Oahu offers Waikiki, beautiful sandy beaches and lots of visitor activities!
By far the most urban of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu offers the pulse and excitement of Waikiki and seemingly endless shopping opportunities as well as lush rainforests, pineapple plantations and the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Being the most populated and urban of the islands, it has mega-plex movie theaters, amusement parks and lots of fast-paced activities to keep kids entertained.
Our picks for Oahu’s fun family activities:
Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture, beauty and diversity of Hawaii and the South Pacific at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This has been a must-see for first-time visitors to the islands for many years. Kids will be impressed with how fast a coconut tree can be climbed and then the plucked coconut opened with just a few deft moves. Samples of the newly opened coconut are always a treat.
Visit the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor— One of my son’s favorite museums is the nearby Aviation Museum, for a fascinating look at the aircraft and aviation heroes involved in the battles of the Pacific during WWII. To avoid lines and parking issues, you may want to take a bus tour that takes you to the Arizona Memorial for the Pearl Harbor Heroes Adventure.
Swim with dolphins at Sea Life Park — There are a few tour companies that specialize in finding schools of Hawaii’s beautiful spinner dolphins so that visitors can experience swimming with them in their own habitat. .
Experience a Hawaiian Luau — we recommend the Paradise Cove Luau. Located about an hour’s drive out of Waikiki on 12 spectacular oceanfront acres, they make it extra fun with Hawaiian arts & crafts, games of skill, songs, tropical dances with the best traditional luau food.
Parasail off Waikiki — only for those who aren’t afraid of heights! Sail high over the water for a fantastic view of Waikiki, peaceful and exhilarating at the same time! We recommend X-Treme Parasail that leaves from Kewalo Basin, just a few minutes drive from Waikiki.
See Hawaii’s unique birds and plants — We have more endangered plants and animals than any other location in the world. Oahu Nature Tours is the premier eco tour company on the island and the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. Their Natural Highlights of Oahu tour includes one of our favorite spots — the Enchanted Lake bird sanctuary.
Dive with sharks — If you’re just a bit crazy, you’ll love it! North Shore Shark Adventure was the first tour company to offer these tours and they provide a shark cage — to keep their customers in and sharks out! If this sounds too wild for you, a great alternative is the Atlantis Submarine that takes you to the reefs off Waikiki to see sunken ships, airplanes and lots of tropical fish (and perhaps a shark).
Drive around the Island — You’ll be amazed at beauty of the island of Oahu. From the spectacular Nuuanu Pali lookout to pristine beaches to giant waves at the North Shore. It’s good to go on a bus tour as the guides can be very informative and you can’t get lost! Grand Circle Island Tour w/ Dole Plantation is a good choice.
Go Whale-watching — Humpback whales are common in Oahu’s waters from December to April as they come to Hawaii to have their young. Sometimes you can see whales from shore, Makapuu point is a good land-based vantage point for whale watching. If you can go out on a boat you’ll often get an “up-close and personal” encounter. We’ve had whales come within feet of our sailboat. If you don’t have your own boat, the Navatek Whale Watch Lunch Cruise is a good choice as they offer a free cruise if you don’t see a whale on your first time out.
Top Ten for Kids on Oahu
1. Take a Hike – Makapuu lighthouse, Jackass Ginger or Maunawili Trail
2. An afternoon at the Water Park
3. Visit Sea Life Park or the Aquarium
4. Explore a tide pool or snorkel at Hanauma Bay
5. Polynesian Cultural Center
6. Explore the waters off Waikiki in a Submarine
7. Visit the Honolulu Zoo
8. Learn to surf
9. Explore Bishop Museum
10. Visit the Arizona Memorial and neighboring museums