After our 5 days in Waikiki we picked up our rental car and headed to the North Shore of Oahu.
Such a strange feeling to be driving from the other side of the car and on the opposite side of the road. My job was to navigate the map and remind Simon to stay on the "right" side of the road.
It took us about 45 minutes to get to the North Shore from Waikiki but it depends on the traffic. Weekends are always busier on the roads there.
As we drove along the highway we came across the Dole Pineapple Plantation and decided to stop in and take a look and try the famous "Dole Whip" that everyone raves about. (kind of like a pineapple flavoured soft serve.) We rode the Pineapple Express, a 20 minute train ride around the plantation, walked through the World's largest maze, took a photo in a giant pineapple and of course tried the Dole Whip. It was delish and Simon opted for extra pineapple and coconut on his.
It was a great little stop for us as we were going past the plantation but I don't know if I would have made the effort to drive out from Waikiki just to see it. (although lots of people do!)
We stayed at the Turtle Bay Resort which is at the north end of the north shore surrounded by a golf course, farmland and the ocean which gives it a lovely quiet feel.
We had a Deluxe Ocean View Double Queen room with 2 queen beds. This room was fine for us as a family of 5 as we knew we were only going to be there a few days and didn't need that much space. We chose a room looking over the pool and beach area as it had a bigger balcony and we liked the view.
Our package included breakfast daily at the buffet restaurant. We ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel as there were not many choices outside the resort nearby but we usually grabbed lunch while we were out and about during the day. A favourite in the resort was Lei Lei's Bar + Grill just near the golf course. Finn and Simon can recommend the ribs! Also remember to bring your own Vegemite, I had a tube I kept in my bag. Jasper loves his vegemite on toast for breakfast every day.
There is a great pool area with a water slide for the littles and a bar that serves drinks and snacks through out the day. There were always plenty of sunloungers available and fresh towels on hand.
There was also a little beach in front of the villas just past the pool area. But to enter the water you had to walk across some big rocks and it seemed a little difficult and uninviting for us.
On the other side of the resort is Turtle Bay where you can swim, snorkel, SUP and a little hire place to rent any beach equipment you might need. Hopefully you will see some turtles whiles swimming and snorkelling!
There is an Activity Centre desk in the middle of the lobby that can give information on activities to do nearby and organise any outings you would like to go on. There was so much to do within the resort - tennis, bike rides, segway tours, fishing, kayaking, an inhouse surf school and trail rides.
We stopped by the stables but didn't get to do a trail ride along the beach as we ran out of time.
We saw families doing it though and it looked wonderful.
The North Shore is quite natural and rugged so there are not a lot of modern conveniences and restaurants around which is just the way they like it! It's a country town by the sea.
Just down the road from the Turtle Bay resort there was a Coffee Bean so we could have a coffee/frappucino fix and a Foodland supermarket so you could pick up supplies, toiletries etc if needed.
Most of the time we grabbed something from one of the food trucks across from Pupakea Beach Park. (right on the highway, you can't miss them) The food was fresh and delicious plus we got to finish off with a shave ice! You could choose from grilled fish, slow roasted pork, fish tacos, mexican food, acai bowls. There was really something for everyone. They have undercover seating available. Some of the trucks take credit cards but it's best to take cash just in case.
There is also an ATM at Foodland next door if needed.
Or you could drive 15 minutes into Haleiwa which is the gateway town to the North Shore. It's a cute little town which has lots of shops and restaurants. Make sure you try a shave ice from Matsumoto's, it's an institution! (I told you we ate a lot of shave ice)
The North Shore of Hawaii is the most well know stretch of surfing coast in the world. The stand out breaks are Haleiwa, Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Rocky Point and Sunset Beach. These beaches are for advanced surfers only and not really suitable for families with little kids to go swimming due to the pounding waves on the shore line and the strong currents.
Simon and Finn were really in their element, they left the hotel each morning at about 5.30am to paddle out as the sun came up. This way they got to fit in a solid 3 hour surf session without taking away from any family time plus it was less crowded.
During our stay we found the north end of Waimea Bay to be most suitable for swimming and bodysurfing the waves for the kids. Other times we swam in the pools at the resort.
On our second day the swells were 10-12 feet high, so while we were not able to utilise the beach, it was an amazing sight to see. The surfers in the family were frothing!
The weather on the North Shore is quite changeable. It's really 4 seasons in one day and so different to Waikiki. There were lots of sun showers but they only lasted a few minutes at a time so didn't really affect us. There is also more of a breeze as the north end of the island experiences more of the elements than the south end - eg Waikiki.
Things to see
Turtle Bay Resort
If staying at the resort there are lots of things to do, see above
Take a trip into town and have a wander around.
Manoa Falls + Waimea Falls
Both in scenic locations and you can actually swim in the waterfall at Waimea.
I would say that the North Shore is perfect for a day trip or a short stay, we found 3 days to be perfect for us. Of course if you're a surfer you would probably want to stay longer.
Tomorrow I will share our stay at the Aulani Disney Resort
If you have any tips or recommendations for the North Shore, I'd love to hear them x