As some of you may know, I went to Hawaii in October and it was absolutely gorgeous. I traveled there once before (on the big Island) for my husband and I’s honeymoon, and it was so much fun finally going back. This time we went to Oahu, and I must say I did like it a lot more than the big island. The reason being, there seemed to be a bit more to do. The big island was also unique in that everything was a lot more authentic and not as “touristy.” Is that even a word? So really, you can’t go wrong either way.
I made it a goal this year that I wanted to travel more. Every year we talk about going on vacation, but it was always so last minute that the timing just never seemed to work out. So, we are PLANNING this year and scheduling our trips in advance so we can make sure they actually happen. I promise to do a travel guide for each one so I can give you the scoop on best places to eat, where to go/not to go, best places for kids, etc.
I was lucky to be traveling with my in-laws, (specifically my very organized sister in-law, Kamie). She out together an itinerary and scheduled time for us all to do exactly what we wanted. I honestly feel like if you are going to pay to go to Hawaii, you might as well make a schedule to get your moneys worth in. Am I right? We each purchased an Oahu Pass which allowed us certain excursions and events. It was well worth the money considering everything we were able to do.
What we did with our Oahu Pass-
Our matching swimsuits are from Raising Wild
Kualoa Ranch had a ton of activities we could have done. I think one them even included a tour of where they filmed Jurrasic Park. We decided to do their Private Island tour. Boy am I happy we did that! The island wasn’t busy, and they had hammocks for all of the guests. We spent the day paddle boarding and went on one of their glass bottom boat tours. Did I mention the views were also incredible? This was one of our most enjoyable and relaxing days. Cruze even took a little nap in the hammock.
Is it kid friendly? – Absolutely. The water was beautiful and shallow with very minimal little waves. Cruze quite enjoyed himself. I can’t wait to go back with my entire family.
Hanauma Bay– Now this was probably my favorite (and most beautiful) excursion. We went snorkeling here and the water was absolutely breathtaking. I went snorkeling for the first time without having a mental breakdown. Read about that here. We saw the most beautiful fish and had an absolute blast. I mean, can you even believe that view? Just gorgeous.
Id say the only down side to this was it was a bit more crowded, and you do have to sit in line and watch a short video about the Bay and that can sometimes be a pain with kids. Also the trip up and down to the beach were very steep and LONG. They do offer buses that will take you up and down if you do need it. I actually enjoyed the workout after all the amazing food we had eaten.
My Swimsuit if from Raising Wild
Is it Kid friendly– YES -If you’re wondering if this beach was appropriate for small kids- the answer is YES! There were no waves, and the water was shallow. Oh and clear! So crazy beautiful I couldn’t even handle it!
Polynesian Cultural Center Luau– This was a must on our list, because we had several people tell us to do it. Honestly, I don’t know that it would be worth it to do again. The actual Cultural Center was awesome. Lots of places to shop, the most delicious treats, and and of course you can learn a lot about the Polynesian culture. I would highly suggest getting one of their famous pineapple smoothies. They are pricey, but it’s basically three smoothies in one. Plus, if you get it from one of the little stands outside the Luau, they give you an extra cup of smoothie. I gave mine to Cruze and he LOVED it!
The Luau itself was fun, but Im not sure if it was worth the money. That event was a big one on our Oahu Pass, and I wish we would have used it on something else. BUT I would highly suggest checking out the Cultural Center and the Breath of Life show. Both were amazing.
If you are in Hawaii, you basically HAVE to go to a luau. I mean, come on. There are so many going on, you can probably find a decent one somewhere that won’t cost as much as the Polynesian Cultural Center. I know on our Honeymoon in Kona, we did one with our resort. Just depends on how and where you are traveling.
(**Disclaimer**- YES I know Cruze is not being held in his baby carrier correctly. I was reached out to by over 500 concerned mamas. I was used to having him in a wrap, and bought this cheap one last minute before our trip. I hated it and ended up carrying him in my arms the entire way down. 🙂 He was also in a phase of taking his hats off, hence him not ever wearing a hat. He never did get sun burned. Thank you SPF 70! )
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail– My in-laws are big hikers having been born and raised in the beautiful state of Alaska, so we did a lot of hiking on our trip. All kid friendly of course. The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail was definitely more of a trail than a hike. You could honestly push a stroller to the very top if you wanted. It does get a little steep, and HOT as you get closer to the top. Oh man, the views are absolutely breathtaking though. I could have stayed up there all day if I wasn’t so dang hungry.
Waimea Falls- Another awesome hike we did was Waimea Falls- You could also push a stroller through the entire trail if you wanted. It’s fully paved, and absolutely gorgeous. At the end of the trail is a waterfall and a swimming hole. Be forewarned that the rocks at the bottom will murder your feet. It’s best just to float all the way out until the rocks are far enough down they wont bother your feet. I learned that the hard way. The water was cold, but Cruze still enjoyed himself and they offer lifejackets. I tried not to think of the germs and bacteria. WORTH IT though. Haha!
We also did a few things that weren’t apart of the Go Oahu pass, that might be worth researching is you’re planning a trip to Oahu.
Dole Plantation– The Dole Plantation was completely different than I imagined. If you do go, just be forewarned that the train ride line is very long. If I had my older boys with me, we probably would have waited. So, I can’t say this was worth it for us. The garden was beautiful, but a lot smaller than I imagined. Id say what made this trip worth it was the Dole Whip! OH MY HEAVENS!!! Imagine a creamsicle, but with a smooth creamy pineapple flavor. Seriously amazing. We tried some at the Cultural Center but it didn’t taste nearly as good as the actual Dole Plantation. I don’t know why. Maybe more fresh? Who knows, but it was well worth the trip for that taste of Pineapple heaven!
Sharks Cove- On the way to get tacos on the North Shore, we drove passed this beautiful cove along the Pupukea beach. The turquoise water was beautiful, so I made sure we stopped back before sundown. Don’t worry, you will not see any sharks in this cove. It gets it’s name because it looks like it’s shaped like a shark from above. I checked. I’m deathly afraid of sharks, so there would be no way id even put a toe in this water if it were otherwise. The rocks are crazy sharp, so I would definitely suggest water shoes and I would not say it’s kid friendly. It is however great for beautiful pictures and is home to one of the best spots for snorkeling in the area.
Lanikai Beach- (disclosure- I didn’t get a picture of this beach, BUT it is one of the most beautiful and best for kids) The water is a gorgeous turquoise , clean, and great for little kids. This beach is mostly popular for kayaking and surfing, and the beautiful view Mokulua islands.
Waikiki Beach- There are 8 sections of this beach, and all look incredible. We decided to stay at the Duke Kahanamoku Beach section. This is yet another beach that is great for small kids. It’s a manmade little swimming lagoon area that’s beautiful, and has a protected seawall. The best thing about this beach is that a lot of food trucks stop here, so we were able to get some yummy tacos while basking in the sun.
Best Places to Eat-
My husbands cousin and his family lived in Oahu for a few years, and they recommended some seriously delicious food stops for us to try. Here’s the list- and may I just say it DID NOT disappoint.
Nicos at Pier 38– We ate here for my Birthday dinner and it was yummy. Try to get seating outside for a gorgeous view. The salad bar in itself was worth the trip, and if I remember correctly the kids got the salad bar for free or an extremely discounted price.
Northshore Tacos– OH MY GOSH! I have not stopped thinking about these tacos since this trip. I don’t think ill ever eat a taco quite as good as these. I ordered the chicken tacos and they were amazing!
Hanks Haute Dogs– We personally did not try these, but have heard great things from multiple locals.
Best Shaved Ice– on North Shore at Aloha General Store. It’s better than Masumotos which is technically more popular.
Teddys– This is great choice if you are on the go. I chowed down on one of their pineapple burgers and pineapple shakes. It was divine.