Things to Do in Oahu with Kids

Hawaii is a paradise at all levels and a perfect destination for family travel. In this post you will discover what are the best things to do in its most important island, Oahu, if you are traveling with children.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

8 min read

Things to Do in Oahu with Kids

Oahu | ©Edmund Garman

Oahu is the third largest island of the Hawaiian archipelago and the one with the most tourism of all. Its capital Honolulu and its beaches are the preferred destination for most people who want to visit this paradisiacal archipelago. But the island of Ohau offers much more to see and do. Needless to say, if you are looking for a family trip, the island of Oahu is a perfect choice.

Whatever you do, the little ones will enjoy a trip like this. Oahu offers hundreds of plans with which children will have a great time. Water parks, incredible beaches, aquariums and zoos, nature... the island has it all for an unforgettable family vacation.

1. Spend a fun day at the island's theme parks

Sea Life Park| ©ALOHA de HAWAII
Sea Life Park| ©ALOHA de HAWAII

The island of Oahu is full of theme and leisure parks perfect for children, and not so children, to have a great time.

There are many options scattered throughout the region. For example, if you're looking for water fun, the Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii water park on the west side of the island is the best of its kind. From Honolulu it takes about 40 minutes to get there by car.

Animals also play a starring role in the region and are always the best allies for children to have a good time while learning about the local fauna. Being an island, marine animals have more prominence and one of the best places to meet them is the Sea Life Park, where you can also interact with several of them.

The place is located in the easternmost part of the island, just half an hour from downtown Honolulu.

There is also space for land animals if you prefer at the Honolulu Zoo, where there are more than 1,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and all kinds of animals.

2. Waikiki Beach: One of the best beaches in the world

Waikiki Beach| ©Images Alight
Waikiki Beach| ©Images Alight

In the neighborhood of Waikiki in Honolulu are concentrated the vast majority of hotels on the island. It is quite likely that you will stay in this area and have its famous beach just a stone's throw away.

Waikiki beach is an icon of Hawaii and considered one of the best in the world for swimming thanks to its crystal clear waters, white sand, its atmosphere and everything that surrounds it.

It is perfect to spend a day for the little ones to enjoy its waters and sand as you have all kinds of amenities at your disposal. The beach is also surrounded by restaurants and stores to round off the day. Although it is true that being so touristy it can not be considered a quiet beach especially in the high season months.

3. Visit the Waikiki Aquarium

Child at Waikiki Aquarium| ©Danny Luong
Child at Waikiki Aquarium| ©Danny Luong

Precisely at the end of Waikiki Beach is the aquarium that bears his name. It is part of the University of Hawaii and is an institution in the study and conservation of marine species.

It is the third oldest aquarium in the United States and being built near a coral reef has a considerable added value.

But beyond these details, the Waikiki Aquarium is a perfect place for children to enjoy watching the more than 3,000 aquatic species in its facilities. The good thing is that it is open almost every day of the year from Monday to Sunday.

Ticket prices converted to euros are around 10 for adults and about 4.50 for children between 4 and 12 years old. Children under 4 are free.

4. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Pearl Harbor| ©Javner
Pearl Harbor| ©Javner

For historical weight, this place is a must visit if you travel to Honolulu. Pearl Harbor was the scene of one of the most important episodes of World War II and today you can visit this military base and take a tour inside to learn what happened in the bombing that devastated it.

It does not sound very suitable for children, but it is quite the opposite. The visits are very well adapted for children and also in Pearl Harbor there is a museum focused on aviation in which various models of aircraft are exposed and that usually like a lot among the little ones in the house.

So do not hesitate to visit this place with children because they will enjoy and learn in equal parts.

Book your Pearl Harbour tour

5. Spend the day at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world: Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach| ©Jon Parise
Lanikai Beach| ©Jon Parise

It is true that Waikiki beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and also one of the most touristic, but if that is not the style of beach you are looking for and you want to enjoy more of the paradisiacal part of Hawaii, Lanikai beach is what you are looking for.

It has received several awards that accredit it as the best beach in the United States with the advantage that it is not nearly as crowded as Waikiki Beach.

Lanikai is the definition of paradise beach par excellence. Its waters are crystal clear like few others and the surrounding landscape is beautiful. A perfect setting to enjoy nature while the little ones have fun in its waters.

To put a downside to this beach, it is located outside Honolulu. Although it only takes a half hour drive to travel the distance that separates it from the center of the city.

6. Rent a kayak to explore the beaches

View from the Kayak| ©Jun Seita
View from the Kayak| ©Jun Seita

Water activities are one of the best things to do on the island of Oahu. And among all the options, one of the most recommended to do with children is to rent a kayak to tour the coast along the beaches. And in this case Lanikai beach is also one of the best scenarios.

Firstly because its waters are very calm and do not represent any danger for the little ones and secondly because of the wide range of options and companies in the vicinity.

It is always advisable to see the options online and book in advance to get better prices, but as a reference to rent a double kayak for the whole day is about 60 dollars, which at the exchange rate is about 55 euros approximately.

Book your kayak tour in Oahu

7. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay

The best waters for snorkeling| ©Maggie Collins
The best waters for snorkeling| ©Maggie Collins

Another of Hawaii's aquatic activities par excellence is snorkeling, or diving in shallow waters. Given the wealth of underwater fauna and flora, Hawaii and the island of Oahu are a true paradise for it.

There are better areas to practice it than others, but the most recommended in general is always Hanauma Bay.

This bay is actually a crater of an extinct volcano, which contributes to the immense wealth of flora and fauna in this area. Being a nature reserve, the entrance to the beach costs about 7 euros at the exchange rate but it is well worth it.

To snorkel in this area we can choose to do it on our own carrying our own goggles or hire an expert guide through a company that in addition to lending the material will take us to the best spots to see all kinds of animals. Here it depends on the choice of each one.

Snorkeling is an activity only recommended for children with good skills in the water and always with caution.

Book your snorkeling activity in Oahu Island

8. Try the famous Kalbi Ribs

Coimiendo Kalbi Ribs| ©Sodanie Chea
Coimiendo Kalbi Ribs| ©Sodanie Chea

Getting to know the gastronomy of Oahu is also a great activity to enjoy with the family. In fact, the island's restaurants are very family oriented. Many of them are themed and have special menus for children.

The local cuisine is very varied but there is a dish that is usually liked above others becoming the star of the restaurants on Oahu.

I am talking about the famous Kalbi Ribs. Pork ribs cooked with a sesame and soy sauce. This dish is usually a hit with the youngest in the house and also with adults. Hawaiian gastronomy is based mainly on meats with very exotic dishes.

Book a food tour in Oahu

9. Visit Kualoa Ranch: A movie location

Kualoa Ranch| ©Yeison
Kualoa Ranch| ©Yeison

Hawaii has been the setting for several Hollywood movies, many of them well known among children. And there is one place where you can visit these sets and have a movie experience: Kualoa Ranch Park.

This ranch of more than 1,500 hectares was the setting for movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Pearl Harbour, but it is the Jurassic Park tours that have special prominence. In the park there are recreations of dinosaurs, footprints and part of the sets they used.

The park is toured in an antique bus and besides the cinematographic part, the scenery is impressive. The entrance fee for a full day is usually around 50 euros at the exchange rate. There are also organized tours that include the transfer to the park north of Honolulu.

Book a Jurassic Park tour in Oahu

10. A surf lesson for kids

Surfing in Haleiwa| ©Robert Linsdell
Surfing in Haleiwa| ©Robert Linsdell

I'm not revealing anything if I tell you that Hawaii is the mecca of surfing. This is the king sport of the islands and in Oahu one of the most popular activities. Traveling to the coasts of this island is an excellent opportunity to learn or practice this sport and it is an activity that children tend to like a lot.

If you are interested in practicing it, there are several options. There are beaches more focused on people who are already experts and others with calmer waters for beginners.

The best in this sense is the Waikiki beach because here there are more companies that offer classes to teach you or your children to surf. Surf lessons in Waikiki are about two hours, time enough in theory to stand up on the board, and are around 100 euros but there is a wide range to choose from. Boards are also rented if you already master the sport at much lower prices.

Book a surf lesson on Oahu

Tips for traveling to Hawaii with children

Oahu Highway| ©Deb Nystrom
Oahu Highway| ©Deb Nystrom

To enjoy the plans we have seen above and not get any surprises that spoil your trip, I leave you a series of tips that can help you if you travel with children:

  • If you want to avoid crowds and crowded beaches avoid traveling to Oahu at Christmas, Easter and summer. Besides the fact that in those dates the trip will be more expensive.
  • The weather is warm all year round and the sun is very strong, so it is almost mandatory to protect children with sunscreen and all kinds of protection against the sun.
  • To move around the different points of the island there are several methods. You can move around by renting a car, by cab or by the public transport system. The latter is the most economical but the most comfortable, especially if you go with children, is to rent a car.
  • In most tourist places there are discounts for children. But given the high demand especially in summer and high season prices go up. If you book your tickets online in advance you will always find better prices.