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Seasonal Travel

Places To Visit: Top 10 Hawaii with Kids

Summer time is vacation time and if you’re one of the lucky ones Hawaii is in your near future.

I have lived on Oahu for almost 7 years now and have done it all and seen it all. Now that I have a little one I am doing it all and seeing it all again; this time from a parent’s perspective.

If you want to plan the best vacation for both you and your little ones then check out my “Top 10 Hawaii with Kids” suggestions.

1. FREE Waikiki hula show

Want the best hula show in town? No need to shell out big bucks for food you aren’t going to eat, transportation in an over air conditioned super bus and a crowded table where you can barely see the show. If you want a great hula show that’s right in the middle of Waikiki and FREE then check out Kuhio Beach Park’s hula show on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights around sunset. The entertainment rotates but is always a great combination of music, dancing and cultural information. My son loves this show and we run down before bed time so that he can watch quite often.

2. Turtle Beach– Laniakea North Shore

Your kids are never going to forget the time you took them to Laniakea aka “Turtle Beach” on the North Shore. This stretch of beach is home to green sea turtles that come ashore to feed and relax. Not only can you get an up close and personal view of these beautiful creatures but there is a marine specialist on hand to answer all your questions and make sure the turtles remain undisturbed. The beach is also one of the more mellow places to swim and enjoy on the North Shore so bring your swim suits, shovel and pail and play alongside the turtles. My only caveat here is that there are rocks hidden under the sand in some spots so watch your toes when running with excitement!

3. Polynesian Cultural Center

I’m going to be honest here, I’ve only been to the PCC (as locals call it) as a kid and so I don’t remember much. However, every time we have visitors in town with kids they head here and always come home raving about how much fun they had. The Polynesian Cultural Center is located on the North Shore of Oahu (which is beautiful in and of itself and worth checking out). At the PCC you can meet, great and interact with actual people from Hawaii, Samoa, Maori New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, The Marquesas and Tonga. Island villages have been recreated to tell the story of these island peoples and visitors get the chance to participate in activities and games true to each culture. This is going to be one of your more expensive outings in Hawaii but from what I hear well worth your $ in entertainment and accurate cultural knowledge.

4. Surf Lesson or Canoe Ride

Seriously you can’t come all the way to Hawaii and not take a surf lesson. I’ve got two great surf lesson companies I can recommend you, one if run by my best friend and the other by my hawaiian uncle. Hawaiian Surf Adventure is the only surf lesson company offering private or group lessons by boat. Hawaiian Surf Adventure takes the surfing experience and learning process to a new level by offering lessons away from the crowds, in an exclusive location. Not interested in surfing but your kids are? You can hop on the boat along with them and enjoy the views, cheering them on and watching from the comfort of the boat!

If you’re looking for lessons in Waikiki I highly recommend Aloha Beach Services. These guys are the original beach boys. They know Waikiki beach like the back of their hand and you are guaranteed to catch some great rides with their instruction. What’s even better is that they are located right next to Duke’s restaurant so you can catch some waves and enjoy a hula pie (and mai tai for mommy) after the lesson.

5. Duke’s Hula Pie

You can’t visit Oahu without visiting Duke’s restaurant on Waikiki beach. And you certainly can’t visit Duke’s without trying out their Hula Pie for dessert. The hula pie is vanilla/macademia nut ice cream on top of an oreo crust covered in chocolate fudge, whipped cream and macadamia nuts. This thing is incredible! It’s big enough for a whole family to share and it’s less than $10.00 bucks. Hit up Duke’s during the live music from 4-6 and there are even concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday night out on the beach patio.

6. Hilton Pool Water Slides

Although these awesome water slides are reserved for Hilton Hawaiian guests only, they are still worthy of making our list. Just about everything that the Hilton does is wonderful and they’ve taken great pride in making sure that the Keiki (children) guests of the Hilton have something awesome as well. There are several pools to choose from at the Hilton but our favorite is the Paradise Pool. The Paradise Pool is comprised of a two-tiered freshwater swimming pool bordered by lava rack formations, streams, bridges and out of this world landscaping. The pool boasts 4 water slides including a 77-foot lava tube slide. Did I mention there are three waterfalls and two heated spas as well as cozy lounge chairs and pool side cocktail service?

7. FREE lei making at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

I remember making lei’s at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping center while on vacation as a little girl and I’m so please that they are still offering this fun activity to guests. You can also participate in FREE hula and Ukelele Lessons!

8. Aoki’s Shave Ice- North Shore

Don’t bother standing in line at Matsumoto’s shave ice. It’s good but it’s only popular because it’s popular. If you want really really great shave ice (yes it’s shave ice NOT shaved ice) then head to Aoki’s literally 2 doors down. You’ll stand in line for half the time, getter better service and enjoy a local treat. My favorite is rainbow with ice cream on the bottom, hubby goes for the Haleiwa Delight.

9. Friday Night Fireworks

You can thank the Hilton Hawaiian village for putting on a fantastic fireworks show every single Friday night. It’s like 4th of July around here every single weekend and one of our favorite ways to kick off the fun. Our favorite spot to take in the fireworks is out at sea so look into evening firework charters if you really want something special. Another favorite spot of ours (and a free one) is on the beach near Duke’s Lagoon outside of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The fireworks are launched from this beach and so they literally go off overhead. It’s a great spot to lay down and take in fireworks silhouetted by palm trees.

10. Makapu’u Hike and whale watching (January-March)

This is a hike I’ve done so many times that I’ve lost track! I absolutely love this trail and recommend it to everyone that comes to visit, especially if you happen to be here during whale season. This is another paved trail that winds itself along the cliffs (a safe distance but keep a watchful eye) and ends at a viewing point and lighthouse. From here you have a great view of the ocean, parts of the East side of the island and on a clear day the outer islands. We love to bring a picnic lunch and hike up to some of the old military bunkers for whale watching. The beginning of the trail is hot but as soon as you turn the first big corner you’re rewarded with cooling breezes that last the remainder of the hike. This is another most anyone can do and have a smile on their face the entire time.

These tips are all recommendations with fun for all in mind and with the exception of a few gems they are all easy on your wallet. To see my complete list of “Things to Do In Hawaii With Kids” head on over to


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