Have you travelled with teens? I have. The cliché of eye rolling, moody, perpetually starving, self and phone-obsessed mini human rings true for me. And I've got great kids. As we have learned from interesting exposés featured in National Geographic magazine, amongst many other scientific journals, the teenage brain is doing its best to be reasonable, but at any given moment the surge of hormones can and will overwhelm. Hence what works for me is having at least something each day that seems to be geared for them, when in reality I enjoy doing these things too (our secret). Feet first! Do they like to jump off 30 ft rocks into the ocean? If it's summer, head to Waimea Beach Park, between the town of Haleiwa and Turtle Bay Resort and let them jump of the rock, just like Jack Johnson did in the Upside Down video for the Curious George movie. Fun fact, Waimea means 'red water' in Hawaiian, and Waimea Bay/ Rock was named because of the nearby red Waimea river. Keep in mind, this is only for the kids who are mentally and physically equipped to jump this high, land in the ocean and swim back to the beach. My girls have been doing it since they were eight, but they are comfortable in the water.
Paddle to a far off Island "The Mokes" or Mokulua islands off Lanikai Beach are famously the back drop for many beach commercials; you'll recognize them when you see them. And they are just about a mile off the coast, which usually takes about 30 minutes to paddle the distance. Here's a good description of the experience on the UnReal Hawaii website, with great photos (much better than mine). Warning - you do need to put the SUPs or Kayaks on your car, but the folks at Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks will help you, and give you directions to get to Lanikai Beach. Stop at Kalapawai Market on your way to the beach for a picnic lunch and snacks - your kids will be hungry.
Body Surf Makapu'u on the easternmost tip of the island or Sandy Beach just up the road. I'm only recommending this to the kids who are comfortable in the water. Makapu'u is the more gentle of the two and can provide hours of body surfing fun, while Sandy Beach is definitely an expert beach, and if they are already competent bodysurfers, this beach can be a wild experience they will remember for years to come. I can't stress enough that these both can be dangerous if your teen isn't already a strong swimmer. Be sure to bring sunscreen, snacks and water because there is no place to buy anything near either spot. If you have any concerns about their safety check with the lifeguard to get their advice on where to swim.
Learn to Surf My girls have had a few lessons with various instructors through the years, and Hans Hedemann's surf school, has been their favorite, and mine. They have a location at Turtle Bay Resort as well as in Waikiki, and if you plan to stay in both locations, you can get a week-long package for board rentals at a great price.
Taste Test Make it a point to go to every shave ice shop you see. Let them judge for themselves, which is best and why. My favorite at the moment, is Uncle Clay's in Hawaii Kai (perfect post body surfing snack).
I have also created a page through my booking partners with activities I know my kids would enjoy, like riding ATVs at Kauloa Ranch, Pearl Harbor (you have to go once), swimming with sharks on the North Shore and more. Book before you leave, so you know you have a few teen-centric activities set in stone.
Let me know if I've missed your favorite.