Top 8 things to do in Oahu that your kids will love

From jaw-dropping scenery to fun cultural shows to entertain the kids, Hawaii’s island of Oahu has no shortage of activities to keep the whole family happy.

A Jeep tour of the Jurassic Park movie set in Kualoa Ranch
  • Isobel Benesch
  • January 2020

With staggering coastlines, natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and pristine beaches, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities in Oahu. We have unearthed our favourites so you don’t have to spend your holiday making decisions on where to go and what to do.

Wild Side Specialty Tours

You can’t visit Oahu without spending some time out on the water and Wild Side Specialty Tours is a great option for families with older ones. A research vessel that uses the money earned through tourism trips to help fund research, the staff - trained marine biologists - are educated on wildlife in the area, allowing visitors to learn about these animals without being intrusive to the sea life in its natural habitat.

From swimming with wild Spinner dolphins to viewing the elusive Eagle Ray, this was the best snorkeling experience of our entire trip – especially when we stopped by a turtle cleaning station and found ourselves surrounded by more than a handful of graceful sea turtles and tropical fish with not another soul in sight.

Ka Wa’a Luau at the Aulani Resort

A luau is worth the big spend when visiting Hawaii and the Ka Wa’a Luau at the Aulani is a top pick for those with kids. With pre-show kid-friendly activities like temporary tattoos and taro pounding, incredible food with a dedicated keiki buffet, a helpful staff that entertained restless little ones and took our older ones back to the buffet for seconds, and mesmerizing performances that kept our little ones captivated, this luau is great for families.

The story and the performance were told in a way that engaged the younger audiences, touching on the history and culture of the resort’s location with incredibly intricate and beautiful costumes that brought the story to life. There were enough children in the audience that we didn’t feel uncomfortable when our youngest was running around the grass in the over-tired frenzy that can happen on vacation in a different time zone.

Polynesian Cultural Centre

The Polynesian Cultural Centre is an all-day family event that will captivate all ages from babies to grandparents. With six Polynesian villages (including Aoteroa) featuring interactive, hands-on activities like spear throwing, net fishing, and bamboo pole fishing, you will learn about the culture of each village in a fun and engaging way. Followed by a lavish spread of delicious food where hula dancers perch on platforms tableside, engaging performances, and a don’t miss nighttime fire show, the Polynesian Cultural Centre is a can’t miss activity during your stay and an experience the kids won’t stop talking about.

Kahana State Park

When you need a break from the more touristy spots, head up the scenic route along Likelike Highway to the windward side of Oahu where you will be treated to unspoiled natural coastal beauty. With long stretches of desolate beaches and lush, jungle-covered cliffs that seemingly rise out of the sea, you will quickly forget Oahu is anything but a deserted island. With wild chickens running free, coconuts littering the ground, and gentle waves lapping against the shore, it’s the perfect place for families to get away from it all.

Kualoa Ranch

Far away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, Kualoa Ranch is a vast and beautiful ranch with jaw-dropping scenery and a variety of tours from extreme adventure for older ones like ATV and horseback rides, to family-friendly for the littlies like an afternoon at The Secret Beach. Movie buffs will be eager to explore “Jurassic Valley”, the setting for Jurassic Park and several other sets like Hawaii Five-Oh and more.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

Even the tiniest of tots will enjoy snorkeling here without needing to swim in this well-known bay that has miles of shallow reef and almost always clear and mellow water. The outpost nestled into the grass along the sand makes it easy to rent all of the snorkel equipment you and your little ones will need, and with an abundance of colorful, native fish, it’s one of the best places for all ages to get acquainted with sea life in their natural habitat.

Surf Competition on the North Shore

Known for its laid-back vibe, food truck culture, legendary wave breaks and gutsy surfers, the North Shore needs to be on your Oahu bucket list. Find local surf competitions during your stay to see world class legends tackle some of the largest waves you will ever see.

Honolulu Zoo

If you need a break from all the sand and the surf, the Honolulu Zoo is a great way to spend an afternoon. A small and easily navigable zoo with a friendly staff, it’s a great, family-friendly place to see and learn about a wide variety of animals ranging from native to exotic.

Looking for the best family-friendly beaches? Check out these top beaches for kids in Oahu.