Hawaii is easily a favorite family destination and has been for years. Visiting during the pandemic, however, was anything but easy. At the time we went, at the end of June 2021, Hawaii required a negative COVID test for everyone, including those fully vaccinated. A health form and registration also had to be completed. Rental car prices were through the roof so planning early was through the roof. The island of Oahu was starting to get crowded again when we arrived but we still had lots of family fun by getting off the beaten path and keeping a flexible schedule.
I have two bonuses for Oahu because there is just so much to do with children!
- Polynesian Cultural Center- one of the first places to check out is the Polynesian Cultural Center. It has everything you need to learn about Polynesian culture across Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga and many other beautiful islands. We witnessed a marriage ceremony and took hula, basket weaving and ukulele lessons. If you don’t have a prearranged tour, you’ll need a rental car to get there. The drive is lovely. You can go any day except Sunday and Wednesday. https://www.polynesia.com/
- The Beach- It’s Hawaii, so you have to hit up the beach. The beaches at the resorts get crowded so grab your rental and head north on the island. We found a gem of a beach at Ala Moana Beach Park. Cupcake did a mermaid photo shoot there. Its not crowded, the water is clear and beautiful and there are playgrounds for kids. Its coveniently located in the heart of Honolulu. https://www.best-of-oahu.com/ala-moana-beach-park.html. We did our family photo shoot on one of the beaches on the north island.
- Kualoa Ranch- If you’re a dinosaur lover like my house, or just a movie buff, then you’ll love Kualoa Ranch on the north part of the island. Jurassic World, Kong: Skull island, Jumanji and lots of other movies were filmed there. Its so awesome to see the sets. We also took a “raptor” tour, where we drove ATVs through the mountains. We even got in a hike (of course) and a river tour. There’s enough to do at the ranch for a few days! Book well in advance because they fill up quickly. https://www.kualoa.com/
- Pearl Harbor- If you want some US history as part of your trip, then pay a visit to Pearl Harbor. It is informative and a beautiful site. My kids are not old enough to understand what the monument is really about nor did it hold their attention for a long time. I recommend visiting Pearl Harbor with kids that are at least 10 years old. https://www.pearlharborhistoricsites.org/
- Diamond Head State Monument- Let’s face it: you don’t go to Hawaii to stay in the hotel. If you are outdoorsy, like we are, then add Diamond Head to your list. The crater is close to all the hotels and is a short walk from the Honolulu Zoo. It has stunning views of the coast. Take good hiking shoes and a hat because the sun is brutal out there. The monument is open everyday except Christmas and New Years Day. https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/diamond-head-state-monument/
- Manoa State Park- I was so drawn to this park. I just had to go! Manoa is lush, green and beautiful. The hike is muddy and mosquitos are at the ready to dine on your body parts, so cover up with a good spray and long pants. The trail is short and easy to navigate, making this a great spot for a family hike. https://www.hawaii.com/oahu/things-to-do/hiking/manoa-falls-trail/
- The Aloha Stadium and Swap Meet and Marketplace- A tip from a local got us to the swap meet. What a treat it is for the whole family. Everything is there from candy, baked goods, fabrics, trinkets and even swords! The swap meet is not open every day so you have to plan. It’s open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 3pm. Its $1.00 per adult to get in. https://alohastadium.hawaii.gov/aloha-stadium-swap-meet-marketplace/
So, there you have it! Seven reasons instead of five because I just couldn’t pick five. Oahu is an amazing place with amazing people and food. We can hardly wait to go again!