Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii – Beyond HonoluluSeptember 21, 2010 2 Comments
I’ve already taken you in and around Honolulu and Waikiki with plenty of activities for the little ones. But sometimes you want a quieter island experience, and there’s a place for that as well on Oahu. That’s the North Shore – small town family-friendly, beautiful coast, a low key atmosphere.
There are no mega-hotels here, although the Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku is a mellow, well-kept older hotel property with a large number of room choices, many with ocean view, some ocean front. Most rooms have balconies, and there are cottages available with plenty of room for your family. The coastal view and beautifully undeveloped ocean setting make the Turtle Bay an excellent starting point for exploring the area. One of the nicest family amenities is the pool area which has a one and a half foot deep children’s pool for the littlest ones and for older kids a four footer with a water slide. There’s also a ‘big persons’ pool for swimming. Best of all is the ocean view and laid back ambiance of the area; it’s got a relaxed and comfortable vibe. While there are not a lot of dining choices in the area, the hotel’s meal choices include reasonably priced kids options. And just down the road there are shrimp trucks. Our favorite is Romy’s for fresh water shrimp that’s simply – fresh. You can have it steamed, boiled, fried, or with garlic. Our kids loved the picnic table experience of this road side stop.
Activities other than poolside include snorkling, some pine laced trails near the water, and horseback riding on site. Our kids loved the gentle guided ride for all ages; and even if you don’t feel up to a ride, the stables are close by and it’s a lot of fun to take a stroll at twilight and enjoy a little equine company.
A little further up the road you’ll find the Kei Iki Beach cottages at Sunset Beach. The cottages have full kitchens and one or two bedrooms, plus a living area and either porch or ocean front patio. The Kei Iki gets booked well in advance and it is worth it – a great price, clean, spacious, with an apartment like feel. While there’s no daily maid service, you can pick up clean towels or sheets any time and there’s a washer/dryer on the property. What we liked best were the hammocks, big enough for two, hung with a peaceful eye toward the sunset – well, it is called Sunset Beach for a reason – and the stars at night. Zero light pollution means excellent astronomical offerings.
Those spacious kitchens can be easily stocked at a large and modern Foodland grocery just across the road from the Kei Iki. And you can supplement your store bought goods with road stand produce and flowers available all around this part of the North Shore. We’ve enjoyed fresh sliced papayas, mangos, coconut, pineapple, and sugar cane. One stand even sells homemade macaroons.
Also near by – Ted’s Bakery. Famous for its delicious haupia pudding – and chocolate haupia pie – this eatery also offers excellent plate lunches and sandwiches ranging from fish to meat and veggies.
While the beach at Turtle Bay is often fairly busy, Kei Iki’s beach is quiet and fairly deserted, with great coastal walking. But in the winter months, when surfers ride the big waves along this stretch of the coast line, you won’t be taking your little ones in the water. In the summer, the waves here can still be a little rough, and our family preferred a brief, under five- minute drive to Shark’s Cove. Shark’s Cove has fantastic snorkeling, and like Hanama Bay closer to Honolulu, there’s an amazing number of gorgeous fish to keep you occupied for hours. Even better, at low tide the northern end of the cove is often only knee deep, and wave-less. Little ones can just stand or even sit in the water here and watch fish swim past. One caution, do wear reef shoes or water proof sandals. There are some sharp rocks especially wading out into the water. We’ve seen turtles as well as beautiful fish here and stronger swimmers can go to the outer reef for even more beautiful fish sighting. Masks and fins for all ages are available for rental just across the street from the beach.
Speaking of sea life, another five minute drive will take you to Turtle Beach, not to be confused with the Turtle Bay Resort. This narrow stretch of sand and rock is home to many a resting turtle. It’s an awesome experience to see these creatures at rest; docents are often around to answer any questions, even when they are not, signs are posted, turtle touching is forbidden. You’ll find the big gentle guys lolling on the beach or swimming right next to you in this rocky, but sheltered cove.
Another enjoyable beach is also a state park with ample picnic benches, a tire swing, and plenty of tree shade. Malaekahana Beach offers a great view of nearby Goat island, and has plenty of soft white sand and quiet coves.
In the small town of Laie, a short drive will take you to a spectacular if wind whipped view of rock arches – caused by a 1940′s tsunami.
Another beautiful spot – the stunning waterfall in the Waimea Bay Audubon Park. The park offers an enjoyable, easy walk through gardens filled with beautiful birds and flowers to reach the waterfall. Across the road is Waimea Bay, calm as a lake in the summer, a hot spot of surfing activity in the winter months. Depending on the season you’ll enjoy either viewing an exciting sport or the pleasures of hanging out at a great, gentle family beach.