I love road trips and this kid-friendly road trip through Oahu is one of my favorites! With 10 unique locations scattered across the island, this trip has something for everyone in your family. Plus the drive itself is incredible!
Road trips are a fun way to get to see a few highlights of an area in a short period of time. But I like to keep it light-hearted too. If we don’t see every item on our list, I don’t stress. If we find a place that we think is particularly cool and enjoyable, we’ll stay there the rest of the day and skip the remaining locations!
*Keep that in mind with this kid-friendly road trip through Oahu outline. It’s not intended to be a one day trip. It can be spread out over multiple days or you can do just a portion of the trip. If you were really determined, you could hit all spots in a day. But, it might not be as enjoyable as it would be if you took a more relaxed attitude.
1. Mokule’ia Beach
Located on Oahu’s North Shore, Mokule’ia Beach is a stunning, secluded and not well-known beach with beautiful white sand. The waves are almost always choppy here, and there is a shallow reef along the waterline so the beach isn’t great for swimming or playing in the waves. But it’s a great spot for snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing and kite flying. Plus, you’re likely to spot a variety of sea life while you’re here – including green sea turtles (if you’re lucky enough to spot one sunbathing on the beach in the warmer months).
2. Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation is a fun and unique experience for anyone visiting Oahu. There’s a variety of activities to do here including train rides, pineapple mazes, a beautiful garden and informational displays and presentations. Don’t forget to grab one of their famous DoleWhips before you go!
3. Kuilima Cove
Kuilima Cove is one of the islands best snorkeling spots. The cove is protected by a natural rock barrier, protecting it from waves. The water isn’t very deep and there’s plenty of sea-life to see along the coral flats and scattered rocks underneath. The beach is well maintained, and not well known – meaning it’s the perfect place to stop for a quick swim or to stay for the afternoon.
The Byodo-In Temple in Ohau, Hawaii is a smaller scale replica of a 950-year-old temple located in Uji, Japan. It was originally built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to settle in Hawaii. The temple itself is stunning, and the grounds are incredible and definitely worth a trip if you’re visiting Oahu!
5. Halona Cove and Blowhole
Halona Cove is one of Oahu’s more fascinating natural wonders. It was created thousands of years ago when molten lava tubes were formed from volcanic eruptions. At the lookout, you can see miles of pristine water and coastline. Halona overlooks some of Hawai’s most dangerous waters: the Ka’iwi Channell. During the winter months, the strong current sends waters rushing into the lava tubes below, sending geysers as high as 30 feet into the air through the blowhole. Down below the Halona Blowhole Lookout is a beautiful cove.
You can read more about this location on our complete guide to Halona Cove.
6. Hanauma Bay
Located on the Southeast Coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is arguably one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island with over 400 species of fish, sea turtles and other marine life. The bay is a former volcanic crater that has been a protected marine life conservation area since 1967. Snorkeling isn’t the only activity in the area. The bay offers a beautiful beach and plenty of amenities to make your stay more enjoyable.
7. Mount Tantalus Lookout and Drive
The Tantalus Round Top Drive is a beautiful scenic drive on the South Eastern side of the island, just North of Honolulu. It offers stunning views of Diamondhead, Downtown Honolulu, and Punchbowl Crater. At the top of Mount Tantalus is a park where you can enjoy the views and play before getting back in the car and completing the loop.
8. Mermaid Cave
Mermaid Cave is a breathtaking, somewhat dangerous cave formation located on the western side of Oahu. Located near Nanakuli Beach, the exact location of this particular cave is a big secret, so you might just have to go on an adventure just to find it!
* Keep in mind that you will need to survive a short trek across jagged lava terrain to reach the park.
9. Kaneana Cave
Kaneana Cave is one of the most sacred places on the island of Oahu. It’s a volcanic rock cave estimated to be 100 feet high and 450 feet deep. The cave was carved out by the ocean while the lava tube was still underwater. The area has been the site of many rituals, magic and religious ceremonies. This cave is not maintained and hasn’t been fully explored, stay away from the narrower branches.
10. Ka’ena Point
Kaena Point is the most western tip on the Island of Oahu, and there is a beautiful scenic hike along the coast leading to it. From the tip of the Island, you can look back and see beautiful views of both the northern and western coastlines. Plus the point is a natural refuge for many types of seabirds as well as Hawaiian monk seals, giving you a good chance to see a variety of wildlife on your trek.
Things to Bring with You
Food & Drink: I would definitely recommend grabbing some snacks and a few drinks before you head out on your adventure. If you’re trying to fit in everything during a single day, then you’ll definitely want to pack food for lunch and dinner too!
Dining Options: There are plenty of places to purchase food and drink along the drive. Oahu is famous for their shrimp trucks and roadside farmers markets. Consider stopping at one along the way!
Camera: All of the locations on this road trip are incredible to photograph and definitely worth bringing your nice DSLR.
Weather/ Clothing Recommendations: Dress for the weather on the island that day. Some of the excursions include beaches that are popular for snorkeling. If your family will want to get in the water, make sure to bring a change of clothes and swimsuits too!
Sunscreen, Sunglasses or Hats: Sunscreen is a definite must. You’ll be out in the sun a lot during your trip exploring each location. Sunglasses or a hat for all the members of your family is also a good idea. Many of the locations don’t offer much shade and they are all outdoor activities.
Stroller Access: Most of the activities are not stroller friendly, so it’s a good idea to bring a carrier for smaller kids. Research each location individually to make sure it’s appropriate for your family.
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