Phoenyx and family at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu | 9 Best activities in Oahu for families

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My husband was a bit salty I had gone to Hawaii the first time without him. So being the loving wife that I am, I brought him and the littlest when I went for the second session of my tattoo sleeve in Oahu.

I knew I had to find the best activities in Oahu for families this go around. So I scoured the internet, and these are what I found!

Our Top 3 Picks: Best activities in oahu for families

#1 TOP PICK

woman in blue getting off a private jet

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
✔️ Cultural Immersion
✔️ Hands-On Activities
✔️ Educational Experience
✔️ Family Bonding

#2 PICK

Sea turtle found while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

SNORKELING IN HANAUMA BAY
✔️ Snorkel gear included
✔️ Round trip transportation to Waikiki

#3 PICK

Hollywood Movie Sites at Kauloa Ranch

HOLLYWOOD MOVIE SITES TOUR AT KAULOA RANCH
✔️ Pro/Feature
✔️ Pro/Feature
🚫 Con

20230116 131516

RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars – With more than 19,000 reviews | TOUR LENGTH: Varies depending on package (plan for all day)

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the best activities in Oahu for families because we made the most memories, had the most fun, and learned new things! Here, you can immerse yourself in traditional Pacific Island life, from the traditional genre of Māori dance of the Haka to paddling a traditional canoe. As you travel the six different ‘islands’, you have the opportunity to watch engaging shows, participate in games and activities, and learn all about the culture that makes up Hawaii.

You can even participate in workshops to learn the art of coconut husking, play age old traditional games of the region, or create your own flower lei. It’s a fantastic way to learn about and appreciate the heritage of the Hawaiian people. We had a blast exploring and making memories with our tour guide and new best friend Peanut.

Sea turtle found while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars – With more than 640 reviews | TOUR LENGTH: 5 Hours

Includes:

  • Round trip transportation from Waikiki
  • Choose from 3 departure times
  • Use of snorkeling equipment

Does not include:

  • Park entry fee
    • $25 admission
    • Free for kids 12 and under
    • Free for active duty military

Hanauma Bay is a pristine marine ecosystem, famed for its vibrant coral reef It offers some of the best snorkeling experiences in Hawaii. As you swim alongside colorful fish and marine life, it’s not just about the fun; there’s a strong emphasis on conservation and respecting the delicate aquatic ecosystem.

If you don’t want to pack your own snorkeling gear, you could book a tour that provides transportation from Waikiki, snorkeling gear, and take the hassle out of having to find parking. A day at Hanauma Bay is not only a chance to bask in breathtaking beauty but also to learn about and actively participate in marine life preservation. 

Hollywood Movie Sites at Kauloa Ranch

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars – With more than 1,162 reviews | TOUR LENGTH: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Tour the ranch by vintage bus to see filming sites for famous Hollywood movies and TV shows
  • Snap photos of locations used in Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Lost, Jumanji & Hawaii Five-O
  • See the sparkling waters of Kaneohe Bay, featured in several scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean 4
  • Learn the history of the ranch and the area from a knowledgeable local guide

Check out the family friendly Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, where you’ll get to see where movies like ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jumanji’ came to life. It’s a cool spot for the whole family, where you can walk in the footsteps of your favorite movie characters. It’s a laid-back way to mix a bit of Hollywood magic with Hawaii’s natural beauty – fun for kids and a neat throwback for the adults.

This unique adventure takes you through the stunning landscapes that starred in famous films and TV shows, making you feel like you’ve stepped onto a movie set. It’s an interactive experience that thrills movie buffs of all ages, bringing cinematic magic to life amidst the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii which is why it is one of the best activities in Oahu for families.

Ziplining Tour in North Shore Oahu

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars – With more than 2,793 reviews | TOUR LENGTH: 3 Hours

Includes:

  • All necessary equipment (helmet, glove and harness)
  • Professional guide
  • Water
  • Free parking

Does not include:

  • Food
  • Hotel drop-off/pick-up

The zipline tour on Oahu’s North Shore is an exhilarating adventure that stands out as one of the best activities for families visiting the area. This tour offers a unique way to experience the breathtaking natural beauty of Oahu from above, soaring through lush landscapes and over historic sites. It’s not only a thrilling ride but also a great opportunity for family bonding and making unforgettable memories.

Pearl Harbor Memorial

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars – With more than 2,793 reviews | TOUR LENGTH: 5-9 Hours

Includes:

  • National Park fees
  • Professional guide
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off

Does not include:

  • Food

The Deluxe Arizona Memorial and Historical City Tour in Honolulu is a deeply moving and educational experience for families. This tour provides an opportunity to visit the iconic USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, a poignant reminder of the events of World War II.

Additionally, the tour includes a journey through historical sites in Honolulu, offering insights into Hawaii’s rich history and culture. This comprehensive tour is not only a journey through significant historical events but also an opportunity for families to reflect, learn, and come together in a shared experience of understanding and remembrance.

Waimea Falls

RATING: 4.6 out of 5 Stars – With more than 3,687 reviews | LENGTH: At your own pace

Quick Facts:

  • $25 admission for adults
  • $15 admission for kids (4-12 yrs.)
  • Free parking

North Shore Oahu was precious in our hearts as we visited fruit stands, shrimp trucks, and Waimea Valley. Our daughter found her inner herbalist at Waimea Valley as she collected every type of plant and flower she found on the ground on the way to see the famous waterfall.

The hike is about 3/4 of a mile uphill which was a bit of a challenge for me with my leg, but the valley offers transportation to and from the waterfall by golf cart for those who can’t make the trip or would rather appreciate the convenience for $10. After the tiring hike and collecting half a forest, we donned our swimsuits and life vests which are required to swim in the falls.

The water was a chilly 60 degrees Fahrenheit which had me sitting on a log dipping my legs in the frosty water. Our youngest had begged my husband to swim with her to which he dutifully obliged. After nearly freezing to death (an exaggeration I’m sure, haha), we headed down the valley. I utilized the shuttle service using my best queen wave to my family (or as I’d like to call them – peasants) as I passed by. Make sure to buy your tickets to Waimea Falls in advance to avoid arriving to find them sold-out!

Brown and Black Tiger Beside Wood Log

RATING: 4.6 out of 5 Stars – With more than 3,687 reviews | LENGTH: At your own pace

Quick Facts:

  • $21 admission for adults
  • $13 admission for kids (3-12 yrs.)
  • $1.50 per hour

Explore the Honolulu Zoo, a family-friendly oasis in the heart of Honolulu, offering a close-up look at exotic wildlife. The zoo actively participates in global conservation efforts, educating visitors about the importance of preserving these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

It’s a place where fun meets learning, and each visit contributes to the vital work of wildlife protection. and engaging conservation efforts. The Honolulu Zoo is perfect for families and teaches both young and old while fostering a love for animals.

Mickey and family at the character breakfast in Aulani

Although we didn’t stay here, our family opted for a Disney character breakfast. Our littlest has been obsessed with Mickey; so, I had to make this happen. Every minute from the time we arrived until we left was absolutely magical. After checking into the restaurant, you are greeted by Mickey and take pictures with him. River was scared at first, but the characters played and joked with her until she opened up. Next, you meet Chef Goofy who is an absolute charmer. As we were seated, different characters like Max and Pluto came to the table, taking their time to play with and make River smile. 

I cannot suggest this enough if you have little ones who love all things Disney. Make sure to book your character breakfast as soon as the slots open up which is 30 days prior at 12pm. Spots fill up ridiculously fast.

Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars – With more than 230 reviews | Cost? Free!

Waikiki beach is a known for its amazing beaches and hotels that are merely steps away. We visited when the waves were unpredictable which made me nervous for our four year old who was very new to swimming. The Hilton Hawaiian Village was the perfect spot for our family to hang out on the beach while also keeping our little one safe. Did I mention that it’s free? The Hilton Hawaiian Village is known for having its own kid friendly lagoon – Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.

You don’t have to be staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to visit either. However if you want to walk out of the hotel and have the sand between your toes and bask in the sun, you can book a room here. It’s a wonderful place for the kids to wade or float while the adults relax.

Conclusion

These are some of the best activities in Oahu for families, from zipping through the trees to chilling with the fish at Hanauma Bay. It’s more than just ticking off spots from a list – it’s about those laughs, the wide-eyed moments, learning experiences, and stories you’ll share back home. Trust me, each of these adventures is a chance to bond and make your family story even richer.

Which of these activities sounds the best to you? Let us know in the comments below!

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