If you’re traveling to Oahu with your family and looking for amazing ways to make memories, look no further! Here are 5 family friendly Activities on Oahu. We went on many an adventure and experienced a great deal of Hawaiian history and culture during our stay.
In this post, we’re going to share 5 unique Family Friendly Activities on Oahu, some of which, you probably haven’t even heard of!
5 Family Friendly Activities on Oahu
Check out these five, with a bonus six, family friendly activities on Oahu! The first one might look familiar, as it’s the most popular destination on the island. Buckle up for the remaining 5 unique excursions that will not break the bank.
1. Polynesian Cultural Center
Voted one of the number one Family-Friendly Activities in Oahu for good reason, the Polynesian Cultural Center is a blast. It’s a cultural theme park that provides an unforgettable experience through its 6 Polynesian villages, luau, and evening show. You might have heard of this one, but believe me when I say it’s worth it.
Spend the day exploring each of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s island villages. Travel to Hawai’i, Aotearoa, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga for endless fun and laughter. In each village you will mingle with native from six different Pacific cultures and learn about their traditions.
Through performances and hands on activities, children and adults have the opportunity to learn about a variety of different cultures. We loved the Samoan presentation (lots of laughs). We learned how to easily crack a coconut and build a fire! At the island of Aotearoa we learned about and received Maori tattoos and tested our hand-eye coordination playing tititorea, a Maori stick game. Our family took a canoe ride from one end of the center to the other in time for our dinner reservation. What we experienced here was incredibly entertaining and interesting. I wish we had arrived earlier and could have experienced more of the center and what its villages had to offer.
Ali’i Luau Experience
Many families travel to the Polynesian Cultural Center for the award winning Ali’i Luau. We were told this was the best place to go to experience a traditional Luau.
In ancient Hawaii it was customary to celebrate special occasions with ohana and hoaloha. This is similar to how we celebrate special occasions today, except their idea of a celebration is way cooler than ours. The Luau menu was huge! It was filled with many traditional dishes, including 4 different meats, a vegetarian option, salad bar and an array of starches. There’s also a variety of beverage options. Although I will say, be careful about what beverages you order because not all of them are included in your dinner ticket.
The authentic island entertainment was amazing. We continued to milk my birthday celebration, so a handsome Hawaiian man and everyone else sang Happy Birthday to me and a few other guests to top off the celebration. On a final note, the doors open at 4:45, the buffet opens at 5:10, and the show begins at 5:30. The seating is tiered so don’t worry about not having a great seat; we sat relatively low and close to the stage and we had a great view of the show and a spectacular time.
HA: Breath of Life Show
To cap off a perfect day learning about Polynesian Culture and eating delicious traditional foods, attend the stunning evening show HA: Breath of Life.
This Broadway caliber show is 90 minutes long and includes over 100 Polynesian native dancers. Watch as music and beautiful choreography tell the story of “every man’s” journey from birth to death and every rite of passage in between.
There are four levels of seating, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Book your package early for the best seating options! The doors to the theater open at 7:00 PM and the show begins at 7:30. Plan accordingly!
2. Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls Park is ranked among one of Oahu’s best hikes. What makes it one of the greatest family-friendly activities on Oahu is that the 1-mile hike is paved! This makes it a lot easier for families (with both young and old members) to enjoy stunning views.
History of Waimea Falls Park
What was once a neglected entertainment theme park is now a beautiful non-profit that preserves the local flora and fauna, Hawaiian culture, and community.
Waimea Falls Park used to be a place where people could come and watch cliff divers. They could drive right up to the waterfall and spend their time watching death-defying cliff diving and hula dancers. Now the park serves a greater purpose as a botanical gardens and waterfall viewing and swimming area.
What Can I do at Waimea Falls Park?
Waimea Falls Park is open Tuesday through Sunday 9AM-4PM. Here’s what you can do in this time frame.
- Cultural Site Tour (Ka’Apuni O Waimea)
Complete the Ka’Apuni O Waimea, a program designed to teach visitors about the Waimea Valley. Visit three cultural sites, Hal Ho’ike, Kauhale, and Kahua Pa’ani, where you’ll learn about various Hawaiian Cultural Values. Receive an identifying sticker at each site; after completing all three, guests will receive a Ho’okipa Cultural Ambassador certifcate and unique Waimea Valley Pin.
- Grab A Bite to Eat
There are several ways to curb your hunger and quench your thirst at Waimea Fall Park. Stop by the Wahi ‘Aina Snack Bar and the Hale Kope coffee house to begin your adventure and end your day with a cold one at Kikoni Bar.
- Hike to the Falls
Enjoy a 1-mile stroll on a paved path to a beautiful waterfall. The path is surrounded by oversized tropical plants that will absolutely distract you from your hike. Take it all in on a hike up to the falls or choose to pay $10 per person for a ride on the shuttle to the turnaround point.
- Swim at the Falls
Swimming at Waimea Falls is a must! Lifeguards will make a decision by 9 AM on whether or not swimming will be allowed for the day. We suggest you call ahead to plan accordingly! Entering the water is quite rocky so water shoes are definitely recommended.
- Whats Blooming Botanical Tour
Meet at the ticket booth at 12:30 every day to join the Botanical Staff on a walk through Waimea Valley to see rare, beautiful blooming plants.
Waimea Falls Park has a mixture of reviews. I can understand where a few of the negative comments came from, however, my family and I really enjoyed our time here. There may be better attractions to spend your money on, including places you can visit without spending any money at all, but this is a great Oahu activity to try with kids.
3. Waimea Bay Beach
Located across the street from Waimea Valley, where you can hike to Waimea Falls, is Waimea Bay. This beach is known for its 30-foot swells in the winter and calm, snorkle-friendly water in the summer. This makes it an amazing family-friendly beach on Oahu; watch some of the islands most intense surfers as a family or jump in ane enjoy the water together.
The view from the beach is stunning and completely natural, no tall buildings poking up on either side like you might see from a resort on the south shore of the island. This alone made it one of my favorite beaches of the trip! We found a nice sandy spot and some of us chose to relax while others joined locals and other visitors on “Da Big Rock”. Despite posted signs, there were upwards of 25 people on this rock taking the 30+ foot plunge to the deep blue. This jump was an exhilarating highlight of my trip.
This bay is the start of Big Wave surfing on the North Shore of the island seeing as waves can often reach between 10 and 30 feet in the winter months. Posting up and watching some of the bravest surfers the island has to offer sounds like a geat way to spend an afternoon.
4. Ron Artis Outdoor Art Gallery
You can’t miss the Ron Artis Outdoor Art Gallery and recording studio. With vibrant, unique artwork covering nearly every inch of the property, you’ll feel compelled to stop and take a look. We only stoped because there was the coolest, most colorful artwork outside that my Aunt just had to stop and check out. In the process we found our way into this recording studio where beautiful music was being made and played.
It was such a beautiful experience. We spent time talking to and jamming out with some of the 11 Artis children in their fully loaded sound studio. The island vibes were high was we spent some time learning about the family, looking at sculptures and paintings, and listening to soulful music.
We wound up purchasing a CD which we listened to for the remainder of the trip and then we were off and on our way but man was it super cool to hangout there for a bit. I definitely suggest this pit stop if you’re on the north shore! The Artis family and their music talents can be found at: 67-202 Kupahu St. Waialua Hi 96791
This laid back surf town on the North Shore of Oahu is definitely worth a long pit stop. The town is full of rich island history in the form of surf shops and boutiques, art galleries, architecture, and a variety of charming restaurants.
Stop for lunch at one of the areas many food trucks and wash it all down with a shaved ice! I recommend getting shaved ice from the Aloha General Store for exotic flavors and exceptional customer service. Additionally, if you’re looking for authentic Hawaiian souvenirs for yourself or for anyone back at home this would be a great place to find them. The locals are friendly and helpful so don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you may have!
If you’re looking for a quiet beach, Haleiwa Beach Park is a great place to bring the family. The beach park also has a playground, basketball and volleyball court & picnic areas, plus showers & restrooms. It’s a great place to spend the day with the whole family.
6. ((BONUS)) Hawaiian Railway Society Train Ride
All Aboard! Take a ride on Oahu’s only active railroad! The Hawaiian Railway Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving, restoring, and protecting Hawaii’s railroading history while educating visitors about it.
Guests can reserve tickets for a 2 hour long, fully narrated train ride. Trains depart on Wednesday, Saturdays, and Sundays only.
The end of the line includes a few-minute-long stop for passengers to admire the beautiful ocean views at Kahe Point. On all rides, except the Sunday 1 pm ride, the train stops for ice cream in Ko Olina. Ice cream is not included in the ticket price so be sure to bring a little extr cash.
Final Oahu Tips
Most people stay on the south shore of Oahu in the State Capital, Honolulu, and its surrounding area. Although this popular area is well-known for its high rise hotels, night life, and shopping , some people are looking for something a little more slow paced. Those people should really consider staying on the North Shore, where a majority of these family-friendly activities on Oahu are too!
In the event of a rainy day, look into the Honolulu Museum of Art, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and the Children’s Discovery Center.
If you are staying on the south shore of Oahu and you are celebrating a special occasion OR you’re just looking to have a nice dinner go to Roy’s in Ko Olina. It may be a bit more pricey of a venue but the food and service is phenomenal. The building interior is well decorated and the restaurant sits right amidst a beautiful golf course. Our party, due to its rather large size, had our own little room to ourselves which made the experience that much more personal. Reservations can be made online « click here!
My final tip is to stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort if you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids and don’t plan on leaving your resort very often. Here’s a comprehensive list of why we loved the Aulani and would recommend it to families who are looking to sit back, relax, and enjoy paradise without much additional thought.
Mahalo travel family!