Honolulu is often known as “The Gathering Place.” This is an apt name for a destination that offers a plethora of delights that can draw the family together. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your children, partner, and other family members, we have plenty of smart suggestions. Whether you’re staying in one of Hawaii’s outstanding hotels and visiting on vacation or you’re a local looking for a memorable afternoon, these activities are sure to delight.
Dolphins and You
Dolphins and You was the first company in Hawaii to operate a state-permitted wild dolphin watch tour. Established in 1988 by Richard Holland, this immersive experience is one of the most memorable on the island. The tour begins with shuttle transportation to the harbor where you’ll get a briefing on the day’s agenda. The boat takes you to the west side of the island where spinner dolphins are known to congregate. Guests typically spend 15 to 30 minutes in the water with the dolphins.
After dolphin watching, the tour proceeds to another location where sea turtles are often sighted. You can go snorkeling, kayaking, or paddle boarding. Back on the boat, the tour concludes with a complimentary snack, ukulele performance, and on-board hula show. Guests leave with a special temporary tattoo that’s not available elsewhere. There are typically two tours each day. Adults pay $179 each and children age 2 to 11 are charged $135 each. You can add a wetsuit rental for $10. Photo and video packages are available on select tours for $79.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Regularly lauded as one of the best family activities on the island, the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve offers outstanding opportunities to experience the natural beauty of the island. Any visit to the preserve must begin with a nine-minute video on proper care and preservation of the park.
This tranquil bay is home to 400 species of fish as well as majestic green sea turtles. Hanauma Bay is a favorite spot for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. The diversity of activities here makes the park perfect for kids of any age, whether they’re wading into the water or ready to snorkel.
Reservations are required, as the park limits the number of daily visitors. Parking is $3 per vehicle, and the park entry fee is $25 for adults. Children aged 12 and under enter for free. You’re permitted to bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to the beach. You’ll find a snack stand available as well. Lockers are on hand should you need them for your belongings.
Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
The Children’s Discovery Center in Honolulu offers hands-on activities that encourage children to explore and learn. The Rainforest Adventures exhibit teaches kids about the importance of preserving natural resources. Fantastic You takes a look inside the human body, while the Your Town exhibit lets kids take on different professionals roles in a pretend community fostered right inside the center. Through the Your Rainbow World exhibit, kids can explore different cultures from around the world. The Hawaiian Rainbows exhibit explores the culture and history of Hawaii.
In addition to these regular exhibits, the center occasionally hosts special activities like a makerspace, outdoor adventures, and story time. Reservations are required for the Children’s Discovery Center. General admission is $12, and children under the age of 1 enter for free.
Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana is a must-visit open-air shopping center. This mall goes above and beyond, offering something for everyone, including the kids. Children will love exploring destinations like Moomin Shop Hawaii, Squishable, BoxLunch, and The LEGO Store. Children’s clothing also abounds at stores like Gap Kids and Old Navy.
The children’s play area in the Mauka Wing is the perfect place for little ones to burn off energy. This multi-level playground provides plenty of opportunities to run, climb, and explore. After you’ve worked up an appetite, stop at one of the mall’s restaurants like Lahaina Chicken, Island Crepes & Lemonade, Mahaloha Burger, or Mama’s Spaghetti House.
Ala Moana Beach Park
The Ala Moana Beach Park is a vibrant recreational site that highlights some of the best features of Oahu. Fronted by a long white sand beach and deep swimming area, the park provides ample space to swim and sunbathe. Beyond the outer reef, adults and older children can find outstanding surf spots. On the eastern end of the beach park, you’ll find Magic Island Lagoon, a second beach offering soft sand, shallow water, and a peaceful lagoon that’s perfect for toddlers and young children.
The entirety of Ala Moana Beach Park covers 76 acres. It includes 10 lighted tennis courts, a softball field, lawn bowling, exercise equipment, dozens of picnic areas, soft grassy lawns, and a 2.6-mile jogging trail around the perimeter. Restrooms, outdoor showers, a bathhouse, and concessions are available in the park as well.
This is the perfect destination for a quiet, laid back day with the family where you can drift easily from a peaceful stroll around the picturesque landscape to a picnic lunch to an afternoon lounging on the beach. The sunsets are stunning here, so plan to stay and watch the glow dip below the horizon. Admission and parking are free.
If you’re looking for a guided tour for the family, Kualoa Ranch undoubtedly has what you’re after. Delight teens and older kids with the 2.5-hour Jurassic Adventure Tour that features film sites from the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film series. This unforgettable tour is $139.95 for adults and $69.95 for children aged 3 to 12. The Hollywood Movie Sites and Ranch Tour includes sites from Jurassic Park as well as Jumanji, Finding Ohana, Kong: Skull Island, 50 First Dates, and more. This 90-minute tour is $51.95 for adults and $36.95 for children.
Kualoa Ranch also offers electric mountain bike tours starting at $119.95, Jurassic Valley Zipline experiences starting at $174.95, horseback tours starting at $144.95, and much more. You can find an experience for nearly any kind of family here.
Did we include your favorite Honolulu highlights on the list? If we missed a great family activity, contact our team at 3D Partners Wealth Advisors and let us know!