Hawaii is pretty much one of the most perfect places on earth. Stunning scenery, great hikes, beautiful beaches, cute towns, and a laid-back culture.. all in America so makes the trip even easier! It is romantic for couples and honeymooners; it is family-friendly for the little ones. You may zip-line, climb mountains, or sip your pineapple drink on the beach with your toes in the sand.
I was fortunate enough to visit several times growing up, and since then I have honeymooned on Maui and visited Kauai with my husband. I decided that now was a perfect time for a re-visit of Oahu (this blog) and the Big Island (Part 2).
Many people think big city and Waikiki when they think of Oahu, but that is only a small part of this beautiful island. Another factor that may cause it to sometimes fly under the radar of its popular sib, Maui, is the fact that Oahu has only nine resorts outside of the Waikiki Beach area! But let me tell you- Oahu is definitely worth a visit and a drive around to explore all of its charms! My family (myself, husband, and almost 6-year old daughter and almost 4-year old son) just returned from an amazing visit to the islands, and read below for some of my favorites and places I discovered along the way…
Honolulu is just a direct 8-hour flight away from DFW, and if you are curious if your kids could make it that far- the answer is probably YES! We had brand-new Amazon Fires loaded with movies and games, as well as snacks, new crayons, etc. Upon arrival, we collected our rental car (a must for visiting Hawaii) and headed over to the 5* Kahala Hotel & Resort. The Kahala, located in an exclusive residential neighborhood of Honolulu, is located just on the other side of Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach. So, you are just 10 minutes from Honolulu in case you wish to go into the city, but without the thick crowds at Waikiki. It features a quiet white sand beach, swimming pool, a small kids wading pool, and several restaurants (including two that are beachfront). Also, Dolphin Quest is located here! One of the highlights of our trip was being able to swim with these gentle creatures.
My clients enjoy the following perks at the Kahala:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
- $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
After enjoying some time at the Kahala, we moved on to a lunch and site inspection at the brand new Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. This property, a complete renovation of the former JW Marriott, is garnering some impressive buzz! Newly opened at the end of May 2016, it features four pools, including a relaxing adults-only pool that is the longest in Hawaii, four restaurants, a lounge, and a beautiful setting. It shares the calm Ko Olina lagoon with it’s neighbor, Disney’s Aulani resort. The lagoon is the perfect place to swim (especially for little ones!) and to perfect your SUP skills. And as always, at ALL Four Seasons resorts, the Kids For All Seasons program is complimentary! Parents, you know this is a huge perk. Since 85% of the rooms here have an ocean view, it is hard to go wrong, but I recommend a deluxe ocean view room or suite on a higher floor for sweeping views of Ko Olina.
My guests enjoy the following perks at the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina:
- Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
- Spa credit of USD100 once during stay (not applicable to products)
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas)
After a great visit to the new Four Seasons, we went about 50 yards next door to settle in for three nights at Disney’s Aulani property! For kids, or kids at heart, there is really no better combination than Mickey Mouse and the beach. We had a great stay, and I can sum it up with my favorite parts about Aulani:
- Aulani is FUN! We enjoyed a character breakfast at Makahiki, joined in a Goofy-led dance party in the pool, and watched a Polynesian show under the stars. For kids- add in the lazy river and waterpark, and it’s perfection!
- There are many accommodation styles, including 1-3 bedroom villas, which are PERFECT for traveling families or groups.
- The food was really good! Mickey pancakes with an acai bowl for breakfast? Yes, please!
- Aunty’s Beach House is a comprehensive kids club for ages 3-12 that is included in the rate. As well, Aulani releases a daily ‘Iwa schedule that lists all the activities available for that day- includes fun things like beach yoga, pool party, hula lessons, etc. Fun for the whole family!
- The Ko Olina lagoon is perfect for little ones.. it is protected from the ocean and very safe for small swimmers. Plus, Aulani has free beach toys and buckets you can borrow!
We also enjoyed the oceanfront Paradise Cove luau one night, which is easily walkable from either the Four Seasons or Aulani (it is actually just right next to Aulani). Know that it is a larger luau, approximately 900 guests including buses of guests from the Waikiki area. But they have a great show, and fun beforehand with craft stations set up- we made our own flower headbands!
After exploring the southern shores of Oahu, we headed up to the famed North Shore! In the winter, the North Shore beaches are known worldwide for surfing (you’ve heard of the Bonzai Pipeline? It’s here!) but in the summers, the waters are calmer and crowds thinner. En route to the north shore, we made several stops to keep the drive fun.. as you will see below! Dole Pineapple Plantation, Haleiwa town for shave ice, North Shore beaches, Waimea Valley, and a food truck lunch. Perfect Oahu day!
We finally arrived at Turtle Bay Resort, at the northernmost point on Oahu’s North Shore. I was so excited to see it, not only because it just underwent a $30 million+ renovation, but because I actually stayed here with my family when I was a girl! It thrills me to be able to bring my kids back to a place that I traveled to when I was younger. Turtle Bay has this laid-back surfers aura about it, and I love it. No pretense here, just a beautiful location, great views, and a breezy aesthetic. For a short time each summer, you can actually see both sunrise and sunset from the resort due to its location perched out on a rocky point.
The main pool is large and has a great beach bar at one end, home to Polynesian entertainment and local artists some nights. A smaller pool features a small waterfall and little slide (fun for kids!) There is also a kids wading pool and hot tub. Activities at the North Shore include snorkeling just off the beach, surf lessons, horseback, SUP, golf, among others.. We saw many couples and also families enjoying this property- it really has something for everyone!
Book your stay at Turtle Bay Resort with Haute Holidays Travel and ask me about special perks my clients get here.
Overall, our trip to Oahu was amazing!! It was fun to rediscover this beautiful island, which has so much more to offer than Waikiki Beach. Waterfalls, beautiful beaches, lush scenery, cute surfing towns, and more!! But it was time to say goodbye (aloha!) and move on to.. the Big Island!!