The Honolulu Zoo, Surf Lessons, and Scenic Views Make the Perfect Family Day

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The zoo is the perfect place to start your family day activities when the kids want to see a different side of paradise.

If you’re looking for an ideal location for a family excursion that’s not the usual, look toward your animal kingdom friends first. Make a day of it and take in all that the zoo (and surrounding attractions) have to offer.

The Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo houses 905 different animals on more than 42 acres, earning its name as “the wildest place in Waikiki.” You and your family enter through magnificent banyan trees and marvel at the courtyard filled with artists and photographers practicing their trade. Giggles move through your family as the monkeys swing across the treetops of their island enclosure, chasing each other until they switch roles a moment later. Gators snap in the surrounding waters, joined by giant tortoises on both sides of the bridge. A smattering of beautiful feathered friends greets you along the walkway. The route starts you off with the flamingo and duck ponds, leading you to the endangered Hawaiian nene as flamboyant parrots fly around.

Miniature Keiki Zoo and Discovery Center

What’s especially exciting at the zoo is the Discovery Center—which, over the past few years, has quadrupled the total size of the zoo—with exhibits like an expansive guinea pig display. It’s a good way to ease the young ones into an adventure with the goose pond, and gets them excited for when they’re able to crawl through a log and spin the water wheel. Next, you stroll around with the peacocks, enjoying the miniature kid’s zoo within a zoo, where the children are encouraged to interact with the animals. Your little monkeys get up close and personal with the farm animals. Afterward, you find yourselves a few inches away from the koi fish in the aquarium. It’s time to plop down in the storytelling garden for some entertainment.

Zoo Gardens

Exotic, rainbow foliage lines the extra-wide walkways winding around the exhibits. Let your family discover a uniquely Hawaiian feel as you stop to smell the flowers. You challenge your kids to name all the plants they see as you walk around. There are so many plant species—including native Hawaiian plants—your family experiences the pleasure of being in a botanical garden. To eat among the beauty, you bring your own picnic into the large designated eating area, where the birds apparently haven’t read the signs saying, “please don’t feed the animals.”

Hans Hedemann Surf School

Lucky for you, the Honolulu Zoo is located right across from Waikiki Beach. After your zoo experience, there’s still time for family day activities that involve water sports and a sunset (and maybe even a cheeseburger afterward). To awaken your gang’s adventurous side, you soak in some rays while snagging a surf lesson from Hans Hedemann Surf School. As you line your colorful boards up on the sand, your instructor gives you a detailed lesson with a laid-back, island vibe. Your kids can’t wait to show off their new moves.

Diamond Head Beach

A quick 5-minute drive lands you at the Diamond Head Beach lookout. There are so many ways to explore this notable spot, including the lighthouse and tide pools. You do note, however, that this area isn’t recommended for swimming, since the reef is shallow and extends to the beach in many areas. As a team, you decide to put on your comfortable shoes and hike around the area to experience a scenic view before your vacation ends. Even in all your time in paradise, you have not seen an ocean so blue and vast.

  • Hans Hedemann Surf School

    2586 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

    (808) 924-7778

  • Diamond Head Beach Park

    Honolulu, HI 96816

    (808) 587-0300

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