We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Corona, California
Level Contributor
20 posts
Save Topic
“ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Dad, Mom, daughter, who is a freshman in college and a son, who is a freshman in high school just finished booking this last-min., unplanned trip for March and are now flying by the seat of our pants. Ha-ha.

We first arrive late morning and are staying in Waikiki Th -Mon. and then at Ko'olina beach area Mon.- Thurs., and then home. However, we don't have to be at the airport until late p.m. on that last day. The split stay is a set deal. We have a moderate budget to work with so "Quality" over "Quantity" is the motto of this trip unless, of course, the reverse is better. ha-ha

We would very much appreciate everyone's wisdom and/or like experience/s and ideas with regard to itineraries and activities that would engage and hold the interest of our kids, especially the 15 yr-old "too-cool" boy. :)

We are pretty much up for anything. We are not at all familiar with the Ko'olina area, so any info. on that would greatly be appreciated.

Is it better (time, convenience) to rent a car from the get go at the airport or utilize the bus system and our legs :) while in Waikiki and then rent a car? Is it less expensive to rent a car outside the airport and/or is that available to us?

Is it possible to tour (independently) and experience the island over a 1 -2 day period? Would it be better to utilize a tour company? Also, if there are tickets to purchase; should we do this beforehand? We know it all comes down to personal preference but any and all input and opinions are very much welcomed!

Thanks to all in advance.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
4,965 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

From my experience with my two sons, whatever is chosen won't be cool.

There is a wet and wild near Ko'olina .. which your son may enjoy.

You can pre-book tickets for Pearl Harbor now on their website, which is a great advantage. Maybe you could pick up your hire car in Waikiki (I know Alamo is near the Ala Moana Shopping Center) ... and drive to Pearl Harbor on your way to Ko'olina.

I'd hire a car while staying at Ko'olina, so you can get around -- go up to the north shore, visit the Polynesia Cultural Centre; the surf beaches of Sunet and Banzai Pipeline, the town of Haleiwa and the Dole Pineapple Plantation. By the time you get to Dole you might want to lose him in the maze!

www.gonorthsore.org - this website will help you to see what's up that way.

In Waikiki, you won't need a car, as The Bus takes you everywhere. You can get a 4-day pass from any ABC Store (on every corner) .. so you can get on and off whenever you want.

I got a ride to downtown and walked back to Waikiki ... it was good to see so much on the way. Need good walking shoes.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
78 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

I don't know how useful my comments are because I haven't gone yet. I will be going in late March. We are both in our twenties.

It might be fun to go to the North Shore where they can watch the surfers. Check what the surfing season is.

Also, we are going to Kailua Bay where we are going to go body boarding and kayaking. They also offer surfing lessons and other things.

They offer a shark encounter but its pricey ($120) where you can go in a cage. or you can watch from the boat and its like 70$

Check out traditional luaus as well

Hope it helps!

Level Contributor
1,415 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

My kids 17 & 16 really enjoyed the quad bike tour at Kualoa Ranch (North Shore) and the parasailing off Waikiki. Surfing usually goes down well.

Oakland, California
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
6,323 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Without knowing your kids, my guess is that the more you do on your own, without a tour company, the happier they will be. It doesn't mean that you can't visit the more popular spots, but do it on your own. That will mean renting a car for at least a day or so in Waikiki and definitely for your time in KoOlina.

He will enjoy body surfing, boogie- boarding and stand-up paddling; renting a paddle board in Waikiki is very easy. While in the Waikiki area, rent a car and head around the island from the east side. You can stop at Sandy Beach which is the best body surfing beach on the island, and watch or join in. Be careful there, though, as the surf can be pretty treacherous. Then keep going around the island and head to Kailua and rent some kayaks. I'm pretty certain he'd have a good time kayaking around Kailua beach. The body surfing is pretty good on that side, too.

While you're in Waikiki, you might want to head up to Snorkel Bob's where you can rent snorkel gear and also boogie boards- you can even rent them for your entire stay.

What I can pretty much guarantee, though, is that the standard programmed-tourist fare like the big luaus or Polynesian Cultural Center will make them roll their eyes. If you want to go to one, let them have a little time on their own and go by yourselves.

laguna niguel, ca
Level Contributor
7,324 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Waikiki would be good for the following

Hike up diamond head

Outrigger canoe ride ( don't think they do that in Ko Olina)

Catamaran sails, lot cheaper and better conditions than Ko Olina


Surf lessons, but you can also do surf lesson in Ko Olina with Hawaii Fire


Better and cheaper dining in Waikiki, take advantage of places like duke and the shorebird.

KoOlina is better for pool time and relaxing and would be a good spot to take north shore drives. It is a bit of a hassle getting out of waikiki

I would go go go in waikiki and relax and take some day trips while in KoOlina

Corona, California
Level Contributor
20 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Hi All,

Oahu: "Family of 4" returns from our vacation in paradise and wanted to share what we did.

I want to thank all of you for your responses. Your tips were helpful and lead us to find things to do and what to look for. However, organizing a plan seemed to overwhelm us and we ended up making one reservation for an activity before we left and the rest of the trip, we just "winged it". We may have left out a few things, but we had a fabulous time despite it.!!! We did purchase a few restaurant "deal" coupons as we remembered reading that eating gets expensive. The deal coupon came in handy and helped with cost as well as decision making.

Here is what our day-to-day itinerary was for anyone who may be interested.


We arrived Honolulu 11:30 am. Picked up our rental car around 1p.m.and headed for the hotel.The weather would change from one minute to the next.. It was cloudy, rainy and cool. Then switched to sunny, warm and clear blue skies. We saw the Seafood Village along the way and bein vey hungry decided to stop for eats. Chose a place called NIKKO'Ss. Absolutely perfect for just arriving. Sat at table by the open air window and looked out at the water into the seaport area and had a delicious meal. Their fish tacos are yummy as is the seared ahi and fish and chips. NIKKO's is a must eat place in our book. We continued on to the Waikki Marriott. Very hospitable and accommodating. No complaints with the staff. Our room was not the most desirable of views (partial) mountain and city view overlooking the parking deck and a couple of unknown stacks??, but before requesting a change, we weighed our usage and decided the room itself was worth more to us than the view, since we only planned to sleep there and the room was HUGE as far as hotel rooms go. It had 3 beds; 2 queen and 1 king with 2 bathrooms and plenty of room to walk around in, seriously. It was the perfect size for the 4 of us. We unloadded our luggage and not wanting to waste a moment, we talked with the concierge who gave us a map of a circle drive and we headed out to see what we could see before the sun set. We drove East and saw DIAMOND HEAD, the HALONA BLOW HOLE, KOKO CRATER, where we talked with another family, who had done the Koko hike the day before and said it took them, middle aged parents, 40 mins and 2 bottles of water each and the kids 26 mins and one bottle of water each : ) to hike up. Said it was hard but glad they did it. We passed HANUMA BAY, but it appeared to be closed not sure though??? and then tried to make it to PALI LOOKOUT before dark. That didn't happen, but we stopped there anyway. A little scary in the dark but what a view with the lights... WOW! Up to this point, the coast was just spectacular. It's about a 30 min drive without stops, I think. We headed back to the hotel and stopped at "RAINBOWS". It was suggested by a local as their place to go for "pig" food??? is what she called it. So we tried it out. The kids and hubby had burgers and I had their mixed plate. Teriyaki chicken, flat steak and fish with rice and macaroni salad. It was a lot of food. We headed back to the hotel for much needed sleep after a nice start to our trip.

Friday 3/22

We made this our get-to-know-the-area day and headed for "down town" for a self guided tour. Ha-ha we were the wandering minstrels as I refer to it as. Picked probably the most expensive parking lot :/ and headed on foot for CHINATOWN. If you blink you'll miss it. We ate at the" LITTLE VILLAGE NOODLE HOUSE". Continued on to see "IHOLANI PALACE", KING KAMEHAMEHA at the judiciary building, rode the elevator to top of ALOHA TOWER to a spcacular view, wondered around the shops and then headed to Waikiki to walk the shops, stores and the INT'L MARKET place. We then decided on LULU'S for eats as we had a “deal”coupon for them and so glad we purchased it or we may never have gone. Lulu's was right next to where we were staying, open-air dining that overlooked the beach. It’s a fun lively place with entertainment. We decided on sharing appetizers as we weren't hungry for big meals but still wanted something tasty and fun. Lulu's was the perfect place for that and it appeared we weren't alone in our opinion. The serving size of their nachos are eye popping not to mention yummy and their coconut shrimp... delish and crab cakes were really good too! The kids went off to Coldstone’s for dessert and to walk around on their own, while their dad and I stayed and very much enjoyed "Evolution" the live entertainment there, as well as, some island drinks. ; ) A very pleasing way to end the day.

Sat. 3/23

We got up early to hike DIAMOND HEAD and see the sunrise. We missed it and wouldn't have seen it anyway as it was cloudy. The hike was nice and jus rugged enough to cure our temptation for hiking Koko Crater. The views were awsome once the clouds started to go away. After, we headed back… we noticed tons of people coming into the area around the hotel and all around Waikiki. We were wondering what was going on and found out there was a festival for the Prince Kuhio birthday holiday which we wished we had known about, but went ahead anyway to the hotel to get our suits on and pack for a day of kayaking and/or paddle boarding at KAILUA as we had already had this planned. It was not meant to be (should have stayed for the festival) as it was very windy and rainy at times and we were told it was dangerous and not good weather for our plans. So yeah... disappointed, but decided to listen to the warnings since we had never done either before and instead hung out and walked the beach. We heard siren after siren and then saw a large group of people gathered around the edge of the shoreline and as we approached them...fearing there was a drowning... we asked what had happened. Come to find out the sirens were for a funeral at sea. We were then graciously invited by the niece to join in a farewell to her uncle, who had passed away, by taking a handful of flowers... saying a prayer... then kissing them and tossing them out to sea. It was a beautiful moment and we were honored to have been a small part in their Hawaiian tradition of sending a loved one back to nature. We expressed our condolences and thanked them for including us and moved on to stroll the next most beautiful beach we'd ever seen... at this point and that is LANIKAI. Brilliant turquoise colored water so clear and the finest softest sand we’ve ever felt on a beach and lined with palm trees and lush foliage. A tropical paradise for sure. Although the sun was out, it was still pretty windy and a bit chilly for comfort, so we abandoned the idea of any type of water activity and decided to head back. Upon leaving we asked a local where a good place to get a bite to eat for lunch would be and were told "TEDDY'S BURGERS" so off we went in search of Teddy's. I have to say that if… no when... we come back, I think we'd like to stay in Kailua/Lanikai, I found this place to be a quaint beach town with a very warm, cozy welcoming feel to it. By the way, I found the locals everywhere we went on the island to be some of the warmest, most welcoming people, I have ever met anywhere, so Mahalo! Anyway, we were off for our bite to eat before a big dinner that night and…. holy cow! Teddy's Burgers is not what you call a bite to eat, but we couldn't help ourselves nor could the large group of customers they had there. Wow, we had the whole chibang. Burger, fries and drinks and it was one of the biggest and best burgers I've had as far as fast food goes... served to your own custom order. After that we stopped at a great little book store for my daughter, who loves to read and who had just finished reading the Hunger Games during our flight and wanted to go on to books number 2 &3 and low and behold, this little store had them. Happy customer. We headed back to Waikiki and needless to say, Teddy's done filled us up and so we decided to ditch our big dinner plans for a little slice of pizza and a candy bar for dessert. We watched the sunset at the pier, walked a bit and then off to reading and la-la land. Funny, we didn't really desire a big night life nor did we feel we were missing anything...none of us did. Don’t tell us though, if we did.

Sun 3/24

I had purchased another coupon from a deal site for “THE GALLEY RESTAURANT” at Waikiki yacht Club so we headed out for a late breakfast at the marina. It was gorgous out, perfect for breafast at the marina. It was extremely frustrating finding the place and no one seemed to know what we were talking about or maybe they were just warning us.Haha. Anyway, we finally found it after nearly driving off the dock looking for it... ringing a buzzer to get in... then climbing stairs to get to this funky little bar and restaurant. There was hardly a soul there. I think, it may be more for private boaters coming and going than for public crowds. It had a beautiful view and was very quiet…peaceful. The atmosphere would soon be sullied though by the horrible service and the customer service. There were 3 tables of customers one being us. Our order was very, very simple we all had the same thing, but somehow they managed to get it very messed up by adding things that were never ordered. We never received refills on our coffee. It was bad. Without going into all the details, they presented us with a check that was not itemized and the amount did not look right for what we had. We tried to show our waitress and the the manager/owner??? what we ordered from the menu and what we owed after the restaurant “deal coupon”… what we expected to pay, but the manager or owner whoever it was never looked and immediately took on a defensive attitude and said he didn’t have time for this and told us to just leave….we were completely taken aback...baffled…the waitress said sorry and so…we just left. It was crazy. Anyway, after washing our hands of that experience, we went back to our room to change for our afternoon horseback ride at the KUALOA RANCH.. How fun this was! No, it’s not galloping through the meadows, but a nice ride anyway. The animals around the ranch were very entertaining especially the tree-climbing goats and the ranch is absolutely lush and gorgeous. It was fun to see where some of our favorite TVshows like "LOST" and movies, like "Jurassic Park had filmed at. Besides the typical sore bums, we found the nose to tail ride relaxing. we would have liked to have done a little galloping, but still found this ride very enjoyable and our guide nfiormative. Afterwards we headed back and had dinner at KOBE STEAKHOUSE. It' a teppan grill type of place funny there was a Benihanasa around the corner. Atmosphere was nice, food was pretty good, Chef seemed a little tired, but then again so were we and it was a bit overpriced for the value, however, we did enjoy ourselves and the company at the table. We headed back to get our bags packed and some rest for our early and busy next day.

Monday 3/26

We were up, out and on the road by 6:30 a.m. for our Pearl Harbor, Dole Plantation, lunch and shows at Polynesian Cultural Center, Northshore, Byodo in Temple, Hawaiian neighorhood, Pali Lookout Point Tour. Then checkout and on to our new stay in Ko’olina. This was a great day. Excellent "Discover Hawaii" tour bus driver, Kona, talked the entire time about all historical, fun and local facts. Kona is very proud of his heritage and rightly so. He took a detour and went through some neighborhoods where he showed us tea leaves used for eating with, taro plants, avocado trees and various other plants and trees and told us about them and how they are used in cooking/eating them. He invited our family to come to a celebration at his home to experience it all, unfortunately we would be leaving before that would happen. Very moving experience at PH and Az memorial, enjoyed and had fun at the Dole Plantation and would go back for the maze that was not included, loved the PCC and the shows and learning about some of the villages. Kona, volunteered my husband to participate on stage for the drumming show…that was a hoot! Enjoyed seeing all the north shore beaches, Sharks Cove, Turtle Bay etc, Byodo in Temple is stunning a found the different burial traditions interestng. Pali Lookout in the daytime... breahttaking..  we got a lot in in one day and glad we did. We were droppedoff at the hotel…got in our car and then it was off for our stay at Ko’olina.

Tues. 3/27

Much needed down day. Walked the beautiful grounds of the Beach club, went to grocery store for a few items to hold us over for a while and then headed for the Lagoon to soak up the sun and relax. Ahhhhh!!!! The sunset was gorgeous and sleep was heavenly.

Wed 3/28

This day we were blessed with the most unbelievable weather. We were up and out early to the marina for our 7 a.m. Catamaran sail, snorkel and dolphin expedition which included lunch and a Luau at Paradise Cove later on. Maybe a little more wind for the Cat would have been nice at the start but it was blue skies and transparent glassy waters. Perrrrfect! We all snorkeled and the kids tried snuba diving. It’s sort of a cross between scuba and snorkeling. They used a breathing apparatus which was attached to hoses which were attached to tanks on a raft. This allowed them to go down about 25 feet. I hope, I explained that correctly? They loved it! We all had a blast! We could have floated and snorkeled for hours. alot to see! One other thing, when we first started out, they set up a rod for trolling to see if we would catch anything and to our good luck, we did! They yelled for my husband to help reel in the fish. It wasn’t easy but he got it in. There he was with a big ole tuna and a big ole smile. Not really sure the size or weight though anymore… it seemed to grow in size and weight with each time the story was told :)  The Catamaran was a beauty too and the crew…each individual crew member was fabulous… they worked together like a well-oiled machine. I highly recommend them. Ko’olina sailing adventures. We got back to the marina around 12:30 and one of the crew members suggested we take a nap before the Luau…we didn’t listen and headed back to change and decided to go back to the Dole plantation to walk the maze which was a lot of fun. It took my DH and I forever to find everything. I told him to give me the map… men and their directions, ugh!!! We got back just in time to get ready and head out to the Luau. The food was ok not great but it was what we expected it to be… entertainment for tourists. We really made the most if it and participated in alot of the activities. All in all it was very festive and the show was great. The crew member was right though, we should have taken a nap. We could barely keep our eyes open and heads off of our plates. LOL!!!

Thurs 3/29

 The long road home.

We got up, packed and loaded the car ready for our flight home…later that night. We ate the last of our goodies in the room and headed out to Manoa Falls for a hike up to the Waterfall. It did not disappoint as it was beautiful! A lush and tropical rain forest. A very doable hike, however, very muddy and slippery. After the hike, we went back to Nikko’s for our last meal. Nikko’s did not disappoint. We then hit Waikiki for a last run at the Int’l market place for some last-minute souvenirs; they did not disappoint. It was a fabulous trip enjoyed by our entire family. The kids were never bored and stayed interested in it all. We wanted to experience the island as best we could with the time that we had. We think we did a pretty good job of it. We boarded the jet at 10:15 p.m. for our overnight flight and awoke to reality.

Aloha & Mahalo!

Honolulu, Hawaii
Level Contributor
3,063 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Sounds like you had a wonderful time :). Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Kapaa, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Maui, Hana, Oahu
Level Contributor
44,936 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Made me tired just reading all you did in such a short amount of time. Thanks for getting back to us!!

Level Contributor
21,775 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Thanks for the feedback on a great trip. We always had such fun with our teen age kids, and have memories that will last a lifetime.

Frisco, Texas
Level Contributor
1,594 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: “ Oahu "Family of 4" (girl 18, boy, 15) Trip ”

Awesome...love reading about people who enjoy their vacations with family.