Oahu isn’t just Hawaii’s third-largest island. It’s also home to Hawaii’s capital and largest city, it’s a place to explore history and it’s a popular vacation spot, whether you select one of its luxury resorts or a quiet beach away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s also a family-friendly place to visit. Take a look at these exciting things to do on Oahu with kids.
Check Out the Honolulu Zoo
The 42-acre Honolulu Zoo at Waikiki should be the first item on your list. Family members of all ages will enjoy getting to know over 1,230 animals, many of which are native to Hawaii. See hippos, giraffes, Komodo dragons, cheetahs, lions, hyenas and a couple of orangutans. There’s also a kiddie zoo with a playground and animals you can pet.
Eat Shaved Ice
On those warm Hawaiian days, you can’t go wrong with one of Oahu’s most beloved treats: shaved ice. There are several spots around the island to grab shaved ice in your favorite flavors, including a little cafe that is frequented by President Obama (he likes cherry, lime and passion fruit). Best of all, shaved ice isn’t going to break the bank.
Explore Hanauma Bay State Park
If you prefer to spend your vacation exploring nature, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Hanauma Bay State Park. What was once a volcano crater is now a unique and beautiful marine ecosystem where you can spot over 400 species of fish, sea turtles and other awesome marine creatures. It’s a hot spot for swimming and snorkeling, so don’t forget your bathing suit.
Visit the Waikiki Aquarium
If you like to see marine life but you aren’t crazy about swimming with them, opt for the Waikiki Aquarium instead. It opened in 1904, and it’s become one of the most beloved things to visit in Oahu. See creatures like Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sea snakes, coral reefs and dozens of species of colorful fish.
Spend a Day at the Beach
For something a little more relaxing, you can’t go wrong with one of Oahu’s 125 beaches. Swim, snorkel, sunbathe, surf or build sandcastles at some local favorites, such as Lanikai Beach, which looks like a scene from a postcard. It’s also popular with families because of its calm, gentle waters. The five-mile Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is one of Hawaii’s largest beaches, and it’s been called one of the best beaches in the United States. The waters are a bit rougher here, which makes it a favorite for surfing, fishing and boogie boarding.
Swim With Dolphins
There are a few places in Oahu that allow you to get up close and personal with dolphins, and doing so is an absolute blast. Sea Life Park is one option, and it’s a top choice for family things to do in Oahu. Not only can you swim with dolphins here, but you can also take part in sea lion encounters, enjoy a luau, learn about Hawaiian reefs and spend time with penguins, native Hawaiian birds, sea turtles and other wild creatures.
Things to do in Oahu include a trip to Wet’n’Wild Hawaii, home of the Chief’s Luau and attractions like Island Racer, Raging River, Waianae Coaster and Big Kahuna. The water park has lush tropical landscaping and natural cliffs, a well as several thrill rides, such as the four-story-high Volcano Express racing slide. The Water World Kids Playground is a multi-level complex that has slides, a tipping bucket, a lily pad walk and water cannons. You can rent a private cabana or thatched roof umbrella.
Dive 100 feet below the surface of the sea with Atlantis Adventures. The kids will have a blast on the high-tech recreational submarine as they watch green sea turtles, eels and sharks swim by. For added fun, combine your deep-sea adventure with the island style buffet cruise. You can explore the two air-conditioned decks and open-air top deck of the cruise vessel (called the “Majestic”), and see Honolulu’s colorful sunset and skyline views. The whale watch cruise and the Friday night fireworks cruise are also popular.
Kualoa Ranch & Zipline
Kualoa Ranch & Zipline is a working cattle ranch, nature reserve and filming location for movies like “Kong – Skull Island” and “Windtalkers.” The ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and strives to preserve Kualoa’s sacred lands and celebrate its history. Activities at the ranch include ATV, kayak, UTV, jungle jeep and horseback tours. All ages can enjoy the farm trolley tour, Hollywood movie site tour, ocean adventure tour and secret island beach activities. All adventures are guided tours.
Dole Plantation is found on every Oahu tourist map. The site provides Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience” with activities for the entire family and informational displays and presentations. The Pineapple Garden Maze features two and one-half miles of paths designed from 14,000 Hawaiian plants. The Pineapple Express Train Tour and Plantation Garden Tour are additional attractions. The Plantation Grille features island favorites.
Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center is located near Kaka’ako Waterfront Park in Honolulu. There’s no beach, but the park sits on the Honolulu seashore and offers plenty of space to play. The three-story children’s museum houses high-tech, interactive exhibits, and The Tot Spot is an exhibit area for children who are five-years-old or younger. The Fantastic You! exhibit provides an inside look at the human body, while Your Town lets kids be a grown-up for a day. Special events are offered throughout the year.
Coral Crater Adventure Park
A 60-foot Adventure Tower is the focal point at Coral Crater Adventure Park. The tower is a two-level jungle gym Challenge Course that requires you to navigate through ropes, surf on a rail and walk across wobbly bridges while suspended in the sky. The Climbing Wall, King Swing, Freefall and a 6-line Zipline Course are also found on the tower.