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Things to do in Oahu with Kids

 

Maui Things to Do

Maui Restaurants Road To Hana Kaanapali Beach Club

Oahu Things to Do

Polynesian Cultural Center Pearl Harbor Hilton Hawaiian Village - Oahu

Oahu is the second oldest island in the Hawaiian chain and home to Hawaii's capital, Honolulu.  It offers visitor's nightlife as well as a day on the beach.  It is home to world class hotels, terrific restaurants, great shopping, entertaining tours,  magnificent beaches, as well as rich history and culture.

We did an early morning, inter-island flight from Maui to Oahu via Hawaiian Air.  We arrived in Oahu at the Honolulu Int’l Airport (HNL) by 10:00 am.  Hawaiian Air was a great airline to use.  The planes are large and flights run throughout the day.  The flight was very short, in fact by the time they serve refreshments it is time to land. The airport is about 30 minute ride to Waikiki depending on traffic.

Our week in Oahu was split between beach and water activities and tours.

You can get around the island by shuttle, taxi, bus tours or Hawaii’s excellent public transportation system. But to really experience Oahu I would recommend renting a car.  We had a car the entire week that we were there and we traveled all over the island.

Sites to See in Oahu

Bishop Museum

This museum is located near downtown Honolulu and the Honolulu International airport.  Great place to visit half the day if it is raining.  This is a multi-building museum that contains the world's largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts such as the last grass shack in Hawaii, feathered king's capes, spears, Polynesian art, and even a whale skeleton.  The real hit of the museum is the Science adventure center which is an interactive, fun environment where you descend through a glow-in-the-dark tunnel to explore the inner workings of a volcano.  Be sure to check the times for the tours and shows to determine what you are interested in seeing.  The Hula Performance and the planetarium shows get great reviews.

Waimea Beach

Waimea Bay beach park is a great beach to visit and take the family.  In August, it was not very crowded which is a nice change from Waikiki beach.  The problem is that parking is limited so get there early to get a parking spot or plan on spending a half hour waiting for someone to leave.  The highlight of this beach for my family was "the rock".   A huge rock, probably 20 feet high, that you can jump off of into the ocean.  If you are not into rock jumping it is a great place to swim in the clean, blue water or simply to sit on the beach and enjoy the view.  Much of the year the water is very calm, but if you go in the winter the waves can be huge and you will see amazing surfing.

Honolulu Zoo

The zoo is a short walk from downtown Waikiki.  It is home to more than 1,000 different types of animals, mammals, birds, and reptiles.  You will find lions, tigers, hippos, elephants, monkeys, giraffes zebras and native Hawaiian birds.   There is also a children's zoo where kids can pet llamas and cows.  Admission is very reasonable and the kids will be entertained.

Hanauma Bay State Park 

Hanauma Bay  is alive with marine life and tropical fish and is therefore a great place to snorkel and scuba dive. In addition, the wide sandy beach is great for swimming, surfing, body boarding. You can also hike on scenic trails along the coastline above the bay to enjoy the view.

Mountain Bike Tour

If you are adventurous how about a 5 mile downhill bike tour and picnic lunch.  Enjoy Hawaii's rainforest, beautiful views, and history as you ride down a paved road.  My husband and daughter did this tour and really enjoyed it. 

Historic Honolulu

Enjoy History?  Consider taking  a walking tour of Honolulu to see the history that lives there.  You will see such sites as the Iolani Palace, Hawaii State Capitol, Kamehameha I Statue, Old Federal Building and the first Christian church in Hawaii.

North Shore

The North shore is about and hour from Waikiki beach. The beaches and nature parks along the North Shore offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and O'ahu's natural beauty. If you are lucky enough to visit in the winter you will also enjoy seeing the big winter waves and may catch a glimpse of whales frolicking in the sea. During the winter months, the swells at world-famous surf spots like Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach reach 30 feet or more. For the remainder of the year the water is calm and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving.  It is a great location to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the day.

Sandy Beach Park

Located on Oahu's South Shore, twenty minutes from Waikiki, is Sandy beach.  The surf at this beach breaks very near shore making it perfect for body surfing and boogie boarding. My husband and son absolutely loved it.  The water is very rough and the current is very strong.  Do not be mislead by the locals who make it look very easy.  When the waves are higher than two to four feet it is advised that you leave the water to experienced people.  To enter these waters you absolutely need to be wearing fins.  It is great fun to sit on the beach and watch the locals do their stuff!!!

Manoa Falls

Located 20 minutes from Honolulu in a tropical rain forest.  If you enjoy hiking then you will love the 3/4 mile trail of bamboo and lush vegetation leading to the falls.   Manoa Falls cascades  150 feet into a crystal clear pool. 

Waikiki Aquarium

The aquarium is a short walk from downtown Waikiki.  Each guest receives their own handheld phone to listen to at each exhibit.  It is small but enjoyable for young children who get a peek at what its like below the sea.  There is an indoor and outdoor area with a few creatures that you can touch.  It will take you a few hours to see everything.

Pearl Harbor

There are a variety of things to see in Pearl Harbor.  First and foremost is the USS Arizona Memorial which is free.  In addition, for a charge you can visit the Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum  and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum.  

A trip to visit the USS Arizona memorial is a must see when visiting Oahu.  This is one tour that is so touching that you will never forget it. 

For details and pictures see All Star Activities section on Pearl Harbor

Polynesian Cultural Center

The top attraction on the North Shore is the 43 acre Polynesian Cultural Center with its large lagoon, waterfalls, tropical landscape and an "erupting" volcano.  It is a great all day tour that everyone will enjoy.  Plan on staying for the luau and show.

For details and pictures see All Star Activities section on Polynesian Cultural Center

Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation is a pleasant stop if you are visiting the North Shore area.  You will be able to learn the history of pineapple plantations and how pineapples are grown, picked and processed.  You can take a twenty minute train ride through Oahu pineapple fields. However, the most popular attractions of the plantation is the Pineapple Maze, which was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest maze. The maze spreads out over two acres and has lots of loops, dead ends and wrong turns.  So the question is are you ready for the challenge?

Attend a Luau

Luaus are always a fun way to spend a night.  The food is usually mediocre but the festivities make up for it.  The kids will love the music, hula and fire dancing. 

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Kualoa Ranch

This ranch, located on the North Shore, is a great place to visit.  You will find something for everyone. There is horseback riding, ATV tours, jungle expedition, ocean voyaging, and the movie sites and ranch tour.

We decided on the movie sites and ranch tour since my son is a movie buff.  It was a one hour narrated tour across Kualoa Ranch.  You will see the locations where movie and television programs like Jurassic Park, Godzilla, George of the Jungle, Fifty First Dates were filmed and learn about the history of the ranch.  The views from the ranch are beautiful at certain locations.

 

 The ATV and jungle expedition tours looked like fun.  The place is very clean and well maintained and the staff is very friendly.  I would absolutely advise visiting this great ranch.