Things To Do in Honolulu

A Family's Guide to Activities in Honolulu

This section is our family's guide for things to do in Honolulu, especially on the weekends or holidays, and it's geared towards more children-friendly attractions and activities. In other words, if you're looking for a guide to Honolulu nightlife or extreme sports (skydiving, kite-flying, shark diving etc), this is not it.

I do however, have an expanded list of things to do in Honolulu that are not limited to young children.

To be honest, even before our little one arrived, we led a pretty bland life - not much partying or bar-hopping (I'm allergic to alcohol; he's allergic to cigarette smoke)- I prefer reading a good book while muching on a bag of chips! We'd go through phases with picnics, movies and cruising, but with an energetic 2-year-old and gorgeous island weather, it's a shame to stay indoors all weekend.

Please bear with me as I share our list of things to do in Honolulu, and check back regularly!

Free Activities

Who doesn't love FREE stuff? And the best things in life are FREE, right? In this case, I'm referring to Mother Nature herself - the outdoors! Enjoy the mountains, the ocean, the sun and the occasional showers and rainbows like nowhere else!

Back when it was just the 2 of us, one of our favorite things to do in Honolulu is to picnic. We'd bring our food (usually take-out for convenience), pack a good book and end up dozing in the warm breeze. Sometimes we'd do a little BBQ too. Ahh... the good life. :)

Here are some of our favorite parks on Oahu where you can enjoy great weather, people watching and each other's (or your own) company. Don't be surprised if you see a wedding couple in full costume and their photographer at these spots. Sometimes, if you're really lucky, you get to see two couples!

Lanikai Beach (Kailua, East Oahu) - In Hawaiian, Lanikai means "heavenly sea", and it's a perfect name for our favorite beach on the island, for its white sandy beach and calm blue waters. Lucky are the people who live here and get to wake up to this gorgeous view everyday! Yes, you read it right, while technically the beach is public property, please be mindful of the residents and their property.

Kapiolani Park (Waikiki/Diamond Head) - The whole park is HUGE and encompasses tennis courts, an archery section, and the Kapiolani Bandstand, where occasionally concert events and festivals are held. We usually stick to the grassy areas, find a shaded spot and make camp there. We've seen people walk their dogs, bring their own bocce balls, play frisbee - you can do whatever you want (within legal limits). And it's close to Waikiki, the Honolulu Zoo and the beach.

Magic Island (Ala Moana Beach Park, South Oahu) - The name itself is misleading, since it's not an island. It's part of Ala Moana Beach Park, and is very popular with locals for "camping" as they BBQ, and the healthy people as they jog, practice yoga or boot camps and the like. The beach is great for swimming, and it gets really crowded with surfers in the summer. Outrigger paddling is also a popular sport, and a few years ago, when I took up paddling, my team and I got up close and personal to a humpback whale!

Paid Activities

When planning weekend things to do in Honolulu, sometimes we turn to paid attractions, where exhibits will hold our little one's interest long enough to keep him still! Once you have applied for your State ID, you qualify for kama'aina (local resident) discounts!

Honolulu Zoo (Waikiki/Diamond Head, 808-971-7171) - Honestly, it's not the best zoo, but it's not bad. The recent and current renovations have certainly made it look much nicer, although I think the animals' habitats can be bigger and/or look more natural. Before he discovered the playground (which we've avoided for as long as we can!), our 2-year-old enjoyed the safari animals and the Keiki Zoo.

Bishop Museum (1525 Bernice Street, 808-847-3511) - A great place to learn about the history of Hawaii and the Pacific! They also feature exhibits on science-y stuff - dinosaurs, exctinct animals, etc. May be better suited to older little ones.

The Contemporary Museum (Makiki Heights, 808-526-1322) - We've never had the chance to really enjoy the exhibits proper, but that's alright because we like the garden art better!

These are some of our favorite things to do, and I'll update this page as often as I can, so please check back often!

Do you have a favorite activity and it's not listed above? Send in your recommendation and I'll publish it!

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