Top 5 free things to do in Honolulu with kids

Here are our top suggestions for unforgetable things to do Honolulu with family, that won’t break your holiday budget.

People on the shore of Hawaii beach.
  • Jetstar
  • December 2017

The Hawaiian word for children is ‘keiki’. One of the most family-friendly destinations in the world, Honolulu offers endless ways to create lifelong memories of your own holiday adventures, not only for you, but for your keiki too. Here are our top suggestions for unforgetable things to do Honolulu with family, that won’t break your holiday budget.

Enjoy a wander along Waikiki Beach

The shoreline along Waikiki is always buzzing, making it the ideal place for a stroll. Early evenings, particularly in the summer peak, can be the best time to take in the sights and sounds without the little ones getting overheated or burnt. The precinct comes to life at dusk, with street performers, food vendors and shopping opportunities ramping up as the night goes on. The kids will love trying local treats such as shaved ice, with the sweet red bean topping, azuki.

With a little luck, you’ll find one of the most fun free things to do in Waikiki Beach if you hit the beachside walkways between 6:30 and 7:30pm to catch the Waikiki Hula Show, with authentic Hawaiian music and performances by some of the area’s finest dancers. Weather permitting, shows take place on Tuesdays and Thursday through Saturday evenings, near the beachside Duke Kahanamoku statue.

Location: Lewers Street, between Kalakaua Avenue and Kalia Road

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Get cultural at The Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center is a goldmine of free family activities, where kids can take hula dance lessons, enjoy a storytelling session, watch cultural performances, get a hands-on class in playing a ukulele, or impress their friends by making their own traditional flower lei. The schedule of classes and presentations is refreshed daily, and there’s always plenty of dining and shopping on offer too. (It’s also worth checking with your hotel or resort – many of them provide their own schedule of free entertainment and family activities.

Location: 2201 Kalakaua Avenue

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Take your pick from 139 beaches

All you need are your bathers, a towel, and, of course, sunscreen. The island of Oahu has 139 beaches, including some of the best beaches in Hawaii, all free for the public. Aside from the usual swimming and sandcastle building, you can also grab a snorkel and swim amongst the green sea turtles, search for Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (pronounced ‘who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooah-ah’) or see if you can track down the far easier to pronounce reef triggerfish.

Alternatively, venture out to Shark Cove and enjoy the shallow tide pools full of colourful marine life. It’s a seaside playground that will take the kids hours to explore, and don’t worry, it’s named after the shape of the cove, not its inhabitants!

Our favourite link: Go Hawaii: Oahu beaches opens in new window

Hike the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

If your family is adventurous, there’s plenty of child-friendly hiking trails where you can explore the lush green, unmistakably Hawaiian landscape, spotting beautiful birds and stunning plantlife. Venture to Kailua Beach or Diamond Head lookout to see scores of colourful canoes gliding on the water, while windsurfers cut colourful lines across the shimmering blue horizon.

The 3.2km Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail features amazing views and a visit to the historic lighthouse, and in season (November–May) you may see migrating humpback whales. It’s flat enough to be pram-friendly, but unshaded – hats and sunscreen are essential.

Location: Near the Hawaii Kai Golf Course on Kalanianaole Highway

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Celebrate with a bang in the Hilton Hawaiian Village

What better way to celebrate an amazing holiday than with fireworks? Every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a free fireworks show—and you don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy it! The colourful display lasts roughly 10 minutes and can be seen all along the coastline, from Diamond Head to Ewa Beach. If you’re really looking to end your night with a bang, the best vantage points are the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and the edge of the Hilton Lagoon. A lesser-known spot that’s a favourite among the locals can be found along the Ala Wai channel at Magic Island, where the Waikiki skyline forms a stunning backdrop to the bursts of coloured light reflecting on the water below.

Location: 2005 Kalia Road

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