Pack those bags and get ready for a family vacation! It’s time for the Best Family Activities on Oahu list!
If you’re looking for a relaxing, fun, and memorable family vacation, then the island of Oahu may be the perfect place for you and your family!
Oahu is known as the gathering spot and hosts a never-ending supply of family-friendly activities. You’ll be sure to find fun activities for the whole family that will create memories that will last a lifetime.
We love to travel with our kids! A lot of people think we’re crazy for how much we travel with a 3-year-old and 15 month old (our oldest daughter had been on 20+ flights during her first year).
But when my husband and I got married and talked about our future family, the one thing we instantly agreed on was that we wouldn’t stop traveling when we had kids. The way we travel has certainly changed, but we’ve learned some tips & tricks along the way that make it possible (more on that in another post).
One of the biggest joys in family travel has been the fun activities we’ve been able to do with our kids. Even though our kids are still pretty young, we have found that there are always things to do and see that are age appropriate for them.
We have been to Hawaii three times as a family and have had a blast each time. Honolulu has enough activities to see and do to keep you busy for weeks, let alone add in the rest of the island! Because there are so many things to do on Oahu, we decided to help narrow it down for you. Here are our best family activities on Oahu that we love doing as a family with young kids!
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at Kahanamoku Beach
When staying on Oahu, we typically stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. Right next to the village is the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon, which is one of the best and relaxing places to swim near Waikiki. This lagoon is picturesque with Diamond head in the background and the ocean just a few hundred feet away.
With little kids, this has been a perfect place to relax and spend hours playing in the water. We can enjoy the ocean water without getting hit by waves and our girls love to be pushed around and see tiny schools of fish swim below them.
Right next to the lagoon, you can also rent stand up paddle boards and other various water equipment. The lagoon gets pretty deep next to the island in the middle and you are able to snorkel and see some fish since the lagoon is fed from the ocean.
The great thing about Hawaii is that all of the beaches are public property. Whether you are staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or a hotel nearby, you are able to come and enjoy the lagoon. It’s the aloha spirit!
If you’re looking for a fun family day with multiple activities and food, then the Dole Plantation is a perfect place to check out. We loved visiting with our girls and since it’s only 45 minutes outside of Honolulu, we made it into a fun day trip before we headed to the airport for our night flight home.
Dole Plantation offers a fun train ride, called the Pineapple Express, that takes you on a two-mile guided tour of the pineapple plantation. It’s a gorgeous ride and we loved doing it at the end of the day when the sun was setting over the mountains. It was beautiful and our three year old was in heaven because she was on a train!
They also offer a maze, gardens to tour and of course yummy food (someone say Dole whip!!) and a big gift store. This is definitely a stop we’ll make again and as our girls grow older, they’ll enjoy it even more.
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice
On a warm Hawaiian day, shave ice is always on the menu! Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa is a popular spot to stop. If you’re able to get there early, definitely do so! They can have pretty long lines, but when we stopped early in the morning we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
Just remember, you’re on vacation so 10 am is a perfectly acceptable time to enjoy a shaved ice! Don’t forget to add the scoop of vanilla ice cream. Trust me, it’s amazing!
Ko Olina Beach
If you’re looking for a nice lagoon to relax at for the day outside of Honolulu, check out the Ko Olina area. Because the beaches in Hawaii are all public, you can go and relax at any beach! We went to the Disney Aulani Resort for the day and enjoyed the beautiful lagoon they have. Plus, our oldest daughter got a Mickey ice cream and thought she was in heaven!
Although the beaches are open to the public, each resort has its own seating on the beach and that is not for use by the public. They watch who is using their beach chairs pretty closely and they know if you’re not a hotel guest because you don’t have an armband.
But don’t let that discourage you from enjoying the beautiful beaches at different resorts. Bring your own chair or lay out a towel on the sand and enjoy the beautiful Hawaiian beaches!
Hawaii is host to some of the most beautiful waters and amazing ocean life! Getting to see and experience firsthand some of what the ocean has to offer is a blast at the Waikiki Aquarium. Right on the shore of Waikiki beach, Waikiki Aquarium is the second-oldest public aquarium in the United States and first opened in 1904.
At the Waikiki Aquarium, you’ll be able to see first-hand Weedy Seadragons, Seahorses, beautiful corals, a wide variety of Hawaiian fish, monks seals, and more!
Depending on your speed, you can see the aquarium in a few hours. Our three year old loved getting to visit some of the outside tanks where they let you get up close and personal with some of the exhibits.
Another thing we especially loved and found special was the photo’s we received. When entering the aquarium, you are greeted by aquarium staff who offer to take your photo in front of the green screen. Being used to tourist things like this, we said yes, but weren’t planning on buying any of the photos.
On our way out of the aquarium, an aquarium staff member showed us our pictures in a beautiful book that told you all about the aquarium and it was a free gift to us for visiting the aquarium! The photos were great and it was the perfect way to remember our day at the aquarium. I highly suggest making this a stop on your vacation!
Who doesn’t love good food on vacation! My husband and I love finding new and unique places to eat while on vacation. Although he’s more adventurous to try new types of food, we have found some great food trucks in Oahu that offer more unique foods to Hawaii and your typical food selections.
If you’re on the North Shore, definitely check out Thong’s Thai in Kahuku. It has the BEST Thai I’ve ever had in my life and it’s also amongst a bunch of other food trucks like BBQ and frozen yogurt. It’s a great place for the whole family to try something new! We also recommend the snowstorm frozen yogurt from Ono Yo. Condensed milk, coconut, and marshmallow?! Nope, you can’t go wrong!
Going to a luau is a great Hawaiian experience to share as a family. With so many different luaus offered, it’s hard to know which one to pick. I have been to several luaus on different Hawaiian vacations and the best family luau I have been to is Disney’s Aulani luau.
It’s hosted at the Disney Aulani resort and is by far the best family-friendly luau! With pre-dinner activities for kids like fresh lei making, poi pounding and more, there’s not enough time to enjoy it all!
Our oldest daughter loved getting to meet Moana and see Mickey and Minnie teach the hula. My husband and I really enjoyed the food and the luau show. Only the beginning of the show was aimed at the kids and the rest was a beautifully crafted story that highlighted the story of the region where the resort is located and of course the typical Hawaiian dancing and singing.
Because the luau is at Disney, you can expect it to be a well-crafted show and performance, which we thought it certainly was! To learn more about our experience at Disney’s Aulani luau, check out this post.
Plus, make sure to check out our video sharing our favorite parts!
If you’re looking for a unique and delicious place to eat in Honolulu, check out Goofy’s by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We’ve stayed at the Hilton for years and never noticed this place until our last trip. Man have we been missing out! This restaurant is on the second floor in a small building and the inside is a truly cozy and laid back Hawaiian feel.
If you love fresh upper scale food, then you’ll love this place! Our daughters shared the French toast with fruit, I had the Acai bowl and my husband had the Salmon Benedict and it was all to die for! No, seriously!
We went back several times after that and you bet we’ll be going back each time when we return to Honolulu! These photo’s we snapped of the awesome food makes we want to jump on the next plane back!
Oahu is packed with endless family activities that will create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you enjoy beaches, checking out the local wildlife, adventure, or trying out new food places, Oahu will not disappoint.
I hope you’re able to check out some of our favorite places in Oahu and add them to your list of favorite family activities. Enjoy your vacation on Oahu and don’t forget the sunscreen!