As most of you already know from following along over on Instagram, Joe and I just got back from an anniversary trip to Oahu. It is one of our very favorite places to go as a family, and we loved it so much as just the two of us! I’ve had so many questions about where we stayed, where to eat, and what to do, so I sat down with Joe and we put together allll of our very favorites for you here!
First up has gotta be food, because lets be honest, that is what we look forward to the most on vacations! Am I right?! Oahu has SO SO much good food. I will say a lot of the typical tourist stops are a little over-hyped in my opinion. So I wanted to share with you our tried and true favorites I promise you will love! And a mom tip for you! If you are staying in a condo, stop at the Costco. It will save you so much on breakfast and lunch to grab food there and make it at your condo, even compared to regular grocery stores there. Save that money for going out to dinner or activities!
FOOD TRUCKS : these are the best options to grab while you are out and about and VERY kid friendly.
- Seven Brothers : This is by far my very favorite place to eat in Oahu. They are the most amazing juicy flavorful burgers you will ever eat. Their shakes…their coconut shrimp…the fries…everything is so so good!! Local Utahns are in luck because they just put 2 locations in Utah County. Oh man my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
- Impossible Pizza : We tried this for the first time this trip and LOVED it. Be prepared for a slice bigger than your head. It is some of the best pizza we have ever tried.
- Pupukea Grill : Another super yummy spot. We love their Kailua Pork Grilled Cheese + the BBQ Pork Quesadillas. If you are a fresh tuna fan (we aren’t), I have heard you will love their Spicy Tuna Bowl too.
- Aji Limo : Best Fish Tacos you will find in Hawaii! Enough said!
SIT DOWN SPOTS :
- Duke’s : Named after a famous surfer in Waikiki, their food is just as amazing. I would say this is more of a date night/couples spot. So many yummy seafood options that are so fresh and delicious
- Roy’s : Located at Turtle Bay on the North Shore (where we stay). The most delicious Mahi Mahi
- Cholo’s : If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know our obsession with Mexican Food. We always try to find the best wherever we go, and Cholo’s wins for Hawaii.
- Disney Aulani : Even if you don’t stay at the Disney Aulani, you can head there for their breakfast! It is so delicious and your kids will be in heaven getting to see Mickey and the gang. Since you ate breakfast there, they will also let you go out and snorkel and swim in their private little cove. So kid calm and kid friendly of course!
TREATS + GOODIES :
- Ted’s Bakery : Plan on walking in here and realizing you are going to want to order one of everything! The glazed donuts are my very favorite.
- Vintage Island Shaved Ice : Personally, I am not a fan of most shaved ice places. Way to sugary for me. But this is a HUGE exception, and quite possible my favorite thing we ate on our trip. It is all natural, so they flavor it will real fruit juice, not the sugary syrups. And this sounds weird, but the ice is more fluffy like snow instead of too crunchy. If that isn’t good enough, you choose to have either frozen yogurt or soft serve on the bottom. Words can’t describe how good it is. We went back twice!
- Dole Plantation : I couldn’t have a food list and not include the OG makers of the Dole Whip! Such a touristy favorite but for sure worth it!
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:: THINGS TO DO
Next up is things to do. This island is full of sooooo many things to do that you will love! Having been there a few times, we didn’t do the usual first timer tourist spots, but if you haven’t been they are a must see! So I’ve listed them and then shared some of our new favorites from this trip!
FIRST TIMER FAVORITES :
- Polynesian Cultural Center : This is such a fun place to go if you are traveling with kids!! It is mostly outdoors and so beautiful. You get to walk around to different “stations” that represent different Polynesian countries. From learning different styles of dance, taste testing foods, getting temporary tribal tattoos, there is so much to do and they love to include your kids in the presentations. We love it here! While I wouldn’t say the luau is totally necessary in my opinion, if you can budget in the night show, it is amazing!
- Dole Plantation : Dole Whip anyone?! That alone is worth going to the Plantation for. Kids will love taking the little train tour through the pineapple plantation and learning all about how they grow, and of course tasting samples!
- Pearl Harbor : This is a must visit if you haven’t been. It is so humbling and I learned so much. While it does require a lot of being respectful and listening, I do think it is still a great place to take your kids to experience too.
- Snorkeling : If you want to snorkel for the first time, Haimea Bay will be your favorite spot! Super calm and so much to see! We also love snorkeling in Turtle Beach (so many turtles) and Sharks Cove.
- Laie Temple Visitor Center : Whether you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or not, this is a beautiful breathtaking place to stop and visit.
- Waikiki : We tend to stay away from Waikiki, just because we get enough of the city everywhere else, but it is a must hit at least once. Lots of yummy restaurants and pretty beaches.
NOT SO COMMON FAVORITES :
- Helicopter Tour : We did this for the first time this trip and LOVED it!! I think it was my favorite thing we did. A lot of people asked if I was freaked out and honestly I wasn’t at all. The pilot was the sweetest man and we actually found out he grew up around where we live now. He was so friendly and made us feel safe and at ease. We took the doors off so you get a full view and it was amazing. I highly highly recommend this! The tour group we used was called Paradise Helicopters!
- Haleiwa : We love going here, especially when we have the kids! There is little cove that is perfect for renting kayaks or paddle boards and taking them out to a little island. Since it is a cove, the water is calm and not choppy and scary for the kids out in the open water.
- Swim with Sharks : We were so excited to do this, but kept getting cancelled. They have the option to swim in open water (which we were dying to do), or in a cage. If you can, I think this should be a must do!
- Beaches : Obviously going to the beach is a common thing to do in Hawaii, but these particular beaches may not be. Joe’s very favorite in the world is Waimea Beach. Our other favorites to hit are Pipeline and Sunset Beach.Sky Dive Hawaii : This one is coming completely from my assistant Michelle, because I wouldn’t dare! She said it is incredible to see the ocean/beach views and they are so fun and professional.
Hawaii has so many amazing hikes, that it deserves it’s own section in addition to the activity ideas above. From strenuous and super sweaty climbs, to stroller friendly flip flop walks, there are so many good options!!
- Waimea Falls : This is the perfect “hike” for a family. It is all paved and very stroller friendly. Honestly it is more of a walk than a hike. At the end there is a beautiful waterfall. They have life jackets there for you and everything. It is the perfect no planning, flip flop family friendly hike!
- Ehukai Pillbox : This one is kind of a locals secret. It has amazing view of the North Shore coastline. It is a pretty quick hike but would probably be a little too hard for smaller kids. Our big kids would love it.
- Lanikai Pillbox : This was my favorite hike Joe and I did on our trip. It is known for it its absolutely incredible views!! We couldn’t believe how amazing it was. Hiking all the way to the top takes about 60-90 minutes depending on how often you need a breather/want to take pictures. The beginning is a steep climb, but if you can get past that we saw lots of families with kids doing it too.
- Koko Head Stairs : Super strenuous and a major booty burner, but you will love it! Probably geared more towards adults, but the view at the top is incredible!
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:: WHERE WE STAY
One of our most asked questions was where we like to stay when we go to Hawaii. And to be honest, we haven’t tried out a lot of options, because we fell in love with Turtle Bay years ago. It is over on the North Shore and so beautiful. We love that it feels so private and away from the big city area of Waikiki, but it is still close enough to plenty of yummy food and beautiful beaches. This is in no way sponsored, we paid for our trip ourselves, but it is honestly such an amazing place to stay as a couple or with your whole family! We have loved it every time we came!
I know that was a ton of information, but Hawaii is honestly one of our very favorites!! If you have any favorites we missed, please share so I can add them here!! We are always looking for new places to eat or things to try out!!