For Oahu visitors, kid-friendly beaches as well as cultural insights

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A father and son catch a wave on Oahu.One of the great things about being a Honolulu resident is that I spend a substantial amount of time playing tour guide.



And I typically have the most fun entertaining folks with children, because Oahu has so many wonderful attractions and activities for the kid in all of us, and a host of fun and educational options perfect for families.

Shoreline shenanigans

A trip to the beach is frequently a top priority for guests, and a little time on the sand in Waikiki is a must. It's tough to top the energy of a shoreline bustling with sunbathers at Oahu's most popular visitor destination, and the gentle break and excellent lifeguards make it suitable for little kids.

Kaimana Beach, a gorgeous crescent of white sand east of the Waikiki Zoo and aquarium, is a favorite among locals and usually less crowded than where most beachgoers gather, farther west. Kaimana has a lifeguard stand and is terrific for kids to wade, splash and swim. It sits right next to the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, a gem on the much quieter end of Waikiki.

Another fantastic place for families looking to enjoy the beach but escape the crowds is Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore. Immediately east of the property lies a well-protected bay fronted by a broad swath of sand ideal for family fun. Travelers can stay in a range of rooms at the hotel or book a condo. A 10-minute walk from the ocean, with multibedroom layouts, in-unit laundry, full kitchens and several bathrooms, they are perfect for multiday stays.

The resort offers easy access to world-famous Waimea Bay, the small community of Haleiwa and the popular Polynesian Cultural Center, offering a variety of cultural performances, history and music.

On site, the resort has snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and biking trails, Segway tours, standup paddling and surf lessons. As a preteen, my niece rode her first waves during a private surf lesson, just 200 yards from the Turtle Bay hotel pool, an experience that still gets her smiling. Visit www.turtlebay-rentals.com.  

Much more than swimming

Agents can also sell Oahu as a destination where kids have tremendously rewarding educational experiences.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, an annual Christmas stop for President Obama's family on the island's east coast, kids and adults learn about Hawaii's reefs and their diverse collection of sea creatures.

While the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is a must-see for first-time Hawaii visitors, the monument is also home to an extraordinary interpretative center, loaded with informative exhibits, interactive stations and multimedia displays. And the best place in the state to learn about Hawaiian culture is Honolulu's Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, home to a three-story exhibit that showcases the customs of the Islands' first inhabitants, a planetarium and the Adventure Science Center, with interactive exhibits dedicated to Hawaii's volcanic formation and the creatures and environments that evolved here. Visit www.gohawaii.com/oahu.
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