Oahu for families or for singles or for me – alone? I have been in love with Hawaii and the idea of one day visiting since I was a little girl. My dad was a farmer and he rarely sat down. Occasionally on a rainy Sunday he would spend the afternoon watching the Sunday movie. We only had two channels in rural Australia so there was not a lot of choice. More often than not it was a wild west with Clint Eastwood or an Elvis Priestly movie. The bad acting and the random songs in a love scene were all part of the fun.
My husband and I decided to take the kids overseas and we wanted the flight to be relatively short and an easy travel time on the ground. By that I didn’t want to be backpacking in a jungle or the like for this particular holiday. We had a 3 year old in tow so ease was a must. We decided on Hawaii (ignore that we than added another 6 hour flight and went to California as well) and collected information form trusted sources. Loads of people who fly to the states stop there on their way so we had a few people to refer to. In addition to that I have a friend who has been to every island at least once so I tapped into his knowledge. A dear friend’s sister did the Hawaiian Ironman about 3 times so her advice was also sort.
Advice in Summary
- Go to the islands and leave Waikiki alone.
- Stay on Oahu for your first trip.
- Waikiki is tacky and terrible.
- The North Shore is amazing.
- Kaui is the best
- Kaui is boring and rains a lot.
- The Big Island is backward. The Big Island is beautiful
- Maui is the best for kids
- Maui is for honeymooners.
Now you get an idea of what happens when you start researching. So I did a quick summary on a spreadsheet – and yes I do work as an analyst in part so creating a comparison table is something I do. It may seem like overkill but it does help to break through the conflicts and confusion and help decision making.
Steps to deciding where to go and how long
First – define how much time you have?
If you only have 7-8 days then stay put in Oahu. If you have 10-14 days you will be able to fit in another island. Be mindful that you will spend the majority of a day travelling and the vast majority of international flights leave from Oahu in the am. As a result you will spending an overnight in Waikiki before your flight. SO Going out to an island will have to allow for an overnight on the way home.
What do you want to do on your holiday?
North Shore and some spots on the east coast but I was advised that the surfing culture here can be a little gang like and rough. Certainly not something I want for kids.
You can’t beat Waikiki and the reefs around the coast.
Ala Moana has long been THE shopping destination but I think you need to consider International Marketplace behind the Outrigger as it will be more convenient and whilst not as large it certainly ticked a lot of boxes for me. The outlet stores are great for Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade, Coach, DKNY and Tommy Bahama, but the discounts at Macy’s and other mainstream stores will be greater than any Australian store.
TIP – Saks 5th Avenue is a whole different world – the service is incomporable.
Huanama Bay. BUT in front of the aquarium is often overlooked and just as good and way less crowded if you love fish.
TIP – go early before the crowds arrive. Use a tour guide to drop off and collect with additional advantage of snorkel gear provided in price.
TIP – be prepared, there is no access to buy food and drink down in the bay.
TIP – I would plan to go for a walk here with kids. The top of the old crater has a lovely view and is relatively flat – somewhat hard to find in Hawaii. Many of the other walks are difficult for little children.
Waikiki is where the range is and where the action is. Can’t be beaten. Having said that the food trucks on the North Shore are fun and great to get away for restaurant food. Yes, when you are travelling it does get tiring eating out every meal.
You know the expression there is something for everyone. There absolutely is something for everyone in Waikiki. Old hats or regular guests will tell you it is not necessary to stay beachfront and on the strip. Others will tell you that the Hilton Village is ideal but they often don’t leave the village during their visit. Others will recommend a Air BnB. Pick what suits you.
Accommodation on the North Shore really is only Turtle Bay resort to stay unless you book a private house or Air BnB. Three nights is plenty of time on this side of the island.
TIP – US hotels don’t really have breakfast included like many Australian and Asian hotels do. You will dine out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
TIP – getting an apartment to keep costs down and eating breakfast in your apartment is theoretically good but the supermarkets accessible to the strip are expensive and limited. The bigger supermarkets are a cab or uber away. It’s not impossible but keep this in mind.
Attractions for kids –
Wet n’ Wild is a 30 minute cab drive and you will need to allow at least a half day to visit. You could spend the remainder of the afternoon at the factory outlets that are nearby.
The Honolulu Zoo is sweet and a nice break from the sun. Allow 1-2 hours.
Waikiki Aquarium – allow 1-2 hours here for a break from the sun.
Outrigger canoe ride – I cannot recommend this enough. My three year old screamed all the way out – and yes it was delightfully pleasant (not!) but as soon as we were riding a wave he loved it. My eldest son was very reluctant to give surfing a try but after the experience of riding a wave in the canoe wanted to do it more and more.
TIP – Pearl Harbour is a place of reflection, honour and respect. It’s hard to get children to understand that in searing heat and no shade. If you desperately want to visit I suggest a babysitter.
Coffee – ahh my true love can be found in Oahu. Not just an 8/10 coffee but a pretty standard 9 and sometimes a little bit more. Hawaii grows coffee and they roast a really good bean. I am not being biased from having 10 days coffee free or little consumption prior to arriving in Oahu and being pleasantly surprised by finding such a lovely cup. It truly is a good cup of coffee. More on Oahu coffee to come.
I strongly recommend Oahu, there is so much to do for whatever type of holiday you want. I’m not a shopper but Hawaiian shopping is awesome. I loved the sea. The atmosphere is great. It’s fun. It’s clean. It’s friendly. Its awesome.