Oahu is magical! There are so many great places to travel with kids. In the stage of life that we are in, we prefer beach trips to touristy trips. Water activities and beach play can easily work for kids of all ages!
Not long ago we took our family of six to Oahu for our summer vacation! Our kids were ages 8, 5, 3, and 6 months. We discovered some beautiful places to visit! Not only were they pretty, but they also were pretty stress-free with kids and tagalong babies (or as stress free as traveling with 4 kids can be! LOL)!
Today we’re sharing 12 exciting Oahu day trip ideas with you that we loved! These aren’t shared in any particular order!
If you have other places you love to visit on Oahu with young kids, please pass them along!
1. Waimea Valley Waterfall Hike
This was such a simple hike for kids of all ages. The trail to the waterfall was paved (perfect for strollers) and you could even ride a shuttle if you wanted and not walk. The trail was also shaded and there were tons of beautiful things to see along the way!
The fee to enter was a bit pricier than we wanted to spend, but swimming by the waterfall, the well groomed pathways and beautiful foliage totally made it worth it! Read more about visiting Waimea Valley here.
2. Waimea Bay
This beach is known for some pretty intense cliff jumping. With little kids, we weren’t about to do that… but it was fun to watch! The sunsets are also gorgeous! The beach was pretty easily accessible and not far from the Waimea Valley Waterfall area. Read more about Waimea Bay here.
3. Sharks Cove Snorkeling
Sharks Cove was definitely an adventure! Make sure to tell your toddlers NOT to touch the wildlife. When we visited, my toddler got bitten by an eel because he stuck his hand in a crack where he saw an eel hiding.
Sharks Cove has some great shallow areas for little ones. It is rocky so make sure to wear water shoes! Across the street is shave ice and some good food trucks. Definitely my style of a snorkeling spot! Read more about Sharks Cove here.
4. Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is a “must visit.” With little toddlers we didn’t do the whole experience, but we explored the marketplace and walked around a bit, played some music, and ate Dole Whips. There was a lot to see without going inside for a show. On our next visit when my kids are older (youngest will be 3), we plan to do the whole PCC program and performance. I can’t wait!
Read more about the Polynesian Cultural Center here.
5. Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike is not for the faint of heart. The hike is paved, which is awesome, but there is no shade, which makes the pavement radiate heat.
Bring water, wear hats, and bring along a stroller for any little ones. The majority of the hike is uphill. Brace yourself for some breathtaking views!
I loved using a baby carrier for my baby and a stroller would’ve been awesome for my toddler if we’d brought one. Instead, my husband gave him a lot of piggy backs. I loved getting a good workout while exploring with my kids.
Be prepared for some whining. It is inevitable with kids. Bring snacks and even some treats or a spray fan to keep kids in a good mood on their adventure.
6. Pearl Harbor
Originally we weren’t sure we wanted to take our kids to Pearl Harbor. We decided to go visit though, and we really enjoyed it. We got each of our three big kids (plus ourselves) the audio tour with headsets. I’m not sure how much of it my 3-year-old listened to, but he loved playing with the buttons and changing the volume, so he was satisfied. The kids also liked exploring different exhibits.
We didn’t end up going out on the boat to the actual Memorial, which I actually felt great about. It is a solemn place, and I didn’t want my kids disrupting the people who had come to visit loved ones that had passed.
I highly recommend a trip to Pearl Harbor. Arrive early in the day and get any tickets ahead of time. Strollers aren’t allowed in the theater or on the boats, so use a carrier if possible for little ones. You also can’t bring in any diaper bags or purses, so stow those somewhere else and fill up your pockets with anything you might need for your kids. We made sure our kids were wearing their patriotic gear for taking pics! Guests of all ages are invited to visit the museums and memorials of Pearl Harbor. There are no age restrictions.
Read more about Pearl Harbor here.
7. Shave Ice Favorites
Every day we have a rule that we need a minimum of ONE shave ice. Sometimes we get two or three….
Some of our favorite shave ice spots were Kokonuts and Matsumotos! Matsumotos had LONG lines since it is pretty popular. We sent in some people to get shave ice while the rest of us waited outside with the toddlers and played in the little courtyard nearby.
Kokonuts wasn’t too crowded and it was delish! Other favorites included Waiola Shave Ice.
8. Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina lagoons have some public spots. Apparently some are great places to watch for sea turtles. We also loved the beaches that were part of the Marriott Ko Olina resort there! There were small alcoves that were perfect for small children since they had very few waves.
1. Honolulu Banyon Tree at Honolulu Zoo
On our way to walk around downtown Waikiki, we had a bunch of fun hanging on these banyon trees by the Honolulu Zoo!
11. Haunama Bay
Haunuma has some great snorkeling and exploring! To enter you need to watch a video about protecting the coral and wildlife. This waiting part can be tough for some toddlers. I spent the time wandering around with my toddler, while my husband waited in line for us. Once we were close to the front of the line, I jumped back in with my husband and we watched the video and then walked down to the beach to snorkel. The walk takes a bit, so having a carrier for little ones or a wagon or stroller is helpful. You can also take a shuttle. We did that on our way back up! I spent most of my time at the beach hanging out with the napping baby while my toddler played in the sand. He didn’t want to go snorkeling with his big siblings.
Things to note: Entrance to Haunuma Bay costs $7.50 per person. You need to have reef-safe sunscreen to swim. They have a snack bar with a lot of yummy food if you don’t want to bring a cooler. The parking lot at Hanauma Bay is relatively small and fills up daily. Get there early!
Read more about Haunuma Bay here.
12. Halona Beach Cove & Blowhole (Cockroach Cove)
Last, but not least, we randomly happened upon this spot and then we realized it was a place our friend had told us about called “Cockroach Cove” that apparently locals know about. I have no idea why it is called that, but our kids loved the name.
There’s also a blowhole. It was super fun to watch and not as scary as the one we’ve been to in Maui. To go to this beach/cove, you park at the Halona Blowhole site and walk down the sandy/rocky trail down to the beach. The trail is closer the highway. We just followed a bunch of other people down.
What other day trips do you love on Oahu? Do you have any good suggestions of places to visit with toddlers and young kids?