Try these family-friendly activities in Hawaii

There's more to Oahu than Waikiki beach. We get the local knowledge on 6 amazing ways to keep your kids happy on a Hawaiian holiday.

Oahu has family-friendly beaches where kids will enjoy trying surfing.
  • Michele Bigley
  • August 2019

Sitting by the pool and beach isn’t going to be enough for keeping the kids entertained – even in Hawaii. Oahu-based mum of five and owner of Faith Surf School opens in new window, Tammy Moniz, shares her local insight on things to do that will spark memories of a holiday your family can treasure forever.

Go it alone

The white-sand beaches on the north shore are usually empty from May to September, and great for exploring on a daytrip (from December to February, waves are typically big and full of experienced surfers, so not ideal for little ones). Superior water quality makes this one of the planet’s most beautiful places. Before heading north, grab poke, drinks and snacks at Ono Seafood in Kapahulu. Finish off the day with a refreshing treat from Waiola Shave Ice opens in new window.

Shave ice a classic Hawaiian treat that kids will love.
Shave ice a classic Hawaiian treat that kids will love.

Fun with food

Nowhere else is the story of Waikiki – the beach boy legacy, fun, sun and waves – as apparent as at Duke’s Waikiki opens in new window. The salad bar is the best on the island and their hula pie is to die for. If the kids can’t wait, head upstairs to sister restaurant Hula Grill opens in new window. This restaurant is a top choice for family fun.

Make waves

Waikiki’s beaches are a great destination for the whole clan. Younger kids can soak in the warm waters. Newbie surfers will find small and long waves to practice riding. Bigger kids will find spots to jump into the sea and larger breaks to boogie board or surf further out. Plus, there are plenty of tropical fish for snorkellers to check out. Hoping to spot dolphins? Hop aboard the Kepoikai II opens in new window catamaran. Captains Jay and Biggy have been taking people onto the sea since 1977 and offer day and sunset sails.


Discover Hawaiian history

Honolulu’s Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum opens in new window has been a family favourite for years. The Hawaiian Hall is a tribute to ancient Hawaiian history. Check out the feathered helmet and cape once worn by royalty and see pre-colonial artefacts, then head over to the Science Adventure Center for a lava-making show (yes, it's real lava). Be sure to time it right as there are only two showings a day.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is Oahu's one-stop culture hit.
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is Oahu's one-stop culture hit.

Splash and slide

When waves have gone AWOL, Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii opens in new window delivers a dose of youthful adventure. This massive fun-filled venue on the west side of the island is Hawaii’s only major water park. Kids from around the state come to ride the thrilling tunnel slides, surf the man-made swell, frolic in the wave pool, play mini-golf and splash around in the water playground. For more water fun, take the kids to Baby Makapuu Beach, across from the Sea Life Park Hawaii opens in new window entrance, to search the little tide pools for sea creatures.