Hawaii

Walking to Waimea Falls with Kids

Need another idea of what to do while on the island of Oahu in Hawaii? Take a day trip to the North Shore and visit Waimea Falls! Not only is this an experience where you will see the natural beauty of magnificent gardens and a lovely waterfall, but it is also a cultural experience as well. Waimea Falls with kids is a great activity to do on the North Shore!

Waimea Valley is about an hour from Aulani Disney Resort where we made our base. We arrived around 8:30am and had the place to ourselves! One of the things that we were really looking forward to was swimming in the falls. When I had visited in 2005 I was able to swim and go under the falls (you are still allowed to do that now, but you MUST wear a life jacket, which they will provide). So we all wore our swimsuits and had our towels with us. But, much to our dismay, there were signs saying that the water levels were too low and that there was no swimming allowed! That was a huge disappointment!

Waimea Falls with kids. No water!
Where’s the water??

Walking the Path

The path to the falls is full of beautiful flora and historical and cultural information on Native Hawaiin history. It is about a one mile walk on a paved path and in the morning hours is pretty shaded. There is a shuttle that you can pay for if someone is not up to walking that amount. We took it slow since there are many side paths one can venture to in order to learn more about the native plants and area. It’s very well done and we learned a lot!

So we knew that the water in the falls was low… but we didn’t realize that there wouldn’t be any falls at all! It was completely dry! No wonder no one was allowed to swim! We used the opportunity to take some family pictures, rest and recharge, and let the kids play a little bit. We walked back at a faster pace and there were a lot more people headed in the direction we just came from.

Food Trucks

After our time in Waimea Valley we were in search of some delicious North Shore food trucks! My father-in-law, Joe, really wanted to stop by Da Bald Guy food truck in Kahuku. We went there as well as tried many of the other different food trucks along side it. And oh my, the food was superb! Poke bowls, garlic shrimp, pineapple juice, and so much more FRESH grub. We sat at the benches and enjoyed our amazing lunch.

We drove back to the resort and rested a bit before spending some time at the pool. Despite the falls not being full, we had such a great time exploring another part of the island!

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Hiking Diamond Head with Kids

One of the activities we wanted to do while in Hawaii was climb the Diamond Head crater. This is a moderate 1.6 mile roundtrip hike up to the top of Diamond Head where you are welcomed with the most beautiful views of Waikiki and beyond. It is suitable for all ages – we had a group of ten between the ages of five and 74 and everyone was just fine! Hiking Diamond Head with kids was fun and rewarding!

Hiking Diamond Head with Kids
Hiking Diamond Head with Kids

As of May 2022, Diamond Head requires reservations for parking and for entry. We picked the earliest time slot, 6:00-8:00am and got there around 6:15. Because of the time change we were still waking up pretty early and because it was August we wanted to beat the heat and the crowds, which we did!

Hiking Diamond Head with Kids
Before the start

The path is well maintained and paved in some areas. It is uphill the whole way and has sets of stairs at different points throughout the journey. The kids had a really good time hiking up the crater together, despite some normal complaints along the way. It probably took our group about 45 minutes to climb it. But when we got to the top we were met with the most incredible views of the ocean and Waikiki. There are several viewpoints to look out onto, some with steep steps, but all were accessible. While we were there you could feel it starting to get crowded. We admired the view, took our pictures, and headed back down! This was much faster!

Waikiki

After a stop at the bathrooms at the bottom, we drove into Waikiki for some breakfast along the water. We ate outside and felt the nice breeze from the ocean. Filling our bellies with some local grub and relaxing along the water was exactly what we needed after our hike.

Later on, we drove back to the Aulani Disney Resort and spent the rest of the day playing in the pool and lounging at the beach. We had such a great time hiking Diamond Head with kids!

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The Aulani Disney Resort in Hawaii

In August 2022, my husband’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and took the entire family to Hawaii to celebrate. While this was a huge milestone to be celebrating, we were also celebrating the end of a hard year (or two), life, family, and love. Because all of the adults had been to Oahu previously, we didn’t feel the need to run around the island trying to get everything in. We had a nice balance of relaxing at the Aulani Disney Resort, while visiting sights around Oahu.

Travel and Relaxation

We had an 11 hour direct flight from Newark to Honolulu and it actually went by relatively quickly. While my in-laws had glorious first class seats that allowed you to lay down, the eight of us in the back watched movies, colored pictures, and ate a ton of snacks. Some of us slept. You would never know that there were five kids ages 5-13 sitting where we were… that’s how good they were! Nevertheless, it was a long day of travel and everyone was done by the time we checked into the hotel. My family of four was in bed by 5pm!

Surprisingly, everyone woke up close to 4am, which is a huge win considering we were on a six hour time difference. Our first full day in Hawaii we devoted to staying on the resort and relaxing. 

Infinity pool at the Aulani Disney Resort

The Aulani Disney resort was the best thing for everybody. Not only did it cater to the kids, but to the adults as well. There were six pools, a lazy river, two slides (meant for adults and kids), a spa, and a peaceful lagoon on the Ko Olina beach that was just perfect. There were plenty of restaurants on site, as well as many delicious options that were walkable from the resort.

We had a beautiful one bedroom with a kitchen and seating area. The living room not only had a pull out sofa, but also a pull out twin bed so the kids could have their own space. We also had 1.5 bathrooms. It really made the trip so much more comfortable having all of that room to spread out!

Character Sightings

I have never seen a resort so lively so early in the morning! Since there are so many mainland USA visitors, everyone here wakes up super early. We had to wait in line for breakfast at 6:50am, but we got a nice table outside where we were visited by Mickey & Minnie Mouse and Chip & Dale. 

Family at the Aulani Disney Resort

We had several Moana sightings that my five year old was absolutely enthralled with. She had to go and meet her every time there was an opportunity. And even though my eight year old won’t admit it, I know she enjoyed seeing her as well. 

Beachy Drinks and Food

Pina coladas, cucumber fritzes, and mai tais were staples for the adults while we relaxed at the pool. The waiter soon learned to just keep the drinks coming!

The Beach

It’s rare when I let my young kids play in the ocean without me holding onto to them. They’re pretty strong swimmers, but the big waves scare me with kids. The lagoon at the resort allowed the kids to play on their own without fear coming from my end regarding waves and rip tides. The water was calm, clear, warm, and just beautiful. I often started my days by taking a run at sunrise and was taken aback by the beauty of it all.  

Beautiful view on my run at the Aulani Disney Resort

Of course we took many day trips throughout the island. We spent some days at Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, the North Shore, Waimea Falls, and tried many local poke bowls!

One of the things that I loved about this trip is that we had such a nice balance between relaxing at the fun resort and exploring the island. Not only did the kids love all of the amenities that the Aulani Disney Resort had to offer, but the adults desperately needed some down time to relax in Hawaii as well. This was a spectacular trip that we will always remember!

Family fun at Aulani Disney Resort

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