I am so excited you’re planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii! Our island is pretty busy, but there is no shortage of things to do here. There are endless Oahu bucket lists but most of them are geared towards people looking for adventures or… tourists traps. Here’s a list of 10 of our favorite things to do with little kids that won’t have you wasting time or money. 🙂
1 – Tide Pools!
There are so many beaches to explore but we love a good tide pool for our kids to hang out in shallow, safe water. They also make for great exploration with little marine creatures to check out! Some of our favorite beaches with tide pools are: Shark’s Cove, Chun’s Reef (to the very left!), Turtle Bay (right of the resort) and Papailoas all on the North Shore. This is where you’ll find me on my own with the kids most days during the week because we can truly just chill.
2 – Waimea Valley Waterfall
This waterfall hike is super easy and entirely paved/stroller friendly. It’s not free, however, pricing can be found here! As Kama’aina (local), we have a yearly pass and we try to walk this path as often as we can. Call ahead to make sure the waterfall is flowing, but if so they provide life jackets and let you get in. Be sure to wear a suit and bring a towel! There’s also often learning booths set up with crafts and games set up for the kids, and if not there is still plenty to explore. You can pack your lunch and enjoy the grassy areas for picnics, or there’s cafes and concessions both near the entrance at back at the far end of the hike if you don’t plan ahead. We love to go on Thursday afternoons and catch the farmer’s market with local craft vendors afterwards (2-6).
3 – Hale’iwa Town Shopping
Our beautiful Hale’iwa has a quaint shopping district in the heart of town. It’s fun just to browse local artists’ galleries or to grab some souvenirs. My favorite shops are Polu Gallery, Guava Shop, and the Hale’iwa Bottle Shop.
4 – Eat Musubi
An island delicacy! If you’re lucky enough to catch them, the Musubistro serves the North Shore with fish katsu musubi which is far superior to spam, in my crunchy mom opinion. They’re at the Alluvion Farm across from Laniakea (turtle beach) on weekends from 10-sellout. Hint: they’re becoming more known and selling out quicker all the time! If you don’t find their truck, we love the auntie who runs Paalaa Kai market in Waialua and 7/11, Malama Market and Foodland will always have musubi! It’s the perfect beach lunch for kids.
5 – Ko Olina Lagoons
Pro tip: there’s no private beaches in Hawaii so take advantage of the well-kept, shallow for littles, with good snorkeling lagoons on the resorts in Ko Olina. It’s a beautiful area with good shopping and restaurants too! I always recommend spending a day in that area even if you’re staying in Waikiki.
6 – Monkeypod Kitchen (or MOKU) Happy Hour!
Locally sourced ingredients and good quality food, a fun atmosphere that always has genuinely enjoyable live music, and kids 3 and under eat free! These restaurants by Chef Merriman have super similar menus and experiences. Monkeypod is in Ko Olina, and MOKU in the Salt District at Kaka’ako in town (Honolulu). They have appetizer, pizza and drink specials. Our favorite restaurants here on the island! And best Mai Tai on island with lilikoi cold foam 🙂
7 – Shave Ice
You just have to when you’re in Hawai’i! The go-to is Matsumoto’s in the Hale’iwa shopping area, and don’t let the line intimidate you. It goes fast! Buuuut, if I may, suggest a few different spots that have house-made, all natural syrups from local fruits?! Kaimana Shave Ice in Halei’wa, the Sugar Mill (Island-X) in Waialua, and Hula Shave Ice in Kahuku are going to be your cleanest, dye-free, good for you options.
8 – Malama Hawaii Market
Not the grocery store, but the craft vendor market that pops up all around island. Follow them on Instagram to get their dates and locations! Talented makers of different crafts sell their goods at these markets and I couldn’t name a better place to get something for yourself to commemorate your trip, gifts for upcoming holidays or birthdays, kids items, home decor, etc. You’ll find it all and it’ll be supporting the small business mamas/families of Oahu!
9 – Sea Turtles
I get the craze to see the sea turtles while you’re visiting! It never gets old to me when one pops up near me in the water or I see them relaxing on the beach at sunset. We’ll start with the rule to not touch/feed/get to close to them, and now I’ll let you in on the secret! You can skip Laniakea (“turtle beach”) where traffic bottlenecks and at all times there’s a group of people huddled around and pointing and taking pictures. Get yourself a private showing and go enjoy one of the beaches on the Waialua side at sunset (check out Aweoweo and walk down the beach/look in the water! I promise!). Another spot to snorkel and see them is Paradise Cove. Almost never fails! But do. not. touch. them. Mahalo!
10 – Ka’ena Point Trail
This is one of those hikes for us that isn’t about the distance but the open space and different landmarks to see and for the kids to climb on and explore. Beautiful views, pretty flat hike or walk, and true Hawai’i to go experience. It really feels like another world out there! We like the north shore entrance. West is beaaautiful if you have a day to kill, but you’ll be pretty secluded out there. Make sure you double check your GPS and where you’re headed. 🙂
11 – BONUS, Family Photos
A shameless plug to make the most of your Hawaii trip and book a photo session. I’d love to share a sunset on the beach with you! And if that’s not your thing, I’m dying to come document a day in the life too and we can make some more real life memories and experiences. Reach out and say hey!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s any questions you have about coming to Hawai’i! I’m an open book 🙂