, you should. And the best shave ice on the island is found on North Shore. Again, there are so many things to do on Oahu with kids…it’s hard to fit it all in!! But make time for Matsumoto’s because it’s amazing.
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice:
Matsumoto’s is found in the charming surf town of Haleiwa. We love, love, love this town. And we absolutely love Matsumoto’s! If you are heading into Haleiwa I would recommend going up there early. North Shore gets crowded, so aim to be there before 10:30am.
Once you get your shave ice, get started eating. With the humidity in Hawaii, the shave ice starts to melt super fast. But man, what a problem to have! 🙂
While you are in Haleiwa, do some shopping at the quaint little shops there. It’s a fun town to explore.
You may be wondering if we hit any beaches on the North Shore? Well, of course we did!! North Shore has some of the best snorkeling..so grab your snorkel gear anytime you head North.
And speaking of snorkel gear, if you don’t bring your own, plan to stop by Snorkel Bob’s. They have tons of locations on Oahu and you can get your snorkel equipment at any of them, and return it at any of them. You can even take it to another island and return it there. They helped get our kids all squared away and it was really fast.
So where to snorkel? Here’s where we loved.
Shark’s Cove is awesome for snorkeling because it’s so rocky. The fish love to live and swim around the rocks, so this cove is loaded with sea life. The only problem is the rocks! 😉 Seriously, great snorkeling, but if you have little ones they won’t have much area to play. It takes some effort to get out in the water because of the rocks, but once you are there it’s awesome.
If you want a sandy beach that’s great for snorkeling I would recommend you head to Laniakea Beach. This beach is the best beach for spotting sea turtles. They even come up on the beach and enjoy some sunbathing most days. The parking for this beach is super limited, so again I would head early and plan to stay for a bit. The turtles don’t come up on shore until it warms up, so be patient.
The takeaway from your visit to North Shore Oahu…definitely plan a couple days, go early, and plan to have a great time!
Things to do in Oahu with Kids:
Let’s look at all of the other fun things to do in Oahu with kids.
Hanauma Bay State Park:
Hanauma Bay State Park is fabulous for snorkeling. Again, your best bet is to arrive early. This state park fills to capacity and then you will not be allowed into the bay. The tickets and entrance is up above the park and then you will either walk or ride a shuttle down to the bay. If you are all healthy with nothing stopping you from walking, the walk is not bad. Our group walked. If you need the shuttle, it can be reserved ahead of time.
Hanauma Bay has a lot of coral, making it a great place to snorkel. Also, the fact that it’s a bay makes the water very calm and easy to maneuver. It’s great for kids to try their hand at snorkeling.
Don’t miss the opportunity with your children to take them to the historic Pearl Harbor. This is such a special place to visit. You will have the opportunity to watch a film loaded with information about the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the film, you will load onto a boat where you will be taken out to the monument. It’s such a special and reverent place.
Again, I would recommend you arrive early to get your free timed ticket. The tickets will tell you the time of your tour and the earlier you get there the less time you will have to wait for your tour.
Have you ever tried parasailing? If not, Hawaii is the place to do it. It’s such fun, and you can go up in pairs which is perfect for your kiddos. We found an awesome deal for parasailing on Groupon before we left for Hawaii. So I would take a look there before you go and see if they have a deal for you.
Parasailing was a huge hit for our kiddos and one of their most favorite activities we did in Hawaii.
We actually stumbled upon this little treasure when we were looking for the Hawaii Five-O building which is featured on most episodes. If your kids watch Hawaii Five-O, they will want to see the King Kamehameha statue and building. But across the street is the Iolani Palace which is so lovely. Only a few from our group wanted to spend the time and money on a tour of this palace so we split up.
There are a couple of tour options, we did the self-led audio tour. It’s a 60 minute tour as you are able to walk around this beautifully restored palace. It’s a great chance to learn about Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs. Such an interesting piece of history, and a great chance to learn about Hawaii’s history. If your kids love this type of thing, I would highly recommend it.
Is it time to chat about the food? Because we had some tasty food that was family friendly!
Places to Eat in Oahu:
If you want some really yummy Hawaiian food Zippy’s is the place! Their menu is huge, so there’s something for everyone. Their mac salad is seriously so stinking good! We had some locals suggest Zippy’s and once we tried it, we were sold. We ate here several times during our visit. The prices were great, the food was delicious, and the casual dining atmosphere makes dining with children a breeze.
We discovered this yummy chicken joint on our trip to Phoenix, so we were thrilled when we found it on Oahu! My family loves Raising Cane’s, and it’s fast food so it’s easy to take the kiddos.
When Amber went to Hawaii, she was told to give Leonard’s Bakery a try…and she loved it. So of course, I needed to give it a try too. And let me tell ya, it is yummy!! I’m not gonna lie, we went several times. It was within walking distance from our hotel, so we walked over there anytime we had a sweet tooth.
Now remember when I started talking about our vacation I mentioned down time? Well, we had plenty of down time on our vacation. We spent lots of time on Waikiki Beach, which a great for the children. It’s a shallow beach making the waves totally doable for kids.
Our teens brought their spike ball set, and spent a lot of their time playing it on the beach.
Usually our mornings were packed so we could beat the rush, and our afternoons were pretty chill. But with so many fun things to do in Oahu with kids, you’ll have to pick and choose what you love the most!
If you want even more fun things to do in Hawaii check out more awesome ideas…
Have a FUN Hawaiian Vacation!!
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