If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be expecting some serious adventures on your Waikiki vacation. Most likely, days filled with sunbathing on the beach isn’t going to cut it for the young travelers in your group – and let’s be honest, restless kids are the enemy of a fabulous trip.
Trying to find some activities that will actually prove fun for the whole family? You’re in luck – Waikiki offers an abundance of excitement, from submarines to surfing lessons. Here is a list of some awesome, eclectic ventures your kids will love!
Here is a list of kid-friendly things to do in Waikiki:
- Atlantis Submarine
- Honolulu Zoo
- Swim with wild Dolphins
- Attend a traditional Luau
- Hike to Manoa Falls
- Learn to surf
- Hang out at Camp Penguin
Whether your traveling as a pack or angling for some kids-only escapades that will free you up for beach-side R&R, you’ll definitely want to incorporate some of these Waikiki gems into your itinerary.
Fun for Everyone
Even if you were traveling sans kids, you’d still want to add some of these adventures to your Hawaii to-do list. Without further ado, I give you crowd-pleasers for every age bracket!
Take a Voyage on an Atlantis Submarine
Travel 100 feet below the ocean’s surface to view a shipwreck, a sunken airplane, and coral reefs teeming with marine life – all from the comfort of a spacious submarine. Known for their friendly, knowledgeable staff and exciting creature sightings (turtles, sharks, eels, oh my!) Atlantis Adventures offers tours that last an hour and 45 minutes.
The boat out to the submarine departs from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. A fun unit in its own right, the Hilton grounds boast lush gardens, beautiful waterfalls, koi ponds, and most importantly, bathrooms – which you’ll definitely want to use prior to boarding the sub.
After a quick boat ride out to the dive site, you’ll climb down a ladder into the sub and settle into a row of comfy seats facing the porthole windows. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase, and kids have the option of listening to music over the provided headphones if the guided tour fails to entertain.
Pro tip: book your trip for the morning, when marine life is more active.
Peruse the Honolulu Zoo
Learn about the Pacific Tropical ecosystem while getting up close and personal with a plethora of majestic creatures. The Honolulu zoo features a colorful collection of indigenous birds and dozens of endangered species (cheetahs, Komodo dragons, and if you’ve never seen a Gharial, brace yourself!), all amid a breathtaking array of botanical gardens.
Stop in for special presentations by the elephant and sloth keepers, or catch the daily penguin feeding. The zoo offers 45-minute tours on Mondays and Saturdays, but if you’re looking for something special, book a twilight tour. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the zoo extends its hours for exclusive visitor access. Ever wonder about the nocturnal rituals of a black rhino? This is your chance to get all those burning questions answered, and then some!
No matter what time of day you go, be sure to stop by the reptile pavilion – and look out for friendly peacocks on the prowl.
Swim with Wild Dolphins
Thought swimming with wild dolphins was only possible in your daydreams? Dolphins and You makes dreams come true with an award-winning, one-of-a-kind tour. Get ready for snorkeling, live ukulele music, hula dancing, cheeseburgers, and, of course, dolphins!
The tour includes transportation via bus to the harbor from 10 locations in Waikiki and Ko Olina, free of cost. Once aboard the boat, the staff lead you in a traditional Hawaiian chant to the sea gods, praying for smooth sailing and abundant dolphins.
The boat cruises along the west side in search of dolphin pods; as soon as you spot them, it’s time to get in the water and meet the gang! The dolphins in question are Spinner dolphins, and as you might guess, they’re known for their playful nature and acrobatic prowess.
Dolphins may be the main event, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Next comes lunch with live entertainment (ukulele and hula dancing, to be exact), followed by an additional stop for snorkeling in one of Hawaii’s most vibrant reefs. You can also try some kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, bounce on an ocean trampoline, and take a trip down the boat’s waterslide.
The energetic, talented staff are as well-versed in Hawaiian tradition as they are in marine biology. They’re all CPR, First-Aid, and LifeSaver certified, and are sure to keep you safe as well as entertained.
The trip concludes with the application of Polynesian-style dolphin tattoos – temporary, of course, but still awesome – and a group photo.
Attend a Traditional Luau
Experience Nutridge is one of Hawaii’s top-rated Luau’s. Nestled on Round Top Mountain at the edge of the rainforest, the historic Nutridge Estate has entertained the likes of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable. The stunning sunset views and verdant farmland make Nutridge the ideal location for a magical immersion into Hawaiian culture.
A coach takes you up the mountain from your hotel, where you’ll be greeted with a lei and a Mai-Tai (virgin or otherwise). Work up an appetite by exploring the scenic grounds and rainforest gardens, because over the next three hours, you’ll be served a delicious, 5-course farm-to-table dinner
The Luau features live music, fire dancers, and an award-winning hula troupe. You’ll also play some traditional games, and learn to make indigenous crafts. Be sure to bring a camera, as the sweeping sunset view of Honolulu is the perfect backdrop for a family photo.
Unlike the more touristy Luaus on the island, Nutridge is an intimate, authentic experience where you’ll be treated like family from start to finish.
Take a Hike to Manoa Falls
Trek through a tropical rainforest in the mountains of Koolau to an awe-inspiring 150-foot waterfall. Although rain is always likely, the view is well worth it. As seen in Jurassic Park and LOST, this natural gem is one for the books.
The trail to the falls is 1.6 miles, and though you’ll definitely want closed-toed shoes, the hike itself is fairly easy. The waterfall may be the destination, but the journey is nothing to sneeze at. Frequent rainfall makes for lush, abundant plant life and beautiful wildflowers.
When all is said and done, the hike should take you 1.5 to 2 hours. Pack a lunch and turn the outing into a picnic!
No Grown-ups Allowed!
If you’re seeking a few restful hours on your Hawaiian vacation (perhaps with a pina colada or two), check out these amazing activities for kids only.
Learn to Surf at Mickey’s Surf School
How cool would it be to come back from Hawaii a bona fide surfer? Mickey’s Surf School gets rave reviews for its fun, safe, and accommodating approach to teaching youngsters to ride the waves. Opt for a group session and meet some friends, or book a private lesson for one-on-one learning.
The owner, Micah, is a Hawaiian-born surf instructor with an infectious passion for the ocean and Aloha living. He prides himself on his ability to work with kids of all ages, regardless of swimming ability.
Lessons are typically an hour long but can go a little over if everyone’s having fun. Boards, rash guards, and booties are provided. Book one lesson, or book a few…your little surfer will be hangin’ ten in no time!
Hang Out at Camp Penguin
Located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Camp Penguin offers both full and half-days packed with fun activities for kids ages 5-12.
Make a lei, build a volcano, hunt for shells, play the ukulele…the list goes on! Every day of the week has a different theme with different activities – including excursions to the Waikiki Aquarium, the Honolulu Zoo, and the Bishop Museum.
Counselors are enthusiastic childcare professionals with a love for all things Hawaiian. A great way to learn about the island, meet fellow travelers and gain some awesome new skills.
Where can we rent water toys?
Most larger resorts will have a rental service for kayaks, paddle boards, beach bikes, and more. Take a walk down Waikiki beach and you’ll likely find several tents renting out water gear. However, if you’re venturing off the beaten path, use Beachtime to get anything you want delivered right to you – and picked up when you’re done!
What is a good daycare option for my infant/toddler?