We put together a list of our absolute favorite, top 10 family-friendly activities on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. So no matter how you choose to travel in the islands, this is an excellent list of Honolulu excursions to plan your itinerary.
Rarely do we offer straight-up lists on the Things to do on Oahu Blog, so weʻll jump right to it. But as always, we have included some information you can use if you rent a car or even use the public bus. Of course, we hope you will choose Your Hawaii Private Tours and let us show you around, but no matter what, we want you to enjoy your vacation. We are sure you will have a great time at these family-friendly activities on Oahu.
10: Favorite new activity on Oahu, Hawaii
We were lucky enough to be invited to check out Kahana Adventures, a brand new Native Hawaiian, owned and operated small business. While it is currently one of the best-kept secrets on the island, that is not going to last long. The family is incredible and has lived in the only intact remaining Ahupuaa on the island for generations. If you are looking for something different, this is it.
Kahana Adventures paddleboard and kayak rentals
An Ahupuaa is a traditional land division that runs from the mountains into the ocean. These areas would have everything a civilization needed, and you can still see kalo fields and a fish pond here today.
They offer 3-hour rentals for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards with river access. You can head upriver to the rope swing or down towards the beach from the dock in their yard. We highly recommend you do both.
9: Fun family hiking activity near Waikiki, Oahu
If there have been heavy rains, you can actually see this waterfall from certain parts of Waikiki. This lush tropical rainforest is about a 10-minute drive from the resort district, and you can get there in various ways. However, it is a pretty far walk, about 40 minutes. So people often take a cab, uber, or even bike. From there, the hike to the waterfall isnʻt very difficult, although you might be a little winded by the time you reach the back of the valley.
Manoa Valley waterfall hike and Lyons Arboretum
The trail is a little over a mile and a half. It takes approximately two hours to hike. There has been extensive work along the path, so it may look much different than you remember. But you may recognize it from productions like Aquaman 2 and Lost.
Be aware that you will have to pay for parking if you drive. The Lyons Arboretum is located right past the entrance to the waterfall hike and is easy to visit. Just be mindful of the weather. The rains come quickly in Hawaii and frequently in Manoa.
8: Best beach view and scenic lookout
One of the most famous lookouts on the island is also one of our favorites. Scenic lookouts on Oahu are family activities. Not only for the adults to enjoy the view but for the kids to stretch their legs. While the blow hole isnʻt always active, the lookout at Halona never disappoints. That is one of the reasons it makes the top 10 list.
Halona Blow Hole and Eternity Cove Lookout
Do you love sunrises? This place is one of our favorite spots to watch it. Especially if there are waves and the blow hole is spouting, sometimes as high as 30 feet. The view of Sandy Beach and the Makapuu Ridgeline from here is picture-perfect.
You may recognize the beach on the other side from several movies. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featured this spot, as well as From Here to Eternity, which is why itʻs known as Eternity Cove.
7: Most underrated Oahu family activities
There are so many outstanding family activities on Oahu, itʻs hard to know which ones to prioritize. But if you are going to Pearl Harbor with kids or kids at heart, the Aviation Museum is a must. You may recognize it from Jurassic World. They even include audio sets in admission and have a great staff available for questions. You donʻt need advanced reservations unless you want to do the brand new Tower Tour.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and Flight Simulator
There are two hangars at the museum, and almost all the planes are in near-flying condition. Hangar 37 focuses on the World War 2 era planes involved in the December 7th attacks. There is even the actual Stearman aircraft that Former President George H.W. Bush Flew.
But our favorite thing there is the 360-degree flight simulator, hands down and feet up. Moving to Hangar 79 brings you to the restoration shop. Even though the planes here are more modern, the building is original. See if you can spot the bullet holes from the attack in the window.
6: Most popular living history attraction
Just before the Aviation Museum on the Ford Island Shuttle is the Battleship Missouri. Like the Aviation museum, it has been featured in several movies. In fact, the movie Battleship with Rihana, while based on the board game, featured the “Mighty Mo” as the main character. The Last Battleship served from World War 2 through Desert Storm. Thankfully, her crew led one final charge to turn her into a museum, and she pulled into Pearl Harbor in 1999.
Battleship Missouri and USS Oklahoma Memorial
After the Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri is the most popular Pearl Harbor exhibit. Understandably, many families are concerned that Pearl Harbor on Oahu isnʻt the best place for kids. But everyone loves visiting the Battleship.
One of our favorite stories about World War 2 is from the Kamikaze Deck after you see the Instruments of Surrender, which ended the War in the Pacific. Donʻt forget to read our post about the best way to visit Pearl Harbor for more info.
5: Favorite fruit stand on the island
The climate in the Hawaiian Islands is perfect for more than just sugar cane and pineapple. But speaking of pineapple, there are some pretty good ones. However, weʻre pretty sure we found the absolute best. While excellent fruit stands are located along the roadside throughout the island of Oahu, you have to work a little harder for this one.
We have to keep at least one secret to ourselves (kinda)
There is a tropical nursery nestled in the foothills of the Koolau Mountain Range on the windward side we absolutely love. They specialize in some of the world’s most exotic plants and most delicious fruits.
They cater primarily to locals looking to bring plants home and sell to some of the grocery stores on the island. But this small family farm also sells some fresh fruits directly on-site, if youʻre lucky enough to find them.
4: Most crucial coffee stop on Oahu
We donʻt use the word crucial lightly. This is the coffee in our pot at home. When the lockdowns happened, this was literally the first order we made. There is a good chance that when we pick you up in the morning, weʻre already drinking their Blueberry Strudel Coffee. You read that right, blueberry strudel, and itʻs delicious.
Green World Coffee Farm near Dole Plantation
Donʻt worry. There are more traditional blends and, of course, 100% Kona Coffee. They even have free samples so you can try them before you buy. A Green World stop isnʻt just for the coffee, however. They offer tea, smoothies, pastries, shave ice, and souvenirs.
There is a wide open area for kids to run and play, they are sure to be enamored with the chickens. When youʻre finished getting your caffeine for the day (or month), the Dole Plantation is right around the corner for more family activities on Oahu.
3: Volcanic caldera scenic lookout near Honolulu
Did you know that volcanos made every island in the Hawaiian chain? Hawaii has both the most active, as well as the largest volcano in the world. Those are on the Big Island, and Mauiʻs largest volcano, Haleakala, is famous for itʻs beautiful sunrise and sunsets. Even though Diamond Head may be the most famous “volcano” on Oahu, itʻs nowhere near the biggest.
Nuuanu Scenic Lookout and Koolau Caldera views
Depending on the traffic, it is located about 10 minutes above Downtown Honolulu. The Pali has a breathtaking view down into this ancient volcano. It may be hard to imagine, especially with the lush greenery and blue ocean, but that is the inside of a 3.5 million-year-old Koolau Caldera.
Apart from the view, the history is massive here as well. From the lookout, you will see a painting by Herb Kane illustrating the Battle of Oahu. This is the spot where Kamehameha ultimately conquered the island.
2: Most fun family-friendly activity on Oahu
So this was a tough one to rank second, and it might vary depending on the day because this family activity on the North Shore of Oahu is just so fun! The Anahulu Stream is perfect for learning how to paddle board or kayak. It is also a great place to visit the Hawaiian green sea turtles. Everyone loves a trip up the river! You can get a different experience depending on the time and day you go.
North Shore river paddleboard and kayak trip with turtles
We tend to go early or later in the day for fewer people, but it is a party atmosphere during the early afternoons. There are several great vendors to rent SUPʻs, kayaks, or double kayaks from along the river.
This is the best way to see turtles on Your Private Tours of Oahu. If you are looking for something else to do after you spend some time in Haleiwa Town, we highly recommend it.
1: Best family activity for all ages and abilities
And at our number 1 favorite family activity on the island of Oahu, drum roll please, of course, itʻs a waterfall swim. Located on the North Shore, Waimea Valley is one of our favorite places on Earth. Itʻs not hard to see why either. This special place is also handicapped accessible, and they even have lifeguards that watch over the waterfall. Not to mention the gift shop, concession stand, cafe, and, maybe best of all, the bar.
Waimea Valley Visitor Center, botanical garden, and waterfall
Since the Valley is now a State Park, so there is a paved path with a primarily soft slope. Guests in wheelchairs and strollers can get to the waterfall viewing area. Not only that, if you donʻt feel like the 3/4 mile walk, they even have a trolley for an extra fee.
You may recognize this Valley from a variety of movies and television shows. Including Jumanji 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Joe vs. the Volcano, and more. Not to mention, their staff are some of our favorite people on the island.
Honorable Mention: Most famous view in Hawaii
Itʻs basically illegal to make a list like this and not include Diamond Head. It is also an excellent activity for kids and families visiting Oahu. Located directly outside Waikiki, we typically recommend visiting this attraction on one of your down days. However, if you are staying at Koolina, Turtle Bay, or want a hiking buddy, we love climbing itʻs slopes. The view is always worth the work.
Diamond Head Crater Hike family activity on Oahu
One thing that has changed about this hike is that there are fewer people than there used to be. That is because they instituted a reservation system, and it seems to be working well. There definitely feels like there is more space on the trail.
The hike inside the tuff cone, through the old military complex, is about a mile and a half. You will probably be there for the entire two-hour time slot. Even begin your day in the winter with a sunrise hike if you want.
No matter how you choose to enjoy these family activities on Oahu, we are sure you will have an unforgettable time. You can get to every location on this list by bus, taxi, uber, or rental car. But if you donʻt feel like driving, or want some extra information, check out Your Private Tours of Hawaii. Weʻd love to show you around.
As always, mahalo nui loa for taking the time to read the Things to do in Oahu Blog. Make sure to follow us on social media for updates and more information about family-friendly activities on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Donʻt forget to share with your family and friends.
Published by Halia Tours and Transportation | Private Tours Oahu Hawaii
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