Best Things to do on Oahu With Kids
It seems that no matter where we go, when we get back, people ALWAYS ask what our favorite activities were, and Oahu is no exception. This beautiful, Hawaiian island paradise has so much to offer that it is difficult to narrow down but, we think, our list of the best things to do on Oahu with kids should certainly get you off to a good start.
Magic Of Polynesia Show
Great for the entire family, this show is ranked #1 in Waikiki and far better than just about any magic show I’ve ever seen, even in Vegas! The Magic Of Polynesia show combines Polynesian song and dance, including fire-knives, tribal and hula — which are impressive in themselves, and adds mind-blowing levitation, amazing disappearing and reappearing feats with both objects and humans. There are also some pretty fantastic “inescapable” traps that master illusionist, John Hirokawa, does, in fact, escape from.
My whole family, as well as the entire audience, was oohing and aahing! Guests can come just for the show or make it a dinner show but either way, the fruity frozen-drinks and the awesome entertainment are a must for a very fun evening out that the whole family will love!
Have you ever been 115 feet under water? Wow…It’s very cool, to say the least! We began our journey with Atlantis Submarines by heading down the long, narrow pier just off Waikiki Beach, behind Hilton Hawaiian Village, where we boarded a small boat (complete with snacks, drinks and small souvenirs for purchase) and headed out to the submarine.
After a short boat-ride, we bellied-up to the top of the submarine, walked on, and climbed down the hatch…exciting and a wee-bit scary, all at the same time. Down inside the sub we each had a seat with a very large porthole and settled in for our trip under the sea. Tip: If you get on last, you can also see out through the captain’s window, too.
On our journey we encountered lots of fish, beautiful coral, a couple of sleepy turtles, a sunken ship, two crashed airplanes and even a few scuba divers who decided to entertain us by pretending to hula! Pretty awesome.
I kind of felt like Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea minus seeing Atlantis and getting eaten by a giant squid, of course. We all agreed that it was a really excellent experience that gave us a completely different underwater perspective, and not nearly as scary as we originally thought it might be. A fun time, for sure.
Pearl Harbor & Circle Island Tour
If you want to see it all and your island time is limited, as ours was, or if you just want to get a feel for the area before going it alone, Roberts Hawaii offers a Pearl Harbor & Circle Island Tour that will get your family to some of Oahu’s most iconic locations.
We caught the tour bus at our hotel and went straight to Pearl Harbor for a short film of the attack (excellent learning for the kids), a few museums and a trip out to the USS Arizona Memorial…Very impactful! Next we traveled to Dole Plantation for a short visit, did sight-seeing of the North Shore beaches and then on to the Polynesian Cultural Center to lunch and look around.
Once back on the bus our guide pointed out some other neat areas, like Gilligan’s Island, the area where parts of Jurrassic Park and Lost were filmed, and the beautiful Waimea Bay, as we headed to a few more locations. The final stops included a Macadamia Nut outlet, where we picked up a taste of Hawaii for our friends back home, the Byodo-In Temple (very Zen), and the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, which hosts a beautiful view and some of the strongest, craziest wind I have ever experienced.
All-in-all, a good day of sight-seeing, all around the island — where I was able to enjoy my family and not worry about navigating — for a very reasonable price.
Yes, I saved the best for last. Something about Hawaii just makes you want to surf, and there is no better place to hang ten than on the best beach in Waikiki. Complete with a view of Diamond Head Crater and located just behind Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Hau Tree Bar on the beautiful (and open to the public) Duke Kahanamoku Beach, the Hawaii Hot Spot Surf School offers some of the island’s best surf lessons for all age groups.
Whether you are a big kahuna or just a beginner, the surf instructors, led by Errol Kane, provide just the right amount of guidance and expertise to help you hang loose and ride the swell. We took a group lesson that started off on land, where they explained how to stand and position your feet and also gave a few pointers about how to balance.
Next, we hit the water and paddled out to a holding buoy where we waited for our turn to catch a wave. The little ones caught a free ride as the instructors grabbed the kids board with their toes and paddled both boards in single file.
When they called your name you paddled over and then, the instructor gave all the best directions (paddle faster, move back on the board, etc.) and occasionally even a little push (literally) to give you every possible opportunity to stand and deliver! It took a few turns to get the feeling but with their expertise and training, even I was able to ride for a few seconds before wiping out. Cowabunga, dude. It was rad!
- Read other stories on family vacations to Oahu.
- See all of our vacation photos from Honolulu and Oahu.
Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….