Travel

10 Things You Must Do In Hawaii

by Rosie McKay

Looking for the perfect holiday spot that caters to all the family – then look no further than beautiful Hawaii.

Tropical, friendly locals and beautiful scenery - Hawaii  has the right mix of entertainment and activity to please both the kids and the big kids! Here's my guide to the top 10 things you should do on your Hawaiian holiday.  

1. Visit Honolulu Zoo

Located between Waikiki and Diamond Head, Honolulu zoo is set over 42-acres and home to over 905 different animals from the tropics, a variety of African animals and farm animals too. The zoo is spacious and has wide paths making it easy to navigate with a pram – plus there’s plenty of room to stop and get some great snaps with the wildlife. Watch how a family of orangutans live and play or head to the farm yard enclosure to feed the goats or let the little one crawl through a tunnel flanked by a mini aquarium filled with fish. If your staying in Waikiki, the zoo is walking distance, but you can also catch a trolley cart or take a taxi there, too. Kids under 3 are free, US$6 for children 3-12 and US$14 for adults.

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Honolulu Zoo Zebra
2. Hike Diamond Head

As well as good exercise to balance out all the amazing food you’re sure to eat while you’re here, a hike up the extinct volcanic crater offers some of the best panoramic views of Waikiki. Don’t be turned off by the word hike, you can leisurely make your way to the top with a baby strapped to you -  even if “out-of-shape” is your current fitness level! The park suggests allowing 90mins-2 hours for a leisurely hike, however it can easily be accomplished in about an hour even with photo pit-stops. The entry fee is US$1, and getting there is easy too - you can walk, catch “The Bus” (the name for the local city bus) drive or take a taxi.

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Diamond Head Hike View
3. Visit Sea Life Park

Make your way by bus or car to to Sea Life Park. Home to dolphins, sea lions, turtles, sharks and native fish here you can get up close and personal to all forms of sea life in their habitats. Enjoy talks and interactive experiences or even get the chance to pet and feed the dolphins – kids between 1-2 are free. Arrange transportation with the concierge at your hotel, or alternatively, Honolulu’s city bus offers several daily routes to and from Sea Life Park Hawaii. Check with www.thebus.org

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Sealife Park 2
4. Experience A Traditional Luau

Enjoy a magical night of Polynesian culture, food and entertainment at Chief’s Luau. Starting at dusk, the luau starts with some pre-dinner activities the little ones and the big kids with love; get a tattoo, throw a spear, watch Chief demonstrate how to make a fire by rubbing sticks, and finally the unearthing of your dinner cooked in an ‘imu’ (underground oven). Finally sit to enjoy an all-you-can- eat Hawaiian feast followed by singing and dancing with lots of opportunity for kids to participate too. Set within the grounds of Sea Life Park, you can choose to take advantage of packages that combine a day at Sea Life Park, followed by the luau, or simply drive or take a bus out there for the evening. Most hotels can help organise this experience for you. 

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Chiefs Luau
5. Dine At Bills

Kid friendly, good food and excellent coffee, Bills Hawaii is your home –away-from-home dining spot brunch, lunch or dinner. Spacious enough to accommodate prams, a kid’s menu and complementary colouring activities to keep them occupied while you enjoy a good coffee – I promise you’ll be back more than once. The menu offers Bill brunch favourites like ricotta hotcakes, banana and honeycomb butter, sweet corn fritters, roast tomato, spinach, bacon and avocado salsa or toasted rye, avocado, poached egg, chilli, lime and coriander. Hungry yet?

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Where To Eat Bills
What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Bills Where To Eat Brunch
6. Shop Up A Storm

If it's retail therapy you are after, you have come to the right place. There is plenty of shopping to be done here. Home to a who's who of designer brands, Waikele Premium Outlets is definitely worth the day trip. If the weather tuns bad a few hours at nearby Ala Moana shopping centre (stores include Macys, Nordstrom, Old Navy and Zara to name but a few) is ideal, even with kids in tow. At nearby Ward Village just a short walk from Ala Moana, you will find Nordstrom Rack and T.J. Maxx, both fabulous for discounted designer kidswear, womenswear and menswear.

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Where To Shop Alamoana What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Where To Shop Waikele Outlets What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Where To Shop
7. Road Trip To The North Shore

Set aside a day to get out of Waikiki and explore Oahu’s North Shore, just an hour’s drive away. A day or two before you hit the road, organise car hire with car seats for the kids from Hertz. I also recommend mapping out your day prior to hitting the road – we were able to visit Dole Plantation and Hanauma Bay (see info below) as part of our road trip. Often referred to as the world’s surfing mecca, the North Shore is home to the coastal town of Haleiwa, where you can shop, and sample eats from a food truck and some rainbow flavoured shaved ice. Keep driving on to Waimea Bay and enjoy some play time time on the sand before heading on a bit further for a lunch pit stop at family-run burger joint Seven Brothers Burgers. The company ethos is to serve incredibly fresh, tasty and inventive burgers and treat everyone who walks through the door as family – it definitely ticks both boxes, a must-visit. 

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Drive To North Shore Eat Seven Brothers Food
8. Picnic at Hanauma Bay 

Home to a plethora of fish and marine life, the beautiful blue still waters of Hanauma Bay make perfect swimming conditions for the kids, and is a top spot for the adults to enjoy a bit of snorkeling. As a first time visitor you must watch a short video before entering the park to learn about marine life, preservation, conservation, and safety rules. Snokelling equipment hire is available and you can buy food and drinks from the snack bar or but it’s recommended you bring your own snacks too. Entry is $US7.50 per person with kids under 12 free. Round-trip shuttles to Hanauma Bay can be organised from most Waikiki hotels.

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Hanauma Bay 1
9. Visit Dole Plantation

Originally a fruit stand in the 1950s the Dole Plantation 40-minutes out of Waikiki is the place to enjoy Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience”. There are plenty of activities to take advantage of including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, the Plantation Garden tour and the Pineapple Garden Maze, as well as free activities like a pineapple cutting demonstration and a fish-feeding pond. Entry is free and activity packages are available. Getting here is easy too – include it in the itinerary on your North shore day trip, or catch a bus.

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Dole Plantation 1
10. Hit The Beach

Waikiki is most famous for it’s beaches, so no matter where you might be staying you will not be far from the sea. After a few days of activities, relax with a day of building sandcastles and cooling off in the water. Canoes, paddleboards and snorkeling gear are all available for hire too. Make sure you take the time to visit Kuhio Beach and get a picture with Duke, a revered Hawaiian hero who has been immortalised as a bronze statue. 

What To Do In Hawaii Travel Story Family Holiday Hit The Beach Paddleboarding
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