Best Things to Do on the West Side of Oahu

Destinations, Hawaii, USA By Jun 11, 2024 No Comments

Exploring Oahu’s west side (leeward coast) with your family? From breathtaking hikes to stunning west Oahu beaches, the west coast offers so many family-friendly activities. This area is drier than the east side of Oahu and is a hot spot for Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Here are the best family-friendly things to do on the west side, Oahu!

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Don't have time to read the whole blog post? Here are the highlights on the west side of Oahu!

- Swim with dolphins in Oahi: Book a tour here
- Pink Pillbox hike

- Makua Beach (mountain views, less crowded, great for boogie boarding)
- Ko Olina Lagoons (calm waters perfect for young children near Ko Olina resorts)
- Nanakuli Beach (super family friendly, clear and calm water, park facilities available)
- Electric Beach (incredible snorkeling, a lot of marine life, for more confident swimmers)

Best West Side Oahu Activities

Go on a Dolphin Tour in Oahu

One of the most magical experiences on the west side of Oahu is getting the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Booking an Oahu dolphin tour gives your family the opportunity to see these incredible creatures up close in their natural habitat. We loved Wild Side Specialty Tours which is a semi-private tour (no more than 6 people) led by experienced naturalists. Other great and more economical options are the Dolphin Excursion in Waianae and the Dolphins Catamaran Cruise.

During the tours, you’ll not only get to swim alongside dolphins but also learn about their behaviors and habitats from knowledgeable naturalists. Most tours also include snorkeling with other marine life like colorful fish and sea turtles. We wrote a blog post on how to swim with dolphins in Oahu if you’re looking for more information.

Explore the Mermaid Caves in Oahu

The Mermaid Caves are a collection of small sea caves on Oahu’s leeward side near Nanakuli Beach. Exploring the caves can be magical but also dangerous and requires you to be physically able (pulling yourself out of the cave opening) and a confident swimmer. This experience is best for families with older kids. The best time to visit is during low tide when the caves are more accessible and the water is calmer.

You can park on Keaulana Ave and walk across the lava rocks where the opening of the cave is. Make sure to wear water shoes. Remember, safety first! If you’re not sure you want to climb in, DON’T and instead, watch the locals jump in or explore the nearby Nanakuli Beach.

Ka Wa’a Luau at Aulani

If you’re looking for a high quality, family-friendly luau and you’re a fan of Disney, definitely consider the Ka Waʻa Luau at Aulani. The Disney Aulani luau is one of the best luau in Oahu for families and provides a memorable evening of Hawaiian culture, food and entertainment along with some Disney magic. The show features traditional Hawaiian music and dance, storytelling, and interactive activities for the kids, such as lei-making and hula lessons. The highlight is the food where you can enjoy a variety of local Hawaiian dishes.

If you’re looking for a special family night out, this luau has it all. Book your tickets to the Ka Waʻa Luau at Aulani here.

Ka’ena Point Hike

The Ka’ena Point hike in Ka’ena Point State Park is a great way to immerse yourself in nature on Oahu’s west side. Ka’ena Point State Park is the westernmost tip of Oahu and is a protected nature reserve, home to native plants, birds, and even monk seals. The hike to the point takes you along a beautiful coastline with breathtaking ocean views. Keep your eyes out for whales (Nov-Mar) off the coast and enjoy one of the best-preserved areas of Oahu.

It’s a relatively easy walk but about 6 miles out and back. We carried our toddler at the time for this hike but it’s totally doable for older kids.

Pink Pillbox Hike

The Pink Pillbox, also known as the Maili Pillbox, is a 1.3 mile roundtrip hike with beautiful views at the top. The trail is steep in a couple of sections but generally toddler-friendly. A lot of people come for sunset but if you do, make sure to bring a headlamp for your way back down the trail.

Best West Side Oahu Beaches

The west side of Oahu has some of the best beaches. Here are our favorites:

Makua Beach

Makua Beach is one of the hidden gems on Oahu’s west side that’s a must visit. If you’re looking for soft golden sands, clear blue waters, and a peaceful atmosphere, this beach delivers. It’s really perfect for families who want to escape the more crowded beach spots.

Snorkeling west Oahu doesn’t get much better than this at Makua Beach and the waves are perfect for boogie boarding! The backdrop of the lush Waianae mountains also makes this beach one of the most picturesque west Oahu beaches.

Paradise Cove Beach

Paradise Cove Beach is a great little spot on Oahu’s west side for young children and beginner swimmers! It’s nestled in the Ko Olina Resort area and offers calm waters and gentle waves. You can also find sea turtles and seals hanging around if you’re lucky! Parking is limited so come early if you can.

Ko Olina Lagoons

One of the best things to do on the west side of Oahu with kids is to head to the Ko Olina Lagoons. These lagoons offer a safe environment with calm waters that’s perfect for families. The waters are ideal for swimming and just splashing around. Ko Olina Lagoons parking is limited and fills up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to snag a spot. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the nearby resorts, which offers convenient access to the lagoons.

Nanakuli Beach

Nanakuli Beach is a great beach on Oahu’s west side for families with young children. One of the best things about Nanakuli Beach is its calm, crystal-clear waters, which are ideal for swimming and wading with little ones. The gentle waves make it a safe and enjoyable place for kids to splash around and play. Plus, the soft, sandy shore is perfect for building sandcastles and enjoying a beach picnic. The beach park also features shaded areas, picnic tables, and restrooms.

Electric Beach

Electric Beach is just one of the many incredible spots for snorkeling West Oahu has to offer. It’s known for its vibrant underwater life thanks to the warm water discharged from the nearby power plant, which creates an ideal environment for tropical fish and other marine life.

This spot is perfect for families with older kids who are confident swimmers. The reef is filled with colorful fish, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle or dolphins! The beach itself might be small, but it offers stunning views, making it one of the best west Oahu beaches.

Makaha Beach

Makaha Beach is an iconic surf spot and local hangout with the backdrop of the beautiful Waianae mountains. It offers a little something for everyone in the family whether it’s catching some waves, relaxing on the sand or going for a swim. If you’re snorkeling west Oahu, Makaha Beach is great spot. You’ll often spot a variety of fish and other marine life.

Yokohama Beach

If you’re looking for a peaceful and beautiful spot on Oahu’s west side, Yokohama Beach is the place to be. This hidden gem is perfect for families who want to escape the crowds. It offers stunning views of the turquoise waters and the dramatic cliffs of the Waianae Coast. While the waves can be a bit strong for swimming at times, the beach is great for relaxing and exploring.

7 Day Oahu Itinerary with Kids
Ultimate List of the Best Things to Do and Places to Eat in Oahu (Family-Friendly)
How to Swim with Dolphins in Oahu
The Best Turtle Canyon Snorkeling Tours from Waikiki
Best Family-Friendly Things to Do on North Shore, Oahu
Best Things to Do in Honolulu with Kid
Best Family-Friendly Things to Do on the East Side, Oahu

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