BEST 4-Day Kid-Friendly Oahu Itinerary

4 days Oahu itinerary with image of a children playing in the sand watching the sunset.

4-Day Kid-Friendly Oahu Itinerary

Aloha! Are you looking for a 4-day itinerary in Oahu, Hawaii?

I've been lucky enough to visit Oahu not once, but twice. And take it from me, having an itinerary in your back pocket can turn your island adventure from great to absolutely epic.

I had my first taste of Oahu back in the summer of 2016. It was a trip to visit my bestie, who was living there for college. She planned our itinerary, which included us soaking up some sun on the beach and going on some truly memorable hikes.

The experience was so memorable that eight years later, I found myself planning a return trip, this time with my little ohana; husband, and toddler, plus my cousin and her teen and child.

I was so eager to show off the beauty of Hawaii to my family. I pulled all my creative stops and wrote a 4-day itinerary that blended sun-kissed beach days with trails perfect for the kids.

It was a perfect experience, to say the least, and we all had plenty of fun! I am going to share how we planned it all, and for each day, I will highlight our activities and provide you with alternatives that can help make your Oahu experience much more fun. 

First things first. Let’s talk about our stay. So, for our stay, we picked an Airbnb in Waikiki and rented a van with the Turo app to use on days we wanted to explore the island.

Before diving into our detailed 4-day itinerary, I’d like to mention the following sightseeing tips that will come in handy. 

  • If you are driving, arrive early to attractions to find parking and avoid large crowds.
  • Buy reef-safe sunscreen. This type is not harmful to marine life and corrals.
  • Bring insect repellent along for hikes or anywhere you are likely to find lush tropical greenery. 
  • Take with you a reusable water bottle to help you stay hydrated. 

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4 Days of Oahu Family Fun Itinerary

Sunday 

We arrived in the evening, and after settling in our Airbnb, we walked to the beach to catch our first glimpse of the gorgeous Hawaii sunset. 

Day 1

Pineapple Express train ride at the Dole plantation, Family Beach Fun at Koolina Lagoon

There is so much to do at the Dole Plantation [64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy. Wahiawa, Hawaii 96786]. You and your family can ride the Pineapple Express train, go on a plantation garden tour, or explore the world’s largest garden maze.

We decided to only go on the Pineapple Express train tour, which was fun for the whole family.  The train ride is a 20-minute narrated experience where you get to view acres of pineapples and tropical fruits growing on the island and other beautiful sceneries along the way. 

After riding the Pineapple Express train, we popped into The Plantation Grille to cool down with their famous pineapple soft serve. It was a hit with all of us. It was refreshing! There’s also different kinds of snacks, pineapple candy and a lot of fun souvenirs that you can buy and bring home with you. 

After we had dessert, I asked my family to vote on whether to head up to North Shore or go West to Koolina for some family beach fun. Koolina was my family’s pick! Koolina [92-100 Waipahe Pl Kapolei, HI 96707] is located in an area that has other popular resorts like the Disney Aulani Resort.

Koolina, which translates to 'place of joy,' features four beautiful, clear and calm water lagoons along its beach, and this makes it perfect for families with small children. These public lagoons are conveniently connected by a pathway, allowing you to easily explore each Lagoon. 

We chose Lagoon #4 because it has the largest parking lot. If you find that the the first lot is full, drive inside the Marina parking, there’s going to be additional public parking. 

My family fell in love with Koolina Lagoon #4 for its tranquil turquoise waters, easy access to restrooms, and convenient outdoor showers for rinsing off. 

Alternatives: Dole Plantation to North Shore 

If you would like to continue driving up to North Shore to find other fun things to see and do, here are the options I had for my family. 

  • Waimea Valley [59-864 Kamehameha Hwy Haleiwa, HI 96712] is a botanical garden that leads you to Waimea Falls where you can swim. Life jackets and lifeguard are available onsite to keep you and family safe. 
  • Waimea Beach Park is right across from Waimea Valley and provides calm waters in the summer and bigger waves in the winter, which is perfect if you are a surfer seeking an exciting ride. 
  • Dessert at Matsumoto Shave Ice 

Day 2 

Explore Waikiki, Beach Time, Sunset 

On Day 2, we felt it would be nice to wind down and lounge at our Airbnb in the morning and explore Waikiki in the afternoon.

My niece and I decided to make French toast for breakfast, but we realized we forgot to buy syrup the night before.

Fortunately, in Waikiki and around Honolulu, there's always an ABC convenience store nearby. You can spot one on almost every other block, stocked with all kinds of essentials for those moments when you forget something. 

So, we sent my dear husband to a nearby ABC store from our stay, and he came back with a delicious coconut syrup, which was a first-time try for us.

For lunch, we went to the Food Truck Park at 1944 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, which quickly became our favorite dining spot.

Each food truck serves up a different cuisine, so if you're craving something specific, you're bound to find it here.

My favorite dish, which I had twice, was the BBQ chicken from Trydis. It came with two sides: rice and macaroni. The chicken was tender and flavorful. It was the best BBQ chicken I've ever tasted!

After that, we strolled over to Duke’s Lagoon at 1777 Ala Moana Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96815. It's great for little ones; my toddler had a blast splashing and playing in the sand with her bucket and shovel.

This lagoon is also called the Hilton Lagoon because it's right in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

NOTE: Every Friday, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel hosts a fireworks show from 7:45 pm to 8:00 pm. 

We also walked to the beach next to Duke’s Lagoon, called Kahanamoku Beach, to dip our toes in the water. If you go there, wear water shoes because there are lots of rocks that can hurt your feet.

After playing at Duke’s Lagoon for two hours, we went back to our place for a snack. Later, in the evening, we walked back to the beach to watch a beautiful sunset.

Alternatives: Exploring Waikiki All Day

  • Monoa Falls [3860 Manoa Rd Honolulu, HI 96822] offers a 1.6-mile kid-friendly hike leading to a stunning waterfall. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring insect repellent. You'll love the lush greenery of the tropical Hawaiian rainforest along the way. However, please respect the signs indicating that swimming in the water is not allowed, even though the trail leads to a waterfall.
  • The Honolulu Zoo [151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815] is divided into sections representing the African Savanna, Asian and American Tropical Forests, and Pacific Islands. It's home to approximately 900 animals.
  • At the Waikiki Aquarium [2777 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815] you'll find Hawaiian Monk Seals, giant clams, coral farms, and other stunning marine life from Hawaii. 
  • Kuhio Beach Park [2453 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815] is another beach perfect for kids to splash and play. 
  • Visit Ala Moana Mall, located at 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, for your shopping adventure and catch their free Hula dance show daily at 5 pm.

Day 3

Visit Pearl Harbor, Shop for souvenirs at Aloha Swapmeet, Relax at Koolina #4 

Our first stop was the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center [1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818]. 

You don't need reservations or tickets to enter the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, walk the grounds, or visit the exhibits. But you do need reservations to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Tickets are released daily at 3 p.m. for the following day. Click here for more information. 

We tried to get tickets online for the USS Arizona Memorial, but we weren't able to as they sold out fast. From the walking grounds, you can see the USS Arizona Memorial. If you want to visit, you can try for walk-in tickets. 

We spent our time at the two free exhibits, "Road to War" and "Attack," where we saw personal memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts on display.

We then made our way to the bookstore and ended up buying a few souvenirs. 

From the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, we drove to Aloha Stadium Swapmeet [99-500 Salt Lake Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96818], about 5 minutes away. 

NOTE:  Aloha Swapmeet is OPEN only on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

We spent about an hour at the Aloha Stadium Swapmeet, shopping for souvenirs. 

If you're feeling hungry, you can also find food and snacks there. I particularly enjoyed trying the fresh coconut water and fruits from the locals.

Since we wanted to maximize our time at the beach and had a great time in Koolina before, we decided to head back there after shopping.

Alternatives: I had no other options for this day 

Day 4

Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay State Park, Dinner along the Waikiki Beachside 

I was really excited to bring my family to Hanauma Bay State Park [​​7455 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825]. It's on the southeastern coast and is famous for snorkeling. You can see lots of different fish and sea creatures there, all protected by the bay's walls and reef.

NOTE:  Hanauma Bay is CLOSED on Monday & Tuesday.

If you're driving there, it's a good idea to buy tickets online in advance, or you can try to get a walk-in ticket when you arrive. You can purchase tickets online by clicking here.

Make sure to arrive early because there's a process before you can go down to the beach. This includes watching a mandatory 9-minute video about the history and preservation of the park.

Also, you can't enter the park if you arrive after 1:30 pm, and everyone needs to leave the beach by 3 pm because the park closes at 4 pm.

If you plan to spend the whole day there, bring snacks with you. If you don’t feel like carrying snacks along, at the top area, you'll find a snack bar where you can buy food and a gift shop that sells reef-safe sunscreen.

We brought our snorkel gear, but the park also offers rentals if you need them.

You can either walk down to the beach or take the tram. Restrooms are available in both the top and bottom areas.

Once you're at the beach, you can stay in shallow water and still see the corals and fish around you without having to swim far.

After enjoying our time in the water, we went back to our Airbnb to freshen up. For dinner, we chose a beachside restaurant in Waikiki called the Tiki Bar, and it didn't disappoint.

Alternatives: Go on a hike before heading to Hanauma Bay.

  • Diamond Head State Monument [4204 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu] offers a 1.6-mile round trip and kid-friendly hike within a saucer-shaped crater. It holds some really interesting military history and rewards hikers with gorgeous ocean views of Waikiki once you reach the top. Do the following to prepare for this adventure:
  • Wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated, and pack some sunscreen. If you have young children, think about taking a baby carrier as there is no access to strollers. 
  • If you're driving, make sure to book your reservations ahead of time by clicking, here.

Friday 

We said bye to our nice Airbnb hosts in the morning and left for our 10 am flight. If you've got an extra day, here are some things you might want to check out on Oahu. They're on my list for next time!

Polynesian Cultural Center is located in North Shore [55-370 Kamehameha Hwy Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi 96762]. So, plan accordingly as they are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

  • Your paid ticket gives you re-admission for three days.
  • Experience the island culture with village activities, enjoy a feast at Aliʻi Lūʻau Buffet with live Hawaiian music, and make sure to grab great seats for the Hā: Breath of Life evening show.

Kualoa Ranch is on the eastern Windward side [49-560 Kamehameha Highway Kaneohe, Hawaii 9674449-560]

  • Take the Movie Sites Tour to see where famous movies like the iconic Jurassic movie were filmed. 
  • Chill out at Secret Island Beach, where you can choose to hang out for either three hours or the whole day.
  • To book your adventures and look at other options with older children click here.

Final Thoughts

Oahu has won my heart with its vibrant culture, stunning turquoise beaches, and endless adventures in paradise.

During our four-day trip, we enjoyed a wonderful mix of exploring and beach relaxation, perfect for families.

I hope this itinerary has sparked ideas for your own Oahu getaway. Your island adventure awaits!

Mahalo

4 days Oahu itinerary Pinterest Pin

BEST 4-Day Kid-Friendly Oahu Itinerary


Let me know in the comments section below.


1. What is the best time to visit Oahu?

  • For the best deals on airfare and hotels, consider visiting Oahu between April to June or from September to mid-December.

2. Do you need a car in Oahu?

  • If you're mostly staying in Waikiki, you can skip renting a car since many places are within walking distance or accessible via Lyft, Uber, or public buses.
  • But if you do decide to rent one, remember that some Waikiki hotels charge extra for parking. Renting a car can enhance your Oahu experience, and we found Turo app handy for day rentals.
  • Alternatively, consider tours that include transportation.

3. How far in advance should I book a trip to Hawaii

  • Book your flight and hotel about 6 months in advance. This can help you snag fantastic deals. 

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2 comments

  • Susan says:

    I was in Hawaii a month ago and loved Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach. I want to go back and visit the North Shore because I’ve heard so much about how beautiful it is.

    Reply
    • Mari says:

      Oahu is so beautiful that you need to visit it more than once to enjoy its beauty and culture.

      Reply