Are you planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii with kids? There’s so many incredible things to do for families! That’s why I came up with a list of my top 15 exciting family activities on Oahu!
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For resort experiences, I usually recommend Maui. And for more laid-back vacations, I suggest the Big Island and Kauai.
But, if they are looking for lots of kid-friendly activities and attractions (or if it’s their first time to Hawaii), I always urge people to go to Oahu!
Oahu really has something for everyone. There’s both boutique and high-end shopping. Amazing food from food trucks to Michelin-star restaurants.
And for adventure-seekers, there are hikes with incredible views, boat excursions, ATV tours, zip lines, and more!
There are also a few museums, a zoo, and an aquarium.
Plus, you can find the only palace in Hawaii!
So, if you are heading to Oahu with kids, here are my top 15 family activities on Oahu to add to your vacation itinerary!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu.
Popular Oahu Tours/Activities
- Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (this is a fun adventure with the prettiest views)
- Full Pearl Harbor Tour (this is the BEST way to do everything at Pearl Harbor)
- Hawaii Bucket List Tour (you get to pick where you stop on this custom Oahu circle island tour)
- Toa Luau (this is my all-time favorite Oahu luau)
- CLIMB Works Ziplining (this is the longest zipline on Oahu)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels
- Hilton Hawaiian Village (this is our favorite Waikiki resort because of the amazing pool area and nearby restaurants)
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (this is a splurge that is totally worth it)
- Royal Hawaiian Hotel (this is a luxury resort in Waikiki that is pink and gorgeous)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Top 15 Fun Family Activities on Oahu
1. TOA LUAU + WAIMEA VALLEY
If you ask me what my favorite Oahu luau is, I always urge families to get tickets for Toa Luau up on the North Shore.
I’ve been a professional hula dancer for 20+ years and have attended countless luaus. This is the first one that really impressed me.
First of all, it’s much more intimate than other Oahu luaus. Get there early so your family can fully participate in all the hands-on activities.
They also do a traditional kava ceremony and you’ll have the opportunity to taste a special drink that will make you feel a bit numb. It’s what warriors drank before battle!
Finally, it’s one of the most authentic luaus we’ve experienced and it’s family owned and operated. Even the little kids help out!
Plus, your luau ticket includes admission to Waimea Valley, where your family can learn more about Hawaiian culture and swim at a waterfall!
Book your Toa Luau tickets.
Insider tip: Plan enough time to explore Waimea Valley before the luau and bring a change of clothes.
2. DOLE PLANTATION
Hawaii is still known for the pineapple plantations and the Dole Plantation is one of the most popular tourist attractions for families.
They have a little train ride that runs through the fields and a not-scary pineapple maze where kids can do a scavenger hunt.
There are also kitchy photo ops and self-guided tours.
But, for the sake of complete transparency, my main reason for including Dole Plantation is simply that you can get DOLE WHIP!
They serve it in a cup, in a cone, and even with toppings!
3. BREAKFAST WITH MICKEY MOUSE
Did you know you can enjoy a character breakfast or dinner at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa without staying there?
Kids will get a kick out of seeing Mickey Mouse and some of his pals in their Hawaiian attire! The food is pretty good and you’ll get your fill of Mickey Mouse waffles!
You’ll get free valet parking during your meal, too!
The best part about the Aulani character breakfast is Aunty’s entertainment. Between the songs, parades, and hula dancing, your kids will be fully occupied so you can sit back and enjoy your meal!
It’s a great way to get a touch of Disney on your Hawaiian vacation! And if you want to stay a few nights there, you can find deals on Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa here.
Insider tip: While you are more than welcome to walk around the property before or after breakfast, your kids might not understand why they can’t play in the pool or take photos with the characters around the property. So, take that into consideration if you think your kids might get frustrated.
4. TURTLE CANYON SNORKEL CRUISE
Hawaii is known for its incredible tropical sea life. One of our favorite animals to see are Hawaiian sea turtles!
I’m not much of a snorkeler, but my husband and kids love swimming in Hawaii and doing snorkel cruises.
We haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m including it on this list of best family activities on Oahu because it’s just 3 hours long, includes food and drinks, and there’s a free shuttle from Waikiki.
And in the off-chance that you don’t see green sea turtles during this cruise, they will re-book you for free!
I like that this Oahu snorkel cruise doesn’t take up your whole day and that it’s family-friendly.
Book your Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise.
5. TRAIN RIDE
We haven’t done this historical Oahu train ride yet, but it sounds perfect for my two little boys! They always get a kick out of the Kauai train ride!
The Hawaiian Railway Society is an educational, non-profit organization dedicated to saving, restoring and protecting Hawaii’s railroading history.
They have the only historic railroad on the island of Oahu and the only operating railroad museum in the state.
I’d suggest their 3pm ride because they stop at Two Scoops in Ko`olina and you can buy ice cream to eat on the ride back! Yum!
Oahu Train Ride Fares
CHILDREN 2-12: $10
SENIORS OVER 62: $10
What’s extra cool is that they are a non-profit. So, your fare will go toward keeping this train running for other families!
And they have a toy train museum!
6. ALA MOANA CENTER
I know, I know. Why is there a mall on this list? But, hear me out.
Ala Moana Center has some of the best free hula shows on Oahu!
The Ala Moana Hula Show is a free, 20-minute cultural production featuring both traditional and modern hula dancing.
This free hula show runs Monday through Saturday at 1 PM at the Centerstage.
On Sundays, families will love the Ala Moana Center Keiki Hula Show featuring children at 1 PM at the Centerstage.
They also have a new children’s play area. It’s for kids ages 3-12 and features a 20 foot play structure for kids to climb and explore.
Ala Moana Center also does a great job with holiday celebrations like Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Plus, I just learned that kids can feed koi fish!
Insider tip: They also have strollers available, in case your kids get tired.
7. SURF LESSONS
I think surfing may be the quintessential Oahu activity!
We’ve done surfing lessons on Oahu with our nieces before we had kids and they had a blast! The tricky thing is to find one that isn’t just for teens.
Thankfully, I found a company that will do Oahu surf lessons for your entire family, including little kids. They provide shuttle service, all the gear, and you’ll have at least 2 instructors with you (their ratio is 1 instructor for every 2-3 family members.)
Plus, they will take photos and videos so you can relax and just enjoy the experience!
Book your family surf lessons.
Insider tip: They also offer private lessons for kids if you don’t want to participate yourself.
8. BISHOP MUSEUM
When you think of fun Oahu activities, museums might not be high on your list. But, this is one your kids will get a kick out of.
In addition to lots of galleries highlighting Hawaiian culture and history, they have a bunch of kid-friendly planetarium shows and a volcano demo with lava!
Plus, you can take the trolley from Waikiki, which is another fun thing for kids.
Get your discount Bishop Museum tickets.
9. KUALOA RANCH
If you are looking for a place to explore with jaw-dropping views, head to Kualoa Ranch.
I attended a wedding here several years ago and it’s no wonder why this is one of the top wedding sites in Hawaii.
Everywhere you turn there is a stunning view of either lush mountains or blue ocean. It’s a great spot to do professional family photographs or snap a few selfies.
But, they also host an array of family-friendly Oahu activities.
For families with kids of all ages, your best bet is this Kualoa Ranch Experience Package. It includes a yummy lunch, exploring places from Jurrasic Park, and learning about an ancient Hawaiian fishpond.
They also offer a one-hour movie tour where you can sit in a vintage bus while spotting filming site for Hawaii 5-0, Magnum P.I., Lost, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and more!
For families with kids ages 3 and older, this Jungle Expedition Tour looks super fun!
Families with kids ages 5 and older might want to do a UTV Tour where you can drive yourself all over Kualoa Ranch to see movie sites and the gorgeous Ka’a’awa Valley.
Kids 10 and older will probably beg to do this cool horseback ride around the Ranch.
They have a zipline experience for teens ages 13 and older.
10. POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
This has been one of my favorite kid-friendly Oahu activities since I was a kid myself!
It’s located all the way up in Laie and it’s one of the top attractions on Oahu. You can take a shuttle bus from Waikiki or drive yourself.
The Polynesian Cultural Center has mock villages set up representing the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, and Tonga. And they have people from those islands who are there doing presentations throughout the day.
My kids have learned how to weave lauhala, dance with Maori poi balls, cook breadfruit, and make fire using a coconut husk. It’s pretty cool!
A lot of people wonder if you need a full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I’d say yes because each village offers entertainment and hands-on activities, plus there’s the canoe pageant and several places to get snacks and treats.
They also have their luau and the Ha: Breath of Life Show.
While I enjoy their luau, Ha: Breath of Life is truly impressive. If your family likes Disney’s Moana, you will LOVE this theatrical show!
Book your discount Polynesian Cultural Center tickets.
Insider tip: If you really want to maximize your time, take a few moments to look at the schedule as soon as you arrive and plan out your day based on the activities in each village. You should be able to go from one activity to the next if you have a plan!
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11. PEARL HARBOR AVIATION MUSEUM
My husband and I are nuts about airplanes. I mean, we got married at the Museum of Flight in Seattle!
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (formerly the Pacific Aviation Museum) is one of the most interesting airplane museums we’ve seen!
They set up the displays so expertly that it will feel like you are part of the exhibit.
Oh, and kids under the age of four are free!
What I appreciate about the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is that it brings history to life for kids who might not “get it” when touring the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
Insider tip: Ask about a docent tour. You’ll hear so many fascinating stories about Pearl Harbor!
12. SEA LIFE PARK
A lot of families I meet online ask me where they can swim with sharks on Oahu. I usually point them to Sea Life Park.
Located about 30 minutes from Waikiki, Sea Life Park is a popular destination for families who want to get up close and personal with some of Hawaii’s friendliest animals.
They have a bunch of programs where you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, learn about penguins, and even pet a Manta Ray.
And they even host their own luau that comes with free tickets to the Park!
13. ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR
We did a similar tour on Maui and it’s a great way to show younger kids ocean life if they are too little to go snorkeling or scuba diving.
I like that this tour is short and it’s an easy activity to do with little kids. Divers will bring sea life up to the window so your kids can get a closer look.
Plus, it’s not too long of an activity, so chances are your kids will stay engaged the entire time! And no one gets wet!
Book your discount Atlantis Submarine Adventure tickets.
Insider tip: Make sure your kids aren’t afraid of divers before you book!
14. WAIKIKI WALKING TOUR + HULA CLASS
While we haven’t done this specific tour ( I plan to on our next trip,) we are big fans of walking tours where ever we travel.
Waikiki is such a vibrant area of Oahu and there are tons of interesting history facts, landmarks, and amazing photo opportunities.
This would be a great way to orient your family early in your trip so you know your way around. Plus, you could get tips for the best places to eat and where to see free hula shows!
This walking tour is only about 1 mile, so easy for younger kids.
And I love that this budget-friendly tour of Waikiki ends with a hula class! What a great way for kids to get a few more wiggles out!
15. FLYTOGRAPHER PHOTO SHOOT
Yes, I am including a photo shoot in my list of fun family activities on Oahu!
Flytographer is a website where you can choose with Oahu photographer you’d like to work with based on their style. We’ve always picked ones that are great with kids!
My family usually laughs a lot during our photo shoots and we’re always in a gorgeous location.
We like to do a mix of family portraits (perfect for holiday cards) as well as lots of candid photos of our family enjoying our Hawaiian vacation.
The kids can be as silly as they want and we love ending our shoot with them eating yummy treats!
Use CODE7872 or follow this link to get $25 off your Flytographer photo shoot.
And there you have it! My top 15 family activities on Oahu. If I missed your favorite kid-friendly Oahu activity, let me know in the comments!