The Hawaiian island of Oahu is an ideal destination for families. Surrounded by the blue water of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find plenty of fun and sun to keep your family busy. From the calm water of Waikiki Beach to the adrenaline rush of the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore, this island paradise calls to visitors.
Popular family resorts like Hilton Hawaiian Village, Turtle Bay Resort, and Aulani, the Disney resort, attract families looking for onsite activities. But adventurous travelers know that the fun starts once you venture outside the resort. Explore the island with our suggestions for fun things to do in Oahu.
A tour we think you'll love
1) Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Snorkeling is arguably one of the best things to do in Oahu with kids. Start your visit to the Hawaiian island with a visit to Hanauma Bay, where the water is relatively calm, with plenty of tropical fish to see. You may even get lucky with a sighting of Hawaii’s legendary sea turtles!
The bay was once overcrowded, and the wildlife was suffering. Through concerted efforts, this is now a protected nature preserve with strict limitations on the number of daily visitors. Make a park reservation two days in advance. Same-day walk-up tickets are offered, but they go very quickly. If you are hoping for a same-day ticket, show up when the park opens at 6:45 am.
Bring your own snorkel gear, life preservers, and reef-safe sunscreen.
2) Explore Oahu With A Local Guide
Let the local guides with Aloha Circle Island Tours show you the best sights on Oahu with a full-day island tour. Explore Oahu’s top sites, plus a few hidden spots you might otherwise miss.
You’ll circle the island in comfort and hear stories of Hawaiian culture, native traditions, and Hawaiian history. These guides love to talk stories, and most of them are even true!
Can’t-miss highlights include:
Coffee & Macadamia Farms
The Premium Circle Island Tour includes a chance to go swimming and snorkeling with the vibrant marine life. There will be plenty of opportunities to take excellent family photos.
3) Things To Do In Oahu With Kids Who Like Trains
The Hawaiian Railway Society Train is one of the lesser-known attractions on Oahu. This non-profit group runs train rides on restored rail cars along a historic stretch of tracks from Ewa to Nanakuli.
Train journeys are two hours long and narrated by a local guide. The line ends at Kahe Point, where the train stops for a few minutes so passengers can enjoy the view before returning to Ewa.
Train rides are offered Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday year-round.
4) Free Family Entertainment
A short walk from Waikiki Beach, the Royal Hawaiian Center offers shopping, food, and free live entertainment that’s good for the whole family. Local entertainment at the Royal Grove includes hula dancing, ukulele, and Hawaiian music.
Free lessons are offered in hula, lei making, and lauhala weaving, with classes for kids.
Dining at the Royal Hawaiian Center includes mainland favorites like the Cheesecake Factory and local specialties like the Honolulu Cookie Company, Hawaiian Cane Juice, Island Vintage Coffee, and more.
5) Enjoy Tropical Foliage
If you are looking for things to do with kids in Oahu where they can walk off some energy, spend a day visiting Honolulu’s gardens. Honolulu is home to not just one but five botanical gardens, and they are all within an hour’s drive of Waikiki.
The five gardens are:
Wahiawā Botanical Garden
Take a garden tour or sign up for classes in gardening, bracelet making, journaling, and meditation.
6) Best Oahu Beaches For Families
Sunset Beach State Park on Oahu’s North Shore, close to the Turtle Bay Resort, has good snorkeling and is close to the famous Banzai Pipeline, where you can watch the hard-core surfers.
Lanikai Beach, also called Turtle Beach, on the North Shore, is home to the giant Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. You’ll find the protected turtles sunning on the beach, but don’t touch them, as they are protected by federal law.
Kailua Beach, on the eastern side of the island, is great for beach activities. Rentals are available for bikes, snorkel gear, bodyboards, and surfboards.
7) Experience The Culture Of The Hawaiian Islands
The 42-acre Polynesian Cultural Center is a fantastic trip through the Polynesian islands. Wander through the grounds and explore the villages of Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, and all the Hawaiian islands. Displays are interactive and include games, dances, cooking, and fishing without a net.
Experience the Hawaiian culture through food at the authentic luau. Enjoy local favorites like kalua pork, huli chicken, pike, teriyaki chicken, and much more.
8) Things To Do In Oahu With Kids Who Love Animals
The small Honolulu Zoo has animals from the African savanna, the tropical forests of Asia and America, and the Pacific Islands.
With a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium, kids can see giant clams, a living coral reef, seahorses, tropical fish, sharks, and other marine predators.
Sea Life Park Hawaii gives kids a chance to get up close to sea lions, reef sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and more. Explore the habitats and watch the dolphin and sea lion shows. Sea Life also offers a dolphin encounter program where guests can get into the water with the dolphins.
9) Pearl Harbor National Memorial Junior Ranger
Traveling with kids to Hawaii, you may not have considered adding the Pearl Harbor National Memorial to your itinerary for fear that they would not appreciate it. However, we can assure you this is one of the top things to do with kids in Oahu.
The memorial is part of the US National Park Service and includes the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma, USS Utah Memorials, and the visitor center.
Admission to the National Memorial is free, and no ticket is required. However, in order to take the boat to the USS Arizona Memorial, you will need a timed ticket.
Get tickets in one of three ways:
Online reservation eight weeks in advance or 24 hours prior
Stand by line
An approved tour operator like Aloha Circle Island Tours will provide your timed tickets.
The boat ride out to the USS Arizona will be the highlight of your visit. Audio guides are available for touring the gallery displays. Kids can complete a Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt booklet and receive a badge.
Additional Pearl Harbor historic sites are available for a fee, and they include:
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
USS Bowfin submarine
A Memorable Family Vacation In Oahu
Explore Oahu, the great gathering place, with your family. You’ll find more than the usual sand, sea, and fruity little umbrella drinks. Bring back more than pictures. Bring back great memories as your lifelong souvenirs.