Things to do in Honolulu

Best Things to Do in Oahu With Kids

There are so many fun things to do in Oahu with kids, from visiting fascinating museums to splashing in the ocean.

If you're visiting Oahu and searching for things to do in Honolulu and beyond, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly attractions so you can start planning ways to spend quality time together.

North Shore

Some of the best attractions in Oahu for kids can be found on the North Shore.

1. Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center offers such a fun experience that kids won’t even realize is educational, too. The center includes six different island exhibits, each of which proudly showcases its own culture. During the Island of Hawaii presentation, you learn to fish without a net and about the spirit of aloha.

Head to the Island of Aotearoa to learn about Maori tattoos, master the art of poi, and watch the Maori warrior haka dance. We’re in awe of the tree-climbing demonstrations at the Island of Samoa exhibit. Those young warriors have a head for heights, like our high-flying performers.

Be sure to explore all the island exhibits before heading to the Hale Aloha or Gateway restaurant to sample Polynesian cuisine. Make reservations for dinner to be entertained with song, dance, and live music while you dine.

There are plenty of keiki (kid) foods, including sweet pulled pork alongside familiar fare, such as french fries and macaroni and cheese.

Photographer: cgordon8527

2. Waimea Valley

The round trip from Waimea Bay to Waimea Falls is less than two miles and is easily walkable for little legs. This jungle trail is also packed with more than 5,000 native and exotic plant species, showcasing the incredible biodiversity of Waimea Valley. If you’d rather not walk, golf cart shuttles are available to take you to the falls.

The venue offers various educational programs for young people. Schools and homeschool groups can apply to participate in experiences, such as dressing up in traditional Hawaiian clothing, caring for native plants, and playing the same games that ancient Hawaiians once played.

3. Shark's Cove Snorkeling

If your kids love swimming, Shark's Cove is the perfect place to practice snorkeling. Scuba Diving Magazine rated it as one of the world’s top 12 shore dives, but there’s plenty to see even if you don’t have any scuba gear. Schools of fish swim past, and a variety of creatures hide in the coral.

If you aren't an experienced snorkeler, or you want to visit the reefs further out, booking a tour with a company, such as Oahu Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail is a good idea. However, if you stay inside the bay no more than 15 ft. deep, you can enjoy exploring on your own. Just be careful making your way over the rocks on your way in.

Keep an eye out for butterfly fish, parrot fish, damselfish, and needlefish. You'll also see plenty of crustaceans scuttling around and, if you're lucky, maybe even a turtle or two. Restrooms and showers are available in the parking lot.

Try to arrive no later than 10 a.m. to secure a parking spot. Keep in mind Shark's Cove doesn't have lifeguards.

Source: Hawaii Snorkeling Guide

4. Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort offers a Keiki Adventures program for kids aged seven to 14 to help them learn about horse care. Little ones will learn how to feed, wash, and groom horses. They’ll also get their first taste of riding in the round pen.

Kids under seven can enjoy a pony ride along the beautiful North Shore coast and groom their new four-legged friend. Kids aged seven and up who feel confident being around horses may prefer to join their parents on a guided horseback trail ride. The gentle, friendly horses will carry your family along oceanfront trails for around 45 minutes. You can look forward to great views, peaceful bird songs, and memories that last a lifetime.

Windward Coast

Windward Coast is a beautiful, peaceful part of Oahu. There's so much to do in this scenic setting, from playing at the beach to visiting the sites of famous movies.

5. Kualoa Ranch

Kids can find a range of fun adventures at Kualoa Ranch. You can take a guided tour in a vehicle to learn about this incredible Oahu nature reserve, explore on an e-bike, or take a two-hour horseback tour.

Perhaps you’d prefer to zip through the trees on a zip line or see the reserve from a boat. Many famous movies, from Jumanji to Jurassic Park, have been filmed in Kualoa Ranch, so there are plenty of exciting sights to see.

The zip line has height and weight restrictions, and an adult must accompany children. Several other experiences have minimum ages, so be sure to check before booking. If you book a half-day or an all-inclusive package, you’ll also enjoy a buffet lunch at the Ranch House.

6. Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple is a Buddhist temple built in 1963. It’s one of the most culturally interesting state landmarks in Hawaii and offers a great day out for family members of all ages. Take a tour to learn about this temple and the world-famous Byodo-In Temple in Japan, which it's named after.

The temple regularly hosts exhibits by local artists, as well as author events and craft sales. Check out the calendar to find out about upcoming events that appeal to you and your little ones. No matter when you visit, the lush, green grounds will infuse you with a sense of tranquility and peace.

7. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai means “heavenly ocean,” which perfectly describes this beautiful beach. From Lanikai Beach, you can enjoy stunning views of the Mokulua Islands. It’s also one of the best spots in Oahu to watch the sunrise if you can persuade your kids to get up that early.

Family-friendly activities, such as kayaking, are popular on Lanikai Beach. You can also snorkel over the coral reef to observe the fish. Watch out for jellyfish from June to September, so you don’t get stung.

Away from the water, you and your kids can hike the Lanikai Pillbox, which towers high above the white sandy shore. There’s also a nearby farmers market where you can purchase lunch and snacks. Pay a visit to Kailua Beach Park to use the restrooms, showers, and picnic facilities.

Photographer: tedcoombs

8. Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden

The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is 400 acres of paradise, where your kids can run and play in the warm Oahu sun. When you arrive at the visitor center, be sure to pick up a map to guide you through the vast park, which features plants from around the world.

While you’re here, check out the art gallery to see what exhibits are currently showing before setting off on your adventure. You can camp here during the week, but it's a good idea to reserve your campsite online to ensure you get a good spot.

The garden opened 40 years ago, and it's widely regarded as one of the most peaceful and beautiful places to enjoy the lush Hawaiian landscape.


Away from the beautiful beaches, blue lagoons, and dense jungle, Honolulu features plenty of fun things to do with kids.

9. ‘Iolani Palace

'Iolani Palace was once the residence of King Kalākaua, but today, it's a popular place for families to visit during their stay in Honolulu. Take a themed tour to learn about royal fashion, Hawaii’s connection to Japan, and many other aspects of Hawaiian history.

Kids love the expansive palace grounds, which include a sacred mound where ancient Hawaiian chiefs are thought to be buried. At the barracks, they can learn about how the 19th-century guards lived while serving the king.

10. Bishop Museum

The goal of the Bishop Museum is to help visitors discover Hawaiian history and culture. The staff also makes sure everyone has fun. From the volcano experience to learning methods of Polynesian wayfinding, there are so many things to do that you need to plan your visit carefully to fit it all in.

Don’t forget to schedule a lunch break at the on-site café, where you can enjoy a delicious poke bowl, Hawaiian plate, or sandwich. If you visit during the holiday season, watch for Honolulu Christmas events at Bishop Museum.

11. Honolulu Zoo

At Honolulu Zoo, you can see around 900 different animals, including fearsome Komodo dragons. These huge lizards have been known to hunt and eat each other in the wild, but the ones here live peacefully.

The zoo is also home to gentle orangutans, who swing through the trees with a grace that even our acrobats envy, and a huge variety of tropical birds.

Source: City and County of Honolulu

12. Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Botanical Garden is home to a huge collection of tropical plants, including some trees that are more than 150 years old. Relax in the outdoor butterfly garden, where insects flutter from flower to flower.

Take a guided tour of the garden to learn about the fascinating stories of some of the plants. Don’t forget to look and listen for birds, including the native fairy tern. This graceful white bird lays its eggs carefully on tree branches without a nest.

13. Mānoa Falls Trail

The 1.5-mile Mānoa Falls Trail offers a gentle hike for your family along a dirt and gravel trail through the jungle. The sight of one of the best Oahu waterfalls cascading down through lush forest makes the walk worthwhile.

It can get muddy if it rains heavily, so choose footwear you don’t mind getting dirty. The trail is popular on weekends, so you'll likely run into other hikers. Parking costs $7.


Home to Pearl Harbor, Waikiki played an important role in Oahu's history. Check out the following ways to help your kids learn about U.S. history and the local environment.

14. Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium is the second-oldest public aquarium in the United States, and it takes its job of conserving and showcasing marine life seriously.

Marvel at the bright colors of tropical parrot fish (or “uhu” in Hawaiian) and learn about different types of pufferfish. When threatened, pufferfish balloon themselves up to two or three times their normal size.

The aquarium is also home to several species of jellyfish, including the dangerous Portuguese man-of-war, which can deliver a painful sting.

Source: Waikiki Aquarium

15. USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor gained notoriety during World War II when it was the target of an attack by Japanese forces. Today, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor pays tribute to those targeted by the attack. You’ll need to take a boat shuttle to the memorial, which you can book in advance.

We love the virtual reality experience at the visitor center. It's as if you're walking on the deck of the USS Arizona before it was attacked. It’s a great way to put kids in touch with the nation’s history.

Embark on a Journey of Discovery and Adventure in Oahu With Your Family

Oahu is full of ways to make special family memories, but nothing beats coming to one of our spellbinding shows. From gravity-defying acrobatics to amazing stories, our shows in Honolulu have what it takes to engage and entertain every member of the family.

Settle into your seat and prepare for an incredible performance that will make your kids’ mouths fall open. We look forward to making memories with you soon.

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