What: A new ADA-compliant, 8,000-square-foot area that works for everyone from keiki to kūpuna
Who: A 7-month-old, a 3-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 9-year-old, and their parents
Where: Wet ’n’ Wild Hawai‘i, 400 Farrington Highway
When: A Saturday in November
My 3-year-old son went to a water park for the first time this summer while we were off-island on vacation and he never stopped talking about it. So when we got back home to Hawai‘i, I knew we had to take him to Wet ’n’ Wild Hawai‘i ASAP. We’d heard the new Lil Kahuna Beach was especially great for the little ones and we were excited to try it out. This section of the water park features slides, tipping buckets—oh, the excitement!—and spray features that kept my son occupied for quite some time. Win-win!
Before we headed out, it was raining in town and we were all a little worried that the weather would dampen our day, but after thinking about it some more, we realized it might actually serve us. Fewer people? Not sweltering hot? Both turned out to be true. We left home about 11 a.m., after our littlest napped, and the ride from town took about 35 minutes. We figured we’d last until about 3 o’clock before meltdowns ensued (yes, we’re in that glorious phase of childhood), but we were wrong! When we looked at the clock it was just about 5 o’clock. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. And isn’t that every parent’s dream?
We were escorted to our cabana—one that was by the Hawaiian Waters Wave Pool—just as the Dive ’n’ Movie was about to begin. The kids were surprised and they all pretty much squealed in delight when they found out the movie that day would be Minions: The Rise of Gru, which played at noon and 5 p.m. Our cabana was perfectly situated for watching the movie and keeping an eye on the kids, who watched from the wave pool.
Once the adults got settled, we immediately ordered food. The standard cabanas now offer mobile ordering, which is super convenient. No more waiting in line! Our food was delivered right to us, which was a luxury I didn’t know I wanted. Wholesome and holistic isn’t really on the menu here, so we went all out. Our group shared a cheese pizza, kālua fries and chicken strips.
The cabana has two lounge chairs, two patio chairs, a small table and two inner-tubes, and a small cooler filled with fresh fruit and bottled water. The kiddos finished watching the movie from the cabana, sitting in the shade on towels while they chowed down.
After we ate, I took my littlest one and 3-year-old Indie to Lil Kahuna Beach. They both had a blast splashing around in the water, albeit in different ways. Indie’s favorite parts were the water sprayers and the tipping bucket. For him and the other kids, it was all giggles as they waited under the bucket. And when the water finally poured down on them, those giggles turned to screams of delight. The age-appropriate slides at Lil Kahuna Beach were also a hit, of course.
After that, we went back to reorganize ourselves so a few of the adults could go on some slides. When it was my turn, I chose the Tornado and the Shaka, two of the most thrilling slides, in my opinion! The lines went pretty quick, so we managed to go on both twice in 30 minutes. Then it was back to the cabana to get Indie and take him with us to the O-Hana Highway (you have to be at least 42 inches tall to get on, but that wasn’t a problem since he’s tall for his age). He loved it, and it was so fun to watch his facial expressions with every twist and turn.
The older kids, 7 and 9 years old, spent some time at Lil Kahuna Beach with us, but that didn’t last long. They much preferred the slides and the wave pool, and they said they especially loved the Waimea Whirl, which was conveniently close to our cabana.
We all ended the day in the wave pool, and agreed we had an amazing time. The kids were happy—and exhausted—from hours of splashing, swimming and sliding, and though we spent more time here than we’d expected, none of us really wanted to leave. We were convinced that a Season Pass would totally be worth it, and we’ll be going back soon, perhaps to watch a football game on the big screen.
- Bring some snacks for the car ride, but leave them in the car before entering the park. There’s no outside food allowed (with exceptions for babies and those with specific allergies), and they will check your bag when you get there.
- Go with a group. I think it’s a better experience with a group of people. That way, if you have more than one kid, an adult can accompany each one as needed. If you have older kids who can be by themselves, you can—and should—find some fun of your own at the slides! the bar! the food court!
- Be a kid again. Again, adults should absolutely take advantage of the slides too. The water park is the perfect place to play like a kid, or just relax. Whether it’s in the lazy river or floating around in the wave pool, find what tickles your fancy—and enjoy yourself.
- Scout out the best locations. When booking your cabana, you want to think about what area makes the most sense for your group. The cabanas right at Lil Kahuna Beach are best if you have little kids or need an area that’s ADA-compliant. Want to catch a movie or game from the comfort of your cabana? Snag one by the Hawaiian Waters Wave Pool.
- Choose your day wisely. It seems like there’s always something happening—in a good way! Many Saturdays feature a Dive ’n’ Movie (sometimes they’re even played at both noon and 5 p.m.), and big games play on the big screen on Sundays during football season. Be sure to check the schedule of events.
Wet ’n’ Wild Hawai‘i’s Cyber Week sale runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, offering 2023 Season Passes for $54.99. You also get a free upgrade to the Kahuna Pass, which is loaded with benefits worth over $650, including free parking. Otherwise, kama‘āina admission is $39.99 plus tax, or $44.99 at the door; general admission runs from $53.99, and from $44.99 for children (42 inches and shorter) and seniors (65 and older). Kids age 2 and younger get in free. 400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei. (808) 674-9283. wetnwildhawaii.com, @wetnwildhawai