Trip report Oahu April 2014 2 adults, 3 kids ages 16, 14 and 11
This was not our first trip to Oahu. But I thought I would share our experiences to help others decide what to see and what to skip. We have owned a timeshare on Oahu since 2006. We stay at Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club. Which we love. We are currently in the middle of a remodel of our home, so our plan this trip was to decompress and reconnect. We allowed a lot of time at the resort and skipped a lot of sightseeing, therefore.
We flew on Allegiant Airlines from LAX, which was REALLY cheap. Even after paying for a few checked bags and assigned seats it was still cheaper than our regular airline, or any other for that matter. We arrived at HNL shortly after 1:00. My husband went down to get the Avis rental car (he has status with Avis due to work travel and goes right to the car). The kids and I went to get the bags. By the time we got out to the curb, he had texted us with they type and color car he was in. And we were on our way. The airport is about 35 minutes from Ko Olina. We hit a little traffic, but were at the resort by 2:30!
We checked in. Our room was ready because we were actually supposed to check in the day before. After unpacking, we headed down to the beach. We have a two bedroom villa which has a full kitchen and small washer/dryer. The two younger kids share one bedroom. The oldest prefers to sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. After beach time, my husband and I drove over to the little Ko Olina shopping center. We ordered some pizza and wonderful garlic knots from "Pizza Corner" (there are several restaurants in this area; pizza, Hawaiian Barbecue, sushi, "Just Tacos" and "The Monkeypod Cafe". While they prepared the pizza, we walked over to the grocery store which is an ABC store. We picked up food for breakfasts and snacks. We prefer not to go to Costco, because we always end up eating some meals out and with lots of food leftover. We walked back to pick up the pizza. We had a nice dinner on the balcony as the sun set.
Day 2 was a resort day. My daughter wanted to build and race the tamiya race car at the Keiki club. So we planned our day around that. We worked out in the gym first then we had breakfast burritos in the room. We spent the morning at the beach. We built the race car, then went and grabbed lunch at the marketplace before the car race. We watched our daughter race her car. She got to choose a "hot wheels" car as a consolation prize. Then we went to the pool. We played all over all the pools for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner this day was take out from "Longboard's" on the Marriott property.
Day 3 we went to Waikiki. We drove down to the Waikiki Marriott and I dropped off the 16 year old, 11 year old, and my husband. They were going to go down and rent surfboards. The 14 year old and I drove to Diamond Head State Park. The parking lot in the crater was full. So we drove back out and parked at the community college across the street. I just kept my fingers crossed that we wouldn't get a ticket, or worse, towed! We walked back up into the crater to hike to the Diamond Head Summit. It costs $5 to park at the crater, or $1 each to walk in. We went past the window, but the girl didn't charge us the $2. Maybe because I only had a $20? Anyway, we stopped at the bathroom and began the hike. It is only a mile long, but includes a rise of at least 500 feet. So it is strenuous. You need good shoes because the trail is rocky and uneven. There is a hand rail. You hike up most of the way. Then you come to a flight of stairs. I wish I'd counted them. Maybe there were 30? The stairs lead to a tunnel that is lit, but narrow and there are hikers exiting the summit coming the other way. The tunnel curves at the end, so you don't see daylight til you get to the end. After the tunnel, you can go left and take more ramps followed by a couple staircases to the top. But we went right. We were greeted by a staircase that was twice as long as the first one, but there was no one coming down. These stairs ended in a short tunnel and a spiral staircase. We emerged at the top of Diamond Head and climbed out through the sites of one of the "pill boxes" on top. The views were incredible. I'm afraid of heights, but this was pretty bearable for me. We climbed all over the top. There are several look outs with stairs, walkways and even ladders connecting them. We headed down the hill via the trail. We stopped at a lookout on the way down where they used to have a winch to pull supplies halfway up. Great photo op. We got back to the car and back to Waikiki to pick up our surfers within 2.5 hours. No ticket on the car either. After picking up the family we went to the Moana Surfrider and valet parked (!!!!!$$$$). We walked over to Duke's and had a wonderful lunch in the bar. We were REALLY lucky to get a table. We stopped at the Honolulu cookie company for some cookies before retrieving our car. It costs $50 to valet park at the Moana Surfrider, which we did not ask about when we left the car. So we ran inside. My husband bought a diet coke from the bar for $4. Paid the now $6 validation fee and we ended up parking for a $10 diet coke. Not smart, but it could have been worse. We left Waikiki around 3:00. We did not get back to Ko Olina until 4:30 because of heavy traffic. We swam for a bit back at the hotel and rented a movie from their rental system at the hotel. Because lunch was so late, and we had our cookies, no one really ate dinner.
Day 4 was another resort day. We worked out in the morning and then I made pancakes in the room. We went out into the lagoon and snorkeled. Conditions are cloudy. But there were fish out amongst the rocks...more than I've seen there before. More better places to snorkel in Hawaii and on Oahu. But it got us our fix. I barbecued hot dogs for lunch. Then we spent the afternoon in the pool. We always like to devote at least one night to sunset family photos. This was the night. So we walked down to the secret beach past the Ihiilani before sunset. We took a lot of photos down there. It is my favorite place for photos any time of day in Ko Olina. Next we went looking for a place for dinner. We ended up at the buffet at the Aulani. I would not go there again. It is very expensive. The food is varied and good. But a little too adventurous for some members of my family. My husband and I did not feel like we got our money's worth. Until the next morning when our 14 year old thanked us because he loved "that dinner". Go figure!
Day 5 was our North Shore day. We love the North Shore. Our first stop was Waimea Bay. There was a narrow shore break this day. But at the far end of the beach, the water was calmer. So we went down there and floated around a bit. My husband and kids came back to where the waves were breaking to play (i got out and took pictures). When the sets were large, they would swim out past the break and just go up and over the waves. When the sets were smaller, they would lay parallel to the wave and allow it to push them in and out. They had a great time. We were there for two hours. We had planned other stops along the north shore. We usually stop at Sunset Beach and Shark's Cove. But now everyone was hungry so we headed to Kahuku for shrimp. We like "Famous Kahuku Shrimp", because a friend who grew up on Oahu recommended it. There used to be a Subway behind it which was perfect for my non-shrimp-eating daughter. But it was gone. Anyway, we had our shrimp and headed back to Haleiwa for shopping and shave ice. We get our shave ice with ice cream in the bottom from the Aloha General Store. Line is shorter there. We continued on our way and decided to stop at the Dole Plantation. The last time we stopped there the kids were 4, 6 and 8. They have a giant maze. They give you little cards. At various places throughout the maze there are places to stencil in a symbol on your card. There are 8 symbols. It costs $5 each to enter the maze. In 2006 we spent two hours in that maze and never found all the symbols. So we decided to try the maze again. I'm happy to report we found all 8 symbols this time. And it only took 45 minutes >:) lol. Next we spent a load of money in the gift shop buying more pancake mix, coconut syrup, more cookies and pineapple cotton candy. Most people get the whip, but we had just had shave ice, so we skipped it. We now headed back to Ko Olina with a quick stop to pick up some steak for dinner and sandwich makings for lunch the next day. We grilled our steaks on the barbecues in front of the Na'ia tower. After dinner, everyone went for a nighttime swim.
Day 6 was another resort day. We started with swimming in the pool. Lunch in the room. Our daughter enjoyed time with Kariel the mermaid, while my husband and I watched from the Na'ia Pool Bar. Back out to the beach in the late afternoon. Then sunset photos again (I got lucky this time and the kids let me do it twice...this time in front of our resort). Followed by dinner at Longboard's. They told us the wait would be AN HOUR. But it turned out to be 30 minutes. So we listened to the entertainment, watched the sky turn lots of different colors, and played charades til they called our name. We went back to our room to pack for the trip home.
EARLY departure Easter morning. Flight time 9:00. Allegiant recommends arriving at the airport 2.5 hours before the flight. So we left the Marriott at 5:40 am, got gas, dropped off the rental car, and checked our bags. We stopped for breakfast in the food court at the airport. And arrived at the gate around 8am. Perfect relaxing trip.
The things we've done in the past that we chose to forego this time include Pearl Harbor, Halona Blowhole, Kailua, Polynesian Cultural Center, Whale watching, snorkel tour, Manoa Falls hike, Leonard's Malasadas, and many stops along the north shore. You could fill a whole week with sightseeing, spend your whole week at the resort, or some mix of the two. Hope there is info here you can use. Let me know if you have any questions.