Moving To Oahu With Kids

photo of children playing in the sand in hawaiiOahu is a wonderful place for families and families with children comprise a large part of Oahu’s population. Also, most people here seem to have cultural values that place a high importance on children and family.

With great weather and a beautiful tropical environment, there are ample opportunities for children to participate in outdoor recreation on Oahu, from swimming at famous Kailua Beach, to hiking waterfalls in Maunawili, to surfing Waikiki. There are also organized groups for parents and young children to join, as discussion forums or playgroups, even prior to school. Many local businesses (e.g., play centers, parent/child exercise classes, haircutting establishments, shopping malls, etc.) cater to children. Oahu also has activities such as the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Aquarium, Sea Life Park, and the Children’s Discovery Center, which provide both entertainment and learning opportunities for children. As one Hawaii native once said to me, on Oahu “it’s ALL about the Keiki.”

Schools on Oahu

Unfortunately, the public school system in Hawaii, as a whole, has gotten some unfavorable reviews. However, there are still public schools, in most areas of the State of Hawaii, which have good reputations. And like anything, a school is what you make of it. Parents who take an active role in their children’s learning, no matter what school they attend, will have children who are better set to succeed in life. Even children who attend the most expensive private schools on Oahu can have issues and problems learning if their achievement is not supported by active parenting.

For more about Oahu schools, check my pages on Oahu Public Schools and Oahu Private Schools.


I have compiled a list of links that may be helpful to Oahu parents. I wish I had known about many of these places when I first had my child. This is a great resource for people coming to Oahu for a Hawaii vacation with kids, too.

If you have any questions or need more information on living on or moving to Oahu, Hawaii with children, please contact me at 808-721-8088.

Parents’ Groups/Playgroups

  • Moms Club Windward - The MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) Club of Oahu - Windward, Hawaii is a chapter of the International MOMS Club®, a nonprofit organization specifically for at-home mothers living in Windward Oahu. It exists to help Moms feel good about their decisions to stay home with their children and give Moms the opportunity to share activities with other at-home mothers and their children! Activities include monthly meetings, park play-days, Strollercise, Cooking Fun, MOMS Night Out, field trips . We also perform service projects to help the needy in our community.
  • Moms’ Club Leeward - The MOMS Club of Leeward Oahu, Hawaii (named an Outstanding Overall Chapter for 2004-2005) is part of this international group for stay-at-home-mothers and their children. It is a support group designed for the at-home mother who is interested in her community, participating in various activities, and interested in making friends for herself and her children.
  • Newcomers’ Club of Honolulu - contact
  • Pearl Harbor Moms – contact

Museums, Zoos, Learning Centers & Other Kids Activities on Oahu

  • Bishop Museum (Honolulu/Kalihi) Exhibits on Hawaiian history/artifacts, special children’s exhibits from time-to-time, usually science-related exhibits too.
  • Children’s Discovery Center (Honolulu/Kaka’ako) Play center for kids with science and community-related exhibits, foreign county play scenes, dramatic play area, play fire station, auto mechanic area, airline area, etc. Changes from time to time.
  • Dole Plantation (North Shore/Wahiawa) Especially appealing to kids is the train ride and the giant maze.
  • Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel Dolphin Quest is an international organization devoted to the public education and conservation of marine wildlife. It had programs where people can interact with dolphins at the Kahala Hotel.
  • FREE Dole Cannery Regal Cinemas Summer Movies (Honolulu) Starting at 10am, free movies for kids/parents in the summertime.
  • Gymboree Play & Music Classes (Honolulu /Kaimuki, Aiea/Pearl Ridge Mall) National franchise, has play, art & music class from infant through 5 yrs old. Birthday parties.
  • Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park (Leeward/Kapolei)
  • He’eia Pier Glass Bottom Boat (Windward/Kaneohe) Goes out toward Gilligan’s Island (Coconut Island) Kids get to see some tropical fish and a skin diver go below he boat – fish feeding is fun too. You can rent out the whole boat.
  • Honolulu Academy of Arts (Honolulu)
  • Honolulu Zoo (Honolulu/Waikiki) Nice zoo, with picnic areas and playground – also, a newly renovated Keiki Zoo, with farm animals/petting zoo. Birthday parties.
  • Kama’aina Kids Seasonal Day Camps – For school age kids. Offers themed activities at Kama‘aina Kids sites, plus outdoor and enrichment activities at parks and beaches, or at attractions like Hawaiian Waters, Sea Life Park or the Honolulu Zoo.
  • Leapin’ Lizards (Halawa Heights/Aiea) Fun, bouncy house play center. Birthday parties.
  • Sea Life Park (Windward/Waimanalo) Not quite the same as Sea World, but fun dolphin shows, a huge play structure, and lots of fish to see. Birthday parties.
  • Star of Honolulu -Whale Watching (Honolulu/Aloha Tower Marketplace) Whale watching is seasonal. There is a FREE departure, weekly, on Sunday mornings.
  • FREE Toddler Time at Kahala Mall (Honolulu/Kahala) Weekly activities including stories, crafts, clowns, etc.
  • FREE Toddler Time at Pearlridge Mall (Aiea) Weekly activities including stories, clowns, crafts, etc.
  • Waikiki Aquarium (Honolulu/Waikiki) Fish and other sea creatures in a great location on Waikiki. They have classes for kids too!

Outdoor Recreation/Activities/Camps for Kids on Oahu

  • Ala Moana Beach Park - Beach has a kid-friendly lagoon area, with a man-made shorebreak. Park with shade trees for picnics & fun.
  • Backyard Oahu - Oahu’s Hiking & Backpacking Trails. Dedicated to providing information on the Koolau and Waianae mountains and valleys on the island of O’ahu.
  • Hans Hedemann Surf School & Camps Your kids can learn to surf.
  • Hanauma Bay Snorkeling - Can be crowded with tourists, but a beautiful and fun place to snorkel.
  • Hawaii Nature Center
  • Kailua Beach Park At Kailua Bay. Milder ocean conditions most days, good for swimming. Might even see some sea turtles. Some of the beach is shaded in the afternoon by trees and the Ko’olau Range. Park has shade trees/tables for picnics and fun. Kayak rentals and windsurfing/kitesurfing lessons available. Known as one of the best, if not THE best, beach in the United States.
  • Koolina Lagoons - Nice beaches, calm waters, grassy areas for kids to play. 
  • Kualoa Ranch (Windward/Kaneohe) - Horseback rides, ATV rides, ranch tours, jungle expedition, fish pond tours, kayaks, movie set tour
  • Swim Lessons  - The Oahu Club (Hawaii Kai)
  • Swim Lessons - Pat Lancaster (Kailua) Deb Pyrek (Kailua)
  • Swim Lessons - YMCA
  • Swim Lessons - Leahi Swim School (Honolulu/Manoa)
  • Waikiki Beach - Beach has kid-friendly areas, with man-made shorebreaks. Can take surfing lessons here.
  • Waikiki Beach Boys Surf Camp - Learn to surf at Waikiki with the famous Waikiki Beach Boys

Parent/Baby Exercise Classes on Oahu

  • Baby Boot Camp (Waipahu/Hawaii Kai/Ewa Beach/Kapolei/Kailua Beach Park) - Stroller exercise class with child
  • Stroller Strides (Hawaii Kai, Ala Moana Beach Park/Kapiolani Park/Waipahu) - Stroller exercise class with child

Kids’ Specialty Stores/Shopping/Services

  • Baby Emporium (Honolulu) - Nursery furniture and other baby items. 110% price match guarantee.
  • Baby & Kids Expo (Honolulu) - At Blaisdell Center, 2 times a year.
  • Baby Gap/Gap Kids (Pearl Ridge Mall, Ala Moana Center) - National retailer for clothing.
  • Sand Kids - Kailua
  • Build-a-Bear (Ala Moana Center) - National chain. Make and dress your own teddy bear or other stuffed animal.
  • Caterpillar Kids (Aiea, Windward Mall) - Used to be resale, but now new kids’ clothes, strollers and other items.
  • Gymboree Clothing (Kahala Mall, Pearl Ridge Mall. Ala Moana) - National retailer for clothing.
  • Kahala Kids (Kahala Mall) - New larger store. Has large selection of baby items, clothes, infant toys.
  • Pigtails & Crew Cuts - Haircuts for kids.
  • Toys R Us (near Pearlridge Mall, Ala Moana) – National toy and baby items retailer

Please email or call me if there are others to add to this list!

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