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If you are hitting Oahu with your kids, you may or may not need this article. If worse comes to worse, simply enjoy the nearest beach and the pool at your hotel. But if you or your kids get antsy, the weather doesn’t coorperate, or you simply want to try and experience more of Oahu than just the sun and sand (and you should!), read on.
The most obvious place to take the kids in Oahu is the Hawaii Children Discovery Center. In a world that is not child proof and where you are constantly telling your kids "Don’t touch", the Children’s museum is a refuge. Everything is built at their height and they can touch, climb and play with just about everything.
On your travels through Oahu, don’t forget about the Bishop Museum The museum is also a hands-on place, with educational experiences to help residents and visitors appreciate and embrace Hawaii 's rich culture. Daily programs allow you to discover more about Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures through live, interactive presentations and exhibit tours. In the new Science Adventure Center , you can control volcanic eruptions, pilot a deep sea rover, and see lava melt.
Another sight you might want to visit is the Iolani Palace , the only royal residence in the United States . The Palace was home to the Hawaiian Kingdom 's last monarchs. See the palace’s web site on the listing page above to determine if you kids might enjoy it.
It probably goes without saying, but particularly for U.S. visitors, don’t go home without visiting Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memorial has an audio tour that’s worth getting. The tour features the voices of many Pearl Harbor survivors and takes you through the exhibit hall, shore side exhibits, remembrance circle, as well as describes the artifacts of the USS Arizona. You can also visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial – going on a battleship is definitely a must for many kids and it is fitting that if the Arizona symbolizes the U.S. entry into WWII, the Missouri is where the Japanese signed the surrender that ended it.
For a relatively hassle free way to get a general view of Oahu, especially if you or your kids aren’t up for one of the more active approaches suggested below, the air-conditioned motorcoach on the Grand Circle Island Tour is a good means for taking in highlights of the islands. It covers East Oahu with its upscale neighborhoods of Kahala, through Hawaii Kai and along the rugged southeast coastline passing the Halona Blowhole and Sandy Beach. Travel along the cliffs of Makapuu with its stunning view of Rabbit Island , through the Hawaiian Homestead lands of Waimanalo, and then into Kailua town. Travel up the Pali Highway for a stop at the Pali Lookout, site of the famous Battle of Nuuanu and its unsurpassed views of the Windward Coast . From here, you will take a leisurely drive to the North Shore of Oahu passing through picturesque spots and charming rural towns such as Haleiwa and beautiful Waimea Bay , where surf during the winter months can exceed 30 feet. If your kids are little, be sure to bring books and other things to occupy them for the parts that may not appeal to them.
If your kids are older, then by all means get out and get active. For example, a fantastic way to experience the Island is to hop on a moped or a bicycle. It combines freedom with getting you out in the Hawaiian sun and air. Hawaiian Style Rentals is a good source for both bikes and mopeds. If you have children that are not quite old enough to ride themselves then you can rent bikes with child carriers from Paradise Baby Co. they are a baby equipment rental and they will deliver bikes directly to you. If you are staying on the North Shore the bike path is a must. It runs thru Sunset Beach from the famous Waimea Bay to V-land.
Hankering to get off the beach and out on the water? Again, depending on the age of your kids, Oahu has no shortage of water-centric activities (not surprisingly!). One memorable and fun activity is taking a canoe ride in the heart of Waikiki with the Hawaiian Oceans Canoe Ride (you can find them on Waikiki Beach between the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and the Honolulu Police Substation). Or grab a ride on the Makani Catamaran for a leisurely breakfast or lunch sail – if your kids are on the wild or younger side you might want to steer clear of this one, both for your own sake and those of the other passengers.
Want to see schools of abundant Hawaiian fish? Take a trip to Hanauma Bay on the Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Adventure (Kaimana Tours 808-230-0023). This natural crescent beach is tucked inside the walls of an extinct volcano. This is the best protected cove if you are new to snorkeling (and even if you're not!), with a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef. Visitors can swim with over 450 species of colorful tropical fish. Another option is to take a kayak out in Beautiful Kailua Bay (consistently one of Conde Nest magazines’ top 10 beaches) with Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks. You might want to all of these depending on how much time you have and what you and your kids are into. If you are thinking of doing some of the various attractions listed here, the Go Oahu Card is worth checking out because it is an All-Inclusive pass which allows people to save time and money on many attractions rather than paying at the gate.
Check out Oahu Family Activities for more ideas for you and your family to have a blast without spending a fortune.
Enjoy your visit