Oahu is the main island of Hawaii. Most tourists come here through Honolulu, it’s the capital city. But if you’re on vacation with children, some of the attractions on the island might not be the most appropriate.
Kids need to be part of a holiday as well and happy parents know they need to look for activities that involve the entire family if they want to be happy.
Table of Contents
- 13. Go diving at Atlantis Submarines
- 12. Go on a train ride with Hawaiian Railway Society Train Rides
- 11. Hike the Diamond Head State Monument
- 10. Go to the Children’s Discovery Center
- 9. Go ATV riding at Kualoa Ranch
- 8. Check out a real plantation
- 7. Play volleyball at Hanauma Bay
- 6. Visit the Honolulu Zoo
- 5. Go sunbathing at Hanauma Bay State Park
- 3. Take a road trip
- 2. Visit the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
- 1. Swim with dolphins
15. Try a zipline adventure
North Shore’s best zipline takes visitors over Keana Farms. This is one of the best places to start your Oahu adventure with children. Getting up to the 2 towers of the lines isn’t too complicated. Administrators take tourists up on ATVs, which is a fun experience for kids on its own.
14. Have a family dinner on Star of Honolulu
The Star of Honolulu is a famous cruise ship you can have dinner at. Various types of foods are on offer here. After a long day of exploration, it can be the right place to go to have a solid dinner with the family. Alternatively, you can consider it for lunch as well. There’s buffet-style serving for lunch on the ship.
This cruise ship also organizes certain tours that could be fun for families. Whale watching is one of their most popular tours. But a classic dinner and the ability to walk on a ship deck should be enough to impress the kids for life.
13. Go diving at Atlantis Submarines
Diving can be one of the most memorable experiences in Oahu. If you’re on holiday with your family, you should put it high on your list of priorities. Great water and clear blue water make Oahu the perfect place to go diving.
But the island isn’t just known for offering any type of diving. Go on an adventure and take a dive in a submarine. The one-hour dive will take you to weeks and reefs just from the shore.
Water is clear throughout the year so you will have a great view regardless of the weather conditions. Kids will also love this diving experience as they can see real large-size turtles around the submarines.
12. Go on a train ride with Hawaiian Railway Society Train Rides
Trains are fascinating to kids. Even some adults love trains. Old restored trains are used by the Hawaiian Railway Society Train Rides. They take you on a 6-mile ride which is ideal for kids. Tracks have also been restored and the rides are generally comfortable. However, these trains only run on Sundays and you’ll have to book them in advance.
11. Hike the Diamond Head State Monument
The volcanic tuff cone of Diamond Head is a must-see Oahu destination. The hike up the volcano isn’t technical or too demanding. However, since you’re hiking with kids, you will need to adopt a slower hiking pace.
This place is ideal during sunrise. Most parents have trouble waking up the kids before sunrise. However, those who can wake up the kids before 6 AM can see an amazing sunrise on a volcano.
One of the downsides of this popular hike is that it tends to be overcrowded nearly every day of the week. You might need to wake up the kids early to beat the crowds here.
10. Go to the Children’s Discovery Center
The Children’s Discovery Center at 111 Ohe St in Honolulu is another very popular destination for families. It has been designed like an interactive museum where kids can see basic structures miniaturized such as pharmacies and hospitals. Since all of these structures are interactive, kids can play and get their hands into the action.
There’s a small entrance fee you have to pay for each of the kids here. The activity center tends to be crowded during the day and strollers aren’t allowed here if you’re coming with a young child. However, the activity center can offer a fun experience for kids that can easily keep them occupied for a few hours.
9. Go ATV riding at Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch covers a surface of more than 4.000 acres. This means it’s one of the largest in Oahu. Most importantly, this ranch offers the most fun for the family. ATV riders can be booked here. You can drive an ATV with room for up to 4 people around the ranch yourself.
ATV riders can easily take a few hours at Kualoa Ranch. If your kids aren’t impressed by these small vehicles you can always choose another activity after a few hours without leaving the farm’s premises.
Tours are offered on the farm for those who want to see animals. Most importantly, this farm even has its zipline which can be the cherry on the cake after a long day spent outdoors.
8. Check out a real plantation
Plantations are seen in high numbers on all Hawaii islands. The Dole Plantation in Oahu tends to be the best for its proximity. This historic plantation has played a strategic role in how locals and tourists understand such places in Oahu.
It specializes in pineapples which is one of the favorite fruits for many children. The little ones can see pineapples grow and this can be seen as both a fun and an educative experience in Oahu.
7. Play volleyball at Hanauma Bay
Located on the Southern Coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is the most popular beach destination on the island over the past few decades. You can buy a volleyball and take your kids out on the beach to spend a day in one of the most idyllic places on earth.
However, this might be an experience with a limited-time proposal. It has been one of the most deteriorated natural habitats in Oahu, mainly through a large number of tourists. At its peak visiting year, it has seen over 3 million tourists with a negative mark on its immediate landscape.
The beach might close for regeneration and families need to rush here if they still want to see it before its closure.
6. Visit the Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is easily one of the top 10 locations to visit in Oahu with children. It stands out as a pristine location that spreads over 42 acres. The zoo is home to over 1.000 species of animals which makes it one of the largest in the US.
Children are normally fascinated by animals but seeing exotic species can be a different experience altogether. The Asian Elephant is the largest animal at the Honolulu Zoo. It impresses with its kindness and considerable proportions. Another large animal seen at the Honolulu Zoo is the white rhino.
This animal isn’t as friendly but it impresses with its size as well. One of the rarest animals in zoos found here is the Nyala antelope. With its long twisted horns, this animal is going to look different from what kids have seen in most small zoos.
5. Go sunbathing at Hanauma Bay State Park
The Hanauma Bay State Park is a natural reserve unlike many others in the world. With clear blue waters and reefs, it’s the type of state park that tends to attract mainly those who love nature. Snorkeling fans are mesmerized by its waters and its generous beach.
Kids can sunbathe and play on the beach all day here. But you can also teach kids snorkeling at the Hanauma Bay State Park. The main recommendation is to use a natural sunscreen protector here to protect the reef. Cafes and restaurants are also found nearby.
They can be a good place for a quick snack, depending on their strict opening day policies. Kids might also love this state park as they get to see giant turtles on the beach here which are only typically seen in zoos.
3. Take a road trip
A road trip can be the ultimate way to see Oahu and most of its tourist attractions for kids. This is one of the more expensive ways of seeing the island but it can also be highly rewarding as you can stop wherever you want.
You need to rent a car to comfortably see the island yourself. The best place to find affordable car rentals in Oahu is in Honolulu. This can also be the starting point of the road trip.
Most tourists take up to 7 days to drive around the island. While it sounds tiring, there are plenty of resting places and good affordable hotels to stay at along the road.
The main benefit of such a vacation includes seeing and doing more things in a short period. You can see the North Shore, the Dole Plantation, and Honolulu within a week.
2. Visit the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Going on holiday and having a history lesson at the same time is possible at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Most exhibitions of the museum are connected to the Pearl Harbor bombings and World War II. The shocking events of the past are seen through restored war airplanes at the museum.
While it’s not the largest WWII museum in the world, it certainly has plenty to offer. The official tour starts with a Pearl Harbor history movie. This can be the first experience for kids with the tragic events of WWII. The fun part for children starts when you step into the museum’s exhibits to see airplanes from different parts of the world.
The museum and its volunteers have been highly praised for restoring some of its exhibits successfully. Most of the WWI airplanes here are completely restored so kids can have a clear understanding of how they looked a few decades ago.
Most of the museum’s exhibitions are indoors which means you can spend hours here even if the weather isn’t perfect. It can be seen as a perfect plan B for the days when the weather isn’t so good while in Oahu.
This museum is also a historic place for Pearl Harbor. It has been the location of the radio alert on the harbor’s attack in WWII. Millions of dollars are expected to be invested to make this museum larger and to increase its role in the community as well as to boost tourism in Oahu.
1. Swim with dolphins
Oahu offers tens of places to swim with the dolphins, a fantastic experience for the entire family. Dolphin Quest and Sea Life Park are just a couple of places with organized dolphin swimming. This experience is fun and safe for the family.
Swimming with dolphins is an experience under the supervision of one or multiple trainers. Both kids and adults get the right training and life jackets for safety reasons.
These tours tend to be very popular during the summer and you need to book your places in advance. Ideally, you’d have your swimming session booked at least one week ahead.
When choosing which of the dolphin swimming experiences you want to embark on in Oahu, you need to consider prices and extras. Some companies offer the ability to have a custom video of your family. This option allows you to enjoy swimming and forget about filming the event as a dedicated person will follow your family along with the dolphins capturing every moment of the experience.
The experience is rare and children typically love dolphins because they are friendly. Unlike zoo visits, this is a more interactive experience that doesn’t allow kids to stay on the sidelines.
One of the most interesting parts of the experience for kids is that every dolphin has its personality. All dolphins are given names by the trainers and kids can play games in which they try to guess the dolphin coming and going from the group.
Most swimming sessions with the dolphins last around 30 minutes. This doesn’t involve the training period so you will get half an hour to play with the dolphins. This can be enough to let kids consume their energy naturally and to enjoy a unique experience with friendly dolphins to create life memories.