Whether you’re three or 73, Hawaii has the perfect activities to bring the kid out of anyone. No matter what island you’re on or what your ohana’s (family’s) interests are, you can plan a day to circle round the island of Oahu, go horseback riding on the island’s windward side, get wowed at a local luau – and so much more!
While a trip to Hawaii is a beach, a few days of swimming, splashing and surfing are as much as most families can handle without feeling the sun burn. By working a few kid-friendly activities into your island itinerary your children will learn some educational and historical facts about the island while seeing a little more of Hawaii outside of Waikiki.
If you’re looking for a few activities for kids, we give the following an A+. Trust us, your keiki (children) will too.
Evening Volcano Special Tour (Hawaii Island)
A hot activity for any family visiting Hawaii is a trip to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Perfect for parents who want to infuse a touch of education into their vacation, the Evening Volcano Special Tour offers the opportunity to experience Hawaii’s unique geography up close. The tour includes visits to dormant volcanoes, lava beds as well as a visit to the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa and the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea. While we can’t guarantee a live lava flow sighting, kids will never forget their first sighting of a smoldering crater or overflowing steam vent.
Make sure to set aside a full day for this 10-hour tour, which changes from day to day depending on National Park advisories, weather and traffic advisories, and road closures. Be sure to dress the kids in sturdy shoes and bring a camera for family photos at various stops which depending on the day can include Richardson’s Black Sand Beach, Rainbow Falls State Park, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, Kilauea Visitors Center, Kilauea Iki Overlook, the Thurston Lava Tube and more.
For those with children who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems exposure to volcanic fumes are not recommended and can be hazardous. We’d recommend instead, the Big Island Grand Circle Island Tour.
Hawaii Movie Tour (Kauai)
Movie buffs of all ages can experience Hawaii through the lens of the Hawaii Movie Tour. The island of Kauai sets the perfect backdrop for this kid-friendly Hawaii activity, which takes participants on an expert guided tour of the island’s most famous movie locales.
Starting at $45 for children ages four through 11, the six hour narrated tour plots a course around Kauai on a comfortable, air-conditioned minibus. Kids will be star-struck to see the settings of their favorite Hollywood flicks in person including stops at Kauai’s Wailua Falls (The Amazing Race and Tropic Thunder), Hanamaulu Bay (Six Days and Seven Nights), Kauai Sands Beach (Tropic Thunder) with lunch included at Tahiti Nui, the locale for George Clooney’s The Descendants.
Guests can also sneak a peek at landmark locations for films from Pirates of the Caribbean to Jurassic Park. Perfect for a family photo or Christmas card shot, these stunning scenic settings will inspire even your most stoic child to get into the action.
Stars & Stripes Tour (Oahu)
Give the kids a taste of Hawaii’s role in American history with the Stars & Stripes Tour. This moving tour takes guests to three historic Oahu sites, which helped to shape the outcome of World War II. Perfect for children of all ages, this Hawaii activity mixes history and sightseeing for a truly unforgettable island experience.
From the second you board the bus expert guides share facts about World War II and its effects, allowing kids to soak up all the history this Hawaii activity has to offer. The first stop on the tour is the USS Arizona Memorial, where families can explore the final resting place for 1,102 sailors killed in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The center of the memorial features an opening in the floor which looks down onto the sunken ship, allowing visitors to pay their respects. The Arizona Memorial consistently ranks in the top three most-visited tourist sites in Hawaii, attracting 4,000 guests on average each day.
A tour of the Battleship Missouri offers colorful stories of the ships history and life at sea. During a quick 35-minute guided tour, children can stand in the spot where the Instrument of Surrender was accepted, bringing an end to World War II. Participants will then pay a visit and their respects to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl where those who bravely served our country are laid to rest. On the way home you’ll route your way through historic Honolulu where you can see the Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu City Hall and Iolani Palace in addition to a few other Oahu landmarks. Your kids will never forget experiencing first-hand the lessons they’ve read in their history books!
Kualoa Ranch – Horseback Ride (Oahu)
Your children will quit the neighing and be whinnying with delight after spending the afternoon horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch. Perfect for teenage-aged kids (participants must be at least 10 years old and 4’6” tall) this Oahu activity allows families to choose between a one- or two-hour horseback ride.
The shorter, one-hour tour takes a quick trot through the southern half of Kualoa Ranch where kids will reel in the sight of an 800-year-old ancient Hawaiian fishpond and Chinaman’s Hat. For those with a longer attention span, the two-hour tour takes guests on a quick clip through a forest and past Oahu’s World War II bunkers as well as the sites where several well-known movies were filmed.
Transportation is not offered for this Oahu activity and we recommend planning for at least a one hour drive from Waikiki to Kualoa Ranch. Make sure to bring covered shoes and long pants to change into so you can take advantage of the many other activity options Kualoa Ranch has to offer including a petting zoo – the perfect diversion for younger children while their older siblings are off galloping around.