Honolulu with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Honolulu with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Big city amenities combine with the best the beach has to offer to make vacationing in Honolulu with tweens a near perfect experience. Located on Hawaii's Oahu Island, Honolulu has average high temperatures in the 80s with lows in the 60s, even in the middle of winter -- great weather for catching some rays, learning to surf or paddleboarding with the kids.

Vacations in Honolulu afford families countless options for entertainment -- from watching the world's best surfers tackle the North Shore's legendary waves, to visiting solemn Pearl Harbor, horseback riding on the far side of the island, or hiking up Diamond Head. Sometimes, it's hard to fit it all in! Try, though, to devote at least one day to enjoying Honolulu with your tweens. Here are a few ideas.


If your tween loves starting the day off with a big breakfast, begin your Honolulu family vacation with a visit to Lulu's. Most tourists stay in a hotel on or across the street from the beach in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. Lulu's is located at the east end of Waikiki on Honolulu's main drag at 2586 Kalakaua Avenue. Tweens will love this restaurant's casual, surfer theme. In addition to standard omelets and other such typical breakfast choices, Lulu's offers the local favorite, Loco Moco, which is a breakfast dish that consists of two eggs and a beef patty on top of rice that is smothered with gravy and onions. Oh, yes, it's as heavy as it sounds.

Lulu's Waikiki
2586 Kalakaua Avenue
(808) 926-5222
Hours: Daily 7AM-2AM

Duke's is another option for breakfast. It is located down the street at 2335 Kalakaua Avenue and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Named after renowned surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Duke's has a breakfast buffet that can come in handy if you're in a hurry. This restaurant is also famous for its Hula Pie, so try to return at some point on your vacation to share a piece (it's big!) of this macadamia ice cream, fudge and whipped cream frenzy.

2335 Kalakaua Avenue
(808) 922-2268
Hours: Daily 7AM-10:30AM (breakfast buffet)

After a satisfying breakfast in Honolulu, adventuring with tweens should be an easy task. You'll likely want to burn off some of those calories, so take them to gorgeous Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve to snorkel. Only ten miles east of Honolulu, this preserve is in a volcanic crater that has formed a perfect underwater habitat for coral and tropical fish. The waters are calm, so even novices enjoy snorkeling in the bay, especially kids.

Vacations in Honolulu run smoothly when well planned. Visitors must plan to arrive early to Hanauma Bay, as the parking lot can fill up rather quickly. Once that happens, other cars aren't allowed in. Also, the lines to buy tickets and to rent equipment will be shorter if you arrive early. Before visitors are allowed in the water, they must view a short film about the bay and the precautions to take to avoid damaging this natural paradise. Once in the clear water, visitors can swim amid beautifully colored tropical fish, such as parrotfish and tang. If you're lucky, you may have a few turtles glide by you, especially in the summer. More advanced tween snorkelers can swim out to the deeper coral reefs, while inexperienced tweens can actually just sit or stand in the shallower waters and look at the fish through their snorkel masks. Depending on your tweens' interest level, you could end up spending only a few hours or a large part of your Honolulu family vacation at Hanauma Bay.

If you don't have a car, there are several tour companies that will take you to Hanauma Bay, or you can take the number 22 bus from Waikiki.

Hanauma Bay
Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 27)
(808) 396-4229
Hours: The preserve is open from 6AM to 7PM during the summer and from 6AM to 6PM during winter. It is always closed on Tuesdays.


When your tweens finally tire of the preserve, head back to Waikiki. After freshening up and changing into street clothes, take your tweens for a walk down Kalakaua Avenue to shop for souvenirs. A fun and popular place to stop is The International Market Place, a large, open-air shopping area with over 130 carts of souvenirs and apparel. Tweens will enjoy going from cart to cart and comparison-shopping for little oysters that have pearls in them, t-shirts or puka shell necklaces.

The International Market is also a good place to have lunch. In the back of the market are a number of vendors selling everything from Filipino fare to sushi, hot dogs, and Hawaiian plate lunches. While you are waiting for your food, your tweens can peruse the nearby vendor carts or have an airbrushed shirt with their name and a sunset scene of Hawaii made for them. Be careful, though. The market is big and it's a bit of a maze, so you can lose your tweens if you're not watching out for them.

International Market Place
2330 Kalakaua Avenue
(808) 971-2080
Hours: Daily 10AM-10:30PM

After a local lunch characteristic of Honolulu, continue your family vacation by hitting the water once again. If you have time, sign your tweens up for a paddleboard or surf lesson. There are several shops in the Waikiki area that specialize in teaching novices ocean sports. In addition, the surf in the Waikiki Beach area is pretty mild and protected in part by a breakwater, making this area a great place for beginners.


If you're in Honolulu with tweens, you can't leave without attending at least one traditional luau. While many of the hotels offer luaus on their grounds, you will definitely feel like you are attending a luau in front of a hotel. On the other hand, luau specialists, such as Paradise Cove Hawaii, which is about 45 minutes from Waikiki, offer a more complete experience. With its own beach, huts set up for activities and pretty grounds, Paradise Cove Hawaii tries to give its guests the illusion that they have traveled back to the golden days of Hawaii. Before the show starts, tweens can learn traditional crafts such as lei making and try activities such as spear throwing. Be forewarned, though, that this may be a pricey endeavor.

Dinner features your standard luau fare such as poi, roasted kalua pig, and loma lomi salmon. The luau's highlight is the show, which features traditional dances from Hawaii and Polynesia.

Paradise Cove
92-1089 Alii Nui Drive
(800) 775-2683
Times and pricing vary. Please call for details.

Hopefully, your family will have more than one day in Honolulu so that you can partake in the countless other activities available for kids. Vacations in Honolulu simply must include visits to Pearl Harbor and, if you are there in the winter, a whale watching trip. See as much as you can on your Honolulu family vacation before you have to say "aloha" to Oahu.

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