Five Destinations for Family Fun in Honolulu
Honolulu, a city famous world-wide, offers an abundance of options for family fun, whether you're ready for a full day outdoors or some time cooling off inside. These five family-friendly options will keep your entire clan occupied and begging for more.
Honolulu is located on Oahu, the third largest Hawaiian island. This tourism-based city is home to many world-class hotels, as well as an abundance of shopping and dining destinations. Besides Honolulu, other well-known spots on Oahu include Pearl Harbor and Waikiki.
Arrrr You Ready for a Pirate Adventure?
If your kids fantasize about being pirates for a day, they'll love Hawaii Pirate Ship Adventures' Lost Treasure Excursion (1085 Ala Moana Blvd. Slip A, Honolulu, HI). This daytime outing takes place on an 83-foot pirate-worthy Spanish galleon, venturing out on the open waters several times per day, five days per week. Junior buccaneers receive complimentary eye patches and bandannas for a special treasure hunt as the ship travels along the water and battles rival pirate ships with water cannons. This adventure offers great photo opportunities for seadogs and landlubbers alike.
Find a Waterfall During a Family Hike
Lulumahu Falls Trail (4459 Pali Hwy., Honolulu, HI) offers an exciting adventure with its own special reward: stunning views of Lulumahu Falls. Though the trail is only two miles long, it can be quite challenging, involving some hopping from rock to rock and potentially slippery conditions. Therefore, it's best for nimble children. Footwear with good traction is a must.
There isn't a dedicated parking lot for this trail; instead, look for cars parked along Pali Highway. The path entrance is accessible next to the chain-link fence near the parked cars.
Pack extra footwear in the car so you have a clean, dry pair to change into after your hike. Insect repellent is also a good idea, as you'll be hiking through bamboo forest areas and along waterways.
Explore the Fun Side of Learning at Hawaii Children's Discovery Center
Hawaii Children's Discovery Center (11 Ohe St., Honolulu, HI) offers plenty to keep the little ones occupied for hours. Three floors of fun offer all sorts of hands-on activities that are also educational. The Tot Spot features sensory toys for the five-and-under set. Fantastic You teaches kids about how the parts of the body work together. Your Rainbow World showcases the similarities and differences between various cultures around the world, while the Rainforest has a giant water table, complete with waterfalls and toy boats. This is a great place to spend several hours allowing the kids to be kids. The downside: they just may not want to leave.
The center is closed on Mondays and on most major holidays.
Look Under Water Without Getting Wet
The waters around Oahu are luminously clear, which makes them perfect for viewing the creatures beneath. Take the kids out for a boat ride with Glass Bottom Boat Tours (1125 Ala Moana Blvd. Slip FA1, Honolulu, HI) to view all sorts of sea creatures through the bottom of the boat. No snorkeling lessons necessary. Some of the creatures you may spot include sea turtles, dolphins and a wide variety of colorful tropical fish. The boat tour company also offers a Friday night fireworks tour, perfect for fans of fireworks, and a sunset tour that draws curious fish toward the boat's lights.
Catch Amazing Views of the Underwater World Snorkeling the Bay
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (100 Hanauma Bay Rd., Honolulu, HI) is a great place to take the kids on a snorkeling adventure, as it's unlike the usual touristy hot spots. It's the first marine life conservation district in Hawaii and is home to many fish species. The University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program website offers a digital fish-identification chart for mobile devices, as well as a printable fish-identification chart you can print out and laminate before you visit the bay. The center at the bay also hosts free "Theater Thursdays" events, showing different educational films focusing on the ocean and ecosystem of the area. Note that the preserve is closed on Tuesdays.
Pay close attention to and educate the kids about signs posted around the bay indicating sharp coral or strong currents. Coral can cause cuts, and currents can affect a swimmer's ability to reach shore.
There's a minimal fee to visit the bay; an extra fee is charged if you wish to rent snorkeling equipment. The park does offer free use of beach wheelchairs.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.