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First Time Guide To Oahu, Hawaii with Kids (& without)!

OAHU, HAWAII FIRST TIME FAMILY GUIDE WITH KIDS

I’ve never previously been that interested in going to Hawaii. I always thought of it as an expensive honeymooner’s destination, but after my first taste of Hawaii, I am TOTALLY hooked. I cannot wait to plan my next trip back! I can’t believe it took me this long to head to Hawaii.

We did a trip to Oahu, Hawaii with kids (our family and Duy’s cousin’s family) and it was amazing. Hawaii has so many beautiful beaches, gorgeous hikes and great food. I really enjoyed Oahu a lot. It doesn’t happen to be everyone’s favorite island, but I really like how much stuff there is to do all over the island and you can’t beat the food on this island. Still dreaming of fresh poke and acai bowls everyday!

I’ve only been to one other island – Kauai, check out my guide here, which is beyond beautiful and adventurous, but as a family destination, I preferred Oahu, Hawaii with kids (toddler). I know many people will disagree with me, but I guess you will have to go to all the islands to find out which one is your favorite!

Duy’s aunt and cousin live in Honolulu, which was awesome since they were able to take us around and show us a few local spots. We spent about 5 days in Oahu, which was not enough time to see everything, but definitely gave us a good feel for the island!

This guide is a comprehensive guide you can do WITH and WITHOUT kids!

WHERE TO STAY:

WAIKIKI

Even if you base in Waikiki, which is considered very touristy, definitely venture out and see the other parts of the island! I liked staying in Waikiki as it is walkable to the beach, close to Ala Moana shopping center, with lots of restaurants and shops are all around.

If you are looking for a quieter stay, I would recommend heading to North Shore! I would love to stay at one of the resorts in Ko Olina (West Oahu)  – Disney Aulani is there, which might be perfect for the kiddies!

Waikiki Beach

Duy and I loved our stay at the boutique hotel, Shoreline Hotel Waikiki, check out our review here! It was right in the heart of Waikiki and only 2 blocks from the beach. It was super chic with modern decor and the staff was excellent. We spent most of our time staying in Honolulu at Duy’s aunt’s home, but this hotel stay was a great little getaway!

342 Seaside Avenue
Honolulu, HI
808-931-2444

BEACHES

There are so many great beaches in Oahu! We surprisingly did not go to the beach as much as I thought we would as we filled our schedule with hikes, eating and touring the island. Although, the beach was the perfect place to explore Oahu, Hawaii with kids!

WAIKIKI BEACH

Waikiki Beach Honolulu Oahu Hawaii

Waikiki Honolulu Oahu Hawaii

  • If looking for calmer, safer waters, head to the section with the rock lagoon, which is better for kids!
  • More crowded beach
  • Don’t forget to check out the beautiful sunset!

KO OLINA BEACH

Ko Olina Beach Oahu Hawaii

  • Beautiful clear blue calm waters
  • Rock lagoons, which are great for the kids
  • Less crowded than Waikiki (I liked Ko Olina Beach better more personally!)

Halona Blowhole & Halona Beach Cove

This is a quick stop to check out this natural formation to see water splashing out of a blowhole. I would recommend doing a quick stop on the way to another destination. We stopped here before heading to our luau to take quick photos and see if we could catch the blowhole in action. You can also hike down to Halona Beach Cove with some difficulty.

I would recommend checking out these beaches as well, but unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to since we split our time between Oahu and Kauai. We also tend to travel a little more leisurely when we bring our 2 year old!

TAKE A HIKE

DIAMOND HEAD

  • Easy, popular (crowded) hike with beautiful view of Waikiki & the Island

Diamon Head Hike Waikiki Oahu Hawaii

MAKAPU’U LIGHTHOUSE

Makapuu Lighthouse View Point

Makapuu Lighthouse View Point

  • Great trail with kids, paved path (stroller accessible), easy hike to the lighthouse
  • Disclaimer: this isn’t the Makapu’u tide pools, but we did see a trail and followed it found a mini tide pool and some beautiful waters with few people around. This was at the start of the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail and then we ran back to catch up with the family to finish off the trail!

KULIOUOU RIDGE TRAIL

Kuliouou Ridge Trail Point

Look how beautiful Oahu is!

Duy’s cousin who lives in Oahu, took us on this hike. She’s a huge fan of ridge hikes. This one is great due to the changing landscapes and the beautiful panorama view of Hawaii.

Unfortunately, we got caught in some rain while doing this hike, but once we got to the top, it stopped! The view was more spectacular in person as some clouds rolled in right when I started taking some photos! We left our tot with Grandma for this hike and good thing we did as it was a little dangerous with the rain that came down.

Other hikes I wanted to check out, but didn’t have the chance to:

Head to a Luau

Chief's Luau Waikiki Oahu Hawaii

Pig Roast at Chief’s Luau

I had this idea that the luau was going to be very cheesy and overrated, but I ended up loving it. The whole family really enjoyed the luau and I would highly recommend that that you go to one on your first trip to Hawaii!

Chief’s Luau

Chief’s Luau has since moved from when we saw the show initially in 2017 from the Sea Life Park to Wet ‘N Wild Park. I would recommend getting to the show early as they have fun pre-show activities beforehand. You can get tattoos, create a head piece, learn how to start a fire, etc. The show started at 5PM and we ended up leaving around 8/8:30PM. We had Royal Experience tickets, which gave us front row seating, additional drink tickets, and allowed us to skip the lines.

The Chief was super hilarious. If you get easily offended, you may not enjoy his jokes, but I thought he was entertaining. Our toddler was more interested in roaming around vs. watching the show, so depending on the age of your kids, that would definitely be something to consider!

Other luaus that I’ve heard good reviews on:

EXPLORE NORTH SHORE

We were short on time so we did as much of North Shore as we could in one day. I would definitely recommend more time exploring North Shore as there are so many places to see!

Chinaman’s Hat

Banzai Pipeline

http://www.eatwellexploreoften.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Banzai-Pipeline-Sunset.jpg

  • World famous surfing spot, come to see the surfers catch some waves!
  • Famous for the Pipeline Masters Surf Contest
  • We were planning to go to Sunset Beach to check out the sunset, but couldn’t make it in time so we decided to stay and watch the sunset here

Turtle Bay Resort

  • We stopped by this resort to see if we could find some turtles, but instead we found a Hawaiian Monk Seal!

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach North Shore Oahu Hawaii

Photo Cred: Beth Regina

  • If you are lucky, you will find a turtle laying on the beach here!
  • Otherwise, the beach views are spectacular at sunset as well!

Other places to check out in North Shore:

SHOPPING

Ala Moana Shopping Center

Ala Moana Hula Dancers

  • Besides shopping, you can stop by and see a cute little hula dance at their Centerstage (depending on season)
  • There is also a koi fish pond that runs through the middle of the mall
  • The best part of Ala Moana would be the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, which is a Japanese food court. We liked everything we tried from the various vendors and they have also have $1 beers! My food guide will be coming soon!

Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marker Place

  • Open area flea market for souvenirs
  • We didn’t personally buy much besides a few little souvenirs, but our moms really liked looking through the stuff here
  • Look for discounted ticket prices for luaus and other activities here

Swap Meet Oahu Hawaii

There are a lot of farmer’s markets in Hawaii, check out:

Other Activities

Kid Friendly Attractions

We didn’t do any of these attractions as my 2 year old enjoyed just going to the beach, but depending on the ages of your kids, you may want to check out:

There is seriously SO much to do in Oahu, Hawaii. Definitely make sure you venture out of Waikiki and explore all the different areas of the Island. Oahu, Hawaii with kids is the perfect family vacation! I can’t wait to make my trip back. I will be doing a food guide next, so stay tuned for all my favorite eats!

Let me know what you thought – was Oahu overrated and touristy or did you love it? Any other suggestions on what to see or do in Oahu, Hawaii with kids and without?!

Don’t forget to check out my Kauai guide as well!

Please PIN this post if you enjoyed it!

First Time Guide to Oahu Hawaii with Kids

First Time Guide to Oahu Hawaii with Kids

* We had a complimentary stay at The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki, but as always all opinions are our own and we wouldn’t recommend a stay that we didn’t enjoy!

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30 Comments

  • Reply Lilan

    Awe what an awesome guide! Love all the pictures! Definitly adding shirokiya Japanese village to my list next time I go to Hawaii!

    January 23, 2018 at 11:40 PM
    • Reply Julie

      Aww, yes you should! You would love all the good eats! 🙂

      January 23, 2018 at 11:41 PM
  • Reply Ani

    I also thought precisely what you thought about Hawaii – a honeymooner’s expensive destination. However at a recent trip to BC I figured out that they have lovely First Nations culture and I a keen to explore that now.

    January 24, 2018 at 9:59 AM
    • Reply Julie

      Oh awesome! Yes there is so much culture and history there. Definitely check it out!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:21 PM
  • Reply Lucile

    One day I ‘ll go there, and your article and pictures made me even more convinced of that!

    January 24, 2018 at 10:24 AM
    • Reply Julie

      Aww good, I’m glad and you should definitely head there in the future!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:20 PM
  • Reply Abby Jo

    Great read! I am hoping to make it to Hawaii one of these days, would LOVE to go to these places!

    January 24, 2018 at 10:27 AM
    • Reply Julie

      You will totally love it if you go!!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:20 PM
  • Reply NieNie

    Your post brings back a lot of memories! I haven ‘t been to Oahu since I was a kid and watching your family travel there reminds me of my family. I will be saving this for my next visit there. 🙂

    January 24, 2018 at 11:39 AM
    • Reply Julie

      Awww, glad you enjoyed the post!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:20 PM
  • Reply Nafisa Habib

    I can figure out from all photos that how beautiful this destination! Nice to know a lot about Oahu, Hawaii.Truly worth visiting to explore a lot! 🙂

    January 24, 2018 at 11:52 AM
    • Reply Julie

      Yes definitely! Thanks for stopping by!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:19 PM
  • Reply Casey

    Such a great guide! I’m dying for a little beach action and have been wanting to re-visit Hawaii for years now, it looks beautiful!

    January 24, 2018 at 12:01 PM
    • Reply Julie

      Such a beautiful place! I can’t wait to go back!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:19 PM
  • Reply Erica

    Awesome post. I haven’t been to Oahu but I went to Maui when I was a teenager and I loved it! I’d love to be able to check out more of Hawaii one day.

    January 24, 2018 at 12:32 PM
    • Reply Julie

      OOH, I want to head to Big Island and Maui next!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:18 PM
  • Reply Kate and Kris

    I’ve only recently seen that Hawaii can be an amazing hiking destination. It looks stunning. Much more than just beaches.

    January 24, 2018 at 3:10 PM
    • Reply Julie

      Yes, Hawaii has a lot to offer! You definitely need to go!

      January 24, 2018 at 11:18 PM
  • Reply Gabby

    I felt the same way about going to Thailand and was so happy that I went! Hawaii is a stunning island with so much culture!

    January 25, 2018 at 10:39 PM
    • Reply Julie

      OOH yeah, totally! I do love Thailand!

      January 26, 2018 at 8:07 AM
  • Reply Madhu

    Oahu looks like an amazing place.really beautiful and the fact the your toddler enjoyed it is really nice. Adding it to my bucket list.

    January 25, 2018 at 11:19 PM
    • Reply Julie

      Thanks for reading! Yes definitely a bonus he loved it!

      January 26, 2018 at 8:06 AM
  • Reply Emily

    Brilliant post! I visited Hawaii as a kid with my family and I’m sure my parents would have found this guide super helpful. Hope to get back there one day!

    January 26, 2018 at 10:52 PM
    • Reply Julie

      Aw thank you!! I hope others find it useful as well! You def need to go back!

      January 28, 2018 at 8:20 PM
  • Reply Cat

    Great suggestions here. I absolutely loved the diamond head hike. Such an incredible view!

    January 26, 2018 at 11:26 PM
    • Reply Julie

      I agree, love the views!

      January 28, 2018 at 8:19 PM
  • Reply Richelle

    Wow! I’ve been to the Big Island but never Oahu. The water looks amazing, as do all the hikes. I guess I need to start planning a trip….

    January 29, 2018 at 6:07 AM
    • Reply Julie

      You definitely do!! 🙂 I want to go to Big Island next!

      January 30, 2018 at 10:10 PM
  • Reply Sharee @ Inspire Family Travel

    We have often spoken about going to Hawaii, so your guide will be super helpful if we decide to make the trip – thank you!

    February 16, 2018 at 8:01 AM
    • Reply Julie

      You need to go head to Hawaii! Such a great family vacation!

      February 19, 2018 at 5:51 PM

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