Home to world-famous Waikīkī Beach and its countless shops and restaurants, O‘ahu is the place to start your family holiday.
Many families choose to base themselves at a hotel or resort overlooking world-famous Waikīkī Beach to soak up the vibe and take advantage of the many restaurants and great shopping on offer nearby. But it’s also worth hiring a car or booking tours to explore the island and its many family-friendly attractions.
VISIT KUALOA RANCH
See the valley where Sam Neill ran from dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Godzilla’s footprints, and the bones from King Kong: Skull Island on a movie sites tour of this 1600ha working cattle ranch at Kāne‘ohe. You can also do ATV tours and cruises and snorkelling, horse riding and ziplining. Shuttle transportation is available from Waikīkī hotels when you book a multi-tour package.
VISIT PEARL HARBOUR
See the resting place of 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in World War II in 1941. The attraction encompasses the USS Arizona Memorial, where children are given a ‘Keiki Ranger’ or ‘Junior Ranger’ activity book to complete, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Oklahoma Memorial.
SWIM WITH DOLPHINS AND TURTLES
Feel like you are part of the pod when you swim with wild dolphins on a tour with Wild Side Specialty Tours, departing from Wai‘anae, an hour or so drive from Waikīkī on the Leeward Coast. Keep an eye out for migrating humpback whales during the season (December to May) and snorkel with sea turtles and reef fish before returning to shore.
VISIT AN AQUARIUM
Get up-close to dolphins, stingrays, sharks, sea lions and penguins at Sea Life Park Hawai‘i marine mammal sanctuary and aquarium at Waimanalo. Waikiki Aquarium is another great place to see marine life, including seahorses, monk seals and giant clams.
TRY WATER SPORTS
Learn to surf, stand-up paddleboard or ride an outrigger canoe on Waikīkī Beach or at one of O‘ahu’s many other beaches. And, if visiting during winter, drive to the North Shore to watch – from the safety of shore – the world’s best surfers ride the huge waves at Banzai Pipeline.
LEARN ABOUT POLYNESIAN CULTURE
A one-hour drive north of Waikīkī, the Polynesian Cultural Center features six Pacific Island villages in a beautifully landscaped setting, with a range of hands-on activities showcasing the people, culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia.
VISIT A PINEAPPLE PLANTATION
Hop aboard the colourful Pineapple Express train on the North Shore for a tour at the historic Dole Plantation and learn about the story of the pineapple in Hawai‘i and how James Drummond Doyle founded his agricultural empire. Then stroll around the garden and explore the world’s largest maze, crafted from Hawaiian plants. Enjoy lunch at the Plantation Grille and try the Dole Whip pineapple dessert, the Pineapple Split or a chocolate-covered pineapple.
SPEND A DAY AT THE ZOO
Between Diamond Head and Waikīkī, Honolulu Zoo is home to more than 900 animals, including Komodo dragons, orangutans, lions, elephants, lemurs and meerkats.
HIT THE SHOPS
Teenagers will love the factory outlets, surf shops and mega malls, including the Royal Hawaiian Center, Ala Moana Center and International Market Place.
For more holiday inspiration check out the Hawaii Family Guide!