Two years ago we traveled to Oahu, Hawaii as a family of 3. We took a non-stop flight from Newark to Honolulu with an almost 2 year old while I was 20 something weeks pregnant. Jake’s parents joined us there which was great in so many ways. It was such a wonderful time and I think it is about time I share this trip with you all! I think Hawaii is definitely a family destination as we all constantly had something to do. So here are 9 things to do on Oahu with kids plus a hotel 🙂
If you have never flown with a young child, check out this post here for a bunch of tips!
Where to stay
I understand this won’t be an option for everything, but we had the opportunity to stay at the Hale Koa Hotel since Jake’s dad is retired Navy. Hale Koa was a gorgeous hotel that sits right on Waikiki Beach. We spent our mornings eating breakfast at one of their restaurants, Happy’s Fast & Fresh, just steps away from the ocean and ended up swimming in the ocean most afternoons while Emmett napped.
The hotel has several restaurants (an additional fee to dine at), three swimming pools (one for families, one for kids and one that is adults only) and its own stretch of Waikiki Beach. You can easily walk from beach to beach which we did our first morning to get acquainted with our surrounding and see more of the Waikiki shoreline.
While we didn’t get a chance to try everything on our trip, the hotel offers kayak, paddle board and other rentals, a free garden tour of the grounds, and the opportunity to receive hula lessons. One thing we were able to experience at the hotel was their luau and it was truly a memorable time. Complete with a show and food, we also were able to experience some Hawaiian traditions with their tattoos, head wreaths and of course a lei!
Our room was great with a little balcony that overlooked Honolulu. Just outside our door was the end of the hallway with a sitting area that we would spend some time in while Emmett napped or to catch up with Jake’s parents. It had these big, open windows that let all of the island sunshine in and was the perfect area to relax at the end of the day.
Places to Eat
Rainbow Drive In– We ate here a couple times during our trip for lunch. They served the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch for under $10! The food was delicious, traditional and inexpensive (which can be hard to find on the island!) making it a huge win for us.
Eggs ‘n Things On the mornings we didn’t stay at the hotel, we could usually be found here. This is where I was first introduced to the acai bowl, something totally healthy and addicting! They also served the fluffiest pancakes with fresh pineapple on them.
Matsumoto Shaved Ice If you want the true Hawaiian experience when it comes to dessert, check out shaved ice on the North Shore. Matsumoto has over 30 flavors and is worth the wait if there is one! It’s definitely different than a snow cone or italian ice!
Places to go:
North Shore The North Shore is the northern side of the island and has a lot of things to do! A popular surfing destination, a beach you can find sea turtles, the surf town Haleiwa and food trucks galore, this side of the island is not one you want to miss!
Makapu’u Point Lookout This was a lookout we found accidentally and turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen! There were people there taking off for hang gliding which was super cool to see. I would recommend stopping here just to see the view. Absolutely incredible!
Dole Plantation This was a great tour for people of all ages. Just reminiscing on it makes me crave some of their Dole whip (coconut milk and pineapple blended together!). We took the train tour that brings you out into the fields to see where they grow the pineapples and other fruits on the land. There is a cute gift shop and little restaurant that you can spend some time in before or after your tour. We all had a fun time doing this!
Pearl Harbor You can’t visit Oahu without stopping at Pearl Harbor. We took a tour and the boat trip that takes you to the location of the sunken Arizona. It was so sobering to be there and amazing all at the same time to see a piece of history. Emmett came with us for the entire tour and did great.
Things to do:
Hikes We did one hike together to Maunawili Falls that was totally doable being pregnant! Jake also did Diamond Head by himself. The amount of hikes readily available is amazing, you just need to know where they all are. While we didn’t take Emmett on either hike, I had a friend who had lived there and shared with me a couple of her favorites and did a lot with her young daughter. Here is a site that shares some of the best ones!
Walk Waikiki Beach When we initially arrived on the island we were so excited just to see anything! So we took a leisurely walk down the beach to see some of the restaurants and hotels along it. It is a beautiful walk and you can see Diamond Head at the end of it.
With a two year old who still naps, we tried to be as flexible as possible. He was so tired every afternoon though so we still tried to get him back to the hotel or the vehicle to nap each afternoon. A lot of our other time and meals were spent at our resort and its pools. It was so nice to take long walks on the beach as a family. We had so much fun and would love to go back at some point. The main downside to Hawaii is the expense. It definitely does take work to make it a budget friendly trip. But goodness, is it beautiful!
Have you been to Hawaii? What is your favorite family vacation spot?