We had the loveliest winter break in Hawai’i this year! We try to get away every winter – six months of cold and rain don’t suit any of us very well. Neither of us had ever been to Hawai’i before and it seemed like a great opportunity to not only soak up some sunshine, but also to check out a new place that isn’t too far away (toddlers on planes – am I right?!)
We flew into Honolulu and picked up a rental car. For the first few nights we stayed in Waialua, near Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu. We were in a cute little AirBnB and it was a really great opportunity to stay in a place that’s a little more off the beaten track! Waialua is tiny and everything is spread out – we were grateful to have a car – but it has a couple of cute coffee shops and a really nice vibe. Haleiwa is close, and this is a really walkable town. It has lots of lovely shops, cafes, and restaurants, and some really beautiful colonial architecture!
After Waialua we headed further up the North Shore to Turtle Bay Resort. This place has my heart! You could easily stay in Turtle Bay and never venture out – it has swimming pools, a gorgeous little beach, several restaurants, amazing sunsets and so many sports and activities – golf, yoga, fitness classes, tennis, sailing, snorkelling, and so on. But it’s not worth it to miss out on the amazing North Shore beaches like Sunset and Shark Cove, or all the food truck options! We went to Shark Cove for a few hours and drank/ate a fresh coconut on the beach, as well as some of the best tacos ever from North Shore Taco Truck. Peppered all along the North Shore and on past Turtle Bay are so many delicious looking fresh fruit and food places that it would really be a shame to miss.
From Turtle Bay, we drove around the top of Oahu (past the hills where they filmed Lost, which are immediately recognisable!) and cut back through the middle of the island to Honolulu. One thing that really surprised me about Hawai’i is how much it is a Pacific island. Places like the towns around the North Shore were far more like the Pacific islands closer to New Zealand that I’m more familiar with than I would have expected. It’s such a nice vibe! As soon as you’re on the motorway through the island back to Honolulu, however, you really feel that you’re in America – the whole landscape changes. Definitely an island of contrasts, and I imagine the other islands in the chain are even more so.
In Honolulu we dropped our car off and did a Whole Foods run before Ubering back to our final stop – the Hilton in Waikiki. Waikiki is about what you would expect and what everyone says – it’s very busy and crowded. It’s still a really lovely place! The beach is beautiful and I loved getting my American clothes fix in Ala Moana. I would absolutely go back to Waikiki (can’t miss out on J.Crew, or to be honest, Whole Foods!) but only for a couple of nights. As well as getting some shopping in, we went out sailing on a sweet catamaran, had lots of beach time, and had some amazingly good cocktails at the Moana Surfrider! This hotel was an absolute dream. Deep, beautiful verandahs, a giant banyan tree in the middle of its courtyard, lazy rockers, the beach right there…the perfect place to spend a couple of days before heading north!
We loved our time in Hawai’i, so much in fact that we are seriously thinking about going back there for next year’s winter break as well. Amelie is definitely advocating for that – now that we’re back to the winter cold here in Auckland, she keeps asking when we’re going to go back! A fair question, and one I look forward to answering as soon as I can…!
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