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Oahu Hawaii a family vacation destination for all ages


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Every time I visit Oahu, which is one of my favorite Hawaiian islands because of all of the activity, I find something new and exciting to do. In September, I had the good fortune to join one the Oahu Visitors Bureau’s “theme fams”. The focus for this particular tour was the “Multi-Generational Family”.

Of course when you have families of several generations vacationing together there will be some discussions on “what to do”! Well, I have some great suggestions that should please everyone, whether they want to participate, or maybe be the family photographer.

First Stop: Wild Side Specialty Tours, where you are not just another face in the crowd of 50 or 100 other passengers. You are a guest, and one of only 10-15, maximum of 20. Each crew members takes a special interest in each guest giving special instructions for snorkeling, or photographing, directions for the best view. The dolphins, whales and turtles you encounter on the Wild Side Specialty Tours are not the animals you see at a “swim with dolphins” attraction. These animals live free and in the wild. They also have a mind of their own! However, the Wild Side Crew members seem to read minds and are quick to position the catamaran for the best views and easiest access to swim with the dolphins.

Next we visited a working farm, which has been producing organic fruits and vegetables since 1974. The produce was intended to supplement the diets of the homeless and “down and outs” in Waikiki and other areas on the Island. While that is a still a focus, Kahumana Organic Farm also sells produce to high-end health food restaurants! Taking a tour, and eating at the little café, will give everyone in your family a new perspective on farming and keeping everything free of pesticides, and other chemical additives. And the café food is absolutely delicious! Try the Chicken Quesada’s with avocado! Delish!

Kuoloa Ranch on the Windward side of the island is a wonderful day trip for the whole family.  There are so many activities, I’m not sure you can get them all in! ATV’s, Horseback Riding, Jungle tours, Movie site tours, petting zoo, Cultural activities such as Hula Dancing and talk story! Visiting ancient fishing bowls are also quite fascinating. Also located just off the mainland of Kuoloa Ranch is “Secret Island”. Great spot for some sunbathing, reading and relaxing!

Hanauma Bay is still a favorite snorkeling location for visitors to Oahu. It’s a short drive from Honolulu, with lots of parking. Because Hanauma Bay is a Nature Reserve, not a park, there are some requests made by the staff. Over the past decade, the City and County of Honolulu prepared a plan to restore Hanauma to a healthy state by reducing the number visitors and establishing an education program. The Marine Education Center also requires that all guests view a short video which explains how we can all help to keep Hanauma and other living reef environments healthy. A tram transports guest down to the water, where there is a concession stand renting snorkeling gear. (you can of course bring your own, too) There isn’t a lot of shade, so be prepared with sunscreen. The gentle waves are perfect for the first time snorkeler and still fun for the seasoned underwater explorer.

Waikiki Beach is perfect for the “Big Kahuana” wannabe. Surfing lessons and stand-up paddle board lessons are available all along the beach. If you would rather not have to work too hard, but still enjoy the surf, how about an Outrigger Canoe? In the evening, take the family on a sunset dinner cruise, with entertainment, drinks, dinner, and an amazing sunset!

A rather new attraction outside Honolulu is a water park, Wet and Wild. It is the only water park in Hawaii and is the #1 Family Attraction on the island! Of course, water slides are the big attraction, but my favorite, the lazy river is a great choice for those who wish to just enjoy the water and the sunshine without the adrenaline rush!

Nothing could be more fun that touring Oahu by air in a seaplane! You will have a wonderful view of the island and all the tropical scenery, even whales in season. Island Seaplane Service, which has 45 years of experience in water flying (in Alaska, Canada, the Arctic and the Caribbean), you will love the thrill of taking off and landing on the protected waters of Keehi Lagoon!

Hiking is another activity that families enjoy together. Diamond Head is a very popular hiking and exploring excursion, but there are others that are less widely known, but are very beautiful. Mapaku’u Beach is a great place to have a little lunch and then set off on a hike to the Mapaku’u Light House. This is a gentle uphill trek, and well worth it for the views of Manana Island (formerly called Rabbit Island), and Koahikaipu Island….get your cameras out!

There are just so many things for families to enjoy on Oahu!! As I said, each and every time I visit, I find something else that I didn’t know existed!  I would love to help you enjoy Oahu, too, and the other islands of Hawaii, so please email sandi@totemtravel.com or give me a quick call, and we can get started on your visit to Paradise!

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