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11 Amazing Family-Friendly Things to Do in Oahu

Updated: Mar 9

A photo of Diamond Head in the day time.  The water is crystal clear with swimmers in the water.  There are several hotels with pink sun umbrellas.

When you first step off the plane in Oahu, you are going to be instantly overwhelmed by the beauty of the island. Before you can regroup, and stop the overwhelm, you will become mesmerized with the scents, sounds, and even the ambiance of this spectacular destination. I know that it always takes me a little time to adjust to the near-perfection of Oahu. And honestly, that is not a bad thing, because perfection is what we all dream of when we are on family vacations!

Yes, I know the words “family vacations” and “perfection” do not go well together. But on the island of Oahu, everything that possibly could go wrong can, and you will still say you had a fabulous time! After all, how could spending the day on the sandy beaches watching the waves approach the shoreline ever be anything but perfect? And the locals’ low-key vibe will have you slowing down and adjusting to island life faster than you thought possible.

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A photo of Diamon Head with a view of Waikiki Beach.

In fact, I guarantee you will be in no rush for your time on Oahu to end! Especially if you enjoy all the family-friendly activities I am sharing with you today.

The owner of Spectrum Getaways and her son.  They are holding hands as they stand in the water of Hickam Beach.  There is a Korean Airlines Airplane behind them that is taxing on Honolulu International Airport's flightline.

11 Amazing Family-Friendly Things to Do in Oahu

Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa

Magic is everywhere at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa! The entire family will love the sights, sounds, and activities that are available at this stunning resort. On the days you are not out exploring the island of Oahu, you may find yourself at one of the six pools or participating in one of more than thirty different activities. Of course, you can also check the kids into the Kids’ Club, so you can have some adult time.

The owner of Spectrum Getaways son eating Ice Cream from Baskin Robins.

The Ewa Railroad

The Ewa Railroad is the only historic railroad on the island of Oahu. The Hawaiian Railroad Society is in charge of the train ride to the west of Old Ewa. A ride along these train tracks will have you following the path others did many years ago. Only now, you get to hear the stories of past passengers, as well as the history of the railroad and the surrounding area. On the weekends there is an ice cream train that will take you to Two Scoops Ice Cream. Grab an ice cream and enjoy the remainder of the train ride with a scoop or two or ice cream!

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls is the most accessible waterfall on the island of Oahu. Manoa Falls Trail leads directly to this waterfall. It is an easy trail that is perfect for families. The trail is just over a mile and a half round trip and there is only an elevation gain of approximately six hundred feet. As you walk along this well-marked trail, you will find yourself in the middle of what appears to be a jungle. This trail can be quite muddy, especially during the rainy season. Therefore, you must wear sneakers or hiking boots for this adventure. The weekends are very busy on this trail and at the one-hundred-foot waterfall. I recommend heading out early if you want to enjoy a little peace and quiet when you arrive at the falls.

The owner of Spectrum Getaways holding her son up with a look of Honolulu in the background behind them.  They stand at the top of Tantalus Drive.

Drive Tantalus

Tantalus is a ten-mile-long loop that offers hairpin turns, steep inclines, and too many blind corners to count. When you start this drive, you may be willing to give up mere seconds into it. However, if you can get over the nerve-wracking elements, you will be rewarded with gorgeous views you will never forget. Imagine being able to see over to Diamond Head, Waikiki, and Pearl Harbor from the Tantalus Lookout. When you are not appreciating the views, you may want to spend your time looking at the banyan trees, bamboo forests, wild coffee plants, and guava. Just keep your eyes on the road while you are driving!

Makapu’u Tidepools

The Makapu’u Tidepools can be found over on the eastern shore of Oahu. Your journey to these tidepools will begin along the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. When you reach the third rest stop, you will begin your journey down to the tidepools. This is a challenging hike down and the trip up is even more challenging. It may not be the best adventure for smaller children, so keep that in mind as we are planning this part of your Oahu itinerary!

If you do make the trek to the Makapu’u Tidepools, you will have the chance to see the blowholes and geysers. There is nothing better than watching water shoot up in the air! In between bursts of water, you can swim in the tidepools or relax beside them.

Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike

The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike is not too long, and the trail takes you directly to the lighthouse. The best time to hike this trail is from December through May. It is at that time of the year when your family can see humpback whales migrating to and from the area. Seeing these creatures down below the cliffs is amazing. While you can see the whales easily enough, I recommend taking a pair of binoculars with you to enhance your views.

Diamond Head Hike

Are you always looking for something unique to do during family vacations? Well, how about hiking alongside a crater when you vacation in Oahu? The Diamond Head Hike will have you hiking along the Diamond Head Crater for a little more than a mile and a half. You will discover numerous historic destinations during your hike. At the summit, you will enjoy the views of the surrounding area. It is best to take your time during this hike. Lots of breaks are needed, as is a lot of water to stay hydrated.

The Botanical Garden in Wahiawa

The Botanical Garden in Wahiawa can be found in the center of Oahu. It is a twenty-seven-acre park that used to be Hawaiian sugar farms. While there are many native plants in this botanical garden, you will also discover plants from Asia, Africa, Australia, and the South Sea Islands. Favorite plants of past visitors include the rainbow eucalyptus, Queensland kauri, blue ginger, and koa. Wandering through this botanical garden is an excellent option when you want to relax for an hour or two while exploring some of the natural beauty on the island.

The owner of Spectrum Getaways son over looking the pond at Byodo-In Temple in Honolulu.  He has no shoes on and his back is to the camera.

Byodo-In Temple

The Byodo-In Temple is located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, inside the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. This Buddhist temple is open to everyone and is considered a must-see attraction in Oahu. I recommend taking bug spray with you when you visit this temple and applying it liberally throughout your stay. The bug spray will help keep the bugs away, as you wander around the grounds. I recommend checking out the hundreds of Japanese koi carp, as well as the wild peacocks. The reflecting pool is perfect when you need a few moments of silence, but the kids will prefer the sounds of the waterfalls.

The Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is located on forty-two acres of land, which means you must plan an entire day to truly appreciate it all. During your visit, you can explore authentic island villages, spend time with the locals, and dine on delicious food at a luau. If you have the time, I recommend staying for the evening show, which includes songs, dances, and fire.

The Dole Plantation

One of the favorite family-friendly attractions in Oahu is the Dole Plantation. I recommend taking the Pineapple Express Train Tour and the Plantation Garden Tour to learn everything you can about this plantation. The kids will love getting lost in the Pineapple Garden Maze and no one will be able to resist the delicious foods and drinks that contain pineapple. Don’t forget to purchase a pineapple to take back to your accommodations with you or have a few shipped back home!

These are eleven of the amazing family-friendly things to do in Oahu for your next family vacation! You may be excited to add all these Oahu attractions to your itinerary, but we must determine if you will have time to do them all during your vacation! Let’s connect today, so we can figure out exactly what you want your vacation in Oahu to look like!

Are you ready to plan your family vacation in Oahu?

If you are ready to start the planning process for a vacation in Oahu, I would like to invite you to schedule a planning session with me by clicking here. When you click this link, you will be taken directly to my digital calendar. You can easily set up a time for us to connect that is convenient for you.

A pink sunset shot of Honolulu.  There are surfers in the water.  There is a title that reads Travel Tips.  11 Amazing things to do with kids on O'ahu.

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