We’re Doing 11 Days on Oahu, Hawaii Bucket List Style

Hawaii Sunset

Most family vacations in Oahu include Pearl Harbor, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, building sand castles on the beach, and splashing in the kid’s pool. Even with a toddler, that’s not how we do vacation. We’ve lined up three spectacular family-friendly resorts, tons of unique adventures, delectable dining with a twist, and fun cultural experiences. We’re doing Oahu bucket list style.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon Hilton

Our first stop on Oahu is Hilton Hawaiian Village. We’ll enjoy an array of fun-filled family activities at Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, a spectacular five-acre salt-water lagoon. We most certainly will not be lounging on a beach chair or taking a tranquil swim. Heck no; we’ve arranged to take advantage of the aqua bikes, kayaks, SUP and peddle boats. Put water wings on Athena and she’s good to go. We’re also planning on the Spirit of Aloha Turtle Lunch Snorkel Sail. With all-you-can-eat lunch at sea and the best snorkeling in Hawaii’s azure waters at Turtle Canyon, we hope to see green sea turtles at play off the Waikiki coast. With a “we can do it all” attitude, we’re also going on the Atlantis Adventures Waikiki Submarine Tour where we’ll descend to 100 feet underwater. Our tiny dancer loves to shake her booty so we’ll finish our stay at Hilton Hawaiian Village with a unique feast of music, color, food and dance at the Waikiki Starlight Luau. 

North Shore Shark Adventures

Reef Pirates Hawaii

Renting a car was the best option since we want to take in as much as humanly possible. A drive out to the North Shore is a must and in true bucket list fashion, I will be doing the Shark Dive with North Shore Shark Adventures. Since we didn’t want to bring Athena on this one just yet, Darren will stay with her while I do the dive. Then, he has his own dive planned with Reef Pirates. Spending time together as a family and spending time on our own is equally important. We want it to feel like a vacation for everyone. If you notice though, those two things are totally for us so what about Athena? We’ll visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and stay for an authentic luau meal which includes kalua pig, lomi salmon and poi.

Aulani Resort

Just in case the Polynesian Cultural Center isn’t enough fun for Athena, we’ve planned something else: Disney’s Aulani. Yep! That’s our next stop. For three days, we will discover a Paradise with a touch of magic. One of the most unbelievable experiences during our stay will be Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki. Mickey Mouse and some of Athena’s other favorite Disney characters will be available for photos, fun interactions and a few very special surprises that I’m certain she’ll never forget. Also at Aulani is the Starlit Hui at Hālāwai Lawn. It’s a signature family event filled with music, dance and fun. We’ll gather with Uncle under the stars for a magical evening featuring local artisans, hula, live music and even a dance party with our favorite Disney friends. Life can’t get any better than that!

Trump Waikiki

diamond head hike waikiki

We’ll finish our Oahu stay at Trump Hotel Waikiki where Waikiki’s famous white sand beaches are just steps away. From there, we’ll do a Diamond Head hike, with Athena in tow, and spend our last day surfing the Waikiki waves.

Every time we plan a trip and I look over the itinerary I feel like it’s not possible to have some many unique adventures packed into one trip, but this time I’ve outdone myself. This could be our most epic family trip yet!

38 thoughts on “We’re Doing 11 Days on Oahu, Hawaii Bucket List Style

      • I absolutely loved it – We stayed on Ala Moana Blvd, which I thought would be horrible but was fantastic and we caught the bus to snorkel at Hanauma Bay. A Marine Preserve park. Our visit to Pearl Harbour was incredible as well and our kids choose to go there two days in a row on a bus which took about an hour. The bus driver chatted away to them and they had such fun. My little english family really connected with our visit here. It had me in tears because it reminded me of my parents when I was growing up and everyone was so helpful and friendly. Hawaii impressed us all!


  1. It’s sounds like your plans are perfect. I’m from the Big Island, now living on Maui, but once in a while I get to Waikiki, North Shore, Laie, etc. just for fun. It sounds like there is something planned for everyone and each will have such a great time. Kupaianaha!


  2. Sounds like you’re hitting all the right highlights of our little island!! The food out at the Aulani can’t be beat, and there are characters around every corner! If you have a little time, make sure you take a turn around the lazy river, especially first thing in the morning when it isn’t packed full of people. The Atlantis out of the Hilton is awesome – we scuba dive the YO257 tanker-turned-manmade-reef that they buzz regularly and it’s the best place to see turtles and sharks. So glad you’re getting a chance to see the North Shore as well – if you have a chance, keep on going and hit the famous Kahuku shrimp shacks for their fresh shrimp and prawns – they’re right on the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center! Can you tell I love my island?

    I know you’re probably crazy busy but if you’re here when we’re not traveling {we’re headed to Vegas this weekend and will be back next Friday! I’m cooking with a Michelin star chef and getting a full tour of Ka behind the scenes – I’m learning from your example!!} I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to grab a coffee or something and pick your brain about travel and adventure!


  3. We stayed at the Hawaiian Hilton Village almost 10 years ago and our boys loved it as our home base while we explored the island (including the cultural center). If you have a chance, head up to Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and get “blown away” by the view! (you’ll see what I mean — as you note the sign that says hold on to small children ….) Enjoy!


  4. If you get a rainy day, go to the Waikiki Aquarium. It is spectacular! The tanks are the best I’ve seen anywhere. Pearl Harbor is deeply moving (not for a toddler, tho) The sacrifice of those men and the monument to all those who perished in the submarine service (many, many subs went to the bottom) is very powerful.


  5. It sounds like you have a packed itinerary and won’t be able to fit anything else in. But, if you find yourself with some extra time … skydiving on the North Shore is absolutely unbelievable. We like Pacific Skydiving in Waialua–just amazing. Also, Opal Thai in Haleiwa is has some pretty awesome Thai food.

    Oahu has so much to offer. It’s one of my favorite places. Enjoy!


  6. Reblogged this on ..:: El-Jay ::.. and commented:
    This definitely sounds like one of Bucket Lists most fantastic family vacations so far. I can’t wait to read all about it and see the amazing photographs. Definitely sounds like an adventure of a lifetime. Have an amazing trip folks!! 🙂


  7. We have only done three days on Oahu, but spent a week touring around Big Island. What an amazing place–that was our honeymoon, but we do plan on returning with our kids in the next few years 🙂 Looking forward to reading about your adventures


  8. It’s so hard to find a happy medium between toddler and adult activities while on vacation. Sounds like this will be it! Have fun on your adventure!


  9. My family and I went to Hawai’i when I was in grade 8. One of the best family trips I’d been on so far!
    We visited the Polynesian Cultural Center for the entire day, and man it was amazing! Especially the luau at the end of the day.
    We climbed Diamond Head as well, and though the way up was a chore, the view was more than worth it! (and we got little certificates saying we climbed Diamond Head)
    The coloured trolleys of Honolulu were also pretty good..
    We also went to the Big Island and explored Kilauea crater, and we finished in Maui by driving up Haleakala and taking the ‘Road to Hana’ (which I’ll note is NOT for the light-of-stomach!).
    The trip took about two weeks and nine different airplanes, but it was a lot of fun!


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