Rainy Days -- If the kids are bored on yet another rainy day or your little darlings are pink from all that sun, take them directly to the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, 111 Ohe St. (across from Kaka'ako Waterfront Park), Honolulu (tel. 808/524-5437; www.discoverycenterhawaii.org). Perfect for ages 2 to 13, the 37,000 square feet of color, motion, and activities will entertain them for hours through hands-on exhibits and interactive stations. Where else can they play volleyball with a cyber-robot or put on sparkling costumes from India or dress up as a purple octopus? Lots of summer classes and activities are offered -- from playing with clay to painting classes (most of them invite the parents to participate too). Admission is $10; $6 for seniors; and free for children under 1 years old. It's open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 1pm, Saturday to Sunday 10am to 3pm. Take TheBus no. E, 20 or 42 from Waikiki. Depart the bus in front of Cutter Mazda Volkswagen, on Koula Street. Then walk across Ala Moana Boulevard, toward Pflueger Acura, and follow Ohe Street toward the ocean until you come to a blue and pink concrete building with a smoke stack.
Checking out the Honolulu Museum of Art on Family Sunday--Every third Sunday of the month, the Museum of Art is free, offering a variety of art activities and movies for the kids. Past programs have included sessions making pirate sock puppets and screenings of animated shorts from around the world. You can also take the shuttle to the Spalding House, where the fun continues.
See an Erupting Volcano -- It looks like the real thing -- a real molten-spewing, roaring, rock-launching volcano -- only you are standing just a few feet away. It's the Bishop Museum's 16,500-square-foot Science Adventure Center, specializing in volcanology, oceanography, and biodiversity. Children are spellbound as they wander through the "Hawaiian origins" tunnel into the deep ocean, stopping along the way to play with all the cool, high-tech toys, then exploring the interior of a volcano and climbing to the top to get a bird's-eye view of an erupting caldera.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side -- Visit Africa in Hawaii at the Honolulu Zoo. The lions, giraffes, zebras, and elephants delight youngsters and parents alike. But the great new thrill is the Zoo by Moonlight tour -- so kids can see what really goes bump (or roar) in the night.
Shop Aloha Flea Market -- Most kids hate to shop. But the Aloha Flea Market, a giant outdoor bazaar at Aloha Stadium every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, is more akin to a carnival, full of strange food, odd goods, and bold barkers. Nobody ever leaves this place empty-handed -- or without having had lots of fun.
Fly a Kite at Kapiolani Park -- Great open expanses of green and constant trade winds make this urban park one of Hawaii's prime locations for kite flying. Watch the pros fly dragon kites and stage kite-fighting contests, or join in the fun after checking out the convenient kite shop across the street in New Otani's arcade.
Eat Shave Ice at Haleiwa -- No visit to Hawaii is complete without an authentic shave ice. You can find shave ice in all kinds of tropical flavors throughout the islands, but for some reason, it tastes better in this funky North Shore surf town.
Beat Bamboo Drums in a Fijian Village -- The Polynesian Cultural Center introduces kids to the games played by Polynesian and Melanesian children. The activities, which range from face painting to Hawaiian bowling, go on every day from 12:30 to 5:30pm.
Splash Down at Wet 'n' Wild -- This 29-acre water park features a wave pool for bodysurfing, two 65-foot-high free-fall slides, two water-toboggan bullet slides, inner-tube slides, body flume slides, a continuous river for floating inner tubes, and separate pools for adults, teens, and children.
Explore the Bishop Museum -- There are some 1,180,000 Polynesian artifacts; 13,500,000 different insect specimens; 6,000,000 marine and land shells; 490,000 plant specimens; 130,000 fish specimens; and 85,000 birds and mammals, all in the Bishop Museum. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, see a 50-foot sperm whale skeleton, and check out a Hawaiian grass hut -- the museum has something for everyone.
Walk through a Submarine -- At the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park, an interactive museum offers children the chance to experience a real submarine -- one that served in some of the fiercest naval battles in World War II. Kids can explore the tightly packed interior that housed some 90 to 100 men, and see the stacked shelves where they slept, the radar and electronics in the command center, and where the torpedoes are stored.
Peeking Under the Sea at the Waikiki Aquarium--The aquarium is pretty small, but it has a fascinating collection of alien-like jellyfish and allows for up-close encounters of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and an octopus that changes color before your eyes. Check the aquarium website for family-friendly activities, which include “Exploring the Reef at Night,” an after-dark walk along the ocean reef outside the aquarium, where you’ll hunt for crabs and octopuses with flashlights. During the “Behind the Scenes” tour, you’ll learn what makes the aquarium run, from habitat creation to fish food.
Snorkel in Hanauma Bay -- Kids will be enthralled with the teeming tropical fish and the underwater world at this marine park. The shallow waters near the beach are perfect for neophyte snorkelers, and the long (2,000-ft.) beach has plenty of frolicking room. Get there early; it can get very crowded.
Hike to the Top of Diamond Head Crater -- The entire family can make this easy 1.4-mile round-trip walk to the top of the 750-foot volcanic cone with its rewarding view of Oahu. Bring a flashlight for the entry tunnel and a camera for the view.
Explore the Depths in a Submarine Dive -- Better than a movie, more exciting than a video game, the Atlantis or Voyager submarines journey down 100 feet below the water's surface to explore the Neptunian world of tropical reef fish and even an occasional shark or two.
See Sea Creatures at Sea Life Park -- Kids love this 62-acre ocean-theme park that features orca whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins. It also offers a Hawaiian reef tank full of native tropical fish, a "touch" pool, and the world's only "wholphin" -- a cross between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin.
Beating Drums in a Tongan Village --The Polynesian Cultural Center introduces kids to the games played by Polynesian and Melanesian children. The activities, which range from cracking coconuts to Tongan shuffleboard, go on every day from 12:30 to 5:30pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.