Oahu: The Gathering Place for You and Your Family


Whether you’re considering a family reunion in the Hawaiian Islands or just an ideal vacation for you and your loved ones, Oahu is an ideal gathering place.

While pleasing everyone from the youngest children and oldest kids to the parents and sometimes grandparents can seem like an impossible task, visiting Oahu makes things quite a bit easier.

Oahu is the American dream gone tropical. Filled with cultural activities, it’s considered the most action-packed of the Hawaiian Islands. Even the most hard-to-please teenagers are likely to appreciate Oahu’s urban side, with frequent live concerts at Waikiki Shell, local poetry slams, and a wide variety of watersports.

Small children will be mesmerized by the erupting volcano at Bishop Museum’s Science Adventure Center. It looks like the real thing, and kids can explore the interior and climb to the top for a bird’s-eye-view of the eruption. At the Polynesian Cultural Center, kids can beat on bamboo drums in a Fijian Village and play games that Polynesian and Melanesian children enjoy.

On the other end of the spectrum, those in their 80s and 90s will appreciate taking a scenic drive, relaxing on the beach or exploring Pearl Harbor, which needn’t involve much walking.

Of course, there are also activities that will be enjoyed by every member of your family. Here are a few things that make Oahu the most family-friendly Hawaiian island:

Cheaper Flights

Most visitors to the Hawaiian Islands start by flying into Honolulu International Airport on Oahu. This is Hawaii’s major airport for all major domestic carriers and a number of international carriers, making it easier to find special deals and better bargains for flights from the mainland.

Of all the islands, Oahu is the most affordable to travel to, making a family vacation financially feasible for those with a limited budget.

Family-friendly Accommodations

There are a wide variety of accommodation options on Oahu, including many outstanding family-friendly accommodations that are especially welcoming to children. Some even offer supervised activities for young ones, giving parents a nice break so they can take part in more adult-oriented events.

The Sheraton Waikiki is a luxury resort that offers childcare for children up through age 12, along with opportunities for them to participate in activities and learn about the islands of Hawaii and its beautiful, tropical environment.

Waikiki Sand Villa and Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach offer similar programs, with many allowing kids and teens 17 and under to stay free in their parents’ room. The Courtyard by Marriott offers some of the most affordable lodging on Oahu, and all ages will appreciate the entertainment room, with its 65″ flat-screen TV and two Xbox game stations.

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Traditional Luaus

One of the best traditional luaus is Germaine’s in Kapolei, known as the “second city” of Oahu. This is a wonderful event that will entertain the entire family. A great immersion into Hawaiian culture, the main event is the feast of fantastic local foods like poi, Kalua pig and a number of other traditional island dishes.

The luau is based upon sharing the ohana (family) feeling. The backyard-style party offers a chance to see traditions like fire dancers, Hawaiian luau and Tahitian hip dancing and the unearthing of the traditional Kalua Pig, the “feast of the Hawaiian gods,” which is cooked underground.

Activities for the Whole Family

Hanauma Bay Beach is frequently named one of the top beaches in the United States and is a highly rated beach for family trips. This bay was the first Marine Life Conservation District in the State of Hawaii and provides excellent snorkeling in safe, calm and shallow waters that are protected by an offshore reef.

The bay’s dazzling azure waters are filled with a host of marine life, including a nearly endless variety of brilliantly colored tropical fish and green sea turtles. For those who prefer to relax, it’s also an idyllic place to sunbathe or lounge and do nothing at all. The only drawback is that you’ll need to arrive early, as the parking lot fills quickly.

Atlantis Submarines

Atlantis Submarines offers a unique adventure and an excellent rainy-day activity, providing members of the entire family with an amazing opportunity to experience Hawaii’s spectacular world under the sea. The submarines operate off of Waikiki and descend to 100 feet under the ocean, where guests spend almost an hour.

Even experienced divers will appreciate the ability to stay underwater for such a long time. You’ll get to gaze upon several wrecks (including two sunken airliners and the remains of two shipwrecks) and natural and artificial reefs. The marine life you might see includes a host of tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays and even sharks.

Arrive early and try to catch a seat near the captain. Young kids will really get a kick out of listening to the entertaining tales while learning about this paradise under the sea.

The Aloha Flea Market

If you want to do some shopping but worry the kids will hate it, head to the Aloha Flea Market. This is a giant outdoor bazaar that’s filled with plenty of unique goods and great bargains.

This is where the locals shop, and in addition to the good deals, there are treasures to be had for people of all ages. It’s held every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at Aloha Stadium, just 20 minutes from Waikiki.

There’s no doubt about it: Oahu is the perfect destination for a family vacation. Whether you’re 20 years into retirement or a mother leading a string of young children around, you’ll find plenty of activities that you and the rest of the gang will love.