Turtle Bay is a very well recognised resort on the North Shore of Oahu. It’s been in about 100 movies and is essentially the only accommodation available on the north shore.
The north shore of Oahu is just over an hour drive from the airport and either round the edge or up the middle is about the same amount of time.
Oahu is a beautiful island and there is so much to offer for everyone, but it is the most inhabited. Don’t make your opinion of Hawaiian Islands based off what you see in Oahu. Some people prefer the other islands for the fact they are lower key and less populated but others prefer Oahu for exactly the reason that is happening.
Cost of houses in Oahu
According to Zillow.com the median list price per square foot in Honolulu is $669, which is higher than the Urban Honolulu Metro average of $549. The median price of homes currently listed in Honolulu is $627,500. Compare that to the price range of houses for sale in Diamond Head is $1.88M to $22M with a median price of $3.76M, median interior of 3,664sf and median land size of 10,210sf. Click here for Hawaiian Living link.
You get the idea that there are some very expensive properties on Oahu. As a result, the escape to the north shore is a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle down south. The houses here are bigger comparitively and more spacious and time seems to stand still.
Hawaiians like most Polynesians are delightfully happy and helpful by nature. I am sure any characteristics contrary to that are a result of tourists and their bad behaviour. You will love the service from all the staff and the north shore staff just seem to be more laid back as a result of not being as frazzled from an abundance of tourists. The Polynesian Culture Centre is on the north shore and is defiantly an interesting stop to learn about the history of the islands. For a traditional luau, this is the place to go. You should try to get tickets to their amazing night show called Ha “Breath of Life”. This high energy show is fabulous and as long as the little ones can stay awake they will love it.
There is an added advantage to the north shore – coffee and good coffee. I know Americans like to drink coffee milky and cold which is fine when it’s above 30 degrees outside, the damn frappe I had was the best! I would actually get off the plane and go there again because it was so good. Later in the week with only mediocre coffee in Waikiki I was tempted to drive and get some! Island Vintage Coffee is full of souvenirs. Who knew that macadamias were grown in Hawaii? Pineapples, sugar, coffee and macadamias employ a large number of the work force behind tourism.
The north shore is most famous for its beaches and the surf. I would say followed by the food trucks. We wanted to ensure we saw some of the island so we booked 3 nights at Turtle Bay Resort. We had am early flight from Los Angeles and en route to the airport, well as we pulled up, one of my sons vomited. I flew to Honolulu smelling like vomit. This is mentioned because I planned a day of site seeing and touring. Plans were put on hold as I desperately wanted to get to the hotel and shower. I would strongly recommend hiring a car and driving yourself.
Stops and points of interest
After a quick lunch stop. Travelling with kids ya gotta stop at meal times and there is no Macca’s here. We stopped at Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill. There are a few places here for lunch. Kono’s is another top pick, but as it had a wait for a table we went elsewhere. I was also wearing vomit ridden active wear so to keep moving was key. Lunch was standard burgers and seafood, but really good. The drinks were greatly welcomed as it was heating up outside and the service friendly and efficient. This is an historic town and worth a wander. With two kids in tow who had just stepped off a plane and were melting, the fun and joy was being sucked out of me.
Roy Taisora’s gallery is worth a visit. I had about 5 minutes in here and left purchasing anything as thought I would do later in the week in Waikiki. The north shore art is about 50% cheaper than Waikiki and much easier to access. Don’t make my error of not pushing through. I should have thrown the kids in the sea and cooled them down so I could have some more wandering time. I still think about the print I found and wish I had bought it.
World famous shaved ice
We did get the kids a shaved ice. Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice is the most famous but its shaved ice right? How much variance can there be? Anyway line up with the other tourists we did and got our ice before setting off in the car. With the kids cooled down we headed west for Mokuleia just to have a sticky beak (sorry, Aussie slang for being nosey) and if the beach was good enough a swim. None of the men in my house were interested in a swim so we set off after a look around for Turtle Bay.
Haleiwa is the gateway to famous beaches such as Waimea Bay Beach Park, Ehukai Beach Park (Banzai Pipeline), and Sunset Beach Oahu. We were visiting during summer so the waves were gentle and rolling. In winter the waves at these beaches can be 30ft. Yikes!
Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay, which has 452 rooms on 340 hectares. It is laid back and spacious. There are a great range of activities for everyone to enjoy. Laniakea Beach is the name of the beach where the resort is built. Green sea turtles can be found on the beach nearly anytime. You cannot touch them but you are allowed to see them. At the time of our visit there was also a seal.
We checked in and took the beach to the pool for a break from travelling, having been up since 5.00am and lost a few hours in the air, we needed to give them a chance to get rid of some energy. It was not so hot once we were on the north tip as there was a strong ocean breeze to cool everything down. We decided to stay within the hotel for dinner as it was easy. Find out more.
Day one we headed slightly south to Pupukea Beach Park. There are numerous lava tubes and caves to explore while you snorkel or dive. Shark’s Cove is a part of this Beach Park and is well renowned for great marine spotting and the possibility of seeing turtles. We did find it busy here and an alternative is Three Tables just further down the coast line to the south. Again there are caves below but make sure you are a competent swimmer as there is no life guard on duty. Before heading back to the hotel we wandered through the Waimea Valley botanic gardens up to the waterfalls for a swim. The kids loved the waterfall. I loved the ginger flowers and beautiful trees.
Ehukai Pillbox Hike
We had asked concierge for a recommendation for a hike in the area. I had a 3 year old and a 9 year old with me. They sent us Sunset Elementary School for the entrance to the hike. Having been told it was an intermediate hike to the first two military pillboxes for the view. Well the ground was slippery and greasy red dirt so those without hiking shoes (all of us) struggled with the slippery spots.
We then turn a corner and there are ropes to help you get up the steep incline. That works well with water bottles in my hand and a 3 year old attached! Still we get up and keep climbing. The three year was being eaten by mosquitoes at this point and flaring up in big welts. After 25 minutes and everyone being hot and miserable we decided to turn around. If I had been told it was only minutes away to the view point, I would if kept going. Anyway, you learn.
Always pack laundry bags. Red dirt doesn’t come out easily and if it were in our bags next to all our other clothes it would have been less than helpful. Shoe bags are for this purpose.
In summary, perhaps do this with kids older than 5! The sunset view is apparently worth it. How one gets down in the dark is a mystery but good luck! Pack water it was sweaty and humid.
Kualoa Ranch was a must see for my little Jurassic Park fans. There is more here to do than just see movie spots and locations. The ranch has horse riding and ATV’s. There is a zip-line for the adventurous and kayaking. You won’t be bored here and if you were on the island for an extended stay you could do this one place for a day trip from Waikiki.
The hotel ran a shark snorkel. There are two options. Cage snorkel or not in a cage. My nine year old was busting to do this activity but was cancelled everyday of our stay due to high winds and the danger of being out of the boat. We had resided to doing this from Waikiki later in the week. The price is almost double form Waikiki for this activity. This activity is focused around the behaviour of these animals and my little environmentalist desperately wanted to do this. The resort offers a similar activity with dolphins and turtles.
My eldest son and I booked horse riding at the resort and enjoyed a stroll through the nearby woods and back along the beach. For a more authentic horse riding experience (horses not just following the leader in a line) I would recommend Kualoa Ranch but for the beginner the resort was fun.
My husband and my son took a buggy and played 18 holes. I think his frustration at having paid lessons for over a year for my son and his inability to hit the ball got in the way of any enjoyment for him. There are two championship courses at the resort and if golf is your thing I would recommend getting the unlimited package. Green fees are pricey and to get the most out of your stay, this would be the best way to get out as much as you can. It is busy as access to the course is an easy drive from anywhere on the island.
The resort has a large number of trails and walks of varying distances. The resort is mostly flat so if you are a flat runner you will enjoy this.
Surfing/ kayaking/ paddle board
You can’t come to Hawaii and not try surfing. The resort offers an additional gimmick to these lessons with a dog that can surf with you. This started when there was a beginner trying to surf who was comforted greatly by the dog on his lesson. The dogs are now a part of paddle boarding or surfing at the resort. Adults can only paddle board with the dogs but kids will be comforted by their support.
There are a number of restaurants in the resort. I would recommend the lobby lounge for happy hour when their signature cocktails are $5 each! We ate at nearly every restaurant and I think Roy’s was a definite standout. We had been to Roy’s in Anaheim and loved it. The version at the resort is a more casual but equally as good restaurant. Like all US based restaurants there is a kids menu and activity pack as you walk in. The kid’s mac cheese is the go to.
The resort has lovely gardens and a great pool with a water slide to amuse the kids. The beaches are a short stroll from the main building. All of the rooms have a view. There is a range of accommodation to suit your family’s needs from cottages to villas and rooms and suites. They are all recently renovated and of a generous size. The doors opening to the surf are a welcoming sound while you relax and watch the sunrise. The sunsets were amazing but the best place for these is the pool bar, The Point. Everything has been thoughtfully designed to ensure privacy but also consideration for the natural environment. We really enjoyed our stay and I think 3 nights is an ideal amount of time to stay at this resort allowing you enough time to get out and explore and to just unwind and relax.
Would I go again? Yes, if we are on Oahu for an extended period but there are other islands for us to explore in the Hawaiian islands first.