(Another) 5 Top Kid-Friendly Vacation Spots On Oahu

If the first 5 weren’t enough to fill your vacation calendar, here’s another 5 sure to enthrall the kids. Plus they’re cool places for adults too.

Waimea Waterfall1.) Waimea Botanic Gardens: Map Here
Next to Kualoa Ranch this is one of my island faves. And a family treat. You can read about my recent visit here.

Why the kids love it

  • Age 0-3 This is perfect for little ones. Wide paved walkways for strollers, a cafe for snacks, birds and water. Plenty to entertain a baby just learning to explore his surroundings.
  • Age 4-7 Room to roam and play. Plus, if you check their web site you might catch movie night.
  • Age 7-10 Cultural practitioners demonstrate lei making and hula dancing. The pavillion you walk through as you enter usually displays woodcarvings, ancient weapons and other historic island items.
  • Age 11 and up The gardens offer many trails that shoot off from the main path. It’s fun to explore less traveled areas. Plus the waterfall at the end is a great place to get wet!

⇒Take Note: There are many historic shrines and ancient ruins. Please be respectful and don’t let the kids climb around on these or any area deemed off-limits.
The waterfall requires you to wear a life jacket (provided for free) so you and the kiddos can enter without worry, especially since you can’t see the bottom!

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2.) Fort DeRussy Boardwalk: Map here
Brilliant skies, meandering path, turquoise ocean. This was my Saturday afternoon. The Fort DeRussy boardwalk rambles beneath palm trees, and along the coast.  We decided to visit the Army Museum. Even though it’s free, we gave a donation. The exhibits were well done and gave us a faciniating history lesson into Hawai’i’s military past before even Colombus’ time.  Not prepared for all the museum had to offer we didn’t allow enough time, coming in an hour before they closed at 5pm.  Even so, back on the boardwalk it was a perfect day to people watch, enjoy the ocean breeze and have no destination. A stop at Koa Oasis Booze Shack for a lava flow and watch the tangerine sunset was the icing on the cake.

Why the kids will love it

  • Age 0-3 The boardwalk is all paved so it’s a good time for a stroller nap as you enjoy the views.
  • Age 4-6 Walking may not be the most exciting thing, but there’s sand all along the way and if you want to stop and let them jump in the water, it’s a nice way to end a day.
  • Age 7-10 Give your kids an opportunity to try out their photography skills. Let them use your phone and give them different “shots” to try. It’s just a unique angle to take in the sites.
  • Age 11 and up Kids are better able to appreciate a lazy walk at this point. The museum might be of particular interest. Especially the collection of tanks out front and the helicopters on the roof.

⇒Take note: If you’re up for a longer stroll the boardwalk continues after the Outrigger Reef Resort. You’ll need to take a quick trip through the sand at the beach and the pavement picks back up. It does this once more at the Sheraton and then ends at Waikiki Beach. You decide your stamina.

20171104_0844303.) Manoa Falls: Map here
Located minutes from downtown Honolulu this is a treat right outside of town. It’s hard to believe that just past tightly packed neighborhoods and busy roadways there’s this little slice of paradise. We went after a particularly rainy spell, so the trail was muddy. We didn’t care. Not only did the extra moisture make the folige shimmer, the waterfall was a cascading wonder.  The trail wound around large boulders, lovely fern and a small bamboo forest. While totally worth it, this was one of the busiest trails we’ve been on.

Why the kids will love it

  • Age 0-3 Unfortunately, like many hikes, this is not really a place for the babies.
  • Age 4-6 All kids are different in terms of what they can do. I young children making the climb. Whether they made it to the top I can’t say.
  • Age 7-10 This is a perfect hike for this age group. It’s easy enough to tackle, but definitely a challenge. They can just let their imagination go!
  • Age 11 and up It’s a challenging enough hike to keep everyone entertained.  Plus the variety of terrain, there’s always something new around the corner.

⇒Take note: There is a small paid parking lot at the base of the trail. You walk up the roadway from here to the trailhead.
Be prepared for mud. Lots of mud. I pack wet paper towels in a baggie and a change of shoes for the car ride home.
There is no swimming in the pool beneath the falls.

20180301_1349254.) Turtle Bay Resort: Map here
Not to be confused with Turtle Beach, Turtle Bay is a resort with public access. We first visited on a breezy winter day when waves were pounding the shore. The resort had a lovely path that wound along the shoreline to the blowhole. Just the views were worth the stop. The beach was pretty and the water calm enough to get in. Some coral could be seen when we swam out away from the shore. It’s a great way to spend the day.

Why the kids will love it

  • Age 0-3 While not specifically for the babies, parents will appreciate the easy parking, stroller friendly entrance to the beach and facilities.
  • Age 4-6 This is a wonderful wide open beach, while still being moderately protected from larger waves.  However, in the winter you might find some gentle boogie board action.
  • Age 7-10 Not only is there a nice beach, there are trails leading to small coves, tidepools and an enormous banyan tree featured in LOST and Pirates of the Caribbean. A young explore’s paradise!
  • Age 11 and up The resort offers many activities in which you need not be a guest to book. Surf lessons, SUP and kayak tours.

⇒Take note: Please respect the resort as you visit the public areas. Their spa is located right on the water and there are signs to pass through quietly.
If you decide to use the trails look for Keiki (child) Cove, a small, calm pool of water perfect for little ones.

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5.) Hanauma Bay: Map here
It’s iconic, it’s beautiful, it’s . . . busy. Even so we love this place for the snorkeling and the exploration beyond the reef. The marine life cannot be matched in terms of shear number. Go here to read about my day at Hanauma and some of the risks.

Why the kids will love it

  • Age 0-3 Set up an umbrella, spread out a beach towel and spend a relaxing day splashing. Like Ko Olina the bay is fairly protected. That’s not to say larger waves can’t make it choppy, even close to shore.
  • Age 4-6 You can stand in the sand and watch fish swim by without even putting your face in the water.
  • Age 7-10 This is a place where the kids can really learn to snorkel. However,  because of currents, reef and the size of the bay keep them close at all times.
  • 11 and above Depending on their level of skill you can snorkel as a family. Always stay close to your snorkel buddy and don’t go out far. You won’t need to.  There’s plenty to see.

⇒Take note: Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.
You might feel deceptively safe here. As you can see in my post, there are risks involved.
Stay to the north end of the beach where a nice sandy makes entering the water easy and the lifeguard station is close.
PLEASE do not step on anything other than sand. The coral has taken a heavy hit, but even the rock contains living organisms crucial to a healthy living environment for the fish.

I’ve had so much fun exploring the different places the island has to offer.  There’s no reason “family fun” need only cater to kids. These are all amazing places to visit with or without children.