Oahu, Hawaii, has long been known as a tourist haven offering plenty to do for families. If you are ready to go beyond the beach, check out these 7 unforgettable kid-friendly activities in Oahu.
Editor's note: This post was written by Sarah Pittard.
7 Unforgettable Kid-Friendly Activities in Oahu, Hawaii
We arrived in Oahu, Hawaii, wanting to take in as much of the island as possible. We tried several popular tourist activities and some lesser known ones and compiled this list of the most unforgettable kid-friendly activities in Oahu. Whether you are in Oahu for a brief stay or for a few weeks, make sure to include one or more of these unique experiences in your plans.
1. Disney Luau KA WA'A (and Meet Moana)
Having tried a variety of luaus across the island, the KA WA'A luau at Disney's Aulani is, in my opinion, the most unforgettable and kid-friendly. As you are welcomed to the lawn where the event is hosted, kids are provided the opportunity to try a variety of cultural activities. The activities include lei and bracelet making, tattooing, and poi making. Additional kid-friendly considerations include a full table of kid-friendly foods (which kids are not restricted to) and the ability to join the show in a number with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The show kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and won't interfere with normal bedtimes.
2. Dog Surfing On Oahu's North Shore
I knew I wanted to get my kids up on surfboards while in Hawaii. But with several surf schools on each beach, it was difficult to choose until checked out Oahu's North Shore. Known particularly for its surf culture, the North Shore was the perfect place to start. We checked out the Hans Hedemann Surf School and the minute we heard about their Dog Surfing program, we were sold. The kids headed out into a bay with Rocky, the instructor, and an enthusiastic young dog who simply loved surfing. There was less pressure to get up on the board as the dog, Rocky and my two kids all used one board. To put it simply, my kids loved every minute of the hour-long program. They still talk about it daily. This is a don't-miss experience for kids of all ages.
3. Ka'ena Point Trail Hike
In Oahu, we learned very quickly that the cost of activities can really add up. As avid hikers, we set aside quite a few days to just go outside and explore the many free hiking trails. Although all were incredibly beautiful, Ka'ena Point Trail Hike was the most unforgettable for us.
We hadn't planned to hike this trail but on our final day, the kids asked to do one more hike and this trail was nearby. The trail is an easy flat hike that leads to the Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve, a very cool fenced off area where seals and nesting albatross live. The albatross are huge and the seals can easily be found resting in the sun. Whales can also be seen from several spots on the hike.
4. Atlantis Submarines
Located in Waikiki, Atlantis Submarines is a popular and unforgettable attraction. A boat takes you out to the submarine dive site where families head over 100 feet underwater to explore various artificial reefs. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and, more importantly, this is a lot of fun. Unique aspects of this tour include teaching kids how color disappears under the ocean and how reefs work. Expect to see sea turtles and plenty of fish. Some lucky visitors were even able to see a whale close up on a recent tour.
5. Kualoa Ranch
Near the North Shore, Kualoa Ranch is famous for being the home to several movie and television sets, including Jurassic World and Kong: Skull Island. Whether or not you are a huge TV or film fan, this property is worth visiting. Families can enjoy tours by heavy duty vehicles, ATVs, and horseback. We tried the Jungle Expedition tour and were not disappointed. The kids loved learning about Hawaiian culture and literally lost it as we checked out the set used as the enclosure for the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World. Not to worry, no dinosaurs were spotted on site.
6. Waikiki Beach Services Outrigger Canoe Rides
Don't end your Hawaiian vacation without joining Waikiki Beach Services in a unique and fun ride in an outrigger canoe. This quick experience – perfect for kids under 10 – will have you riding the waves in no time. The boat captains are knowledgeable about Waikiki and tell great stories while you paddle out. When they head into the waves, hold on for an incredible ride back to shore.
7. Polynesian Cultural Centre
There's a reason the Polynesian Cultural Centre has been voted Hawaii's #1 paid attraction. It is simply an incredible place to visit. Not knowing what to expect, I was shocked by the fun we had at the Centre. We learned about different Polynesian cultures through food and games, experienced traditional luaus and saw probably the best show we have ever seen on vacation. We returned home and still play the games we learned that day. The Polynesian Cultural Centre defines unforgettable kid-friendly experiences in Oahu.
No matter what you do while visiting Oahu, you are sure to have an incredible time.