Children's Activities in Honolulu, Hawaii

Many children vacationing with their families in Honolulu are content to soak up the tropical sun as they splash in the hotel pool. What’s not to like about hanging out in a floatie and enjoying poolside snacks? For kids who crave a little more adventure, say “aloha” to island activities they won’t want to miss -- and parents may enjoy, too.

  1. See Creatures Up Close

    • Go snorkeling to view tropical sea life up close and personal. Take a shuttle or drive to Hanauma Bay on Oahu’s east side for the quintessential underwater experience. The crescent-shaped bay – actually a sunken volcanic crater – gives snorkelers a protected view of colorful sea life, including yellow Tangs and Moorish Idols. Travel north to Laniakea (turtles.org/laniakea) to see Hawaiian green turtles on the beach and in the surf. The protected marine creatures are frequently lounging on the sand, but remind children to obey federal regulations against feeding or touching them. Sea Life Park (sealifeparkhawaii.com), about a half-hour drive from Waikiki, is an outdoor marine center that features a 'swim with the dolphins' program and the interactive Hawaiian Ray Encounter.

    Explore the Aquarium

    • The Waikiki Aquarium (waquarium.org) boasts a compact but stunning collection of local sea life, including giant clams, live coral and a nimble octopus. Don't miss the aquarium's rare Nautilus, who lives in a darkened tank that replicates its home in the depths of the sea. Admission to the aquarium includes a recorded tour through headsets.

    Head to the Beach

    • No visit to Honolulu would be complete without at least a stroll on Waikiki Beach. Enjoy the view of Diamond Head crater, play in the sand or take surfing lessons. For a somewhat quieter beach experience, head to Ala Moana Beach Park, just west of Waikiki. An artificial reef ensures calm waters for kids who want to play in the Pacific.

    Soak Up Some Culture

    • Introduce your children to life in the islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center (Polynesia.com) on the island’s north shore. Let kids explore hands-on exhibits, watch the Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant or stay for the evening luau, featuring energetic hula dancers and authentic island fare. Back in Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Center (royalhawaiiancenter.com) features a lively hula show five nights a week, as well as kid-friendly activities like lei-making and ukulele lessons.

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