We spent a few days exploring Oahu in Hawaii. Though we love the beach, there are so many other things to do on this island! We wanted to put this list of adventures to help you get the most out of your time in Hawaii. We tried to do free or cheap activities as much as possible, with a few splurges! All of these activities are things to do on Oahu with kids. We love traveling as a family!
Did you know that every beach in Hawaii is free and open to the public? There are a few exceptions, but almost every beach in Oahu is available for you to visit.
- Ala Moana Beach Park (free near Waikiki): this beach has beautiful sand and we saw some sea turtles, too.
- Ko Olina Lagoons (free, great for young kids): These lagoons are over at the Ko Olina Resort, but since every beach is public, find a spot and enjoy. These are perfect for smaller kids since there are no waves.
- Haiwea Ali’i Beach (free, huge waves in winter, so be careful): This beach is on the north shore, so the waves get quite large in the winter. We enjoyed watching the surfers when we visited in October.
- Waimea Bay (free, same warning for winter): Another beach on the north shore, with beautiful sand and views.
Snorkeling for Beginners
We are not experienced snorkelers, so we were looking for places where we could snorkel without too much worry.
- Kualima Cove (free): This cove is at the Turtle Bay Resort and it was a nice little cove for kids and adults just starting to snorkel.
- Shark’s Cove (free): Find this cove on the North Shore. It is much rockier, but there were a lot more fish.
- Hanauma Bay (tickets required): We were unable to land tickets for Hanauma Bay, but it is supposed to be the best snorkeling on Oahu. Make sure to know when reservations open because they go quickly.
Hawaii is very green, and Oahu is no exception. Here are a few hikes we tried, but there are many more.
- Manoa Falls: 1.7 miles roundtrip moderate hike to a tall waterfall.
- Makapu’u Lighthouse trail: this is the one hike we didn’t do, but I really wanted to!
- Diamond Head State Park: 1.8 miles roundtrip to the summit of Diamond Head. Beautiful views, but steep and taxing.
One of our favorite parts of visiting Hawaii was spotting sea turtles. We are huge wildlife fans, so seeing the turtles was amazing. We saw them at each of the following:
- Lanikea Beach: turtles often come onto the shore at this beach.
- Papa’iloa Beach: same as Lankiea, but a little busier.
- Kaiaka Bay Trail: Walk along the rocks to the east of the beach to spot the turtles in the water.
Here are some other fun things to do on Oahu with kids that we enjoyed on our trip.
- Polynesian Culture Center: Spend the entire day learning about and experiencing Polynesian cultures.
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial: This historic site is a quiet memorial to many who lost their lives in 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
- Laie Hawaii Temple, Visitor Center, and trail behind temple: The temple grounds are beautiful. There is a nice visitor center, and a trail that walks up the hill behind the temple to overlook the ocean.
- Byodo-In Temple: A Buddhist temple that allows visitors for a small fee.
- Nu’uanu Pali Lookout: This lookout has beautiful views of the ocean and mountains of Oahu.
- James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge Bird Tours (free, tickets required, only on Saturdays in winter): We loved this free tour of the refuge and seeing all the different types of birds.
I also am including suggestions made by some of our readers right here. These are spots that we didn’t personally visit, but are highly recommended for things to do in Oahu with kids. If you have an idea to add to this list, please leave a comment, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Links leave our site to other safe websites.
- Mermaid Cave (Nanakuli Beach Park): Go at low tide
- Kuala Ranch: Where the movie Jurassic Park was filmed
- Foster Botanical Gardens: Located in Honolulu
- Punchbowl Cemetery: National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific