Index of Thoughts

Friday, August 24, 2012

Traveling to the North Shore of Oahu with kids


We drove to Las Vegas to fly to Honolulu because the prices were awesome!  They were also a great price from Phoenix as well.  We flew with Hawaiian Airlines and I am telling you what - they give you the red carpet treatment.  I got a complimentary glass of wine with my free meal!  Oh yeah.

We stayed at La Quinta South on Surrey which was great with the kiddos!  They have a nice pool, it's super close to the airport, free shuttle service, free parking, a nice roll away crib, comfy queen beds, good breakfast and it was $85.  I never realized how hard it was to get a family friendly hotel in Vegas!!


Ahhhh.... the beaches of Hawaii.  This was our favorite activity to do in Hawaii.  We went almost every day.  I recommend going either in the morning or the afternoon so you won't get fried!  Plus, it's just too much sun for the kids.  Make sure you bring some snorkeling gear.  You can get a good mask and boogie board so your little ones can peak under water.  Most of the beaches had beautiful fish swimming right at your feet.  Some of the beaches on the North Shore have a really steep beach where the water meets the sand.  Here were are favorites with the little ones.

Three Tables Beach - Favorite Spot

Sunset Beach - very pretty but a bit overcrowded & kinda steep beach
Leftovers Beach - loved this beach, great little pools for babies and not crowded

Little EB in the sand
Kailua Beach - decided to try a new beach, a lot rougher waves on this side of the island but the water color was amazing
Waimea Beach - very famous beach!  You can jump off of Waimea Rock which we all did!  What a thrill.  It is a very deep beach - it takes a while to walk down to the water plus it is very difficult to park here too.  We got dropped off and the guys parked the car.  There is also a food cart there doing tacos but the service kinda sucked which isn't an uncommon thing in Hawaii so get used to it.  The best beach is right close to the rock.  It is flat there and it is a lot of fun watching all the divers.
Turtle Beach - can get very crowded but there are lots of sea turtles there that are sunbathing but not a very good beachy sand spot
Ka'ena Point - wonderful for exploring - coral, sea glass, shells, little critters in the pools, bring a hiking pack for the babies, bring water because it is very remote, a very bumpy high clearance road to get to.  I wouldn't want to walk all the way there but people do it.  We saw a monk seal there too!  The whole area is enclosed to help preserve the albatross nests.

Here's the best map that I can find of the North Shore Beaches.  FYI - Beach names seem to coincide with long time locals, tour guides and more recent locals.


Shark's Cove Grill - Great little outdoor food cart spot.  Great with kids after the beach in your suits!  Sit outside, bring your own beer, order up some Ahi Skewers and watch the sun set over the ocean.

Halewia Joe's Patio - Great menu, great patio seating and delicious food.  We went back for our last meal there!  Great spot for the kids.

Mai Tai
Soooo yummy
LuiBuenos - Great happy hour & Great fish tacos!! they also have a cart at Waimea Beach
Ted's Bakery - This place is a legend esp. with the locals.  This is the type of restaurant that you grow up with & when you return to your hometown then you have to go there!  It is always busy no matter what time you come.  The menu has all the local plate lunches plus the bakery items are just heavenly.  We got EB her first birthday cake from there.  Doesn't it look awesome?

Lei Lei's at Turtle Bay & 21 degrees North at Turtle Bay Resort - Superb dining but leave the kids home when going to 21 degrees.  We enjoyed our anniversary there and had the most romantic evening!

Banzai Sushi - Sooooo much fun and some of the best sushi I have ever put in my mouth.  I especially loved the gnarly marly roll which had seared marlin on top and the lemon drop roll.  Kids are totally welcome too.  They have great outdoor seating as well as traditional floor seating.  On night's with live music they offer $5 Ahi Poke Bowls and $3 local brew.  Such a FUN FUN night with lots of laughs, saki and some dancing!  Also check out the band, Hiyah Fire that we had the pleasure of listening too.  It was so great that we bought their CD!!

Papa Ole's - Hidden little local plate lunch style restaurant.  Great shrimp and easy with the kids on their outside picnic tables.

Uahi Island Grill - Super yummy restaurant in Kailua with amazing Hawaiian dishes.  I got the red fish which was absolutely amazing!

Festivals - Eat the Street This was a cool festival to attend.  It wasn't really geared for kids though but they hung in there.  There were a lot of people, no public restrooms or porta potties which is very common in Hawaii and kinda chaotic.  But glad we went!  I got to try some interesting goodies.  Check out the paper there because there is always something super cool going on in Honolulu.

Farmer's Market - There used to be a great one in Halewia but they closed it down.  I can't remember why but they have one now on Saturdays at Sunset Elementary.  There is also a little produce stand in Kahuku that is pretty good.  There are maybe 5 vendors with produce, fresh coconuts and banana lumpia that the kids will love!  My girls weren't real big on the fresh coconut water but I love it!

I loved the earrings from Jessica Wall at the Farmer's Market!  

Waimea Valley - We just loved this place.  It's a privately owned botanical gardens with a waterfall.  You hike up a little ways through the lush gardens until you get to the Falls.  You can go swimming there.  There is a life guard on duty and they have life jackets for the kids.  We only got to swim for a little bit before they called everyone away from the falls because it was flowing really fast.  We had lunch at the little welcome center cafe there that had a great fish sandwich.

Jump off Waimea Rock - You just gotta do it!

Dole Plantation - This was kinda a tourist trap to me.  We attempted the maze and all decided that it was a big waste of money!  We also did the train ride which didn't really show you anything!  Plus you had to pay for those things individually.  The gift shop is huge and the kids of course asked for everything.  Not so fun.  BUT, the pineapple whip was awesome!  So I would recommend going straight to the food area and enjoy some delicious pineapple whip!

Paddle Board Rental in Halewia on River - This was great fun.  Mehana and I did it by ourselves for a little girl time but it would be a great thing to do with the kids.  The board is so big and steady that you could fit probably two kids on each board to sit on the front or back.  The river was so calm and we even saw a sea turtle up stream.  You can also paddle board in the ocean but I found it a little more difficult.  During the summer months, the North Shore is really mellow so you can't really surf.  Don't bother getting lessons for paddle board - it is super easy!!

Polynesian Cultural Center - These people do a really good job.  I was pretty impressed!  The luau at night time is supposed to be a spectacular show too but we didn't go.  We didn't get to do as many activities as we would have liked there due to it being just soooo hot!  They have a stroller rental there that we were hoping to use but didn't know that you have to reserve them so they didn't have one for Evelyn.  The river float parade is really cool and starts at 2pm I believe.  It is pretty pricey to come to as well.  It is more geared for older kids - I recommend 7 and up.

making fish from palm leaves
The new zealand songs were incredible

Pali Lookout in Kailua - It is worth the drive to Kailua to see the view from up high!  It is also super windy too.  The girls loved it!

Making Beach Sand Art - I think Mehana and I had more fun doing this than the kids!  It was a really cool souvenir.  We made a star indention in the sand with a beach toy.  Layed out our beach treasures in the star in the sand.  Then poured plaster of paris that we mixed in a bucket with the sea water into the shape.  We had a little wire on the back so we could hang it.  Then popped it out of the sand when it had dried some.

Other Stuff

Coffee Gallery - Yummy local spot to get awesome coffee plus the best spot for goodies esp. vegan treats!

Aoki's Shaved Iced - The shaved ice in Halewia is world-renowned.  They use japanese ice shavers that make this treat so tasty.  Snow cones suck after having one of these.  There are several shops selling shaved ice and all of them typically have a line out the door.  I was told they sell thousands of shaved ices a day!  Mehana's daughter works at this one - Aoki's and it was so good.  They have so many delicious tropical flavors.  You can also get it on top of ice cream and azuki beans (sweet bean).  How cool is that?

Poke Bar at Foodland - YUMMO!

Street Food Vendors - The food vendors have almost completely taken over the island.  I could not believe how many there are!!  And oh so good.

Here is a picture of Sunset Elementary where Spencer goes to school.  Jack Johnson's son goes to school here as well as Eddie Veder's< daughter./td>

I recommend bringing a backpack carrier for little ones.  The stroller is just useless here.  I would also budget about $400 a day too.  Everything is pretty pricey in Hawaii.  We even stayed with friends and didn't eat out for every meal and it still just added up.  The agricultural inspection when you go home is pretty diligent so make sure you don't bring back things that will be confiscated.  The Honolulu airport is super efficient!  I was really impressed at the ease of checking in.  There are some areas that are a little shady and there are always a lot of people so just keep that in mind when you are out and about with the kids.

As far as packing, we travelled really light - two suitcases between 5 of us.  And we still overpacked!  We lived in our bathing suits and since it is very humid there, it takes a while for them to dry.  So, bring a couple of bathing suits.  The dress there is almost wearing nothing everywhere.  Even in the grocery store people just have on a wrap with their bathing suit.  Easy dresses that are flowy are good, a good wrap, hat & sunglasses and a couple of swim suits will do ya!  And all you need are one pair of slippers (nobody calls them flip flops there).  Same goes for the kids too!  Andy got by with his suit, a pair of shorts, 2 tees, 2 shirts, hat & sunglasses and flip flops.  We could have probably fit it all in one suitcase with a duffle bag packed to check in with your purchases on the way home.



  1. What a wonderful adventure you all had! I am way jealous! Beautiful sights.


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