Aloha! I wanted to take the time to share with everyone a few of my favorite things to do on Oahu with kids! My husband and I have a 3 year old and we have personally done all of these things with her so they have official kid’s seal of approval! This list is a variety of things from kid-friendly adventure to chill places to eat!
- Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) in Haleiwa
This is my favorite thing ever and it is a great activity do do with your child. It’s that perfect balance of fun that parents and kids can both enjoy. We rented our paddle boards from Surf n’ Sea. Make sure you get there early because parking is tight. I highly recommend this location because they are right on the water and all you have to do is push off the beach and you’re in business! Once you’re in the water go left and paddle underneath Rainbow Bridge and up the river. It is so beautiful and quiet, the water is calm and you will see sea turtles swimming around you and resting on the shore. I put my 3 year old on the front of board and she had the time of her life! We spent about 3 hours paddle boarding then dropped them off and walked down the street for a late lunch at Haleiwa Beachhouse. They have yummy food, ocean views, and great cocktails!
If you are Disney fans you have to do this! Even better, book a few nights at Aulani for the best vacation ever! The breakfast with Mickey is a buffet where you will have photo ops with Mickey, Minnie, and other characters. Usually Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, or Stitch, but it varies each time with the exception of Mickey and Minnie. Definitely book this far in advance because it fills up super fast!
- Kayak to the Mokes
Just off of Lanikai Beach are two little islands, the Mokuloa or “the Mokes”. The smaller island of the two, Moku Iki, is a sanctuary and no one is allowed on it. The larger island; Moku Nui; is open. There is a small beach, beautiful tide pools, and cliff jumping. This activity I would recommend only if you and your child are comfortable in the ocean. We rented a 3 person kayak and put my daughter between myself and my husband. It takes about 30 minutes to kayak out. There are many places you can rent kayaks, but most convenient is definitely Kailua Beach Adventures. They will also provide you with a dolly to wheel your kayak. However, you will be taking off from Kailua Beach instead of Lanikai which is a little bit further. If you are a military family, I highly recommend renting kayaks from Kaneohe Bay Marine Corp Base. It is significantly cheaper ($60/24 hours versus $85/4 hours for a 3 person kayak at Kailua Beach Adventures), and they will provide foam rails for transporting it on your car. Then you can drive them into Lanikai yourself and launch from there. However, you will not have a dolly and these kayaks are very heavy. A few things to note: If you are renting from K-Bay Marine base you will need a military ID, as well as a pass to get on base. You can get your pass at the front gate. If you are renting from Kailua Beach Adventures, definitely make a reservation the day before because they run out of kayaks pretty fast, and keep in mind that they do not rent on Sundays. Also, there is no street parking in Lanikai on all holiday weekends. You will 100% be ticketed if you do.
One of my very favorite hikes! It is paved so that makes it better for kiddos. They can walk or even be pushed in a stroller. It is a pretty steep climb up though and full sun so it’s not the easiest hike ever and you will definitely want to bring lots of water and sunscreen. My 3 year old has never made it to the top 100% alone, but she likes to try! Also, you can see whales from here during whale season (December-May)! There are views the entire hike too so if your child can’t make it the entire way to the lighthouse, it won’t be for nothing!
This botanical garden in Kaneohe is amazing! It is a lush beautiful rainforest set against a stunning mountain range backdrop. There are walking paths, various birds, incredible plant life, campgrounds, and a 32 acre lake where you can feed fish and ducks. The entire garden is about 400 acres and free so you can take your time exploring and go back as many times as you want! It’s the perfect place to take a picnic lunch and a stack of books.
Waimea Falls is the easiest waterfall hike you could possibly ask for. It is paved the entire way and shaded most of the way too. The path takes you through a beautiful jungle and you can get a bird guide at the entry gate to identify birds along the way. At the end is a beautiful waterfall that you can swim in. Lifejackets are provided. This hike is totally walkable for little ones, stroller-friendly and has restrooms along the way. Things to note: There is a small entry fee and you will need bug spray!
- North Shore Shrimps Truck
This is a must must do while on Oahu! The North Shore Shrimp Trucks are world famous and for good reason! My favorites are Giovanni’s (located in Kahuku and Haleiwa. Check their website for directions and times) and “North Shore Shrimp Truck” across from Shark’s Cove. There are several other rotating food trucks at this location which I love because everyone can find something they like. My favorite thing to do is get our shrimp plates and watch the sunset at Shark’s Cove.
- A Luau
There are tons of luaus on the island. I have two favorites for two different reasons. Best overall luau is hands down Germaine’s. It is tons of fun, authentic, and right on the beach so you can get your toes in the sand and enjoy learning about Polynesian culture. For kids, you can’t beat Aulani resort’s luau. It is totally kid centered with yummy mocktails, lots of activities like lei making, and a dance party with Mickey and Minnie!!
This is not the first thing I would do on the island, but it can definitely be fun for kids. If you go, I recommend doing the combo ticket for the train ride and maze. My daughter loved running around the maze and thought the train was so cool. Also, they serve the yummiest Dole Whips there, but plan lunch somewhere else as the food is pricey and not great.
This cruise is awesome! Definitely do this if you are on the island. It’s a nice big boat so you can sit inside or outside and it’s so much easier having little ones on a bigger boat in my opinion. The ride out will take you up the west coast and you’ll have the most amazing views! We saw sea turtles just a few minutes in. The captain stopped the boat every time we saw sea life, so we were able to get loads of pictures. Obviously the highlight is the dolphins. There were so many, swimming around, jumping out of the water and playing just below us. It honestly is one of my favorite things I have done with Saige on Oahu. Lunch can also be added on to the cruise. If you are doing this with older kids, there is the option to go snorkeling. I do not recommend this. I did it with my sister and it was definitely not worth the money. There were very few fish and nothing we wouldn’t have seen if we had just gone snorkeling ourselves.
I hope you enjoy this list and your time here in Hawaii! Drop me a comment here or on my instagram to let me know which ones you plan on trying or any other kid friendly activities you recommend!