First-Time Oahu Visitors Trip Report: Part 2 of 2
I hope you enjoyed reading part one of Erin’s Oahu trip report. In part two, Erin and her husband move from Waikiki Beach up to Oahu’s North Shore.
After four days of Waikiki, we were very ready for the second part of our trip – Oahu’s famous North Shore. We’d splurged on two nights at Turtle Bay Resort in the name of a very overdue mini-honeymoon. We were not disappointed!
Our rental car company had oversold their cars, so our trip day started out a bit stressful. We decided to splurge and get a Jeep for the remainder of the trip – although expensive, it was worth every penny! We took the top off and enjoyed a meandering trip up the coast. Some days, it really is more about the journey than the destination.
Everything about that day that started out so stressful ended in wonderful. The North Shore is a big change from Waikiki, and we were very happy to follow up a few days in Waikiki with a few days of Turtle Bay.
We arrived at Turtle Bay and were immediately greeted by the best bellman I have ever met. He waited with our bags while I went to check in, and then helped us to our room. We were informed at check-in that we’d been upgraded to the Ali’i Presidential Suite! I rode up with the bellman to unpack while my husband parked the car. The whole way up, he chatted with me about his favorite things to do at the resort, and when we got to the room, he discreetly ignored my jaw hitting the floor as he showed me around the room. To say that our accommodations were amazing would be a gross understatement! He told us that the room used to be living quarters for the GM of the hotel. That GM was living the good life!
From the lanai in our bedroom, we could see the swimming beach and activities on the south side of the resort. From our living area, we could see the pools and the waves crashing on the north side of the resort. Yup, we had views of two separate beaches from our room! The furnishings in the room were beautiful without being overdone. We had two bathrooms, a gorgeous four poster bed, a nice kitchen and dining area, and a living room that would have been perfect for hanging out if we would have spent any time in the room.
The accommodations were amazing, coming in second only to the staff and grounds of the resort. Every single staff member we encountered was helpful, friendly, and offered great suggestions for dining and activities to enjoy while visiting.
The first night we were there, we grabbed a cocktail from the Hang Ten Bar and found seats to watch the sun go down and enjoy the drum circle and hula dancers. We were not disappointed.
Because our time at Turtle Bay was so short, we had to make the most of it. After a quick meeting with a hotel concierge, we booked a catamaran trip for the next morning, and some clear-bottomed kayaks for the following day.
The catamaran trip we took left from nearby Hale’iwa Bay. The crew was awesome, and the Ho’o Nanea’s smaller size made for great whale watching. We were very glad that we waited and did this trip instead of one of the busier trips near Waikiki. We saw more whales than we expected, and two of them were happy to show off for our boat, breeching several times. It was a great show, and well worth the time! We did get a bit wet on the trip, so if you’re going to spend some time exploring Hale’iwa after your trip, I’d recommend keeping some dry clothes in the car.
We didn’t plan well for the water, and used our dripping clothes as an excuse to do a bit of shopping in town. After shopping, we stopped for lunch at the highly recommended Luibueno’s for some fish tacos. We planned on eating light to save room for the shrimp trucks later that afternoon, but failed miserably. The food was excellent, and we left stuffed.
We cruised back to Turtle Bay and wandered the grounds a bit and then hit the beach. The swimming area at the resort is great, and was perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
For dinner we headed to Ola at Turtle Bay, based on recommendations from Sheila. Wow. To say this meal was amazing would be an understatement! I’m still craving those kalua pork nachos! The restaurant had a great open-air concept, and even had tables out on the beach. We opted to eat inside, as it was a bit windy that night. Everything about the meal from our server to the ambiance to the food was perfect. I will be dreaming about Ola for a long time to come.
On the last morning of our trip, we headed down for a morning trip with Shaka Kayaks. I have always loved sea turtles, and this was the perfect way to see them up close without disturbing them. Our guides Sian and Drew were awesome, and had an unending supply of knowledge about the area, the islands, and of course, the honu (or sea turtle). We had a great time kayaking, learning about the area, and hiking up to see Kawela Bay from a different perspective. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trip.
Our favorite things from Turtle Bay:
• The scenery. Wow, I could go on for days talking about how beautiful this resort is. Bold, crashing waves, calm waters, and beautifully manicured grounds are the perfect setting for a resort.
• The staff. From the bartenders to the front desk to the cleaning staff, everyone we encountered had a smile on their face and helpful information to pass on.
• The food. Oh, the food. Every single thing we ate while visiting Turtle Bay was wonderfully prepared. The serving sizes were good, and the food was delicious!
• The cocktails. In close competition with the food. If you visit Turtle Bay, order a Monkey’s Lunch. You will not be disappointed! It’s a delicious meal and a cocktail all in one!
• Honu. Honu, honu, honu! I love sea turtles. There are a lot of them chillin’ around the resort.
• Our room. Did I mention we stayed in the presidential suite? Yeah, we felt pretty special. If a honeymoon can only be two and a half days, do it this way. Ah-mazing.
• The family friendly atmosphere. I am already planning a trip back as a family. Our two year old would love the water, the activities, and the grounds. Turtle Bay does a great job with this. The resort is family friendly, but somehow there was not a bit of kid overload. We never felt overwhelmed or that we couldn’t enjoy our adult time on the trip.
• The North Shore. Such a calm, relaxing change from the energy of Waikiki. It was the perfect place to unwind after a week of busy. The waves are like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else, and some fun in the sun is just what the doctor ordered in the middle of our cold Colorado February.
Things we weren’t thrilled about:
• The cost. While the trip was perfect, that perfection did not come cheap. The rooms are pricey, and so is the food. That being said, I’d do it all again. I’m a huge fan of the resort.
• Transportation options. Because of the location of the resort, it is fairly expensive to get there from the airport (or from Waikiki). You’ll either need to plan to rent a car, or pay for a shuttle service, which is about $80 per person each way.
• The spa. I didn’t get a chance to indulge in one single treatment. Next time, sign me up for an oceanside massage!
• Leaving. I was absolutely not ready to leave when our time was up.
Unfortunately, our plans for a meandering trip back towards the airport and a visit to Pearl Harbor were squelched when I realized that our plane was due to depart four hours earlier than I had planned for. Oops! We made a mad dash back down the coast, and made our flight with minutes to spare. Not really the mellow, relaxing end of a trip that we’d planned for, but we did feel pretty awesome for making the flight in the nick of time. All in all, the trip was a great success!
Mahalo to Erin for sharing her Oahu trip report and beautiful photos!
These were both fun to read, thx Erin and Sheila. Sharing the links with Cari since we’ve talked about where to go next after two visits to Maui.
Thanks, Matt! We had a great time, even though we were leery about it not being Maui 😉 Turtle Bay has been on my list for a very long time though, and we were not disappointed! If I left anything out, please let me know & I’ll be happy to fill in any gaps in the comments.
Luved da report. makes me wanna visit.
Mahalo for the report! I just have to say that the staff out at the Turtle Bay are the best. I have only had the best service there. They truly operate in the spirit of Aloha.
I completely agree, Malia! They were nothing short of amazing. I can’t wait to go back 🙂 I think next time we’ll take the whole family and spring for one of the villas – they looked great!