Aloha, fellow travelers! Are you looking for a fun-filled family vacation that offers tropical beauty, authentic cultural experiences, and Disney magic? Look no further than Oahu, Hawaii.
This lush island oasis boasts everything with its breathtaking views whether it be the beach or hiking in a tropical oasis. Explore everything from the Japanese Byodo-In Temple to the Polynesian Cultural Center to the magic of breakfasts with your favorite Disney characters.
Our family recently visited Oahu and we were blown away by the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. So grab your sunscreen and your sense of humor, and let’s dive into why Oahu is the perfect getaway.
Experience Disney Magic of Aulani
First off, let’s talk about the Disney magic of Oahu. You don’t have to only think of Florida when dreaming about having your favorite adventures with the Mouse himself. At the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa, you can indulge in breakfast with your favorite friends at the Makahiki.
You and your little ones can meet beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse and Stitch while munching on Mickey-shaped pancakes. The amount of attention and affection the characters give your little one is enough to make your heart melt. River was a bit shy when Max came to visit us at our table. He played peek-a-boo with her until she was belly laughing and hugging him at the end.
The resort itself is like a tropical wonderland, featuring a lazy river, stunning lagoons, and plenty of family-friendly activities. Staying at this Disney property makes for an unforgettable experience for adults and kids alike. Book your room today!
Immerse Yourself in the Many Cultures that Make Up Hawaii
But Oahu is much more than just Disney – the island is rich in cultural experiences. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a must-visit, where you can immerse yourself in traditional Pacific Island life, from hula dancing to fire knife performances. As you travel the six different ‘islands’, you have the opportunity to watch engaging cultural shows that immerse you in a whole new world.
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. River had a blast while exploring with our tour guide and new best friend Peanut.
Discover Hidden Treasures
When it comes to natural beauty, Oahu has it in spades. For beach lovers, Waikiki Beach is a classic destination, with its soft sand and clear waters. But for a more secluded spot, head to Secret Beach. As the name suggests, it’s a bit of a hidden gem, but once you find it, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a peaceful atmosphere.
We had been planning on snorkeling to see the sea life and swim undisturbed. Our plans had changed when we arrived only to see three endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals sunbathing on the warm sand. The area had been tied off a safe distance from these majestic creatures to ensure that humans did not disturb them.
River and I were mesmerized watching these giants that seemed larger than life lie there. The simple outing turned to a once in a lifetime event which was even more special.
North Shore Adventures
North Shore was precious in our hearts as we visited fruit stands, shrimp trucks, and Waimea Valley. River found her inner herbalist as she collected every type of plant and flower she found on the ground (that had already fallen) 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 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. River had begged my husband to swim with her to which he obliged. After nearly freezing to death (an exaggeration I’m sure, haha), we headed down the valley. I utilized the shuttle service waving to my family (peasants) as I passed by.
They may or may not have found me sipping on a Mai Tai when they arrived.
Make sure to buy your tickets to Waimea Falls in advance to avoid arriving to find them sold-out!
One of our favorite spots was the Byodo-In Temple, a stunning replica of the 900-year-old temple in Japan. Located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, it’s a serene and picturesque spot. After ringing the giant bell and touring the temple, we visited the gift shop where you can buy a fortune.
Don’t fret if you happen to draw an unlucky fortune though! It is said that by tying your fortune to a tree where it will stay put instead of following you home. Thankfully, I got a good fortune!
The Eddie Aikau Surf Competition 2023
The Eddie Aikau Surf Competition is an event held at Oahu’s famous North Shore. It hadn’t been held since 2016 as wave conditions needed to consistently reach twenty feet for the time of the competition. The competition was created in honor of legendary lifeguard, surfer and waterman Eddie Aikau, who famously saved many lives at sea.
Eddie’s courage and spirit in the face of danger inspired the competition. It’s a great chance to witness world-class surfing as well as to learn about the Hawaiian way of life and its rich culture.
Hundreds of surfers brave the huge waves in order to take home the victory. Since I had to finish my tattoo the Friday and Saturday before the competition Sunday, I was unable to reserve our spot to watch the competition. Having River with us would have made it nearly impossible though since many will sleep in tents set up on the beach or in their cars to save their spots to watch the competition. Having a slow and lazy Sunday at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel was perfect though for the last full day of our family vacation.
Oahu truly has something for everyone, from Disney-loving kids to adventure-seeking adults. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant cultural scene or just lounging on a stunning beach, you’re sure to have a memorable family vacation. So grab the kids, pack your bags, and say aloha to the perfect destination.