Families with school age children want enriching and engaging vacation activities. From educational opportunities to voluntourism, O'ahu is a unique spot to discover the rich Hawaiian culture and history. // (c) 2013 O'ahu Visitors Bureau
Enriching Family Travel in O‘ahu
O‘ahu’s wonderful attractions showcase the natural beauty of the island along with the unique culture, music, and history of Hawai‘i.
Royals, Stars, Volcanoes, and Gardens
Families explore everything from Hawai‘i’s royal family to the archipelago’s volcanoes at Bishop Museum. Hawaiian Hall depicts the history of the islands through fascinating artifacts, images, and videos. The George T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center is a wonderland of interactive exhibits for learning about volcanoes and oceans. And recently renovated Watumull Planetarium showcases Hawaiian skies and Polynesian navigation.
Lyon Arboretum, located in a tropical rainforest in the Mānoa Valley, is focused on the unique flora of Hawai‘i and the tropics. Families can hike together on the many easy trails. In addition, daily one-hour tours can be tailored to match the group so guides leading families with youngsters visit the children’s garden and discuss the building of hale (Hawaiian structures) and working in the lo‘i (pondfield where taro is grown).
The Animal Kingdom
Kapi‘olani Park has two fantastic kid oriented attractions. Waikīkī Aquarium, dedicated to the aquatic life of Hawai‘i and the Pacific, brings visitors face to face with colorful tropical fish, reef sharks, living corals, and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Nearby, Honolulu Zoo is home to nearly 1,000 different animals from the tropics including elephants, primates, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Music and Dance
The magic and pageantry of authentic hula and Hawaiian music is a must for families on O‘ahu. The free sunset Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show in Waikīkī is held four nights a week starting at 6 pm or 6:30 pm depending on the month. Ali‘i Lū‘au at Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore or Paradise Cove Lū‘au at Ko Olina on the Leeward Coast are two exciting festivities that showcase Hawaiian dance, music, and culture.
A beloved Hawaiian musical instrument is the focus of the tour at Kamaka ‘Ukulele, a family owned enterprise now in its 97th year. Guests learn the company history, view the entire ‘ukulele production process, and experience a local business committed to perpetuating a family legacy and the Hawaiian concepts of aloha (unconditional love), malama (to serve and care for), and pono (doing what's right).
Ancient Hawaiians had a sophisticated aquaculture system using fishponds to catch, reproduce, and raise fish. Today, Hawaiians are restoring these ancient fishponds, many built hundreds of years ago. Families can volunteer with Paepae O He’eia, an organization dedicated to restoring He‘eia Fishpond, on Community Work Days, the second and fourth Saturday of most months. Activities include mangrove removal, wall refurbishment, and invasive limu (seaweed) removal.
Tips for Family Travel Planning
- Be proactive in helping families plan: Consult the online school calendars in your area so you can suggest potentially money saving vacation times.
- Suggest off peak times: Fall, late winter, and late spring are excellent seasons to save money and enjoy O‘ahu with fewer crowds.
- Inspire creativity: Suggest that parents and children collaborate in creating a family blog of their O‘ahu trip using smart phone photo and video capabilities. Recommend that kids use Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest to post their favorite O‘ahu learning moments. Share these links on your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, or in client email blasts, if families approve.