Aloha! Planning a family vacation to Honolulu offers endless opportunities for creating lasting memories with your children. The beautiful Hawaiian city boasts a perfect mix of excitement, relaxation, and education that caters to families of all interests. With its unique blend of cultural experiences and natural wonders, there is no shortage of activities for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
In Honolulu, families can explore pristine beaches, visit world-class attractions, and immerse themselves in the rich Hawaiian culture. Children can participate in hands-on activities at various locations that capture their imagination, keep them engaged and help them build a profound connection to their surroundings. From outdoor adventures to stimulating museums, each day in Honolulu promises a new and delightful experience for the entire family.
The following list of things to do in Honolulu with kids will guide you in planning unforgettable outings that cater to your family’s interests and capture the essence of this tropical paradise. Dive into the Hawaiian lifestyle and enjoy the beauty, adventure, and excitement that await you in Honolulu!
Popular Beaches and Water Activities
Waikiki Beach is a popular choice for families visiting Honolulu and offers a fun-filled day at the beach. With its calm waters and clean sand, it’s a perfect spot for kids to enjoy. The nearby Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is also a fantastic option for a more relaxed setting, featuring a large swimming area with shallow water perfect for young children.
Other notable family-friendly beaches include:
- Kailua Beach Park: A beautiful, white-sand beach with calm, turquoise water ideal for swimming and windsurfing.
- Ala Moana Beach Park: A large park with a calm swimming area and picnic facilities suitable for families.
Snorkeling Spots for Kids
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is an excellent location for snorkeling and introducing kids to the wonders of marine life. This protected bay is home to an abundance of colorful fish species, green sea turtles, and even occasional sightings of Hawaiian monk seals. The shallow and clear water makes this destination ideal for children to explore safely.
Note: Hanauma Bay has a limited daily visitor entry to protect its ecosystem, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.
Another great option for snorkeling with kids is the Ko Olina Resort, which features several man-made lagoons with calm waters and plenty of marine life to observe.
Surfing Lessons for Beginners
Honolulu offers numerous opportunities for kids to learn how to surf in a safe, controlled environment. Many surfing schools in the area offer group or private lessons for beginners, with experienced instructors ensuring that kids learn proper surfing techniques and safety precautions.
Popular surfing lesson providers in Honolulu include:
- Hans Hedemann Surf School: Known for their experienced team of instructors and a variety of lesson options.
- Aloha Beach Services: Offering group lessons, semi-private lessons, and customized lessons for families.
By exploring these popular beaches and engaging in water activities, families can experience the best of Hawaii’s land and sea, making unforgettable memories together during their visit to Honolulu.
Cultural Experiences and Historical Sites
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
Visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is a must for families seeking to experience a significant part of American history. The site commemorates those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. There, families can explore the visitor center and take a guided tour to learn more about the historical events that unfolded on December 7, 1941.
- Family-friendly: The site offers activities suitable for all ages, including audio tours available in multiple languages.
- Transportation: Accessible by car, bus, or trolley from Honolulu.
- Hours: Open daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Located on Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center showcases the diverse Polynesian culture through various interactive experiences. This family-friendly destination consists of six island villages representing different Polynesian cultures, such as Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, and more.
- Participate in hands-on activities like learning to play ancient drums or weaving palm fronds
- Watch live performances ranging from traditional dances to fire knife demonstrations
- Explore the 60-acre park and discover Polynesian artworks, wildlife, and native plants
Royal Hawaiian and Authentic Luaus
For a truly memorable family experience, a night at an authentic Hawaiian luau is not to be missed. The Royal Hawaiian offers an Aha Aina Luau, where families can immerse themselves in the local culture while enjoying a delicious feast of traditional Hawaiian food.
- Location: Set against the stunning backdrop of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.
- Cultural experience: A blend of history, music, dance, and traditional cuisine
- Reservation: Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Whether exploring historical landmarks like Pearl Harbor or embracing Hawaiian and Polynesian culture at a luau, there are numerous opportunities for families to enjoy cultural experiences in Honolulu. These unforgettable adventures provide valuable educational and entertaining experiences, making your visit to Honolulu with kids truly remarkable.
Hiking and Exploring Trails
One of the greatest ways to experience Honolulu’s natural beauty is by taking the family on hiking trails. A highly recommended hike is the Manoa Falls Trail. This 1.6-mile round trip provides a relatively easy and family-friendly walk through lush rainforest, leading to a beautiful waterfall. Kids will love the sense of adventure and exploration.
Another must-visit trail is the Diamond Head Crater. This hike offers a moderately strenuous ascent, but the reward is the breathtaking views from the summit. It’s a fantastic opportunity to teach kids about the volcanic origins of the island.
To experience the thriving wildlife of Honolulu, consider visiting the following sites:
- Honolulu Zoo: Perfect for young children, the zoo houses a variety of animals, including endangered species. Kids can participate in educational programs to learn about conservation efforts.
- Waikiki Aquarium: This family-friendly attraction offers a glimpse of marine life, featuring local and exotic species in well-curated exhibits.
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: For a more immersive experience, this marine park allows snorkeling among various fish and coral formations.
By taking the family to these educational sites, kids can develop an appreciation for the diverse life on and around the island.
Parks and Gardens
Outdoor parks and gardens offer fun and relaxation for the whole family. Some noteworthy locations include:
- Queen Kapiolani Park: With picnic areas, playgrounds, and an outdoor stage for events, this park is a family favorite.
- Foster Botanical Garden: Discover a wide variety of native and exotic plants, including the famous Cannonball tree and the incredible Corpse flower.
- Lyon Arboretum: This botanical garden allows families to explore 200 acres of tropical rainforest filled with unique plant species.
These various parks and gardens in Honolulu present excellent opportunities to enjoy family-friendly activities while learning about the local flora.
By including these outdoor adventures in your family’s itinerary, you can create an unforgettable experience exploring the natural wonders of Honolulu.
Family Entertainment and Attractions
Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium
The Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium are both located within walking distance of each other in the heart of Waikiki. Families with young children, preschoolers, and teenagers will appreciate the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals and marine wildlife up close. The Honolulu Zoo is home to over 1,200 animals, including giraffes, elephants, and monkeys, while the Waikiki Aquarium boasts an impressive collection of fish, reef, and marine life.
- Honolulu Zoo
- Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Admission: Adults – $19, Children (3-12) – $11
- Waikiki Aquarium
- Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
- Admission: Adults – $12, Children (4-12) – $5
Bishop Museum and Planetarium
The Bishop Museum is an excellent choice for families interested in learning about the rich history and culture of Oahu and the greater Polynesian region. The museum’s galleries showcase a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits, and the planetarium offers engaging and educational shows that can spark young children’s and teenagers’ interest in astronomy. This family-friendly attraction is a must-visit for those exploring Honolulu with kids.
- Bishop Museum
- Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Admission: Adults – $24.95, Youth (4-17) – $16.95
- Hours: Shows available throughout the day
- Additional fees may apply
Children’s Discovery Center
Located in Kaka’ako near downtown Honolulu, the Children’s Discovery Center is a interactive and educational attraction designed specifically for kids and their families. With hands-on exhibits and activities for young children and preschoolers, this innovative space fosters creativity, critical thinking, and a love for learning. From exploring the human body to discovering the world of transportation, the Children’s Discovery Center offers a diverse range of experiences that are both engaging and age-appropriate.
- Children’s Discovery Center
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
- Admission: Adults – $12, Children (1-17) – $12, +Infants* (0-12 mos)* – Free
Shopping, Dining, and Leisure
Kapahulu Avenue’s Local Cuisine
Kapahulu Avenue is the perfect spot for families to enjoy a selection of local Hawaiian cuisine. Restaurants and food trucks in the area offer a variety of dishes, including poke bowls, loco moco, and traditional plate lunches. It’s easy to access Kapahulu by bus or a short walk from Waikiki, making it a convenient location for hungry families.
Ala Moana Beach Park and Shopping
For a mix of leisure and shopping, families should visit Ala Moana Beach Park. This popular spot offers a stunning beach area and lush green park for families to relax and enjoy the sunny Hawaiian weather. After spending some time outdoors, visitors can head over to the adjacent Ala Moana Center, the largest open-air shopping mall in the world.
At Ala Moana Center, families can find a variety of stores, including:
- Clothing and toy stores for kids
- Local boutiques
- Luxury designer brands
- Department stores
No shopping trip would be complete without a lunch break, and the mall offers a variety of dining options, from quick bites to sit-down restaurants. The Shirokiya Japan Village Walk is a must-visit for Japanese food lovers.
Evening Entertainment for Families
Honolulu at night offers family-friendly entertainment, with several options suitable for both parents and their children. Families can enjoy a sunset dinner cruise, an unforgettable experience of dining and viewing the beautiful Hawaiian coastline.
For a more cultural experience, a luau is another excellent option. Luaus typically feature traditional Hawaiian music, hula dancing, and fire performances, all while serving a delicious buffet of local dishes. Most luaus also offer kid-friendly activities such as crafts and games.
In summary, Honolulu offers numerous shopping, dining, and leisure activities for families to enjoy. From indulging in local cuisine on Kapahulu Avenue to relaxing at Ala Moana Beach Park and exploring the city’s night-time entertainment, there’s something for everyone.
Travel Tips and Practical Information
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Honolulu with kids is from April to June, and from September to November. These months offer pleasant weather, smaller crowds, and relatively lower accommodation prices. Keep in mind that sunscreen is a must, as the sun in Hawaii can be intense, especially for young ones.
Honolulu offers a variety of family-friendly accommodations. The perfect choice for a family vacation destination, the Hilton Hawaiian Village provides numerous amenities for families, such as kids’ clubs, dedicated children’s pools, and spacious rooms.
|Numerous amenities, childcare
|Limited amenities, self-catering
|Affordable, central locations
|Smaller rooms, fewer kid-friendly facilities
Transportation Around Oahu
Upon arrival at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, there are multiple options for transportation around the island of Oahu:
- Car rental: Renting a car provides the convenience of exploring Oahu at your own pace. Numerous rental companies are available at the airport.
- Public transportation: The Bus, Oahu’s public bus system, is a more affordable option; however, it may be challenging to navigate with kids and their accompanying gear.
- Shuttle services: Many hotels and resorts offer shuttle services to/from the airport, providing a convenient and sometimes complimentary transportation for their guests.
Planning ahead for your family’s transportation needs will ensure a smooth and enjoyable vacation in Honolulu.