Best Things to Do with Kids in Honolulu

10 Best Things to Do with Kids in and around Honolulu

Oahu is the perfect island to take kids to. There's tons of kid friendly activities ranging from exploring the underwater world to flying down a huge water slide into a pool. Kids won't stop having fun while visiting the island because there's no lack of fun things to do for them. Each side of the island offers activities and places to eat that will leave a smile on kid's faces for days and memories that will stay with them forever.

A family visit to Honolulu will not be remembered as the classic family vacay where kids ask "are we there yet" as the car ride continues. In Honolulu children of all ages have the option of a dolphin show at Sea Life Park on the east side of the island. Or the whole family can submerge themselves in the ocean for epic snorkeling at Hanauma Bay or swim with sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures.

For landlubbers, drop into the Polynesian Cultural Center for an extravagant cultural experience through the show, Ha. PCC has many other activities and displays to keep kids entertained for the day. The whole family can trek up the side of a cliff on the North Shore by taking the Ehukai Bunker Hike. A rewarding panoramic view of the coast offers a nice place to rest before heading back down.

From the mountains to the bottom of the ocean kids will love exploring Oahu.


Deceptively beautiful, this scenic cove � home to some of the planet's most unforgiving surf � can mean death to naive swimmers. That is, in winter, anyway, when the waves churn up and some of surfing's best talents take to the sea to prove their mettle. In this season, rip currents are strong, and waves can rise to thirty feet. Summer brings calmer waters, however, and even mere mortals can enjoy the beauty of Waimea. Then, they're under the protection of lifeguards and can take advantage of picnic areas, restrooms, and showers. Calm waters in the summer provide a perfect place for kids and dolphins are a common sight in the bay.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Waimea Bay is one of the most amazing beaches on the North Shore and is great for kids in the summer.

Jade's expert tip: Older kids will love jumping off of "Jump Rock" on the west end of the beach.

Read more about Waimea Bay Beach Park →

What could be more exciting than swimming with sharks? Still thinking of an answer? There's probably not anything better. With North Shore Shark Adventures, the original Oahu shark tour company, you have a choice of two tours beginning at 7 a.m. and leaving from Haleiwa. You'll travel three miles out to sea and there's a good chance of green sea turtle, dolphin and whale sightings along the way. Jump onto either vessel, the Anela or Abunai, and head out into the ocean where you'll hop into the metal cage and enjoy time in the center of a swarm of sharks. Children as young as three are invited, and ages three to 13 cost $60 to actually get in the cage! Children under three can ride on the boat for free. Adults cost $120 but lower specials are sometimes offered. Military and kama`aina (residents) can dive for $50 while a military of kama`aina child is $35. Shark sizes range from five to 15 feet and each boat is 42-feet long. Tours last about two hours. Check the website for hotel pick-ups for an extra fee. Don't forget the water camera!

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids will be thrilled to be submerged in a cage to view sharks up close.

Jade's expert tip: Try to take the first trip of the day in the morning when the ocean is calm.

Read more about North Shore Shark Adventures →

Located in Honolulu, the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center provides an interactive, participatory learning environment designed to inspire the young and "young-at-heart." They offer unique methods of of learning and discovery in an environment that encourages children to use their senses of touch, sight, hearing and smell to gain a better understanding of the world around them. Along with various exhibits and rotating classes and group fun, there's programs like Art in the Park, a drop-in art program every Wednesday from 11a.m. to noon. In this program children explore a variety of art media through three open-ended art activities that encourage them to nurture their creative spirit. The love of reading is also introduced here during the center's fun and educational story times. Every Thursday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in Lynne's Library children are able to enter another world through books.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The discovery center offers a wonderful break from the sun and surf where kids will have fun while being educated.

Jade's expert tip: Look for parking on the street behind the center.

Read more about Hawaii Children's Discovery Center →


When the temperatures climb and the kids have had enough sand in their suits, head to this exciting water park. Spread across 25 acres are a wealth of fun-filled activities, including open-air and enclosed water slides (some that drop seven stories!), wave pools, a tubing river, and a water park intended solely for children. You'll also find a volleyball court, arcade, cafe, food court, gift shop, and even a spa catering to adults, complete with whirlpools and cool drinks. There's even a bar serving cocktails so adults can relax and unwind. About a 40-minute drive west of Waikiki and an outlet mall and other shopping are nearby.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: This water park thrills kids and provides a full day of fun.

Jade's expert tip: Go earlier in the morning before the lines get long.

Read more about Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park →

Fun for everyone and ideal for children, this marine park lets you get up-close with all sorts of creatures who live in, or depend on, the sea for their well-being. Atlantic and Pacific bottlenose dolphins regale audiences with their antics, and penguins clown around with each other. You can also watch trainers feed fish and interact with the animals. A number of different arenas and programs are sure to provide hours of delight, and you'll also discover children's play areas, souvenir shops, restaurants, and facilities to treat injured creatures. Fifteen miles east of Waikiki.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids love the up close and personal experiences with dolphins, a wolphin, and other interesting sea life.

Jade's expert tip: Catch the dolphin show.

Read more about Sea Life Park →

SeaBreeze Water Sports is an all around water sport company providing everything from scuba diving and para sailing to flying high in the air with a jet pack on your back. Yup, you heard me right. Here's your opportunity to do some of the usual water sports in Hawaii like spend time at the bottom of the ocean diving or ride a jet ski. Or, you can relive those childhood fantasies and put on a jet stream back pack and shoot yourself high in the air and even hang 30 feet in the air for a while. The Jet Lev R200 was released just last year, and there are only eight units being used around the world - two of which are being offered here at SeaBreeze for $399 a pop.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: SeaBreeze Watersports offers the most exciting water activities on the island.

Jade's expert tip: Just make sure to try the jet pack.

Read more about SeaBreeze Watersports →

Ehukai Bunker Hike
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Located on the North Shore across from famous Pipeline, the Ehukai Bunker Hike is a beautiful jungle experience with a great reward of a gorgeous view at the end. The Ehukai Bunker Hike is a hidden treasure located right across from the world's best surf break, Pipeline, and Ehukai Beach Park. The trailhead is in the parking lot of Sunset Elementary School, and leads to two World War II bunkers. The trail up to the two bunkers takes about 20 minutes. But this part is just the beginning of the the 6-mile long Kaunala-Ehukai trail, which is located in the Pupukea-Paumalu State Park. The trailhead for the Kaunala-Ehukai trail is located at the Boy Scouts Camp at the end of Pupukea Road, up the road behind Foodland. The trail is quite vertical, which is tiring but not unsafe. Man people bring children up there, it just takes extra effort. A tip for families would be bring infants you can easily carry, or a toddler that will walk. A large toddler would be hard to carry up here. Once up the hill walk parallel to the ocean going east and you'll come across the first bunker. About five minutes further is another that is set further down the cliff.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: This North Shore hike is a great family friendly hike that ends at a panoramic view of the North Shore.

Jade's expert tip: This hike is good for children five and up.

Read more about Ehukai Bunker Hike →

The folks at Island Divers Activities will take you snorkeling and scuba diving (as well as whale watching, jet skiing, and para sailing) daily. They have two daily snorkeling trips with the ride out leaving at 9 a.m. and returning at 1 p.m., for just $25. They'll take you to see loads of tropical fish as well as green sea turtles. They also offer discover Oahu scuba diving trips daily. No experience is needed to try scuba diving on this mission. The boat departs at 9 a.m. and returns at approximately 1 p.m. They have the choice between two different dive locations where you can expect to see hundreds of tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles along several types of eel and other sea life. Use of scuba diving equipment is included and prices are $59 for a single tank dive and $89 for a double tank dive.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Children will love exploring Oahu's underwater world with guides that bring guests to some of Oahu's most lively underwater spots.

Jade's expert tip: A water camera is a must!

Read more about Island Divers Hawaii →

One of Oahu's top attractions is located on the east side bordering the North Shore, and this fascinating complex (created and managed by the Mormon church) provides glimpses into the cultures of Polynesia (Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fimi, New Zealand, the Marquesas, and Tonga). Each one maintains a separate village, where visitors are regaled with information about celebration and survival in ancient days. Demonstrations, performances, narratives, and even a luau are presented, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the spectacle and character of the past. This fantastic show and park like venue is located on 42 acres on Oahu's North Shore.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: PCC is like a theme park slash education center with plenty of shows and activities that kids will love.

Jade's expert tip: Make sure to see Ha, the Breath of Life show.

Read more about Polynesian Cultural Center →

Created from a collapsed volcano crater, this bay is protected and calm, ideal for snorkeling, as you'll see from the crowds around you. The snorkeling is truly amazing, since the preserve protects the wildlife and creates a favorite place for the fish to come eat. It offers great opportunity for viewing marine life and also boasts a terrific beach and hiking trails. Additional facilities include picnic areas, showers and restrooms, concession kiosks, a volleyball court, and lifeguards. Although parking can be difficult if you don't arrive early, a shuttle bus runs from Waikiki in the mornings and makes return trips in the afternoons.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Hanauma Bay offers the best snorkeling experience Oahu has to offer.

Jade's expert tip: The bay is closed on Tuesdays.

Read more about Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve →


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade