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Are you planning an Oahu, Hawaii vacation with your family but want to save money at the same time? Look no further for some great Oahu areas to check out from a previous resident (we lived in Oahu for 3 years due to the military). All of these places are great for kids of all ages as well as going while pregnant (I had two of my kids in Hawaii). Please feel free to ask more questions about these areas in the comments and I’m sure to write on more adventures we had in Hawaii!
1. Ko’Olina (Address: 92-1480 Aliinui Drive Kapolei, HI)
This was my ultimate favorite beach and spot to come to while we lived in Oahu. We could go to the beach, get a bite to eat, visit the inside of Aulani or any other hotels main lobby, and take a nice walk/run up and down the resort area all the way to the end where the ocean begins. The beauty of this area is so hard to put into words. The beaches here are the calmest because its in a lagoon so its great for little kids. You can rent paddle boards and even sand toys from the Disney shack on the beach even if you are not guests at the resort. In Aulani (the Disney resort) you can walk through the areas and check everything out and even eat at any of the restaurants or shave ice stands. You can not go in the waterpark if you are not a guest however but if you do see a Disney character I’ve never seen a child ever be turned down for a picture! There are beaches in front of every resort and free parking is very limited however if you go early in the morning 9am or sooner you can get a free spot. Just turn right on every side street and there are mini parking lots. There is a larger lot after the last hotel. Aulani you can also pay to park at as well.
2. North Shore
There are two main areas in the North Shore. Haleiwa is the town area with shopping and restaurants and Waimae Bay is the beach area pictured below.
Haleiwa (Address (this is right where the new strip is located and there should be free parking) 66-111 Kamehameha Highway Haleiwa, HI)
Is about an hour drive from Waikiki but worth it! This is area is not as commercialized and consists of little restaurants and small business owner stores. They just redid the downtown strip after I left and I’m sure its even more amazing then it was before. Its great to park the car at one of the ends and walk up and down to check out the little town. There is also a very old cemetery you can stroll through that is interesting.
Waimea Bay Beach Park (Address: 61-31 Kamehamaeha Highway Haleiwa, HI)
Is a must see because of the gigantic waves depending on when you go. Waimea Bay is very large so there are so many different places you can stop at. This is a legendary spot for surfers and where they hold famous surfing competitions. During the colder months in the mainland is when the waves are huge here. There are also cliffs you can jump off of (but not recommended my husband did…). The parking lot fills up fast so get here early! You can also spot sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and whales it really depends on the time of the year and the time of day you are actually there.
3. Moanalua Gardens (Address: 2850 Moanalua Road A Honolulu, HI)
This is a great open area park I would bring the kids all the time to run and feed the fish (you used to be able to bring bread but now you must buy the fish pellets that I think are $2). When driving here make sure you drive under the underpass to the end through the gate because there is no sign until you are in the parking lot. The gardens have the prince’s home (was under construction when I lived in Hawaii the entire time :(, the hitachi tree (pictured below), and really cool carvings and landscaping throughout.
4. Hilton Garden Village (Address: 2330 Kuhio Avenue Honolulu, HI)
Waikiki is a great touristy spot but I always preferred the Hilton Garden Village area over the busy part of town. Don’t get me wrong this part is still busy but its a little calmer for kids and people are a little more leisurely here and I see more families with small children here. On Friday nights there were also free fireworks in the evening(ask at the front desk to get the time of them!). It was a fun place to walk around with the kids and visit the penguins and turtles (see pictures below), look at statues, go to the beach, and eat and shop of course!
5. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden (Address: 45-680 Luluku Road Kaneohe, HI)
This is a great fun adventure for the family if you would like to walk on mostly flat terrain and go fishing with bamboo poles for free! Its free admission (fishing only open Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm) into the garden. You will need a baby carrier (not good for a stroller), sun screen, bread for bait, and comfy walking shoes. This side of the island can be rainy so make sure you prepare for mud! We always had a great time visiting this garden with the kids. The bamboo fishing poles were easy to catch fish with and the kids would get a kick out of catching the fish after a few minutes (look at the picture of my daughter and husband the water is filled with fish!).
I hope you have an amazing trip with your family to Oahu! Check out these items below that helped me out so much while we lived in Hawaii (just click on the picture to be redirected to Amazon). For another great travel post check out, How To Plan An Epic Road Trip With Kids which is our trip across the United States with 3 kids.
Life Savers In Hawaii
The Ergo was my go to for the baby when we hiked, walked in the city, or went on an adventure. It is super busy in Oahu so having a stroller in the city was not always ideal.
I swear by Babyganics sunscreen and that is all I buy now. Even being in the sun all day the kids did not get burned using this. I also liked the small stick you can buy for your face which the kids thought was hilarous because it looks like a mini deodrant.
If you haven’t noticed yet looking at prices for your vacation I’ll let you in on a little secret; Hawaii is Expensive! So I always packed kid snacks with us so I didn’t have to buy a mini bag of Goldfish for $5. Food is expensive so prepare ahead of time if you are on a budget for your trip.
Sand toys were a must in all the places we visted because 95% of the time there was a beach or some type of sand/water to play in for the kids. I kept a bag of sand toys in my car at all times. The kids will love the sand in Hawaii and its hours of fun for sure!