My friend Anna is in Honolulu with her family and three little daughters
so I'm listing the ten things my girls like to do when we're there.
My girls are now 8 and 9.
Honolulu is not about flash and theme park glitz.
I love Honolulu because it has that relaxed "retro" feel of simpler days when all one needed
to soothe the soul was great weather, nature, and fresh air.
But while the adults are soaking up the "relax" vibe, kids might be getting antsy.
Here is a list of ten unplugged things for them to do in Honolulu.
1. Wet n' Wild Waterpark- At their age, this is their most favorite place in Honolulu (okay, next to the Mac store :) We make sure we go on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd.
The park gets more exciting for them as they get older because they can go on the big rides which have a height limit. When they were small, they would just stay in the kiddie area of the park. They can also do the slow-moving tubes. The adults will have a thrill with all the other rides. Think first if this is something to which you'd like to bring the whole kaboodle, because it's not cheap!
Hubby usually accompanies them on the "drop from the top" type of rides while I am very happy to read my design magazines in the shade. On last trip though, I actually had to ride with them-- "C'mon mom, it's more fun as a whole family!"
the kiddie area
Just outside the waterpark, on the other side of the freeway, is a newly developed area with lots of big-box stores: Home Depot, A Pet superstore (order dog tags here, they'll make it on the spot!), Costco (fill up gas here), Target (though not as fun as the mainland ones).
The waterpark closes at 4 pm (aren't you glad?!?!) and it's time to head back to Waikiki. To reward the moms who just had a full day of watching the kids, stop by Waikele Premium Outlets. BCBG and Michael Kors are here. The Natori nightgowns are a bargain too at Off 5th Ave. Okay, back to the kids...
2. Children's Discovery Center. The girls LOVED this place when they were younger and this was their number one place to go until a couple of years back. They can be here the whole day--from morning to 1pm when it closes. It closes at 4 pm on Saturdays.
There's now a small food outlet in the center, but I still make the kids have a heavy breakfast and just go for a late lunch after it closes. This place is most ideal for kids below 7-8.
Btw, you can't just leave them to run around inside without an adult. It's not allowed. Be prepared to play interactively with them most of the time, and sometimes, just observe them from a distance.
3. Bishop Museum. There are educational and interactive things for the kids to see--like how lava is made, a little volcano tunnel to go in and out. Bishop museum has nice grounds with simple live performances also interesting for adults. Great for small kids who don't expect a lot of flash and excitement. It's closed on Tuesdays.
4. Honolulu Zoo. This small zoo easily navigated by grandparents. Lots of open space. Keiki zoo is very small, but the girls still like to go here. They like spending time in the playground too--simple joys.
5. Magic Island. For an easy picnic and beach trip. Beach is very safe and shallow and it's so near (where you stay). Since we are so spoiled with beautiful beaches here in the Philippines anyway, there is really no need to go to the other side of the island to see more beaches specially if you have limited time. Of course if you are doing a drive around the island anyway, the nice beaches to stop by are Kailua and Lanikai. Otherwise, this park is perfect for hanging out while the small kids swim. We make it a game to search for beach toys left by tourists, and we usually end up with a whole bunch of toys that the kids play with throughout our stay.
One of these boards was abandoned by the shore, and
the flowered one was handed to them by a tourist as he left the beach.
6. Hanauma Bay- Nice beach and interesting snorkeling. We just haven't been back since the kids were very little. Again, since we are spoiled with beach life here at home I never felt the urge to go back again. You have to check because I think it's closed on Tuesdays also.
7. Public Libraries. My girls love to read so spending one whole morning in one of the Honolulu libraries is a super treat for them.
They have story-telling hour at the Edna Allyn room of Saturday mornings in the main library, mostly for kids 5 and below
There's one at Kapahulu St, across the parking lot of the zoo. If you want an impressive children's library, the Edna Allyn room at the main library is amazing. You can search books by title and also by concept. If you want to talk to your child about anger or how to manage anger, just look for the books on anger and read them together. There's lots of nice reading for the adults too, and I find it's a nice way to have "settle down" time.
8. USS Bowfin and the Battleship Missouri, in Pearl Harbor. My girls were not really looking forward to seeing a battleship, but once we got there, they were totally engrossed. I think the boys would really enjoy this. Go early so you can see everything. The Bowfin museum is nicely put together. Older daughter was more engrossed in this, the younger one wanted to get on the submarine right away.
The peace treaty was signed exactly on this spot of the Battleship Missouri,
officially ending the Pacific war.
9. The Honolulu Aquarium. Small and very very manageable. It can't of course compare to Ocean Park in Manila or the mammoth Siam Ocean World in Bangkok. Having said that, the Waikiki Aquarium has an extensive variety sea life and is perfect for little kids and grandparents. There is enough to see without getting overwhelmed and tired. Look for those narrow Honolulu GOLD guides in the street corners, they usually have a discount coupon to the aquarium.
10. Sea Life Park was just okay. They liked it, but they didn't ask to go again unlike Discovery Center or the Waterpark. They have a dolphin show that's cute, and their penguins and sea lions perform little tricks. Your kids might like to feed the sea turtles by buying lettuce from the park.
Be warned: they have a "dolphin encounter- swim with the dolphins" program. If your little kiddies start begging to swim with them, the grandparents might melt and agree to treat them--just so you know, it is $200+ per person!! You can just watch the dolphin encounter of other people. For me, that's just as enjoyable, but then I'm a mom and not the kid.
Not something for the kids to do, but if you're in an apartment with a freezer, buy this local ice cream in the grocery--ROSELANI (doesn't that sound like 2 Pinoys? haha). I love the Haupia (coconut) flavor. The Kona coffee is also good.