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10 best things to do in Oahu with kids

Fat Mum Slim /

When it comes to holidays and the best spots to take your family to, I seem to be the person that a lot of people go to for advice. To be honest, I kinda love it. When I love a place, I looooooooooove a place, and I’m happy to sing all the praises and talk about why you should be jetting there with your family, pronto. The one place that I probably mention the most is Hawaii. It ticks ALL the boxes. Cocktails for mum. Surfing for dad. Swimming galore for the kids. The best ice treats in the world. Great food. Good vibes. Lots of ways to chill out, and just as many places to get adventurous and go exploring. I told you, it ticks ALL the boxes, and then some.

Recently my little family and I jetted over to Oahu, Hawaii to explore as guests of Jetstar. We visited our favourite spots, explored new locations, ate delicious food and made the most amazing memories as a family. It has to be the best trip we’ve ever done as a family, and I think that’s because the kids were just so happy. If you’re planning on traveling to Oahu with your kids, these are the things that you should definitely try out.

10 best things to do in Oahu with kids

1. Eat shave ice

Firstly, don’t make the mistake that I’ve made on more than one occasion. This Hawaiian treat is not called shaved ice, but shave ice. Drop the D, but don’t drop your ice. It’s a sweet treat with piles of shave ice {shaved specially so that it’s super light}, and topped with lashings of sweet flavour. If you’re going to do as the locals do, ask for a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom, top with tropical flavours {I opt for banana, pineapple and coconut} and then get the snow cap {a generous drizzle of condensed milk on top}. The North Shore does the best Shave Ice on the island. While loads of tourist will wait up to an hour in line at Matsumoto, you can take a local’s tip and head five minutes down the road to Aloha General Store where they do the best version on the island and usually with no wait.

2. Try stand-up paddle boarding

Oahu, especially Waikiki, lends itself to Stand-up Paddleboarding, particularly if it’s something you’re trying for the first time. All along the coastline in Waikiki Beach you can hire a board and paddle for prices ranging from $25 to $45 per hour. The waves at Waikiki Beach don’t dump on the shore like they do back at home in Australia, so you can hop on you board and practice, and eventually head out the back to catch a wave or two. If you’re a little nervous as a first-timer, the lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is the perfect spot to get started. There are no waves at all, and lots of room to get moving about. Best of all the locals and other tourists are really friendly, so if you need a tip or help, they’re sure to give you some advice or lend a hand.

3. Go shopping

One of my favourite things about Waikiki is that one minute you can be in the ocean splashing about, and the next you can be throwing on a sarong and shopping up a storm at Nordstrom Rack. It means that everyone is happy, and you can be back on the beach once you’ve blown your budget. The main street of Waikiki has super high end shopping, but you can also find market stalls, department stores and even stores filled with bargain buys {try Nordstrom Rack and Ross Dress For Less}. We always take an extra empty suitcase to take home all our buys {and Jetstar has a generous 30kg per person checked-in luggage that makes it easier to bring home the goodies}. If you want to do some serious shopping, you can take a trolley for a few dollars to Ala Moana shopping centre, which will eat up a whole day of your shopping time. And it will certainly make you very happy.

4. Spot turtles

I have never visited Oahu and not spotted a turtle in the wild, and every single time it seems like magic. Like, true magic. Turtles have a habit of doing that. It can be easy to get very enthusiastic when spotting a turtle {called Hona in Hawaiian}, but we have to remember to be respectful. Local Hawaiian law suggests that we keep around 3 metres from a sea turtle if approaching, but sometimes you can be swimming and they pop right up. You can usually spot turtles swimming just after lunch near the wall at Waikiki {near the Sheraton and Royal Hawaiian}. Take snorkeling gear {or buy some for cheap at an ABC Store, Longs Drugs or Ross Dress For Less} and when swimming in the deep at Waikiki, you’ll never know what might be swimming underneath you. If you’re visiting between late August to November, stop by Kaiaka Bay Beach Park and you might spot them lying on the sand, enjoying the sunshine.

5. Visit the North Shore

A trip to Oahu is not complete until you’ve taken a trip up to the North Shore. We love to leave early in the morning {around 7am} and do a loop around the island anti-clockwise. We start at Lenard’s for Malasadas {similar to doughnuts, but better} for breakfast, and then arrive on the North Shore just in time for lunch at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. You can stop by all the big, well-known surf spots; Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach. Waimea Bay is a great spot to stop for a swim after lunch, and to also snorkel. We always finish with a treat of Shave Ice after lunch and a dip in the Hawaiian ocean. You can rent a car from Avis Car Hire inside the Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki.

6. Go to a Luau

You will absolutely, without a doubt, totally fall in love with Hawaii once you’ve experienced a Luau. Luaus are traditionally a Hawaiian party with a feast of delicious food and entertainment, usually in the form of dancing. Many hotels will host their own Luaus which you can try, but I’ve heard one of the best is at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. The best that I’ve experienced is the new offering at Aulani, the KA WA-WA. They’ve gathered the best performers on the island {I’ve seen some of the dancers before in other Luaus and they’re memorable and amazing}, and the most delicious food as well. You’ll taste the delights of a whole roast pig, the most succulent beef, beautiful sides and desserts as well. It’s perfect if you have kids, because they have plenty of activities before the show, including ukulele lessons, traditional temporary tattoos, fabric printing, lei making and hula lessons too.

7. Go swimming

I know this is obvious, but it needs to be on the list. My kids are total aqua babies, so swimming is their number one thing to do in Oahu. The water is beautiful, and safe for swimming, and a great temperature all year round {with the warmer months being May to August}. We love swimming at Waikiki Beach, at the lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waimea Bay, Kaiaka Bay Beach Park in Haleiwa {the perfect spot as you can find a spot in the shade of the trees and set up for the whole day}, Kailua Beach Park, and our new favourite, Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island, just a few minutes out of Waikiki. It’s got a great swimming channel and is patrolled by life guards as well. Pack your bathers/cossies/swimwear, sunblock and your snorkeling gear and make the most of the beautiful beaches.

8. Make a lei

This is something we really love doing as a family, and Lulu can even do herself. Many hotels will offer a little class on how to make a lei {we joined in at the Outrigger Reef Hotel and made one with the crew there}. Leis can be made from shells, nuts, seeds, but are mostly made from flowers. The idea is that when you make a lei, and especially when you give a lei, that you do it all with love.

9. Learn to play the Ukulele

There’s something really endearing about the Ukulele, and when Lacey said that she wanted to learn how to play, I told her to jump right in and give it a go. Within fifteen minutes she’d learned how to play a little bit and now can’t wait to get back and learn some more.

10. Watch a Hawaiian sunset

There’s something pretty special about the Hawaiian sunset. Head to the beach just before sunset {just outside the Outrigger Reef Hotel Waikiki Beach is a great spot} and watch as the sun goes down. The water is a perfect temperature to loll about while the sun makes it way down, painting the sky beautiful colours of pinks, oranges and red. It’s a sight that shouldn’t be missed.

Is Oahu, Hawaii on your family travel bucketlist? Or have you been and fallen in love, like me?


My lucky family and I traveled as guests of Jetstar. All opinions, thoughts and passionate Hawaiian ponderings are our own.

@Fatmumslim