From the exhilarating hikes up Diamond Head to the serene beauty of Waimea Valley and the culinary delights of local food trucks, there’s something for everyone on Oahu! Exploring the historic North Shore, savoring shave ice at Matsumoto’s, and kicking back on the gorgeous beaches are just a few of the things on our list of must-do’s on Oahu.
Let’s dive into the best things to do in Oahu with kids together below including my tips and recommendations for specific age ranges as we go!
25 Best Things To Do in Oahu with Kids!
There are a few Hawaiian islands that mean a lot to our family (we got married in Maui and our second home is in Kauai!), but Oahu is an island we find ourselves returning to again and again. One reason for this is that it is home to Disney’s Aulani, but beyond Aulani, there are TONS more family-friendly activities!
We love Waimea Valley for several reasons:
- The path is paved so strollers are welcome
- There is a waterfall at the end complete with complimentary life vests and lifeguards and
- It is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! You can read more about it on Yelp here.
Note there is an entry fee for this hike.
Shaved Ice at Matsumoto’s (it’s a MUST)
If you head to North Shore you need to stop by Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice it’s seriously the BEST shaved ice on the island plus you can walk or drive to North Shore to watch the incredible surfers.
There are also cute little shops to walk around and a great coffee shop next door too. Make sure you add Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice to your list of things to do in Oahu with kids!
Explore the North Shore
The North Shore is a wonderful part of the island to visit. As long as the weather permits you should be able to hang out and watch some amazing surfers doing what they do best.
My boys could sit and watch those surfers for hours. Just make sure to grab some Matsumoto Shaved Ice before you hit the beach!
Food Trucks by North Shore
You know what is fun? Trying new great food! Hit up the infamous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Read what others say about Giovanni’s here on Yelp.
Be warned, there are wild chickens running around and a fair amount of flies.
Hiking is definitely an activity that we happily add to the list of things to do in Oahu with kids! The Manoa Falls hike is a little more work and not for those with super little munchkins as the path is muddy, slippery, and not fit for strollers.
However, if you are a more adventurous family this is a fun (super muddy and messy) gorgeous hike. I would recommend old sneakers and a change of clothes and shoes for when you are done.
KA WA’A Luau at Aulani Resort
We are fans of Aulani so some may say that we are partial, but hear me out. I have many travel writing friends who do not have little kids, do not stay at Aulani, and still say that this is the BEST luau in Oahu! The food is INCREDIBLE, they have a Keiki (kid) sized buffet with foods the munchkins will love and the entertainment is top-notch.
I am a huge horse-lover and thankfully so are my kids so I try and find a ranch pretty much everywhere we go. This ranch is amazing for families. Besides the trail rides, they also have pony rides and the sweetest animals for the youngsters to check out. Our favorite was the donkey! Check out my full review of Gunstock Ranch here.
Sea Life Park Hawaii
Ella has asked to swim with dolphins for a long time and she finally had her chance a few years back at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. It was a bit of a drive from Aulani (clear on the other side of the island) but it was worth it. The trainer’s relationships with their dolphins were amazing and I was impressed with all the programs they have there.
The guides around the park were incredibly knowledgeable and patient with all of Ella’s questions. Check out more about our experience here.
Dole Pineapple Plantation
This one is a love/ hate thing. It is fun to go here once I think. The kids get a kick out of seeing how pineapples grow, riding the train, eating the soft-serve pineapple treat, and so on. However, it is a complete tourist trap with ridiculous prices, pushy salespeople, and cheap trinkets.
That being said, if you know it going in at least you will be prepared. And, as long as you get the pineapple dole whip, life will be good!
Diamond Head Hike
There are plenty of places to go on a hike around Oahu, but Diamond Head is definitely one of the most well-known and the views from the top are gorgeous.
It is easy enough for the whole family and a great bonding experience. Many people love to do this as a sunrise hike because you get to see the whole island light up.
This is a unique experience, to say the least. While it might be a little scary to take a submarine ride, it is well worth it. You get to see so many reefs, a sunken boat and plane, and of course lots of sea life. I have heard you might even spot a whale or dolphin!
This is a must-do stop for the adventurous at heart. It’s where Jurassic Park was filmed and they offer behind-the-scenes tours or the chance to zip line over it! They also offer ATV tours, horseback rides, and a secret island beach. Check out their website to set up your perfect day here.
Sunset Suzy Surf lessons
Suzy and her dog Coco love teaching kids and first-time surfers and are well known for getting everyone up on their board by the end of a lesson. The beach the lessons are on is pretty quiet making it a great place to learn. Bonus, there are often sea turtle spottings! Book your lesson here.
Holokai Kayak and Snorkel Adventures
While there are plenty of beach spots around the island to snorkel on your own, it’s worth it to take one of these trips as well. It’s nice to have a guide show you the best spots to look, and Holokai guides know their way around the island creating a unique experience. Book your tour here.
Trolley Ride through Honolulu
If it is your first time visiting, this bus ride is a super fun way to get to explore and know the island. There are different tour options and they can all be checked out here.
Depending on how old your teens are, you can even get them the unlimited pass and send them off on their own as it gives them the chance to hop on and off as many times as they want. This way they can see the historic landmarks, shopping areas, and new beaches themselves.
Ala’ Moana Mall
This gorgeous mall has everything from high-end boutique shops, name brands, and little mom-and-pop shops. You can walk the mall and several blocks around it. Don’t forget to stop by the Hawaiian Cookie Store for some free samples!
My only complaint is that they shut down our favorite open-air International Market right there next to the mall. Heartbreaking really. So many memories of my own childhood there (sniff!). See more on Ala Moana here.
The zoo has beautiful grounds to walk around with little ones. You will see the usual suspects like zebras and giraffes, but they’ve also got a lot of native Hawaiian species that are super cool to check out.
If your kiddo isn’t ready to snorkel and explore the Hawaiian waters yet, the aquarium is a good place for them to get to see sea creatures of all kinds.
Rent a Cabana
Some of our best memories are poolside with our kids at resorts and having a cabana just makes it easier. It gives everyone a spot to take a break from the sun and possibly even catch a little nap, which is such a nice option if you’re traveling with babies.
Our Favorite Oahu Beaches
Oahu is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. When you are searching for the best beaches to go to during your vacation and/or visit to Oahu you might be overwhelmed with how many there are!
We went ahead and broke it down for you with our list below to add to our list of things to do in Oahu with kids!
Beaches for the Whole Family
When you are looking for things to do in Oahu with kids you have to hit up the beaches. I mean it is pretty much a given. Here are our favorite spots to take the kiddos and play in the sand.
- Kailua Beach Park: This once-hidden spot on the island is gaining popularity, and if you visit you’ll see why. It’s a two-and-a-half-mile-long stretch of powdery sand and turquoise blue waters. It’s a great place to build a sandcastle! Kailua has lots of picnic benches and BBQs making it perfect for a family day. There are bathroom facilities and showers, as well.
- Sunset Beach: While the strong tides here in the winter mean we keep our kiddos out of the water, it’s one of the most jaw-dropping gorgeous beaches to take a walk down, toss a football, or cuddle up to watch the sunset together. When the big waves roll in, it’s a great place to watch some of the most experienced surfers do their thing. Grab a beach blanket and watch the action!
- Bellows Beach (open to the public on weekends): The first part of this beach is open to the public and it is one of the more picturesque spots on the island with lots of shade and beautiful white sand to relax on. If you travel a little farther down the road, you’ll find the entrance to Bellows Air Force Base, which is accessible with a valid ID. Once inside there’s a cool castle playground and cabins available for rent. There are also pool tables, disc golf, volleyball, tennis courts, snacks, and drinks. There is a great community feel here!
- Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon: With lots to do from paddle boarding to taking a ride on a water bike to snorkeling this beautiful calm beach is fun for the whole family, but it’s especially great for families with little ones. The lagoon is calm and shallow leaving you with minimal worries compared to some other spots with strong tides. There are also bathrooms and shower poles, which any mama knows is a beach necessity for a baby or toddler.
- Ala Moana Beach Park: Located just outside of Waikiki, this beach park is perfect for families. It has a large grassy area, calm waters protected by a reef, multiple playgrounds, picnic areas, and ample parking. The beach also has several bathrooms and shower facilities.
- Ko Olina Lagoons: Situated on the west coast of Oahu, the Ko Olina Lagoons are man-made, with calm waters that are perfect for little ones. Each lagoon has public parking (though spaces are limited), restrooms, and showers. I love the grassy areas that give you a chance to get out of the sand!
Beaches for Big Kids and Adventures
- Lanikai Beach: When I think of paradise, it sure looks a lot like Lanikai Beach with its crystal clear waters that are teeming with sea creatures from reef fish to sea turtles. Keep in mind this is a pretty secluded beach, with no restaurants or bathrooms so come prepared. Parking can be difficult and you need to exercise caution crossing the street. If you’re with teens kayak out to the little islands offshore here for some extra fun.
- Pupukea Tide Pools near Shark Cove: Make sure to bring a pair of sturdy shoes so you can walk around and explore these tidepools all afternoon. It’s teeming with life and there are so many interesting things to find. Just be careful not to go on a day with large Northern surf, as this peaceful little cove can be completely flooded then and dangerous to walk through. Chacos or water shoes are great to have in Hawaii if you plan on visiting any tide pools!
- North Shore Beaches (Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Sunset Beach): The North Shore is world-renowned for its large winter waves and professional surfing competitions. Waimea Bay is famous for cliff jumping and big wave surfing, while Pipeline is known for its powerful barrels. Sunset Beach offers great conditions for experienced surfers. These beaches are ideal during the winter months for those looking to watch or participate in high-adrenaline surfing.
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Hanauma Bay is a top spot for snorkeling! It does require an entrance fee and early arrival (due to limited parking and high demand). The bay is a protected marine life conservation area, offering clear waters and the chance to see a diverse array of marine life. Remember: Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays to allow the fish to feed without interruption from visitors.
Best Oahu Eats
Oahu is home to a diverse culinary scene, offering a wide range of dining options to suit different tastes and budgets. We went ahead and listed some of our favorites below!
- Monkeypod: This is one of our favorite spots to grab dinner! There is a great atmosphere and we love the happy hour (3-5 PM).
- Farm to Barn: Fresh juices and ricotta toast have me craving this place every morning!
- Mekiko Fresh Mexican: This is a new spot for us, we loved the street tacos and margaritas. They also had good options for little ones.
- Black Sheep Cream Co.: Yummy ice cream that tastes homemade – what more can you ask for?
- Poke at Pa’ina Cafe: No more needs to be said that this is known to be the very first poke spot on the island. The trend has spread far and wide, but you really can’t ever beat the original.
- Shaved Ice at Matsumoto: Nothing tastes better than shaved iced after long sunny days spent by the ocean. It’s an Oahu tradition, so while Matsumoto is one of the most popular there are tons of other little shops worth giving a try.
- Pizza at JJ Dolan’s: You might be thinking that stopping at an Irish pub on your Hawaiian vacation is a little strange, but trust us when we say this pizza is worth it. Its hand-tossed always piping hot and made with fresh local ingredients.
- Wonuts at TR Fire Grill: Waffle donuts are pretty much a breakfast dream, so make sure to stop into this Hilton Garden Inn restaurant to give them a try.
- Acai Bowls from Da Cove Health Bar & Cafe: A yummy acai bowl is the perfect fuel for an adventure-fueled day. Da Cove’s bowls are delicious and piled high with fresh fruit. Plus, they are right by Diamond Head State Park.
- Lappert’s Ice Cream: Whether you’re in the mood for ice cream or coffee, this little shop is a great place to stop in. The coffee is locally grown in Hawaii and roasted to perfection. For dessert, there’s a bunch of unique ice cream, sorbet, and gelato flavors. Our honest recommendation is just to go back every day and try a new one.
Map of Things to do in Oahu with Kids
From lounging on some of the world’s most stunning beaches and feeling the thrill of hiking up Diamond Head, to unwinding at a luxurious resort or savoring the cool, sweet bliss of Lappert’s Ice Cream, there’s simply no wrong way to experience the magic of Oahu.
What are you waiting for? Now that you have read our list of things to do in Oahu with kids, you are ready to plan your next trip! If you are considering booking Aulani, make sure to visit our friends at Best Day Ever Vacations. They will help you plan your trip, and there’s NO FEE for their services.
Comment below to let us know your Oahu favorites! Planning a trip to Oahu? I love to chat on IG, come on over and ask me all your questions!
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do for free in Oahu?
Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Visit The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Oahu Diving & Snorkeling
Koko Crater Trail
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
What to do with kids in Oahu?
Pupukea Tide Pools
Trolley Ride through Honolulu
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Matsumoto Shave Ice
Attend a Hawaiian Luau
Sunset Suzy Surf Lessons
Hanauma Bay State Park
Children’s Discovery Center
Polynesian Cultural Center
Aulani A Disney Resort
What are the best hikes to do in Oahu?
Diamond Head Hike
Koko Crater Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
Waimano Falls Trail
Pu’u Piei Trail
Pin for Later- The Best Things To Do in Oahu with Kids
- Complete Tropical Vacation Packing List: Essentials for Sun and Sand! - February 16, 2024
- The EXACT Steps I Took To Balance My Hormones [and have my healthiest pregnancy at age 39] - February 13, 2024
- The Best Things To Do In Oahu with Kids [25 amazing activities] - February 10, 2024