Oahu Family Attractions and Activities Guide
The beautiful Hawaiian Island of Oahu is a great location for a family vacation. It offers visitors everything from the bustling city of Waikiki to high country pineapple plantations, mazes and soft sandy beaches. Traveling with children brings many joys, but also provides its own set of challenges. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things for adults to do too! Often the attractions that first spring to mind are not entirely well suited for children. Use this guide to Oahu attractions and activities to plan an amazing trip to the island.
Top Family Attractions and Activities in Oahu
If you are looking for a budget friendly family attraction, then head to the Honolulu Zoo. It is open every day except for Christmas and at only $8 for adults, $1 for kids, and entirely free for the under-fives it is a bargain! Picnics are welcome, making this a fantastic budget-friendly activity.
The mission of the Honolulu Zoo is to provide conservation, education, and meaningful experiences to our community. The Zoo emphasizes both Pacific tropical island ecosystems and our traditional values of mālama (caring) and ho`okipa (hospitality).
Make sure to meet the zoo’s two twin baby lemurs Mel and Frank, as well as their newest reticulated giraffes Neelix and Sandy!
Honolulu Zoo| 151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815| (808) 926-3191
The Waikiki Aquarium is another fantastic family friendly attraction that is worth a visit. There are plenty of great hands-on exhibits that allow you and your children to experience the best that the underwater world has to offer.
Check out their great online tour before you go. The aquarium is affiliated with the University of Hawaii, allowing it to provide some fantastic educational opportunities for families. With general admission at just $12, this is a great way for your kids to experience Hawaii.
You’ll learn about coral reef farms and their importance, the native and vibrant marine life of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the diversity and adaptation of these amazing animals.
Waikiki Aquarium| 2777 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815| (808) 923-9741
For those who prefer to stick to dry land and are ready to hit the saddle, Kualoa Ranch offers a great horseback adventure for kids over the age of 3. The ranch is a 45-minute drive north of Waikiki and is an incredibly fun program and something even young children will be able to enjoy.
The Kualoa Valley is known as Jurassic Valley, yes, that’s right, where the first Jurassic Park was filmed. There are so many great experiences to be had for the entire family. Whether you take a Jurassic Park Adventure Tour, the Jurassic Valley Zipline tour, or the 2-hour UTV Raptor Tour, you’re sure to have the time of your life.
Kualoa Ranch| 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744| (808) 237-7321
The Cultural Center offers a unique look at the history of the Hawaiian Islands and their other Polynesian cousins. Run by the Mormon Church and staffed mostly by students at the nearby Brigham Young University, the Cultural Center allows you to travel through Polynesian history and culture and glimpse life the way it was before Hawaii became the 50th state.
End your day with a traditional Luau and a phenomenal Hula show featuring traditional dances including some spectacular drumming and fire dancing. It is a must-see for the whole family.
Polynesian Cultural Center| 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762| (800) 367-7060
Side Note: No trip to Oahu would be complete without a trip to the beach. Oahu’s coast is littered with fantastically pristine beaches. However, while they are all beautiful, not all are safe or appropriate for young children.
Make sure to check out the North Shore and watch the phenomenal surfers. It is spectacular. But the very waves that attract the surfers make these beaches a hazard for young children.
Ko Olina Lagoons
Ko Olina encompasses over 640 acres that features a string of 4 jewel-toned lagoons connected by more than a mile and a half of seaside pathways. One of best areas to enjoy the warm Hawaiian waters with kids is the Ko Olina Lagoons. These lagoons offer the perfect spot for young children to explore the sand and ocean, with the added bonus of parents not having the constant fear of strong waves.
There are no lifeguards on duty, and guests swim at their own risk. Keep in mind that Ko Olina is privately owned with public pedestrian traffic permitted to and from the lagoon beaches. Parking can be tough as they are incredibly popular, so plan to arrive early in the morning.
Ko Olina Lagoons
Any trip to Hawaii must include a trip to Waikiki Beach. Located on the south shore of Honolulu, the world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for royalty. Known in Hawaiian as "spouting waters,” with Mount Lēʻahi as your backdrop, the calm waters of Waikiki are perfect for learning to surf. Afterall, Waikiki Beach is synonymous with the amazing surf culture of Oahu.
This iconic beach is usually busy so it might not be the best place to relax with young children. However, the ivory sand is clean and well cared for and perfect for building sandcastles. The area surrounding the beach is also full of shops and restaurants and even the fussiest of families are bound to find somewhere along this stretch to suit their tastes and budget.
The Dole Plantation makes a fantastic family destination. The main attractions for kids are riding the pineapple express train and exploring the phenomenal maze. The maze is billed as the world’s largest, and is a lot of fun for the whole family. You really haven’t tasted pineapple until you have eaten it in Hawaii, and it doesn’t get any fresher than at the Dole plantation!
The plantation also has some of the most stunningly beautiful tropical gardens that you will ever see. Make sure you take your camera; it is the perfect spot for dozens of family photos. It is about a 40- minute drive from Waikiki, but worth the trip.
Dole Plantation| 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786| (808) 621-8408
Diamond Head State Monument
Hawaii’s most recognized landmark is known for its historic hiking trails, stunning coastal views, and even its epic military history. Diamond Head is actually part of the Ko’olau Range of volcanoes that began erupting below sea level over 2.6 million years ago.
Depending on the age and physical abilities of your kids this short hike is well worth the amazing views from the top. Oahu offers some great easy-moderate walks. Try Likeke Falls in Kaneohe or Puu Pia in Manoa Valley, which will reward you with some stunning views of Honolulu.
If your littles legs are up to it, visit Diamond Head. The path is a little more challenging and not suitable for a stroller at all, the top of the walk is all steps. The view is spectacular though! Make sure you carry plenty of water and apply sunscreen before you set off on any hike.
There is an entrance fee of $5 for non-Hawaii residents and is open 6 am to 4 pm daily.
Diamond Head State Monument| Honolulu, HI 96815| (808) 587-0300
Sea Life Park Hawaii
This is a very reasonably priced attraction, it offers some fantastic sea life encounters, particularly the stingrays. You are able to wade in the water with these friendly creatures who really enjoy the human touch.
This unique experience offers an experience your family will remember for years to come. In addition to the stingrays, there are turtles, penguins, and sea lions. They also offer a fantastic opportunity to swim with and interact with dolphins. This sleepy little town also hides a great beach that is a little off the beaten track, but a perfect spot to watch the sunrise.
Your family can also experience Oahu's Best Authentic Oceanfront Lu'au! That’s right you can join the 'ohana (family) and celebrate the beloved ocean and the Polynesian ancestors. Enjoy all of this at the best Oahu Aquarium waterpark in Honolulu Hawaii.
Sea Life Park Hawaii| 41-202 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimanalo Beach, HI 96795| (808) 259-2500
Wet ’N’ Wild Hawaii
Head to the Wet’N’Wild Hawaii Waterpark for fun in the sun. With great attractions that are suited for adults, teens, kids and families of all ages, this is a great stop if you are looking for a day of fun. You’ll find rides and attractions, shopping, and dining options inside the park. This water park also offers crazy golf and is the perfect place for some family playtime. Adults can enjoy the bar and beverage cart, while kids can chow down at the Windjammer Café.
Wet’N’Wild Hawaii| 400 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707
Each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own character and charm. Oahu has so many great destinations and activities to offer families that it would be impossible to list them all. Hawaiian’s value family and children. For this reason, restaurants, shops, and hotels welcome families wholeheartedly. Oahu is a spectacularly beautiful location and a great destination for your next family vacation.