Dining with children in Hawaii: see sea food!

Dining at the Oceanarium restaurant is almost like snorkeling, only you won’t get wet! Located in the Pacific Beach Hotel on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, it offers built-in entertainment for both kids and adults. Tropical fish and even a few manta rays call the two-story saltwater aquarium home.

Serving primarily American and local fare, the Oceanarium is open for breakfast, lunch, and buffet nightly and for weekend brunch. Lunch menu service is available Monday-Wednesday, with a children’s menu.

We recently celebrated our oldest son’s 6th birthday during lunch. Once per day at lunch (twice at brunch and dinner), pers swim with the fish. Upon request, pers carry a custom message board for display nearest your table. Our son was delighted to watch the per appear with his Happy Birthday sign.

Lunch service is usually quiet, and while reservations are recommended (especially for aquarium seating), walk ins are seated quickly. Make sure to get reservations for dinner and weekend brunch. Wait staff is comfortable with young children and ready to supply high chairs, booster seats, and crayons as needed. Watching the fish is the main attraction, but as meal service is slow, keep the crayons handy. For variety or faster self-serve, visit the lunch buffet on Thursday (Japanese) or Friday (local cuisine).

Food quality is good, though not exceptional- this is a restaurant you’ll visit for the experience. Children’s menu offerings are standard: hamburgers, hot dogs, or pasta, served with fries and Jell-O. For a healthier option, ask to substitute fruit or veggies. Drinks and sherbet are also included, and children under 5 eat free at the buffet.

Once the best deal in Waikiki, menu prices have risen to be in line with other restaurants serving similar fare. Lunch entrees run $12-18 with kids’ menu prices around $5, and buffet pricing starts at $36 with Early Bird discounts available for dinner before 6pm (or check your vacation guides for coupons). Even with the updated menu pricing, the Oceanarium remains one of my favorite places for a relaxing weekday lunch with the kids and remains our top restaurant pick for treating visiting friends vacationing in Hawaii and family.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher