Family spa outings are a popular activity on Oahu // © 2014 Disney
Sun, sand and surf traditionally rank high on a family’s Oahu to-do list, but these days multigenerational travelers are eager to expand their horizons. Travel agents are fielding more requests for fresh adventures that the whole gang can enjoy, and the island is responding with a riot of original pastimes for parents and kids alike. The following are five Oahu travel trends for families visiting the island.
Bonding at the Spa
Gone are the days when hotel spas only catered to adults. A case in point is Laniwai, the Disney spa at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, where tots participate in themed makeovers, teens craft their own Hawaiian body polishes and guests of all ages relax together in the Ohana (family) treatment room.
“A family spa experience has great wellness and health benefits,” said Laniwai spa director Lucia Amasio. “Our goal is to give guests quality time to connect and enhance their family vacation.”
Discovering the North Shore
In years past, most families stayed close to Waikiki, but now they are hopping in a rental car and hitting the road. According to Marilyn Clark of Lighthouse Travel in Huntington Beach, Calif., clients often head to Oahu’s North Shore to slurp shave ice, explore unspoiled beaches, check out the surf town of Haleiwa and see the sacred sites of Waimea Valley.
Eating Like Locals
Dining together always creates memories, but many of today’s families are going off the tourist grid to sample local eateries. Some of Oahu’s mom-and-pop cafes are just a stone’s throw away from Waikiki.
Injecting an equal dose of fun into family meals are Oahu’s food trucks, serving everything from plate lunches to island-sourced shrimp. A handy place for visitors to find these rolling restaurants is Eat the Street Hawaii, part of Oahu’s expanding roster of casual culinary events.
Experiencing Island Culture
Agents are noticing that Hawaiian culture is trending upward as well. Bishop Museum — with its interactive exhibits, adventure center and planetarium — is becoming a top pick for parents and kids looking to dig deeper into local lore. Another cultural favorite is Iolani Palace.
“Adults and children are intrigued that Honolulu has a royal palace,” said Clark. “I suggest that families visit on Friday afternoons, when the historic Royal Hawaiian Band performs on the palace lawn.”
Seeking Out Adventure
As travelers become parents, their vacation preferences change, and they are eager to share their recreational passions with their children. Active clans can revel in the wonders of nature together during Oahu outings such as horseback riding at Kualoa, on the island’s windward side, and swimming with dolphins courtesy of Wild Side Specialty Tours.
Brian Harris of Destination Site Selection in Aspen, Colo., agrees.
“From hiking the interior to kayaking along beautiful coastlines, there’s an Oahu adventure that appeals to everyone in the family,” he said.