Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden | Kids Activities on Oahu

Okay, so you probably have already been to Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden and you’re not impressed with this Keiki Monday. But really, it’s a big garden and there is a lot to do. We live a few minutes away and end up there quite a bit, so stick with me while I share our favorite activities in this two-part blog post. Two parts! That’s how much there is to do!

1. Take a Hike. Grassy meadows, muddy stream trails, dense jungle, gravel, pavement, sweeping panoramas and even a bog – there is a little something for everyone. The trails are pretty short, but you can link them together and make a more substantial hike. You can pick up a map at the visitor center or find one here.

Oahu hiking with kids and familiesOahu botanical garden kids activities

2. Float a Boat. I occasionally try a new parking area and explore from there. I’m too lazy to bother with a map, so it’s always a surprise. Well, we were recently delighted to discover Kahua Lehua, which leads to pixie meadow (see picture above) and it’s pretty amazing. Huge open space, beautiful views, a little stream, and no people. Not even on the weekend. Those steep, grassy hills make me want to drag a slip and slide out there on a rainy day. Now that would be fun!

The part of the stream adjacent to the meadow is a man-made rock structure, which makes it a bit more kid friendly to access. We spent a day floating leaves and kukui nuts down the stream and decided to up our game with paper boats. I folded a bunch of boats, dipped them in paraffin wax so they would last a bit longer, and we were off to the races!

Well, not quite. There was a rescue operation at Ho’omaluhia that day. A helicopter was trying to sling a group of lost hikers from the summit. The only thing Micah loves more than fire trucks is helicopters (he keeps insisting I send him to pilot school) and they were both there. Little. Boy. Heaven. After seeing that, Micah wasn’t as much interested in racing the boats as rescuing them. He took it very seriously and we had no casualties. (P.S. there is always a leptospirosis hazard with fresh water, float boats at your own risk).

Kids photography for Oahu Hawaii

3. Camping. Okay, this one we haven’t actually done. At least not yet. It’s been on my list for awhile, just waiting until the weather is a little warmer, a little drier. Kahua Lehua looks like the perfect spot too. The other sites are okay, but this one is small, surrounded by native plants, and each campsite has a little fire pit for roasting marshmallows – just perfect. They do lock you in the garden at night, but they have escape times at 5:30 and 9:00 if you decide to bail. Find out more here.

4. Climb a Tree. Micah claimed a low-branching tree down by the lake as his own. He takes great pride in climbing that tree. It’s been a long progression. Each visit he would be a little more daring and climb just a little bit higher until he finally made it. There’s something satisfying about climbing a tree. Feel free to borrow Micah’s or search for another to make your own.

Hawaii Family outside photographer

5. Catch a Fish. For years I would see families and big groups of kids heading to the back of the lake with fishing poles. For some reason, I thought it was an organized event or a school group. Turns out the catch and release fishing program is open to everyone. They even give you the poles. Just stop at the visitor center on the weekend and they’ll set you up with some bamboo fishing poles. Hike around to the back of the lake and volunteers can help you master your technique. Making the perfect bread ball is a bit of an art form. Bring your own bread or shrimp if you want to catch something other than tilapia. Micah was blown away by the experience.

Hoomaluhia fishing kids activities Oahu

   | Head over to Ho’omaluhia Part II! |

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