Planning a trip with the kids to Oahu Island in Hawaii? You are in luck. We took a visit and recently and found the best things to do with kids in Oahu. I have turned all our fun into a fun Itinerary to help you with your Oahu Island vacation. We explored not only Honolulu but other areas of the island as well. From the sandy beach areas, historic sites and more for one awesome Hawaii vacation on Oahu Island.
Itinerary for Visiting Oahu Island in Hawaii with Kids
Our trip to Oahu with 4 kids ranging from ages 6 to 17. The plans I made before leaving home worked out well for the most part while there. We didn’t hit everything on the original list, but what we did made for the perfect Oahu 7 day Itinerary for our first trip to Oahu, Hawaii.
We arrived on Day 1 in the afternoon and left on day 8 mid day, so our trip was broken up into 8 technical days. However, if you have 7 full days on the island this Oahu Itinerary with kids will have you covered. I have called this a 7 day Itinerary, because if you take the day we arrived and the day we left into account we were there a full 7 days. This itinerary will also work for a 5 day Oahu Island itinerary if you are using your arrival and departure days as days that are not exploring.
This was our first time in Hawaii and I think we picked the perfect Island to visit. There are plenty of activities to do, and lots of experiences to learn about Hawaiian culture. The beautiful scenery adds to it and while we didn’t get to experience everything this beautiful place has to offer I think it made for the perfect week-long trip to Hawaii.
Our Hawaii Trip Plans for Being in a Different Time Zone
Our plan was to have early mornings and then everyone be tired late afternoon so that everyone would go to bed. We did not want to get too far off of our Eastern time zone time. We had hoped that we would stay on the East Coast time while there. After a few days in Hawaii, bedtime seemed to get later, but everyone was still getting up between 4 am and 5 am Hawaii time.
We planned the first 5 days of our trip to be go go go from the time we landed until we headed over to Disney Aulani Resort. Then planned on relaxing at Aluani but we ended up continuing the go go go.
When exploring the island our goal was to not waste time driving all over the place. We divided the Island into sections and stayed in that area for the day as best as possible.
Where we Stayed in Oahu
For this trip with stayed at the Hale Koa Hotel which is a military hotel. If you are not a military family and are visiting Honolulu there are plenty of hotel options in Waikiki beach area and downtown Honolulu to pick from. We picked staying in the Honolulu area for the first part of our trip. We wanted to have walking distance to things along with having easy access to the highway so we could easily get to places all over the entire Island. Our first 5 nights at the Hale Koa before having 2 nights at Disney Aulani.
Tips for Exploring Oahu Island with Kids
Before I get to the plans that we did for our trip I want to share some tips that helped with our trip.
Place a grocery order or stop at a store. Placing an online order or stopping at a store for snacks and drinks will mean you have them on hand in your hotel room and it will save you money.
Drink water. We drank a lot of water on this trip. We are big water drinkers at home but drank even more than normal by about 3 times as much while we were there. Thankfully we bought 3 large cases of water when we put the walmart.com order in for curbside pick up.
Bring snacks in the car. While we stopped a lot for food, there were a lot of times the kids said they were hungry. Being go go go the kids were hungrier than normal. I did not include all of our food stops in this post but did include the ones the kids said are must stop at. There is plenty of food options anywhere you are when you are on Oahu Island.
Sunscreen. Put sunscreen on all day long. We didn’t the first day and only put it on twice and all of us regretted it. The sun is different in Hawaii and you will get sunburned without even realizing it and fast.
Don’t stress time. If you spend longer at a place than expected don’t stress missing something else. You never know what is going to peak the kid’s interest. I suggest with the exception of Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head hike that you grab your tickets at the location. This way you are not buying tickets to things you run out of time to see.
Oahu 7 day Itinerary Day 1
We landed at the Honolulu international airport in Honolulu after our long flight (11 hours from New Jersey to Hawaii). At the airport grabbed our rental car, and checked into our hotel. Headed to Walmart to get our pick-up order that I had placed the day before from home. Then we got started on our Hawaii adventure. We planned our first day to be semi-slow moving and for us to get settled in. I like to keep things not so packed on the first day with plans just in case there are any travel delays.
Visit the beach at your hotel or drive to a lookout near your hotel.
There are many hotels that have a beach on the property or are very close by to the hotel. If you are not in the mood to go to the beach take a visit to one of the many lookouts that are on the island of Oahu. Some of them you will need to take a short hike to, others you are able to drive to.
Relax at the hotel pool or in the room.
By this time in the evening, I am sure your family will be like ours and exhausted. A full day of traveling will wear everyone out. This is the perfect night to relax a bit before getting into the full swing of exploring everything you can.
Oahu Itinerary Day 2
Breakfast at McDonald’s.
Yes, this sounds like a weird breakfast idea but for us, it was a must to try the local platter. In Hawaii, some of the McDonald’s will have fresh pineapple. They also have what is called the local platter which includes scrambled eggs, white rice, and Portuguese sausage. Since it was a Hawaiian breakfast we added it to our list of things to do in Hawaii.
Visit the USS Arizona memorial and the museum at Pearl Harbor National Memorial
This tour doesn’t cost anything but you will need to reserve your tickets online before going. There is a $1 per ticket reservation fee. You will need to reserve your tickets for it when they are released 8 weeks ahead of time.
Tickets do sell out quickly as they are limited each day for the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. 8 weeks before the date is when the tickets are released on the Recreation.gov website. If you miss the presale tickets you can arrive at 7am and attempt to get standby tickets.
*Tip. We highly suggest watching the video before going on the boat. They have the video playing on a loop all day and we were told to watch it after but you can watch it beforehand. All of my kids said they would have appreciated the memorial tour more if they had seen the video first.
You will want to plan 2 hours to fully get thru everything at the USS Arizona Memorial. There is the museum that tells the history of Pearl Harbor, the boat ride, and the movie to watch.
While you are in the area you can also add the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum to your trip. They are separate costs and are not run thru the park service but are nearby.
We booked the 9 am time slot for our tour because we were coming from the East Coast and we knew that we would be up early in the morning. We left the area at 12:30 to head back to the hotel area. Because of some issues going on at the location we ran into some delays so it took us a bit longer than we had planned on being there.
Take a walk or Beach time.
We are big beach goers, even if it is just taking a walk on the beach. Since we were all still tired from our long travel day the previous day we took the afternoon slow and went for a walk on the beach near the Hale Koa hotel after our lunch. I am going to say this now, there are so many beautiful beaches in Oahu I don’t know if I can pick one of them as my favorite.
Get Ice Cream.
We had our lunch at 2pm, which for us was like eating at 8pm est. Instead of having a full dinner since no one was super hungry, we grabbed some ice cream at the ice cream place near the beach. There are a lot of places to get ice cream just about everywhere in Honolulu so it is super easy to find a place to get some tasty ice cream.
Sunset on the beach
Sunset is around 6 pm during September. That is perfect for those who are still catching up from the previous day’s travel. You can catch a sunset early and then call it an early night. It was the perfect way for us to end our first full day in Hawaii.
Oahu Itinerary Day 3
Diamond Head Hike at Diamond Head Crater
We opted for the 6am time slot knowing that we were going to be up early wake up no matter what we did. We arrived at 6 am, got started on the hike at about 6:15. Then spent about 30 minutes along the way up and at the top taking photos before making the trek back down. All in all, we spent about 2 hours and 15 minutes at the Diamond head hike.
You will need to grab reservations 30 days before your planned day to do the hike and they do run out of tickets. You can grab the tickets here.
Scenic drive on the coast and Beach time
Of course, we were going to find a beach on day 3 just like every other day. We love the beach and they are so beautiful in Hawaii and there are many to pick from. Spending a full day at the beach is not something we like to do, we like a few hours there and then off to more adventure. We also had a lot of fun checking out different beaches.
We wanted to make it a scenic drive along with our beach fun. So we picked Bellows beach to be the first beach of the day. The kids had fun with boogie boards and jumping in the waves. There is a public beach and a military only beach at Bellows Beach.
Then headed to Kailua beach park for more beach fun. This is a beach with less waves than Bellows and about a 30 minute drive away. The beach area is smaller and the parking lot was small. If you run into not being able to find parking, search for “beach near me” on google and it will pull up all the ones close to you.
Go to a Luau
Our Luau was at 5pm so we wanted to make sure we got back from the beaches with enough time to shower and get ready. We went to the Luau at Hale Koa. It was amazing and the whole family loved it. We also left stuffed after eating all the good food. If you are not staying at or near the Hale Koa then there are many places that have Luaus that you can pick from.
Day 4 Oahu with Kids Itinerary
Breakfast at Lenard’s Bakery for Malasada.
Lenard’s Bakery for Malasadas is a must when you are visiting. The original location can be tough to visit, the lines are long and parking will take a bit. We drove around for about 20 minutes before a parking spot opened up. If you are wanting the same delicious breakfast but without having to wait take a trip to one of their other locations. Some are located in shopping plazas and one is a food truck and you can avoid the waiting.
Waimea Bay Beach for swimming and cliff jumping
My oldest daughter had cliff jumping on her must do list when in Hawaii. While not technically a cliff, but more so a huge rock in the water we stopped at Waimea beach. The younger kids swam and the 2 older kids had fun jumping off the large rock into the water. While you are in this area if you are up for a hike you can also do the Waimea Falls hike. That is across the street from the beach entrance. There is only a small parking lot for this beach as well, so just like the other beaches if parking is an issue google for a beach close by. The good thing about Hawaii is you are never too far from a beach!
Food Trucks in North Shore for Lunch
There are many food trucks in North shore that you can stop at. We stopped at the Aji limo truck for poke bowls and fish tacos. It was a short drive from our next planned stop so it was perfect.
See the Sea turtles at Laniakea Beach
Not far from the food trucks areas, you will find Laniakea beach. A small beach area that is known for being able to see sea turtles in the water and on the beach in the North Shore of Oahu island. This gathering place for sea turtles is fascinating to see. Depending on the time of day you can see TONS of sea turtles coming up on the beach. It is important to note that you must not touch the sea turtles or get too close to them. The best time to go to be able to see them is between 11 am and 1 pm.
Grab Tasty Snacks
While you are in this area of the island it is the perfect time to make a stop for some snacks. Coming from Laniakea beach to our next stop we drove thru Haleiwa, Oahu.
It is home to a small shopping plaza that has a gift shop, a coffee shop and a must stop at Shaved ice shop called Matsumoto Shave Ice. It was perfect timing for a snack and the shaved ice hit the spot for all of us. There are so many different flavors of shaved ice that you can pick from and toppings too and the portions are HUGE. A large is plenty for 2-3 people and even with buying 3 of them for the 6 of us to share we still didn’t finish all of it!
In this same plaza is a Vintage Island Coffee, and when you stop there you should totally try a Macadamia Nut Kona Mocha it is delicious! At this point the parents are probably going to need some caffeine to keep up with the kids and Vintage Island coffee was the perfect place!
As you can see good snacks and food are a part of this Oahu Itinerary that are also great activities that give you a break to rest.
Shop locally at the North Shore Macadamia Nut Co.
As you leave the plaza you will pass this fantastic place which is perfect for grabbing some macadamia nuts and other local snacks. They are perfect to keep with you on your adventures. If you are like me you will also grab a bunch of macadamia nuts in all the different flavors they have and some macadamia nut coffee to bring home with you. The fun part about this stop for kids is that if you ask the cashier they will show the kids how to crack open a fresh picked macadamia nut and let the kids try it themselves! This was something all of my kids thought was really cool.
When visiting the Dole Plantation there are 3 activities that you can do, the train ride thru the plantation, the garden tour, and the maze. As it was already 3pm when we arrived we opted to do the train ride and the garden tour. Make sure when you stop here you also grab some dole whip. From our experience, we had better presentation and serving sizes inside the building than getting them from the food truck out front.
Day 5 Oahu, Hawaii Itinerary
Filled with history but done in a very entertaining way Iolani Palace is a must stop to learn about the history of Hawaii. This palace was the home of the kings early on in Hawaii’s history. I think it is a very important thing to include historic places in your Oahu Itinerary. You can not truly understand a location unless you also learn about it’s history.
Using individual audio systems you walk thru each room of the palace. Each room has a different number that you enter into the key pad. Then the audio device tells you the story and history of the room you are in. If you are a homeschool family like we are this is a great way to get in some history lessons.
We made this our first stop of the day for our day 5 of our Oahu Itinerary. Our next stop was the Polynesian Cultural Center but that does not open until noon.
Polynesian Cultural Center
I suggest taking the scenic drive around the Island when going from the Iolani Palace to the Polynesian Cultural center. The views are amazing and along our way we stopped and grabbed some photos with the palm tree that is bent over the water that you pass while driving.
This one is a full day adventure, in fact, we had to use part of day 7 to finish it up. We only allotted 3 hours to explore and I think you need 6-8 hours to fully see everything. The Polynesian Cultural Center Islands are open from 12:30-5pm each day of the week except Sundays.
I personally think with kids splitting it up into 2 days was perfect. We were not rushed and we were able to actually spend time doing the things the kids wanted to do. There is live music performances, hands on games and many other educational but fun things to do at each island section.
You can pick from a few different packages that include just seeing the islands, one that includes dinner or a few other options.
The great thing about the pass is that when you buy it you get entrance into the cultural center for 3 days. After your first day for 2 more days you can bring your previous days ticket to the welcome desk and they will issue you another one.
Food trucks at the Polynesian Cultural Center for dinner
In the entrance area to the Polynesian Cultural center there are many food trucks, after a long day this was the perfect dinner. There were plenty of options for everyone to pick from. Then back to the hotel we went to all fall asleep early.
Day 6 Oahu, Hawaii Itinerary
Breakfast at Eggs N’ Things.
In all my research for what to eat in Honolulu Eggs N’ Things kept popping up. That made it a must do for one of our breakfasts. It for sure did not disappoint! This is a great place to eat, the portions were huge, the food was delicious and the service was amazing.
There are many different catamaran sail options. We choose to do the kepoikai II catamaran morning sale. If you are military give them a call and you can get the military discounted rate. Even the normal rate is affordable at $35 a person compared to many of the other ones I had found.
Visit The Botanical gardens
If you are looking for a relaxing adventure with beautiful scenery taking a drive or a walk thru the Botanical Gardens is a must. We knew we didn’t have much time until our check in for Disney Aluani so we opted to make this a quick stop. We drive thru up to the top, stop a few times for photos and then make the drive back down. If you are in the mood to walk you can easily spend a few hours walking around the different stop points along the drive to the top.
Visit the Byodo-in Temple
Our next stop was the Byodo-In temple. For this quick stop you should plan about an hour to visit. It is a real temple where you must be respectful and take off your shoes before entering. It was a beautiful place to explore and a great educational stop for the kids that was also fun.
We checked in to Aluani (in Ko’Olina) on this night, and had dinner at a place near the hotel. If you are not switching hotels this is a great time to have a relaxing evening. We made this our relaxing evening after dinner because we all needed a little bit of downtime.
Day 7 Oahu, Hawaii Itinerary
This was our first day at Aluani and our last full day in Hawaii. While we had originally planned on relaxing at the resort all day plans changed and we went out to explore some more.
Go for a Hike or a walk.
There are many hiking options all over the island if you are wanting to go for a hike. We opted to go for a walk to Secret Beach. A friend of mine told me about the monk seal that frequents that beach and we wanted to see him. Our luck was good that morning and while we were heading back to the hotel he came up on the beach for a morning nap.
If you are looking for a beautiful place to walk, the lagoons in Ko Olina are a great option. They are near the Disney Alunai Resort and a few other resorts. The walk is about 3 miles long in a beautiful area that is easy to walk.
Swimming and snorkeling
If you are planning on going snorkeling there are many different places to go. You can try to get tickets for Hanauma Bay, however, those have to be booked 2 days in advance. We missed the time slots so we opted to swim and snorkel in the lagoon closest to Aulani for the morning. In the area of the lagoons, you can see plenty of marine life. I highly suggest bringing your own gear with you from home if you can so you do not have to worry about renting from anywhere. You can find lots of information on the most popular Snorkeling spots. For us the lagoons were perfect and easily accessible.
If you are looking for more water sports, there are plenty of options on the island including snorkel trips, surfing lessons and more.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Head back to the Polynesian Cultural Center to finish anything you didn’t get done before.
Scenic drive on the way back to hotel
You will be leaving The Polynesian cultural center at the perfect time to catch a beautiful sunset. There are quite a few lookouts and beach on the way back. Stopping for a sunset beach stop is the perfect way to end the night.
Day 8 Oahu, Hawaii Itinerary
Hawaii Beach Sunrise
Get up early and head to a beach near by and watch the sunrise. This was our head home day so we wanted to make sure we got one early morning sunrise view on the beach. It was a great way to start our last day in Oahu.
Since you are probably checking out on this day you will want to stay at your hotel to pack things up and get ready to head to the airport. Most east coast flights leave mid day to afternoon so you still have the morning to enjoy some fun. We choose swimming in the lagoon and snorkeling at the lagoon at Aulani. After packing up most of our stuff went swimming in the pools before packing up to head home.
We grabbed one last poke bowl for lunch to take with us in the car for the ride back to the airport and then said Mahalo to Oahu as we took off on our flight to head home.