We had such a great family vacation in Oahu! This trip is what we gave our kids for Christmas! We didn’t want to do many gifts since we were moving. But it was truly what we all needed. Everything has been so busy with the move, so I’m so glad we could just soak up our time as a family for 10 days! We did a couple beach days, did a fun/muddy hike, stayed up late, watched movies, and had family dinner every night! Joe and I were able to go on a few dates while Hunter watched the kids! It was such a memorable trip and I’m so grateful for my people!
We’ve been to Oahu multiple times, so I wanted to do a recap of our trip while also creating an Oahu travel guide that you guys can refer back to! Our friends also gave us a ton of other great recommendations, so I’ll be sharing those as well. I posted an Oahu travel guide back in 2019, so here is the link for that. That’s why I’m calling today’s travel guide part 2!
OUR OAHU TRAVEL GUIDE
snorkeling at turtle bay cove
: WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. This is the only place we’ve ever stayed in Oahu and it’s our absolute favorite! The hotel just got redone and it’s so beautiful. That’s where Joe and I usually stay when we go by ourselves, but when we go with family we stay in the Villas! We love staying at Turtle Bay because it’s out of the city and more secluded.
Every time we get to Oahu, we pick up our rental car and head to Costco first thing! It’s on the way to the North Shore which is nice. We stock up on snacks, breakfast items, lunch items, and anything we might need for the week. That way we aren’t eating out for every meal. So that would honestly be one of my top tips when staying near the North Shore, especially at Turtle Bay.
shark cage diving with Haleiwa Shark Tours
- Lei Lei’s at Turtle Bay is so good for dinner. Everything we’ve tried on the menu is delicious! Lei Lei’s is great for kids because the food comes out quick and then they can play on the grass.
- Bonzai Bowl has amazing acai bowls! It’s connected to a gas station on the North Shore.
- Seven Brothers has the best burgers ever! We ate there probably 6 times. It’s the whole family’s favorite. They have two locations, one is a food truck and the other has an indoor/outdoor seating.
- Chollos is the best Mexican food we’ve found there!
- Waialua Bakery has the yummiest sandwhiches and cookies! Everything is made fresh!
- Leonard’s Bakery is one of our favorites. We get the hot malasadas and they are a must have!!
- Matsumoto Shave Ice is a popular spot for shaved ice. It’s good, but it’s nothing special in our opinion.
- Island Vintage Shave Ice is in Honolulu and you HAVE TO GO. I can’t even explain how good it is! They use fresh fruit puree and have the best shaved ice you’ll ever find.
- Food Trucks are everywhere around the North Shore area. These are everyone’s favorites because they are so easy, especially with kids. There are lots of good shrimp trucks if you like seafood. We ate at a pizza one and the kids loved it!
ziplining with Climb Works at Keana Farms
There are beaches EVERYWHERE on the North Shore! It’s such a beautiful area, so honestly anywhere on the North Shore would be good. I’ll share our favorites below.
- Waimea Bay is a fun beach! The kids can’t totally get in because the waves are so rough, but it’s fun for them to body surf. This is the beach that has the huge rock, so the kids are able to cliff jump!
- Pipeline Beach is always fun because there is usually always a surfing competition going on, so it’s really fun to watch!
- Malaekahana Beach Campground is towards Laie. It’s a fun beach with smaller waves if you want to boogie board or try surfing! My kids REALLY liked this one.
end lookout of Pillbox hike
- Pillbox Hike is the muddy hike we did as a family last week! If you look it up you’ll be able to find it. It starts by Sunset Elementary.
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike has beautiful views and is easy enough for kids! It’s in Kailua.
- Haleiwa also has a pillbox hike that you can see tons at.
- There are actually a ton of hikes on the Turtle Bay property. Banian Tree and Pooch Hill are fun hikes to walk or run.
paddle boarding in Haleiwa
- Waimea Falls is fun. You walk through botanical gardens and end at a waterfall that you can swim in! They provide life jackets. I’ve done it a few times.
- My kids FAVORITE activity was the ziplining with Climb Works at Keana Farms on the North Shore.
- Honolulu has the best shaved ice so that’s the main reason we go into town. They also have good shopping and nationwide food chains.
- Haleiwa Shark Tours takes you out to swim with sharks in a cage! Go early though because the waves get bad.
- We did surf lessons with North Shore Surf Girls and the kids loved it! They had a photographer too which was nice.
- The Laie LDS Temple grounds are just so beautiful! We loved walking around and the kids enjoyed going inside the visitors center.
- The Polynesian Cultural Center is fun, but I think that one time was enough for us. There is a LOT to do there. If you go, plan for about 5-6 hours.
- We rented paddle boards in Haleiwa and paddle boarded along Anahulu River. We saw SO many turtles! There’s a rope you can swing from a tree into the river on your way back. You can bridge jump there too. My kids had a blast paddle boarding!
- Kawela Bay was an awesome bay to swim in. It’s very private and has really warm water!
- Paradise Cove is such a fun option for snorkeling! Turtles will swim right up to you. We almost always see monk seals too! The parking there is terrible, but it’s worth the wait. It’s right next to Aulani for reference.
- Turtle Bay has horseback riding along the beach! We’ve never done it, but have heard it’s really fun.
- The Dole Plantation is a one time thing, for us at least. It’s fun to see how pineapples grow! And make sure you get a delicious dole whip!
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That wraps up our Oahu travel guide! I hope it’s helpful. If you have any great recommendations to add to this list, please let me know!