Pound a Sharkskin Drum - The new Bishop Museum at Kalia (in the heart of Waikiki) is made for kids. The interactive mini-museum features various activities, from lei making to thumping an ancient Hawaiian drum made of sharkskin. Cool surf movies, too.
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Visit the Honolulu Zoo - Visit Africa in Hawaii at Waikiki's Kapiolani Park. The lions, giraffes, zebras, and elephants delight youngsters and parents alike. But the great new thrill is the Zoo by Moonlight tour -- so kids can see what really goes bump in the night.
Shop Aloha Flea Market - Most kids hate to shop. But the Aloha Flea Market, a giant outdoor bazaar at Aloha Stadium every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, is more than shopping. It's an experience akin to a carnival, full of strange food, odd goods, and bold barkers. Nobody ever leaves this place empty-handed -- or without having had lots of fun.
See the World's Only Wholphin - It's a freak of nature, a cross between a whale and a dolphin -- and you can see it at Sea Life Park. Kids love this marine amusement park, where trained dolphins, whales, and seals do their thing.
Fly a Kite at Kapiolani Park - Great open expanses of green and constant trade winds make this urban park one of Hawaii's prime locations for kite flying. Watch the pros fly dragon kites and stage kite-fighting contests, or join in the fun after checking out the convenient kite shop across the street in New Otani's arcade.
Eat Shave Ice at Haleiwa - No visit to Hawaii is complete without an authentic shave ice. You can find shave ice in all kinds of tropical flavors throughout the islands, but for some reason, it tastes better in this funky North Shore surf town.
Beat Bamboo Drums in a Fijian Village - The Polynesian Cultural Center introduces kids to the games played by Polynesian and Melanesian children. The activities, which range from face painting to Hawaiian bowling, go on every day from 12:30 to 5:30pm.
Splash Down at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park - This 29-acre water-theme amusement park features a wave pool for bodysurfing, two 65-foot-high free-fall slides, two water-toboggan bullet slides, inner-tube slides, body flume slides, a continuous river for floating inner tubes, and separate pools for adults, teens, and children.
Explore the Bishop Museum - There are some 1,180,000 Polynesian artifacts; 13,500,000 different insect specimens; 6,000,000 marine and land shells; 490,000 plant specimens; 130,000 fish specimens; and 85,000 birds and mammals, all in the Bishop Museum. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, see a 50-foot sperm whale skeleton, and check out a Hawaiian grass hut. There's something for everyone here.
Walk Through a Submarine - At the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park, an interactive museum offers kids the chance to experience a real submarine -- one that served in some of the fiercest naval battles in World War II. Kids can explore the interior of the tightly packed submarine that housed some 90 to 100 men and see the stacked shelves where they slept, the radar and electronics in the command center, and the storage place of the torpedoes.
Dream at the Hawaii Maritime Center - Kids will love the Kalakaua Boathouse, the two-story museum of the Maritime Center. Exhibits include such topics as the development of surfing, the art of tattooing, and artifacts from the whaling industry. Next door you'll find the fully-rigged, four-masted Falls of Clyde, an 1878 cargo and passenger liner. You'll also find the Hokule'a, a re-creation of a traditional double-hulled sailing canoe, which in 1976 made the 6,000-mile round-trip voyage to Tahiti using only ancient navigation techniques -- the stars, the wind, and the sea.
Watch the Fish and Sharks at the Waikiki Aquarium - Much more than just a big fish tank, the Waikiki Aquarium will astound and educate your youngsters. They can probably sit for hours staring at the sharks, turtles, eels, rays, and fish swimming in the main tank. For a few laughs, wander out to the monk seal area and watch the antics of these seagoing clowns.
Snorkel in Hanauma Bay - Kids will be enthralled with the teeming tropical fish and the underwater world at this marine park. The shallow waters near the beach are perfect for neophyte snorkelers to learn in, and the long (2,000-ft.) beach has plenty of frolicking room for kids. Get there early; it can get very crowded.
Hike to the Top of Diamond Head Crater - The entire family can make this easy 1.4-mile round-trip walk to the top of the 750-foot volcanic cone with its rewarding view of Oahu. Bring a flashlight for the entry tunnel and a camera for the view.
Explore the Depths in a Submarine Dive - Better than a movie, more exciting than a video game, the Atlantis or Voyager submarines journey down 100 feet below the water's surface to explore the Neptunian world of tropical reef fish and even an occasional shark or two.
See Sea Creatures at Sea Life Park - Kids love this 62-acre ocean theme park that features orca whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins going through their hoops. There's a Hawaiian reef tank full of native tropical fish, a "touch" pool, and the world's only "wholphin" -- a cross between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin.
Rainy Days or Too Much Time in the Sun - If the kids are bored on yet another rainy day or your little darlings are lobster red from being in the sun (even after you told them to put more sunscreen on), take them directly to the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, 111 Ohe St. (across from Kaka'ako Waterfront Park), Honolulu (tel. 808/524-5437, fax 808/524-5400; www.discoverycenterhawaii.org). Perfect for ages 2 to 13, these 37,000 square-feet of color, motion, and activities will entertain them for hours through hands-on exhibits and interactive stations. Where else can they play volleyball with a cyber-robot or put on sparkling costumes from India or dress up as a purple octopus or write their names with backwards letters while looking in a mirror? Lots of summer classes and activities are offered -- from playing with clay to painting classes (most of them invite the parents to participate too). Admission adults $8, children 2-7 $6.75, under 2 free. Open Tues-Fri 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Sat-Sun 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Take TheBus, no. 19 or 20, from Waikiki and nos. 55, 56, and 57 from Ala Moana Center.
For a complete listing of what to see and do in Oahu, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.
Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.