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.


  • I would love to take a trip to Hawaii but living in the midwest we would have such a long flight to get there. Some day we will though. It looks gorgeous!

  • I would love to go to Hawaii, but not with the kids. It’s too long of a flight from us here in Boston.

  • It sounds like you’ve had a great start to your trip! I’m totally jealous and think my family needs to start planning a trip to Hawaii (although from the East coast it would be a super long flight).

  • I would love to go to Hawaii sometime. You have some very beautiful photos here. It looks like a great place to take a family vacation.

  • We just went at the beginning of last December and it was my first trip on the islands period. Definitely a unique experience I’ll treasure forever. Just wished I could afford to go yearly!

  • What a fantastic vacation! We are looking at going to Hawaii in a few years. We need to save money and make sure the kids are ready for the length of that flight for us!

  • I love Hawaii!!! What a fun time to get to be able to attend the festival like that! Hawaiian Airways is the way to travel to Hawaii they have such amazing customer service.

  • It looks like you had a lot of fun! Hawai’i is on our travel list, and has been for a lot of years. We will eventually get there!

  • I would not typically think of Hawaii as a family destination, so I am really interested to read about your entire experience. I know my beach loving kids would have a blast!

  • What a lot of fun for you and the family. The ABC stores are fun. I’ll have to add Duke’s to my list of places to eat the next time we go to Hawaii.

  • Wow you had a great view at the Aston! That’s wonderful it has a kitchen and you can do the laundry! I love eating around Waikiki and shopping at the DFS store. Ala Moana is fun to shop at too. The mall food selection is like no other. We usually drive over to the North Shore and try the Kahuku Shrimp, there’s a great shave ice called Matsumoto’s. The whole island has such delicious food, and it’s so laid back!

  • That’s an amazing first day for you and the rest of the family. The bed looks amazing! There are so many sights to see and it would be nice to spend an afternoon sipping smoothies on the beach!

  • I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. I used to have a friend who lived there for several years. She was always telling us how beautiful it was.

  • We have friends who are living in Hawaii. They told us to come over and see the magnificent place. Hopefully, we can do it soon. Your post reminds me to give it a chance this year.

  • I am hoping we do get there for our 15 year anniversary in 2 years. Looks like you had a very productive first day! Beautiful photos of the island!

  • I have never been to Hawaii but it is on my bucket list!! Looks like you and your family had an amazing trip! I can’t wait to read more about it…

  • From your pics I could tell everyone in your family had a blast! I love Oahu! My family and I were just there last October. We stayed in the west side though and a couple of days in Turtle Bay. But we did visit the Waikiki area. I remember everytime I go to an ABC store I always end up getting something!

  • Going on a trip to Hawaii is so on my bucket list. I love your suggestions and hope to put them to use one day soon!

  • And this is only the first day? Wow! I have always wanted to visit Hawaii and this has me chomping at the bit to go. Can’t wait to read about the rest of your vacation.

  • Hawaiian Airlines sounds like a fantastic way to fly. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. These are beautiful photos.

  • What a great getaway and your photos tell the whole story! I have not been to Oahu for some time and this makes me want to visit!

  • Wow, I am so incredibly jealous. Hawaii is one of my absolutely favorite places in the world and I would love to go there again. Right now it is our 10 year anniversary goal. Would love to bring the kids one day too!

  • What a beautiful resort and you can’t go wrong with Hawaii. I have to say I’m a bit jealous right about now.

  • im jealous! hawaii is on my bucketlist too! but decided to visit some nearer countries from where I am this year looking forward to visit next year! all your photos looks very nice!

  • I would like to go to Hawaii one day! It’s a wonderful place with natural beauty all around! Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post full of amazing photos!

  • I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I certainly would love to visit one of these days. Bet I would feel so at home there knowing that it’s also a tropical country just like my home country. 🙂

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