12 Things to do with Kids in Oahu & Honolulu

by Paul Joseph  |  Updated February 5, 2024

With its world-class beaches, immersive cultural venues, and fun-packed Disney-themed resorts, the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu on the island of Oahu is a haven for families.

Kids play on the sand in Oahu (Photo: kptice via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Idyllic year-round weather and an enticing fusion of Western and Eastern cultures add to the innate charm and appeal of the island and its capital city, where dining, nightlife and shopping provide plenty of adult entertainment too. If you’re planning a trip to Oahu with children in tow and would like to plan some fun and exciting things to see and do that suit their tastes, we’ve done some research and picked out 12 of the most family-friendly activities, events and places of interest that the island and its famous capital have to offer.

Attend an authentic Hawaiian Luau

There are few more quintessentially Hawaiian activities than a luau, a traditional party or feast complete with live music and hula dancing. Many visitors try to fit a luau into their itinerary, and those who wish to do so certainly aren’t short of options, with regular luaus held across Oahu and beyond. Each luau event typically includes a lavish buffet dinner, drinks, and an authentic Polynesian dance and music show. Kids aged five or below are typically allowed in for free.

You can book an Oahu luau at GetYourGuide


A dramatic performance at a traditional Luau show (Photo: Todd Morris via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Get submerged with sharks

While shark diving may sound like an activity that should be the preserve of adults, thanks to One Ocean Diving this magical experience has been opened up to kids in Oahu too. As well as performing important research duties, the renowned local company also operates regular recreational shark diving expeditions that leave adventure-seekers with memories to last a lifetime. There are a variety of programs on offer, including the option to observe the mesmerising marine animals from the vantage point of a boat, or the full monty that takes you deep into the ocean waters, accompanied all the while by professional dive masters and instructors to ensure your experience is both sensational and safe.

You can book an Oahu shark diving excursion at GetYourGuide

Take a pony ride

If you’re keen to get your little ones into horse riding, then a pony ride is the ideal way to ease them in gently. Located in one of the most scenic spots on Oahu’s North Shore, Gunstock Ranch offers kids’ pony rides for riders aged 2-7 years old. An experienced ‘wrangler’ leads the small horse while the child sits in the saddle enjoying the sensations and the beautiful ranch scenery. Parents can choose to either walk or ride a horse alongside their child. After the ride, there’ll be a chance to feed and pet their four-legged transport.

You can book an Oahu pony ride at Viator.com

Pony rides

Kids touch hands during a pony ride (Photo: Viator.com)

Discover exotic marine life

Let the kids get up close and personal with an array of exotic marine life during a fun-packed day at Sea Life Park. Overlooking Makapu’u Beach, the park features a total of 5 unique habitats and exhibits, including penguins, lovebirds, sea lions, rays, sharks, and more. Highlights include the Discover Reef Touch Pool, where you can encounter sea stars, urchins, and even baby honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) at America’s only active breeding colony. There are dolphin shows and daily trainer talks too.

41-202 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimanalo / Mon-Sun 10am-4pm

You can book tickets to Sea Life Park at GetYourGuide.com

Sea Life Park

Dolphins putting on a show at Sea Life Park (Photo: Leilani Elderts via Flickr)

Peruse an amazing museum

Dating back to the late 19th-century, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is Hawaii’s biggest museum and a favourite family attraction for those occasional rainy days on the island. It is home to not only the world’s most extensive collection of Hawaiian and Polynesian art and artefacts, but also a major display of zoological, entomological, and natural history specimens. There’s also a science centre, a planetarium, a hall for travelling exhibits, and a native plant garden.

1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm

Bishop Museum

A shark hangs from the ceiling at the Bishop Museum (Photo: Mike via Flick)

Swim with the fishes at a state park

Offering an ideal way to introduce children to the wonders of marine ecosystems, Hanauma Bay State Park is a mecca for snorkelers thanks to the myriad of tropical fish that live here. There’s also a marine education centre designed to teach visitors about marine preservation, as well as the safety rules around the park. For absolute relaxation after a long day of marine life exploration, the park is also home to a beach that boasts the honour of recently being voted the best in the US.

7455 Kalanianaʻole Highway, Honolulu / Weds-Sun 6.45am-1.45pm Closed Mon-Tues

Hanauma Bay State Park

A scenic shot of Hanauma Bay State Park (Photo: Alicia0928 via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Take part in a breathtaking fireknife show

One of the most unique activities you can enjoy on Oahu is watching a captivating fireknife show. Located near the Wat Lao Buddhist Temple in Hauula on the island of Oahu, shows are designed to educate visitors about the local culture in a hands-on and interactive way. Starting with a brief history of the Samoan Fire-knife dance, guests are shown some of the basic moves with practice sticks before the show begins. During the performance, intrepid spectators will get their own chance to play with fire by taking on the role of the fireknife dancer, to the delight of onlookers. Photographers will be on hand to take professional snaps so you have the ultimate memento from the experience.

You can book tickets to an Oahu fireknife experience at Oahuex.com

A participant keeps his focus during a fireknife show (Photo: Oahuex.com)

Visit a captivating zoo

Set within a pristinely landscaped zoological and botanical garden, a short hop from Waikīkī Beach, Honolulu Zoo contains over 1,230 tropical animals. Such exotic species as komodo dragons, orangutans, elephants, primates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of African animals can all be viewed in their specially-designed habitats, while the nearby sandy shore provides a perfect recuperation zone after a captivating day viewing animals.

151 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu / Mon-Sun 10am-3pm

Cool off at a fun-filled waterpark

Featuring 25 exhilarating rides and attractions, Wet’n’Wild is Hawaii’s only water park and attracts huge numbers of visitors every year. With something to suit every age and predilection, the park is ideal for families. Regular favourites include waterslides that end in a 36-foot free fall into a swimming pool, cruising in a tube along an 800-foot-long artificial river, and an interactive children’s playground filled with waterfalls, mini-slides, water cannons, and more.

400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei / Sat 10.30am-8pm Sun 10.30am-4.30pm Mon-Tues 10.30am-4pm Closed Wed-Fri


Fun-seekers are thrust down a waterslide at Wet’n’Wild (Photo: Joel via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Marvel at vintage WWII aircraft

Aviation has played a pivotal role in the history of the region and the Pacific Aviation Museum provides an eye-catching visual narrative of that often tumultuous heritage. The focus of the exhibits is on the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu and World War II more broadly, with two WWII-era hangars which survived the infamous attack among the most fascinating exhibits on display. There are also several vintage aircrafts to admire, photo exhibit, a variety of artefacts, and a combat flight simulator. This is a great way for kids of a suitable age to learn about the often tragic realities of war.

319 Lexington Boulevard, Honolulu / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm


An eye-catching aircraft on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum (Photo: Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Hike to a magical waterfall

Kids with a taste for adventure and plenty of stamina can embark on a 1-2 hour family-friendly hike that takes in an enchanting 150-foot waterfall. Located along Manoa Falls Trail in Honolulu, the visual splendour of Manoa Falls, with its water cascading powerfully down the mountainside, is a worthy reward for your efforts. The last 100 yards of the hike tend to be the most challenging, involving climbing over large boulders to finally reach the falls.

Manoa Falls hike

Hikers take a moment to admire Manoa Falls (Photo: Edmund Garman via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Delve deep at a top-class aquarium

Among Hawaii’s myriad of cherished animal-themed attractions is the Waikiki Aquarium, situated directly on Waikiki Beach, alongside a living reef. One of the oldest aquariums anywhere in America, it houses more than 500 marine species that can be observed by visitors, as well as maintaining more than 3,000 marine specimens as part of its commitment to oceanic preservation. Some of the most notable exhibits here are New Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, Peppermint Angelfish, and one of the world’s rarest fishes.

2777 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm