Exploring The Shady Side of Oahu
Sunday, June 17, 2007
We think of it as the Easy Bake Index, a sliding scale of sunburn, salt crust and prune fingers that tells us when it's time to peel the kids off the Hawaiian beach for a few hours. (For us parents, the Baked Scale has more to do with pages of trash fiction read and number of mai tais consumed, but the glazed look is pretty much the same.)
It's just sooooo easy to cast a morning towel at Waikiki or Waimea and assume tropical stupor for the day. Hey, that's why parents endure that 12-hour trans-Pacific school bus flight to get here in the first place. But when our 8-year-old achieves a color that causes passing social workers to reach for their cellphones or we find her toddler brother building sand castles on his tongue, we know it's time to rally for a little break from the breakers.
Fortunately, there is UV-free fun to be had on Oahu. Thanks to a family connection in Honolulu, we've made the trip a half-dozen times in the past 10 years. And to keep each one from turning into a melanoma recruitment fair, we've come up with a week's worth of off-beach diversions that stroke their little attention spans without insulting ours.
DIVERSION: The Science Adventure Center at the Bishop Museum
SUN PROTECTION FACTOR: 50
TIME OFF THE TOWEL: 2 hours
The Bishop Museum is Hawaii's personal little Smithsonian, a much-respected repository of island archives and artifacts. But it has long suffered a dowager's air, a bit dusty, a trifle hidebound in its campus of stocky Victorian-era buildings. Now the Bishop is in the process of updating itself and has achieved a true triumph with the science center, which opened in late 2005.
The shiny new annex makes full use of modern interactive wizardry to explain Hawaii's ecology, geography and, especially, bizarro geology (complete with in-house volcano and 2,500-degree lava furnace). Our planned drop-by turned into a relaxed two hours: My 10-year-old took particular pleasure in wreaking destruction in the tsunami exhibit, but I was the one who kept a crowd of third-graders waiting for half an hour at the pilot-your-own-submersible tank.
INFO: Admission to the Bishop compound, including the science center, planetarium and general exhibits, is $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 4 to 12 and free for kids 3 or younger. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, 808-847-3511, http:/
DIVERSION: The Pineapple Maze at Dole Plantation Gardens
SUN PROTECTION FACTOR: 10 (wear a hat)
TIME OFF THE TOWEL: 3 hours