A Toddler Adventureland on Oahu
The trip to Heeia Pier wasn’t exactly planned. We were enjoying a Jamba Juice following a well-child checkup at the doctor’s office (meaning shots and many fat tears). As we slurped the last of our drinks, I noticed with dismay that we had an hour until nap time. The kids were begging for a visit to the playground, but I couldn’t stomach another hour watching them clamber over the metal structure. In a stroke of brilliance, I decided to take them to nearby Heeia Pier to – well, I wasn’t exactly sure what we would do there. I was just that sick of the playground.
The kids bounced in their car seats with excitement as we pulled into the parking lot. Boats clanked in the breeze and motors hummed in the distance. We didn’t need to go far as they were content watching fish and throwing rocks as they dangled their feet over the clear water.
They were so content, I had to convince them to leave their post to explore the pier. Finally, I was successful and we were treated to stunning views of the bay. Fisherman lazily cast their lines and sea turtles foraged all around, their tiny heads popping up for quick gulps of air. A bit of excited noise caught our attention and we saw a fisherman catch a small hammerhead shark. Kaneohe Bay is a nursing ground for hammerheads, so they’re fairly common in summer. The fisherman kindly invited the kids over to admire the shark and touch its rough skin before releasing it back into the water. It made an impression.
We ended our visit at the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli. The eclectic decor and picture window over the water captivated the kids and we ended up staying long past nap time.
A Snorkel Spot + Gateway to the Kaneohe Sandbar
Over the years we’ve returned to Heeia pier many times. As the kids have gotten older our favorite activity there has morphed from gawking at fish above the water to gawking at fish under the water. On low wind days, we pack our flotilla of kayaks and paddleboards and cruise around the shallows. There is a surprising diversity of coral and fish near the pier. It’s an odd experience to immerse yourself in an underwater world and still be able to see cars zip along the road.
If it’s a particularly nice day, you can paddle out the Kaneohe sandbar. It takes about 30 minutes to kayak to the sandbar depending on conditions and ability. We ususally bring extra rope in case one of the kids gets tired and needs a tow.
Looking for More Family Fun in the Area?