Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii and serves as a gateway to the wonders of the islands. With its idyllic warm weather, vacation rentals just steps away from the beautiful beaches, gorgeous flamboyant tropical foliage, and friendly people, it’s no surprise that Honolulu is a popular holiday destination for families with children. You can swim, sunbathe, snorkel, and enjoy water sports. The city’s attractions include incomparable shopping opportunities, fascinating historic landmarks, and an amazing zoo and aquarium. Book a stay at a Honolulu vacation rental today. Without further ado, here are the top 9 things to do and see with children in Honolulu.
1. Go to the Beach
The neighborhood of Waikiki in Honolulu is home to some of the world’s most famous beaches, including its namesake Waikiki Beach. These wide stretches of soft sand facing clear Pacific waters are the perfect places to take the family for swimming, sunbathing, sand castle building, and water play. Queen’s Beach at the south end of Waikiki adjoins a large park where you can relax and have a picnic on the grass. Kuhio Beach is somewhat less crowded than others and has calm waters due to a breakwater. Kahanamoku Lagoon Beach at the north end of Waikiki is a warm, shallow man-made wading area that’s ideal for younger children. Just west of Kahanamoku Lagoon, Ala Moana Beach Park offers an alternative to Waikiki. It has over half a mile of beautiful gold sand beach.
2. Play Water Sports
Honolulu is the perfect place for you and the kids to learn how to surf. It’s easy to rent boards and sign up for lessons on the beaches of Waikiki, and within an hour or two you’ll be having a great time playing in the waves. An alternative is stand up paddle boarding, in which you stand on a wider board and use a long paddle to move forward and steer. You can explore the shoreline by kayak on your own or with a tour. For thrilling experiences with older children, enjoy jet skiing, parasailing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing.
3. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay State Park is a nature preserve in which a volcanic tuff ring partially encloses a shallow bay. Visiting the beach and snorkeling in the bay is one of the most popular tourist activities on the island of Oahu. As you swim out over the reef, you can spot marine life such as green sea turtles, moray eels, octopuses, puffer fish, and many other colorful coral inhabitants.
4. Hike Diamond Head
Diamond Head is a prominent volcanic cone that dominates the southern Honolulu skyline. The Diamond Head Summit Trail begins at a parking lot at the base of the crater. You walk up switchbacks and steep stairs, and at one point you pass through a 225-foot tunnel. At the top are a few military pillboxes and the Diamond Head Lighthouse. Your hiking efforts are rewarded with a marvelous panoramic view of the southeastern Oahu shoreline, the city of Honolulu, and the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes you can observe passing humpback whales.
5. Explore Downtown Honolulu
Besides its incomparable shopping opportunities, downtown Honolulu has a number of fascinating sights to see. The Iolani Palace, formerly the Hawaiian royal residence, is now a National Historic Landmark and tourist attraction. You can take a tour through its many rooms, including the throne room, and view historic memorabilia. Nearby is the famous statue of King Kamehameha I, the monarch who united the Hawaiian Islands. The historic Kawaiahao Church, built from thousands of coral slabs hauled up from the beach, was the first Christian church on the island. The Aloha Tower is a famous landmark that served as a lighthouse. The Chinatown Historic District offers streets full of produce markets, antique dealers, lei makers, herbalists, and restaurants.
6. Visit Bishop Museum
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, the largest museum in Hawaii, is a vast complex spread out through several buildings that can keep your family enthralled for hours or even days. Housed in a three-story gallery is the world’s most extensive collection of artifacts from Hawaii and the Pacific region. It also has a vast library of photos, manuscripts, artwork, and maps from the area. The Science Adventure Center offers an interactive experience as you learn about volcanoes, deep sea oceanography, and other aspects of the island environment. The planetarium program demonstrates how Polynesian sailors used to use the stars to navigate the Pacific.
7. Enjoy the Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo lies at the south end of the neighborhood of Waikiki. It features over 1,000 animals, many of them housed in spacious, open-air environments. In the African savanna habitat, you can see lions, hyenas, zebras, rhinoceroses, and Nile crocodiles. Another exhibit focuses on the native birds of Hawaii. Other animals you can observe include Komodo dragons, Galapagos tortoises, orangutans, cheetahs, and hippos. A special kids’ zoo allows children to pet and interact with the animals.
8. Marvel at the Aquarium
Not far from the zoo at the south end of Waikiki is Waikiki Aquarium, which the University of Hawaii manages and maintains. The aquarium adjoins a living coral reef, and its exhibits highlight numerous marine environments and species. For instance, Hunters on the Reef focuses on predators such as sharks, groupers, and jacks. The Ocean Drifters Gallery displays a fascinating collection of jellyfish species. There is also a special display of giant clams. Other environmental exhibits include South Pacific Marine Communities, Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat, and Diversity and Adaptations.
9. Respect the Past at Pearl Harbor
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument includes several sites located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. These include the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center, accessible only by boat, which is built out over the site of the famous sunken battleship. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is on the ship itself, and you can explore the deck and go below to see the crew’s quarters and mess. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park offers you an opportunity to see what it’s like to be inside a submarine and also has fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits on submarines and submarine history. The Pacific Aviation Museum, located in two World War II hangers, has a collection of vintage aircraft and a flight simulator where kids of all ages can take part in a dogfight over Guadalcanal.
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