Hawaii With Kids- Oahu Family Fun

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Saturday morning we set off on another adventure to Hawaii!

Visiting Hawaii has been on our radar for years. Pete and I said that we would spend our 15 year anniversary there, which didn’t end up happening because we were invited to Turks & Caicos instead (which we were thrilled about), but we still wanted to visit Hawaii! Growing up in Southern California I had already been twice before, but Pete never had….nor had the girls. When I sat down to map out our travel list for 2016, I put Hawaii at the top of the list and I am so glad I did. We’ve been here less than 48 hours and we already are planning a trip back. It’s that amazing! With non-stop flights from many different areas, it is really easy to travel to. 


Our go-to airport is San Diego, and since we were visiting Hawaii, I started researching airlines with non-stop flights from SAN to Honolulu. I immediately thought of Hawaiian Airlines, and I reached out to them to see if we could feature them during our trip. We are so happy to be partnering with them to share all about our experience flying to Hawaii. I have a whole separate post all about our flight… until then here is a little bit about our travel experience getting to the island. 

The minute you get to the airport, your vacation begins when you fly Hawaiian Airlines. See that lady above. She was everything Aloha! It was like your everyday life just melts away, and that was just the beginning. This is the friendliest airline we’ve ever flown on. 

They also serve a meal, even in economy class. And the meal was vegetarian! That’s not always the case, but we were thrilled that it was on this flight. They also offer a complimentary glass of wine to those over 21 in economy too. Instead of a “rushed flying for 6 hours” feel, we had a relaxed “we are on our way to Hawaii” feel the entire time. 


Our flight left at 10:30 am and we landed around 2:30 pm Hawaii time at Honolulu International Airport.

The airport is well laid out and there is signage everywhere, but if you feel a little lost, there are friendly airport staff everywhere to help you. We decided to rent a car on this trip because we plan to see as much of the island as possible. We took a shuttle to our rental car facility to get our car. There was a bit of a wait since a few planes landed at the same time, but the weather was so perfect that we didn’t mind. Plus the adrenaline was going, we were so excited to be on Hawaiian soil!


Just about 20 minutes after we loaded into our car, we pulled into our hotel for the next two nights. 

Starting with the cold welcome towel, with hints of almond scent… Emmy and I were in love this the welcome ritual. In the Caribbean, you are greeted with a rum punch (which is awesome) and an almond-scented ice cold towel is just as welcoming. We had to pry it from her arms before we headed up to see our suite!


And then the suites… I can’t wait to share all the pictures, but look at this bed! The girls had their own room and Pete and I had a master suite with truly forever views! It also had a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and two bathrooms. The location is amazing! As I type this, Pete and the girls are all down in the lagoon less than 100 steps from the hotel. Emmy said that when she is older she is going to live here all the time and we can visit her. I don’t doubt that she will do it either.


After we settled in and got refreshed, we went for a walk through Waikiki. It has changed so much since I was last here that I barely recognize it. I felt like I too was visiting for the first time! There is entertainment around every corner!


The one thing Emmy was waiting for the most was to try real Hawaiian Shaved Ice. We checked that off our list right away!


Back in our room, we spent time just relaxing and taking the views in. We could see all the way down Waikiki Beach and up to Diamond Head. I don’t think it’s possible to have a better view.

Aston Waikiki Beach Tower balcony viewWaikiki BeachHonolulu with kids vacation guidehawaii with kids

One thing I remember so well from my previous visits are ABC stores. They have them now in Las Vegas, but it’s not the same. We took Emmy in to buy a flower clip for her hair and then she hula danced the rest of the day. Seriously!

The next day (Sunday) we did more casual exploring. We ate at restaurants with street views…

what to eat in Waikiki with kids

Drank fruit smoothies beachside on the benches that line the beaches…


Went swimming in the hotel pool (on a very windy day)…

Aston Waikiki Beach Tower pool

And before we knew it, it was dinner time.

We had heard buzz around that today was a big day, we just didn’t know how big until we saw the streets filling up. We happened to be visiting during Honolulu Festival time. This happens once a year during March. It is truly a cultural extravaganza! With a parade and then firework at night! As luck would have it, the fireworks are shot off from boats directly in front of our hotel. I have never seen a fireworks show like this ever before! 

Waikiki parade

Dinner was hosted by Duke’s Waikiki and it was fabulous. I’ll be sharing all about it in another post, especially their new vegetarian and vegan menu launching today! It was a remarkable evening and the ambiance was totally “Hawaiian getaway”.  We loved it!

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We got back to our room just in time for the night to be lit up with bursts of bright colors. Poor Emmy slept through the whole thing, but the rest of us were in awe! It felt like life just stopped for a few minutes and really it did! The whole area went silent as the fireworks were propelled into the air… and then all of a sudden thousands of people all started clapping and cheering together. 



Here is a video recap of day 1!

I couldn’t imagine a better start to our Hawaiian adventure! Check back tomorrow for day 2!

Have you been to Hawaii? What was your favorite memory you made?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • That looks stunning and fun from top to bottom. The food, the views, the green and the blue. No wonder Oahu has such a reputation for being the perfect tourist location.

  • Everything looks so wonderful and top of the line. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but maybe something that might happen. You sure know how to inspire one on vacationing there.

  • Hawaii is on my travel bucket list! All of this looks so fun and the environment is beautiful!

  • Aww this makes me miss Hawaii so much!! I used to go there all the time as a kid but haven’t been back in years! My brother and sister-in-law still go every year and bring me back things from the ABC stores haha

  • Wow does Hawaii look stunning! I love how gorgeous the landscape, and buildings are! We would love to visit too!

  • Day 1 looks fabulous! I love that the hotel you stayed at was like a mini apartment – that would be perfect for my family. Oh, and I know my boys would go straight for the Hawaiian shaved ice!

  • Omg it’s been a few years since I was in Hawaii!! You have me craving a trip now with your fabulous photos

  • Oh what a wonderful adventure you and your family had!!
    I love love love the photos!
    I will always remember going there. I want so much to go again.
    I think I remember the heli-tour most of all!
    Wow. just a lovely place.

  • Ah I am so jealous! I have never been to Hawaii but would love to visit. I am with your daughter though, shaved ice is a must have!

  • I can’t wait to go to Hawaii one day. Everything is so beautiful. It looks like you had an amazing trip because everyone looks so happy!

  • We had a trip planned to Hawaii last year. Everything was paid for, and we had to cancel. UGH!!! Worst cancellation ever, lol. I love seeing your pictures!! Makes me happy to see it really is as wonderul as people say. We’ll get there someday. 🙂

  • Hawaii is one of those favorite places in my bucket list which I would want to visit with my husband & kids sometime so soon. The pictures are beautiful enough to express the beauty of nature all around Hawaii & the excitement in everyone of you clearly says you had a great time out there.

  • I have been to Hawaii, but I’ve been wanting to visit there for years. It looks like a beautiful and relaxing spot. Maybe someday! 🙂

  • I went to Hawaii when I was 15 on a band trip. It was so beautiful. I’d love to go again as an adult.

  • What a spectacular view! Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list. The resort looks amazing! I can’t wait to go!

  • You guys sound like you had an excellent time. Got to spend time with the family and have the anniversary you guys wanted. It is really gorgeous out there in Hawaii!

  • We just visited Oahu this August, but our journey started in the U.K. it took us a whopping 19 hours to get there, but it was well worth it! Our favourite memory was probably our day at the Kualoa Ranch, but seeing Waikiki Beach for the first time comes a close second. It’s so cool that you got to see the parade!

    • Whoa! 19 hours… that is a lot of travel time! So glad to hear you liked it. We loved Kualoa Ranch too. The view from up in the hills is a memory I won’t soon forget!

  • Beautiful family! This looks like fun and a lot of excitement. This is inspiration for me to take my family on multiple vacations.

  • Why did you photoshop Diamond Head in the first “view” from your hotel? It’s quite apparent especially if one has been there before. Diamond Head is not behind the hotels in the foreground of your photo. Plus the cloudy sky doesn’t mesh with the clear sky.

    • Hi Anne,

      No, that is not photoshopped. That is a mirror at the end of the balcony and it is pointing towards Diamond Head. You can see in the pictures below that the other view from the balcony was towards Diamond Head.

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