If you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you may be surprised that the islands are not all beaches and water activities. There are several museums and centers that do a great job explaining the native Hawaiian culture and history. Hawaii is also home to one of the most revered sites of America’s World War II history, Pearl Harbor, which I review here.
General tips on a Hawaii trip with kids:
- The flight to Hawaii from most of mainland US is LONG. We flew straight to Oahu from Atlanta – 10 hours straight! With older kids, it was not a problem but if you have little ones, it may be easier to break up the trip with a couple days’ stop in California.
- Hawaii is hot and sunny at almost all times. Be sure to bring lots of sunscreen for little ones. Even a day spent at a historical site, like Pearl Harbor, can cause a sunburn.
- If you’re staying mostly on Oahu, look into the Go Oahu card to save money on siteseeing.
- Transportation: Oahu has a bus line and is currently building light rail. Other islands are more rural so a rental car is a must. Even if you are staying on Oahu only, a rental car allows you to see parts of the island that are inaccessible to the bus.
- Food: Hawaii is known for fresh seafood, poké bowls, and fish tacos from food trucks. There are lots of well-known food trucks in the North Shore area of Oahu. Also don’t miss the chance to try some shaved ice! It’s the perfect treat for a hot day.
- Luaus: History comes alive with your children at an authentic Hawaiian luau. There are many to choose from (we went to Paradise Cove and it was amazing!). Most have food that kids will enjoy – rice, chicken, etc. They are a bit touristy but that’s ok!
- Lodging: Most hotels on Oahu are in the Waikiki area. Don’t overlook the amazing hotels, including the Disney Aulani, in Ko Olina. We stayed in this area at the Four Seasons and the protected beach was very child-friendly. The other islands have resort areas along the coast and most are kid-friendly.
- Traveling to and from the airport: Rental car facilities are easily accessible from the airport (literally across the access road). Only Advantage, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National are located in the airport.
- Helpful links to plan your trip:
Don’t miss attractions for the kids: I have listed below several attractions and the links to the external web sites but the list is by no means all inclusive. I have listed only those on the three islands that I have visited but I have not been to every destination listed.
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Waikiki Beach
- Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
- Sea Life Park where you can swim with dolphins
- Waikiki Aquarium
- Honolulu Zoo
- Dole Plantation: Makes a great ice cream stop on the way to or from a trip to the North Shore!
- North Shore
- Kualoa Ranch: My favorite non-historical destination! You could spend a whole day here in what feels like Jurassic World. Book in advance to ensure you get the tour or activity that you want. We did the Jungle Jeep Expedition Tour and the Ocean Voyage Adventure.
- Big Island of Hawaii:
Books to read:
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up:
This page is continually updated.