Why Waikiki Is a Great Place to Take the Kids for Family Activities

Why Waikiki Is a Great Place to Take the Kids for Family Activities

Partner Content | Photo: Lei Making at the OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

You’ll never run out of things to do with the keiki (kids) in Waikiki, making it an ideal spring break option for families with small tykes on up to teens. But sometimes, it’s great for the grownups to have Waikiki family activities to explore on their own, too.  Thanks to its convenient beachfront location, rich cultural program and new kids club, the OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort offers the best of both worlds.

Parents of littles can stroll out the doors at the end of the lobby to start splashing in the warm seawater or building sand castles. Those with older children can take a short walk left toward Diamond Head to find the Waikiki Beach Services stand, where kids 12 and younger can take  private surf or stand-up paddle lessons — teens can sign up for private or group lessons — and the whole family can sign up for a thrilling outrigger canoe ride where you paddle out and then ride the surf back to the shore.

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Pool
OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Pool

If the waves seem a bit daunting, turn right at the beach and walk 10 minutes past the green parkland and wide sandy beach of Fort DeRussy to reach the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, a large but shallow filtered seawater pond separated from the ocean by sand. Perfect for kids who want to practice stand-up paddling or play on aqua bikes and other rental gear, it’s best at high tide and later in the day, when the typically cool water has warmed up a little. Save money by bringing your own umbrella, beach chairs or blanket and picnic provisions.

Longer walks toward Diamond Head, or a short bus or Uber ride away, lead to the twin attractions of Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium, both near the tree-shaded enclave of Kapiolani Park. Open 10am to 3pm daily, the Honolulu Zoo’s denizens include the usual compelling African and Asian animal stars — lions, giraffes, tigers, hippopotamus, ring-tailed lemurs and orangutans among them — as well as an array of Hawaii’s endemic and indigenous birds,  including the native versions of goose (nene), short-eared owl (pueo), duck (koloa maoli) and hawk (‘io). Not indigenous, but very cute: the pair of Kona nightingales, i.e. donkeys, found in the keiki zoo next to a playground. The aquarium showcases giant clams, brilliant corals and tropical fish, luminous jellies and other marine life, and identifies the many native Hawaiian plants, trees and vines on its well-landscaped grounds.

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Coral Kids Club
OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Coral Kids Club

When everyone’s done with beach sports or walking around Waikiki, the Outrigger Reef provides plenty of activities families can enjoy together beyond the spacious pool. Dive into Hawaiian culture with one of the daily fun craft-making or lively educational sessions at the resort’s Ao Cultural Center.  Besides hula lessons, lei-making and ukulele classes, kids and their parents can get hands-on with traditional arts such as  kala‘au (rhythm sticks), ‘ohe kapala (bamboo stamps) and making kukui nut or ti-leaf kupe‘e (bracelets). Modern crafts include making canoe paddle keychains, Hawaiian name tags and cards, and feather hairpieces.

Keiki participating in the new Coral Kids Club, designed for ages 5 to 12, also take part in crafts at the A‘o Cultural Center during their half- or full-day sessions ($140 and $280, respectively). “Lei making and learning how to dance hula downstairs is always very exciting,” says manager Ayako Hayashida of Poppins USA, which operates the kids club. Offered 9am to noon, 1 to 4pm or 9am to 4pm, the supervised program in a brightly decorated new space also features interactive learning and games about ocean conservation and the Hawaiian islands, plus additional crafts such as making photo frames with ocean materials and sand art.

Lei Making at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Cultural Center
Lei Making at the OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Cultural Center

While families are asked to provide all snacks and food, children who stay during lunch hours may enjoy “a delicious cheeseburger, chicken yakitori with rice or meatball marinara” from the onsite Monkeypod Kitchen restaurant, if their parents approve, Hayashida notes. The restaurant’s keiki menu, available at lunch and dinner, also includes a cheese pizza, saimin (locally made noodles, broccoli and chicken broth), a child’s portion of fresh fish with rice and steamed broccoli, and macaroni noodles with red sauce.

Hayashida says she enjoys working at the Coral Kids Club with children who come from all over the world. “Children in general always bring such an exciting outlook on life and daily activities,” she notes. “When they are on vacation, everything is so much more fun and exciting for them, which makes our work joyful.”

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