Visiting Oahu

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oahu Vacation with Two Babies

Jan 2015

We are thinking of a week on Oahu in March with our two babies (26m and 8m at that point). Pre- baby, we were very active travelers and have been to all the islands hiking, snorkeling and seeing sights. Since the babies, we have traveled with them to see family, but this will be the first multi-day 'vacation' with them. Our questions are:

- Are we crazy for taking this on? (Is a vacation with two babies in diapers an oxymoron?)

- What lodging on Oahu did you like (resorts, condos or home rentals)? Or what booking service worked for you? What lodging features to look for (perhaps a kitchen and enough infrastructure onsite for us to relax when babies nap)? Any specific property that you recommend for families with babies?

- Any Oahu recommendations for individual babysitter or nanny, or nanny services, for the purpose of having perhaps a morning out or a date night here and there? Any baby equipment rental services on Oahu that you recommend?

Thank you! Ready to Travel Again

I know you said Oahu. In the spring I went to Maui and Oahu. I like both of them but the place we stay in Maui was perfect for what you are saying...Oahu is a little more hectic and if you want is to relax...We rented an apartment in a small complex facing the water. It is set up like a horse shoe so every unit faces the water, a small beach were you can watch amazing sunsets, swim with turtles but very very low key...Imagine a U in a middle a yard with a small pool, perfect for kids, the beach at the end and the units right there, including at the ground level, so you could be in the pool and still keep an eye on your apartment, in case you decide to leave the kids taking a nap while you enjoy reading under the tropical sun....they have some new bbq's and stores around , we walk to a great market ( it is called farmer's market). Contact me for more info but this is where we were...Polynesian Shores - PS201 3975 L. Honoapiilani Rd Lahaina, HI 96761 Mariedda

I missed the intermittent responses to your original post so forgive me if some of my responses are repetitive.

In your original post, you did not provide a budget. If money is of no issue, I'd take my family to the Aulani Resort and stay there. The Aulani checks all of the items on your wish list - they have 1, 2, and 3 bedroom villas with washer/dryers, full kitchens including stoves, etc. Granted, it's not centrally located in Waikiki but they have plenty to do on-site, including your heated pools for young ones and adult-only pools for parents, as well as a beach. Since you have to rent a car to get there, you can make an afternoon of it and drive up to the North Shore for lunch, snorkeling at Shark's Cove or swimming, if the waves aren't too high. Disney Resorts aren't for everyone, but they think of everything for families. We've recommended the Aulani to friends and family visiting from the Bay Area and Japan. After they get over the initial sticker shock, they've all loved it.

If you opt to stay at a hotel, I would talk to the hotel and see what nanny agency they contract with. You can call the concierge once you book your hotel room and ask them for the contact info of the agency. I'd set up a Skype call with two or three potential nannies in advance. (I can't recommend an agency in Honolulu since we have family, but we did use this strategy in NYC and Vancouver and were pleased.)

If you would rather stay somewhere more centrally located, I would recommend the Hilton Grand Vacations Suites. Unlike the regular Hilton rooms, they have full kitchens and multiple room/bed options. Plus, you get access to all of the kid-friendly and adult pools of the Hilton Waikiki. Waikiki Beach is literally outside your hotel room and is super kid friendly.

Alternatively, a more $$-friendly option would be the Embassy Suites Waikiki which have multiple room options but no full kitchen, just a kitchenette with fridge and microwave. They are not beach front, but are an easy walk to the beach.

It is possible that you may find some VRBO or airbnb options which tick most of the boxes on your wishlist in Kailua/Lanikai or an estate in Kahala (the heated on-site pool may be difficult), but at the end of the day, you need to weigh the pros and cons of having the amenities and connections of a resort versus those of going it on your own (or perhaps you'll luck out with a nice host). As an aside: renting out homes in Hawaii on sites such as vrbo and airbnb are in legal limbo and pits neighbors against neighbors who rent their homes and change the landscape of local-only neighborhoods. That being said, most vacation rentals will be on vrbo or airbnb (which have established a foothold in HI) and many of the options you'll find are in Kailua and Lanikai. Good luck. Honolulu born and raised & missed my calling as a travel agent

Private swim lessons in Honolulu?

Jan 2015

We are visiting Honolulu with our 5 year old in February for 10 days. (President's week) Unfortunately, we've been out of practice with the swim lessons. She does much better listening to instructions from an instructor, so we'd love to outsource a little bit of swim class while we're there. (maybe 3 or 4 classes over the 10 days) Has anyone done this? Any teachers to recommend? I see O'ahu Swim Academy & the local YMCA with an ixquick search Any experience with either of these?
curious traveler

Leahi Swim School is one of the best. The teachers are used to kids who are hesitant, scared, nervous, etc of water. They are also flexible if you want to take group classes/individual/etc. The pools are even heated so the little ones don't get cold too quickly. Lissa

Vacation Rental on Oahu - Kailua or Lanikai?

July 2014

I'm planning a family vacation for myself, my spouse, our then 4 year old and my two 70-something parents. We would like to rent a condo or house on Oahu for a week. My parents don't enjoy urban environments so I'm thinking a mellow beach town would be the best home base for our group. I hear Kailua or Lanikai might be a good fit. Can anyone recommend a good rental there that has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, convenient parking for a minivan and hopefully a short walk to the beach? Also, it looks like we would be making the trip in either early May or sometime in October or November, would either month be more preferable? Hawaii Here We Come

We stayed at this home, two blocks from the beach. There were sand toys for children, towels and everything for cooking. We were also very close to a grocery store and wonderful playground for children. The price was reasonable. October is a good month to go. This home is in Kailua about 20 minutes from the airport.

We hope to go back next year. Love the beach

We just came back from Maui. We had a great time! We rented a townhome at the Polynesian Shores, which is close to Lahaina on the West Shore of the Island. The complex is great. We met so many people who have been going there for the last 20 years, it is small, family friendly, all the units face the ocean. There is a center yard with a small pool, 3 new bbqs, and a short path to a small beach where you can see and swim with the turtles!!. Beautiful sunsets. 10 min walk to a grocery store and farmers market. and like 10 min drive to Safeway, etc etc Maui is full of small developments, not many single family vacation rentals. We would wake uo everyday and it was hard to leave the place, it was so pretty but after breakfast we will go to different beaches around the island. The happy hours were done in our lanai...then usually we will cook dinner but it was easy to go get pizza or go out to the many restaurants like 10 min away. In Oahu, we visit Lanakai and Kailua. Oahu is big, yes Waikiki is touristic but the island itself I found it more local, since I guess there is many people who lives there. The beaches are dramatic and beautiful. Kailua is a nice town and the most popular beach is Lanakai...I guess it can get windy. If I go back to Hawaii I may consider the whole week there but I think for a family of different ages etc Polynesian Shores seems easier...just my opinion. You can contact me if you want more details... Mariedda

3 days in Oahu with 10-year-old--fun things to do?

May 2014

If you had 72 hours to spend on Oahu, what would you do? My ten-year-old daughter and I have a 3-day layover in Oahu this July. I would love some recommendations on places to stay and things to do while there. Mostly I imagine we will be hanging out on the beach, but are there any must-do experiences people recommend? Is the Pacific Cultural Center on the North Shore worth visiting? Thanks!

Well, I would say you might want to try and stay on the North Shore all together. There's a large hotel resort up there called Turtle Bay. You'd have to rent a car, but the drive is beautiful! Then, you could spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It's very cool and informative, there's a luau if you like and dancers. You could spend some time in Haleiwa which is a sleepy town (though touristy) that has famous shave ice, galleries, etc. There's a restaurant there called Kua'aina burger (I know you don't go to Hawaii for burgers!) that's really good. You could also drive over to Laie and eat at Giovanni's shrimp truck--yum. Beaches are lovely there, will not be too high surf in the summer. I'd just recommend staying out of Waikiki. It's a big city with high rises, and the beach is famous but blech. If you want more of the Hawaii you picture in your head--go to the north shore! grew up on O'ahu

Hands down, Hanauma Bay! The best snorkeling beach in all of Hawaii. Turtles, tons of fish, gentle waves, shallow snorkeling. sk8ma

Having grown up on Oahu, I take my family back fairly often. Here are the top picks of my now 13 year old son (after the beaches): 1. The Bishop Museum was so good, we had to go back two days in a row, especially for the planetarium shows. 2. Hike the Diamond trail. 3. A surf lesson on Waikiki Beach across from the Hyatt Regency or a stand-up paddle board lesson near the Hale Koa Hotel is fun if you have good balance and want a work out. 4. Then of course, there's the food like hot malasadas from Leonard's Bakery or any one of many great shave ice places. 5. The Pali Lookout. Have a great time.

you could spend the whole time at the beach on Waikiki, but there's also great shopping in the big malls downtown, and the Aquarium and Chinatown are also fun. Pearl harbor is not 'fun', but is a historic must, as is the Bishop museum. Renting a car and heading to the North Shore is also beautiful. enjoy your trip! Aloha

If it were me I'd get a shuttle from the airport to a hotel on Waikiki and just do beachy things for 3 days. It's super easy, the beach is beautiful, there are lots of places to eat and things to kook at and do.

Good Luau on Oahu 

Dec 2012

We are going to Honolulu in December and want to go to a Luau with our kids (2,5,8). Any recommendations? I know there is a fancy one at Hilton in Waikiki, but looking for something cheaper. I also know of the one in Polynesian cultural center, but not sure I want to go there either. Leslie

I spent some time researching the Oahu luau options this past May. We have a 3 and 4 year old. Most of them have a frat party element about them except for the Polynesian Cultural Center which does not serve alcohol (owned by Church of Later Day Saints).

We went to Paradise Cove at Koahlina (across from the new Disney resort). I was not looking forward to it but actually enjoyed it. The entertainment is fun. Our 4 year old even went up on stage with a bunch of other kids to do the hula. The kids had a great time. It on the beach and a nice spot. The other option we considered was Chiefs luau at Sea Life Park. It was opening the day after we were leaving the island. I think it would have been decent. However sea life park has outstanding views but is not on the beach. Sea life park, by the way, is a very sad place to visit (sea turtles crammed in cement enclosures with little vegetation). Have a great trip! Roger

I think it is worth while to go to the Polynesian cultural center. It was a great park to tour and the show was fantastic. No-cheese Luau

We went to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and it was awful. I've been to many luaus in the past and have fond memories of sitting on the beach, watching hula dancers and eating great food. This was not the case at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Everything was terrible. The dancers were fully clothed with long mumus. There were no grass skirts and no real hula. The food was basically inedible. They showed a whole roasted pig, but then brought out lukewarm shredded pork that had clearly been sitting in a steam table tray for quite a while. They also try to strong arm you into spending $70 per person to see shows after the luau is over. We couldn't wait to out of there. Spend the money and go to the nice one that's on the beach where you get a real luau experience, not a sanitized, Mormon experience. The only thing this place was good for was a laugh at ourselves at paying money for a terrible experience. Never again

Lodging in Kailua, Oahu

June 2012

Looking for recommendations for your favorite quiet and beautiful place near Kailua Beach Park. I'm thinking a house that rents out in-law type rooms, as there are no hotels there to my knowledge. We need one bedroom or a studio, with or without a kitchenette. Thanks in advance Gail

Two years ago we found a two-bedroom vacation rental about a 10 minute walk from Kailua beach through It had a kitchen, I can't remember what we spent but I know it was pretty reasonable. We really enjoyed staying on that side of the island. Have fun! love the windward side

Oahu in October

Sept 2010

I'll be in Oahu in early October (with husband and 5y.o) and am hoping to find the best place for placid waters and snorkeling. There are no surfers among and 2 out of 3 of us are pretty mortified by big waves. Any recommendations as to which part of the island to be in? We're hoping for less tourist-y, more off the beaten path. Any specific lodging recommendations that aren't too pricy would be really helpful too! Thanks! UnGidget

Look at Kailua, which is on the 'windward' side of the island. It doesn't have the rows of resorts and big hotels as you find on Waikiki, it is more of a beach town where people really live, and has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is not the greatest snorkeling beach, however. Ko Olina (on the west side of the island) has some lovely manmade lagoons that are good for snorkeling and very protected with very mild surf. They are surrounded by huge resort hotels, which might not be the setting you are looking for.

We stayed in Kailua in an apartment that we found through a vacation rental site that was a 5 minute walk from the beach. There was a little store where we could go for coffee or sandwiches, and for snorkeling, we would drive and spend the afternoon at Ko Olina and of course went to Hanauma Bay which is world famous for snorkeling.

Have fun! wish I were going

I can't help you with places to stay b/c my sister lives there and that is who we stay with, but I know there are condos to rent that are cheaper than the hotels. There is a Costco so you can shop there and do all your cooking.

As for swimming in low wave, mellow situations where you can also snorkel and not worry so much about your 5 yr. old, I can't recommend the Ko'Olina Lagoons enough! There are four man-made lagoons and one natural lagoon (natural one is not on that website, but it's the first lagoon when you pass through the gate and only 10 parking spots available so you have to get there early). The lagoons are protected by the surf and have virtually no waves. The water is clear and the snorkeling in the natural lagoon is amazing. Among many types of tropical fish, we've seen the elusive humuhumunukunukuapu'aha and countless sea turtles there (literally, every day, and they will swim right up to you; but don't touch them, they are a protected species)! There is the Marriott Hotel there and some condos (permanent residents, many of them are rentable and time shares, even in the Marriott) but it is not touristy. It's a little known secret and sounds exactly what you are looking for! There is grass, sand and calm, clear water. Each lagoon has its own splendor about it. It's on the West side of the island and far from where the majority of tourists go. It's actually the 'desert' side of the island!

The North Shore could potentially still be calm (it's calm in the summer, but then the winter months bring up the surf). If it is still calm, Waimaea Bay is just gorgeous and has some good rock pilings that on the north side of the stream that are good for snorkeling also. A must see. You can also hike up to Waimaea falls in the park across the street from the bay. A little further north of there is Shark Cove (no sharks, just the name). It's a great snorkeling spot as long as it's not crowded.... but you will want reef shoes for all of you as it is shallow in many parts and quite reefy. From there, you can find turtle beach where sea turtles come up on shore to rest and the Turtle Watch Team protects them 24 hours a day. What's nice is they will talk to you and teach you about the turtles and why we shouldn't touch them, etc. Sea Life Park is a good place to take your child too. You can feed the turtles and if you do the dolphin show, you overlook the ocean and may be surprised by whale spouts out there! Have a great time and totally check out the lagoons! LogicalMama

Head to Lanikai-a sweet, mellow beach town across the island from Waikiki. The beaches are super calm, beautiful, clean, and have super soft sand. I lived on Oahu for 8 yrs and have returned several times with my husband and kids and we have rented some great places through Lanikai Beach Rentals. The owner, Rick, has kids and is super helpful in getting you into the right property for your family. Aloha! Aloha Mama

We just spent 10 days on Oahu and loved it. I strongly recommend you get a copy of Oahu Uncovered, a book with everything you want to know (friends who went in June agree). Read more at: Local TV will give you ocean conditions and forecasts. One key tip: Make sure you all have water shoes and wear them -- just off the sandy beaches lurk sharp rocks and reefs. And always be careful about even small waves.

Close to Waikiki is Hanauma Bay, a nature preserve where snorkeling is like in a giant aquarium -- get there by 8 a.m. to beat the crowds -- it does close when it gets too full and it's not much fun to swim elbow to elbow. Read more at: Have fun! Oahu fan

I grew up on the Windward side of Oahu and we always start out in Lanikai for swimming. Lanikai is mostly residential and the water is very clear and still. It is great for kids and swimmers who need to get their confidence up in the water.

For specific places to stay, sorry. There is a lot of secret B activity in that area. Lots of 'don't tell anyone you are a paying guest' for all the obvious reasons. So, google or just call some realitors in Kailua (808)for a current referance. You might call some places over there and ask them honestly and be candid about what you are looking for. Under the radar stuff is good in Kailua.

If you want some gorgeous shade, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is so pretty you can not believe it. Also in Kaneohe, the Byodo-in Temple in Valley of the Temples is fantastically lovely and easy with kids. I love having an expensive-but-worth-it dinner at Haiku Gardens which is also in Kaneohe.

Unless you are a strong swimmer, don't go in the water 'tho certainly enjoy the fabulous beauty of Waimanalo Beach OMG. Keneke's BBQ for coconut ice cream & ono plate lunchez and the crazy, ever changing murals, and apocolyptic advice painted in the dining area is not to be missed......

(There are some calm little beaches on the North West shoreline with good snorkeling.) Aloha Nui Loa!

We stayed in Waikiki because we really wanted to be able to walk everywhere-- shops, beaches, marketplaces, restaurants... But downtown Waikiki is like downtown Walnut Creek--not that metropolitan... Regardless of where you stay, find a Snorkle Bob's as soon as you arrive. Rent masks, fins, and snorkels that do not allow water to flow back down into the tube--you pay a bit extra for that valve, but it's worth every penny. Then go to Hanauma Bay, just up the coast from Waikiki It's truly lifechanging. Protected, magical, calm, and filled with tropical fish. Very easy and accessible for all ages. I turned around once in 3 feet of water, and 2 sea turtles were swimming a foot away from me. (FYI--it's illegal to 'bother' them.) Go, have fun! heidilee

Dear UnGidget,

I can't speak to how the waves will be in early October, but we visited the North Shore of Oahu this past March, and found them to be very big.

Our family (parents & a 2 1/2 year old) and our friends (also parents w/ 2 1/2 year old) *loved* the peace, quiet and calm of the North Shore.

Our friends stayed at Turtle Bay Resort (pricey), but we got a good deal renting a sweet 2 BR cottage (1 official bedroom, the 2nd bedroom is a loft) 10 minutes down the road from our friends in an area called Sunset Beach. Check out for more info. I notice their prices are higher then when we were there (I believe early March was considered 'off season'). But even if that place is out of your budget, I'd still recommend talking to the owners (they're in So. CA) to get a sense of waves in October (the owners' son, daughter-in-law & 3 children live in a larger house on the property, so you can get first-hand and very accurate info on that part of Oahu).

Note that Sunset Beach isn't in a town, per se, so the closest grocery store & tiny eateries are 5-7 min drive away. The cute town of Haleiwa (pronounced Hall-ay-ee-vah) has many more shops & restaurants and is ~ 12 min drive.

Happy travels to you! Caryn

Where to stay near Waikiki?

Jan 2010

Hi. My husband, 2 kids (will be 3.5 and 1.5 yrs) and I are going to Oahu in August for a wedding. Any recommendations on kid-friendly places to stay and things to do near Waikiki? Thanks! Anon

Unless you REALLY need to be in Waikiki, I would advise against it. We are really big fans of vacation rentals in Kailua near the beach. Just google vacation rental kailua or lanikai. Lower key, more relaxing, more room. In the absence of that, we just stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is a bit like staying at Disneyland or an all inclusive resort. The pools are nice, the location is great and they have great deals right now with suites for larger families. We just are not a big fan of Waikiki. That being said, we had a great time. If you do go there, do not rent aqua cycles etc. at the Lagoon. Walk towards Diamond Head about 100 yards in front of the Hale Koa and there is a concession at 1/2 the price.

Seeking current opinions on Waikiki

Jan 2010

Hi everyone.. we will be 8 people (4 kids from 4-17) traveling to Hawaii for my 40th birthday next year (February). We have a time-share (wyndham) and are researching all of our possiblities. My first question is for those of you who have stayed in Waikiki, how was the experience overall? Was it too noisy, too touristy? We don't need extreme quiet or peacefulness, but aren't big partyers either. We just want to relax on the beach and possibly to do some sight seeing. With so many kids we don't care about shopping or clubbing and don't want to be surrounded non stop by people (anyone been to Stonehenge or the Catacombs in Paris in the summer knows what I'm talking about) But of all the Wyndham places we've researched, their Waikiki place looks the nicest, and is one of the few that's actually right across from the beach. We don't really want to rent a car. There are places in Princeville, Kauai that look nice, but most of the beaches are non-swimmable or far away. Anyone stayed in Kauai at a place like that with kids and been happy driving to the beach? anon

We just got back from Kauai and it definitely our favorite island. There are incredibly good beaches on the North shore past Hanalei (Tunnels) and Poipu - while more people - has calmer water. Winter the ocean is rougher but there are still days when the ocean is calm. We stayed in the Princeville area recently but have stayed in Poipu as well. Rarely on the west side. Waikiki has way too many people, noise and shops are very expensive. My teenagers love it - but we don't :-) Kauai has good hiking and 'ziplining - which is fantastic fun and not available on Oahu (that I know of). However, the North shore of Oahu is very quiet - calm and gorgeous - so don't completely write off Oahu. Maui - very expensive and lots more people. The Big Island - our 2nd favorite - again, quiet, gorgeous, not many people - lots of activities. You'll have a great time on any Hawaiian island if you stay away from the crowds so you don't have to be watching who the kids are running into or tripping over or screaming in front of. Have fun! catgetsdown

Oahu in December with 2 kids under 5

Nov 2009

My family ( 2 kids 5 and under) are taking 10 days in Oahu in late Dec. Never been and would love recommendations on places to stay. Looking for a place near or on the beach, ideally a vacation rental. Happy with hotel recommendations too. Maybe northshore? Also any recs for first two nights in Honolulu after we land to get the kids adjusted after the long flight? Thanks!

Hi- I lived on Oahu for eight years and have since returned several times with kids and we have stayed in Kailua and rented from The owner has kids and will steer you to the right property that bests suits your family. The beaches in kailua and neighboring Lanikai are breathtaking, calm, warm and full of shade- perfect for families! Try to minimize time in waikiki and do a day trip or two to the n shore. Kailua is the perfect distance from all and you'll really feel like you're on vacation there. Aloha! Mama of 3

Oahu in August

May 2009

We (2 adults and 8-yr-old daughter) are planning a 1-week trip to Oahu in August. As we've never been to Oahu, we'd welcome any and all recommendations on where to stay, what to see and how best to budget our 7 days on the island. A mix of beaches and other sites (maybe the zoo or aquarium) might be nice. Should we drive around the island, or stay on one side? Thanks for your thoughts! We've got Hawaii on our minds!

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Waikiki last year when we were in Oahu and loved it. The views were great (this is before they were building the mammoth Donald Trump hotel), rooms were nice and clean and all of them were suites, free breakfast (good food) and free nighly snacks, you're right in the middle of downtown Waikiki so lots of shopping and sightseeing, swimming pool was great and best of all, it's only a half a block to the beach. Skip the zoo but check out the aquarium and don't go to Sea Life park (not worth it). Since island is so small, definitely worth going around island to check out things. Cool things to check out are Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, Waimea Falls Park, and Sunset Beach. Best beach for sunset is the beach across the street form Waimea Falls Park. Enjoy! Wish I were in Hawaii

My wife and I and 2 year old son just got back from a great 9 day trip to Oahu. We stayed on the North-East coast in Punaluu at a great guest house ( Oahu has lots of great stuff to do but would not recommend the zoo or aquarium or really any other organized event-whats special are the beaches and nature.

The best beaches are on the north shore but can be rough waters, less so in the summer. The north shore has a great laid back vibe if thats what you like. Kailua beach is a gem. Wakiki is a great beach and major tourist destination; it is lots of fun but overwhelming with people and shops. We divided our time between these places so a car was a must. Our house rental had a great outdoor grill--dining in Oahu can be hit or miss unless your willing to spend a lot of money--so cooking for ourselves was great. One great place to eat and drink is Rumfire restaurant at the Sheraton Wikiki. We did one trip to the west coast but was not impressed with anything there. Wherever you choose to stay you will have a great time, there are so many things to do and see. Have fun! Andrew

2006 - 2007 Recommendations

Oahu and Kauai with a 2.5 yr old toddler

Feb 2007

hi! any updated recs on where to stay, play, and eat in Waikiki, Oahu? We will be going there in May and staying only for 3 nights, but the lodging aspect is perplexing. We would like a one bedroom. We have a condo in Kauai (near Kapaa) but welcome input about where to go and eat. We will be next to Lydgate Park, so that will keep the tot happy/entertained for a bit.... Thank you! judy

Stay: Queen Kapiolani has good rates and it's on the ''quiet'' side of Waikiki. The New Otani Hotel is a little further away, VERY quiet, but more expenisve.

Play: the zoo is decent and cheap. The Aquarium is OK: small compared to Monterrey or other big aquariums, but decent. There is a Children's Discovery Museum that is awesome, you may get a deal if you are a member of a local Discovery museum. Further away (need car), the Sea Life Park is a fun place for children, but expensive ($30 per person, under 3 free). Another fun place with children is the Dole plantation: the chu-chu train, feed the fishes, yummi pineapple icecream). If you do have a car, check Kailua/Lanikai and the North shore, the beaches are awesome and the drive amazing.

Eat: a local chain called Bale has good cheap vietnamese food. Chinatown has several decent places. There is an american diner to the side of the Princess Sheraton Kaiulani Hotel (can't remember its name) that has decent food for a good price and entrataining shows-OK for families.

Enjoy Oahu, there is a lot more in the Island than Waikiki! Love the beach!

Looking for condo on North Shore on Oahu

Feb 2007

I think I'm going to Oahu in July for a conference and would like to tack on a family trip. The conference is in Honolulu, but we'd like to stay elsewhere beforehand, maybe the North Shore although we're open to other areas as well. Any ideas for a family friendly location on the North Shore? A condo/house would be ideal. I have a 4 year old and would like to be close to a beach with mellow surf. Thanks for your help! Jen

You might consider renting a condo at Turtle Bay Resort, which is on the north shore of Oahu. I stayed there years ago. Not sure about what hotel/resort services you have access to, but the condos are on the same property. check out and type in turtle bay. There are also some great rental houses on the north shore as well (malaekahana, near Kahuku has mellow beaches and some authentic beach houses). Kailua is also fabulous and has some vacation rentals ( is our favorite). It won't feel touristy at all. It is certainly better than Waikiki! Island girl

Hotel on Waikiki?

Nov 2005

my family, which consists of 3 kids (2,6,12) are heading to Oahu in February. I have already made reservations at the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Tower (former the Aston?) but can always cancel if need be! So, does anyone have any feedback or experience with this hotel or can recommend another? The nice thing about this place is that its more of a condo style room, 2 bdrs/2 bath with kitchen. I am also planning on making reservatins with dolphinquest so that my kids can swim with the dolphins. experience/feedback with this group would also be appreciated. thanks!

We stayed at the Aston (now Resortquest) Waikiki Beach Tower back in the summer of 2003 in a 2 br condo (my family of 4 and my parents). It was wonderful! If I could afford it, I would stay there every time. Condo was large. Loved having a full kitchen and washer/dryer in the room. The view of Waikiki Beach was awesome--my dad loved to wake up early, grab a cup of coffee, and watch the surfers from the lanai. Great location across the street from a calm, protected, not-so-crowded section of Waikiki Beach. Service was superb--particularly the valet parking staff. They were super-helpful and friendly. Holly

Condos in the Waikiki area

Aug 2005

We are taking a family trip to Oahu in November with our son who will be 11 months at the time. We have visited several times (I have family there) but this is our first time traveling with a little one. Any recommendations on condos in the Waikiki area? We are meeting my husband's family who will be staying at the Hilton. We would like a one bedroom with a kitchenette but are open to suggestions. Our hope is that by being near them, we can fit his naps in and get him to bed at a reasonable time. Thanks!

We stayed in a condo in the spring with out 13 month old. A condo is the way to go. We researched condos for one that was close to the beach (so we wouldn't have to schlep all the beach gear too far), had a pool and had consistent positive reviews. Our top three were:

Waikiki Beach Tower. We stayed here (and is the only one we can personally vouch for). Across street from beach, centrally located along beach, friendly staff, a pool, large rooms. We'd stay here again. Only drawback is that it's pricy.

Pacific Monarch. A long block or so from beach. Centrally located. I think it was the cheapest of the three.

Waikiki Shore. The closest of the three to the Hilton. No pool, but if you book through Outrigger Hotels, you can use the pool at the Outrigger Hotel next door. Technically it's on the beach, but it's long and narrow and only the narrow end abuts the beach.

There are probably condos even closer to the Hilton that are further from the beach that cost less. If you are going to spend a lot of time on the Hilton property, that's something to consider. We recommend the guidebook Oahu Revealed as a good start.

Condo or hotel on Waikiki

March 2005

Does anyone have or know of a nice condo or hotel with a full kitchen on Waikiki beach?? Will be travelling at the end of April. I have read previous entries but have had no luck. Thank you!

We just stayed at a really nice and convenient condo in Waikiki. The Castle Waikiki Shores was right on the beach which was perfect for our toddler. It was a one bedroom room with kitchen and w/d in the unit. Furnishings were nice and it also had daily maid service. Our room was in the middle of the building which was nice cause it overlooked the park (and not the street) and you could kind of see the ocean from the lanai. Higher floors probably had better views but we were only on the second floor which worked out great for us cause we just took the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator with our anxious toddler. Parking was extra but it was right in the basement of the building another plus for us. milli

2002 - 2003 Recommendations

Sept 2003

We are thinking of making our first visit to Oahu this December. We're tending towards the Waikiki area, for the music, but I would really welcome lodging recommendations for anywhere on Oahu. Usually we prefer small quiet places, but we figure it's time to check out all the hubbub. We're thinking of 7-9 days, hotel or condo or ... Not too pricey but nice, preferably with an ocean view and air conditioning. Any recommendations or advice? Also, is there any place to stay away from? Thanks. Michele

For a ocean view, in Waikiki, I have liked Waikiki Shores condos and the Sheraton. JB

I did not see your original posting, but if you are interested in an Oahu lodging on the beach and you can spend the money, nothing gets nicer than the Kahala Mandarin Oriental. It is beautiful, complete with dolphins in a lagoon-like area around the hotel and fabulous hospitality. The beach is lovely, and really, if you never wanted to leave you would not have to, except if you snorkel, you must not miss Hanauma Bay. My husband and I went there for our 15th wedding anniversary last year and had a fabulous time. It is away from the strip of hotels and has a very getaway feel to it. Sarah

July 2003

We are going to Oahu for 5 days, staying close to Waikiki beach. We are really in need of a few days away from everything and would like to make this a fun-filled and stress-free trip where we can do things as a family(one 7 year old girl) and also as a couple. We would love to sign up for a tour or any other good activities but are lost with all the possibilities. We don't know which ones are the ''good'' ones. We read about tours that include things like going to falls or snorkeling or a dinner tour or something that includes a show. Has anyone gone on tours or signed up for activities and can recommend some? The thing we are trying to avoid are tours where we'd end up with a hundret people crammed on a tiny boat for 7 hours. Also, any restaurant or buffet recommendation is appreciated. We checked out previous listing and they are great when it comes to kids activities, but there is nothing about tours or grown up activities or restaurants. Thanks alot from a family ready for a little vacation. Martina

The Honolulu Zoo ( is wonderful. There is also a very nice rose garden near or in (I can't rememeber) Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. Check the Honolulu City and County website. There are listing for lots of free things to concerts in the park, movies on the beach, and arts and crafts fairs.

Oahu can be great, but I highly recommend getting out of Waikiki as much as you can. A few ideas: 1) Kailua beach park -- about 30 minutes from waikiki. Sandy bottom beach, great for swimming and hanging out. Get snacks and lunch at Kalapawai market (near beach park),and after swimming and fun go to Island Snow (kitty corner from Kalapawai)for shave ice. 2)Waimea Falls on the north show has a nice tour, diving and hula shows that are relatively mellow (i.e. not too touristy), and it is beautiful. You could go on a tour to get there, but I think most of the tours spend about an hour there and try to fit in too many things. We learned that we got a big discount at Waimea Falls by showing our rental car key. 3)On the south side of the island is Sea Life Park. Again, a nice mix of shows and local flavor in a beautiful setting. Pick one activity a day and have fun. Aloha! Jen

I just returned from Oahu for 7 days with 4 kids -my 3 children (13,15,21)and my 13yr olds friend. I highly recommend the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was by far the favorite of all of us. We purchased a tour from Cheap tours for $75. per person plus tax. This included an air conditioned bus ride to and from with a guide who talked about the island during the hour ride, a luau buffet dinner with flower lei, all the activities at the park and a fabulous show after dinner. It was a long day 10 am to 10 pm but well worth it. The park is set up with little ''islands'' that represent the different cultures (Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc). Don't miss the Samoa show. The Tonga show was also good. It had activities for all ages and the food was good. We also went on a package tour of snorkling in Hanauma Bay and then a dinner cruise which ended up costing $35 per person plus $5.00 per person to enter the snorkling park. Take a lunch with you to the snorkling. I would recommend the snorkling highly. The dinner cruise was fun, food pretty average but good and if you want to tour the bay on a ship worth it. This tour also picked you up in Waikiki. If you get motion sickness- skip it. We also spent time at the beaches trying to boogie board and surf. For a restaurant in Waikiki, I would recommend Moose Mcgillacuddy's on Lewers street. They have a great happy hour, (kids welcome) and early bird dinner specials.

We also went to the Dole Plantation tour. Pretty boring. The Arizona Memorial was very sobering. I am not sure a 7 year old would understand but it was informative and if your child is interested in looking at milatary items, they have a pretty good museum which is free as is the tour. Go early to this one because it fills up fast.

We drove to the other side of the island to see Waimea (sp?) Falls but the falls were not flowing so that was a bust. It is supposed to be beautiful and you can swim in them, but they only run when they have just had rain. Hope this helps. sr

activities on Oahu not mentioned I'd recommend: Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Because the fish come in very shallow, a child in water shoes (essential) can wade with fish. You can get an easy bus ride(possibly a free one) from Waikiki. Also there is a children's museum called Hawaii Children's Discovery Center just outside Waikiki, the turn off for it is near the Ward Center I think. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is fascinating, more for an older child probably. Watch for the free buses that will take you from Waikiki to all kinds of spots around the area. We loved Sea Life Park. Also I like Ala Moana beach for kids, it has no waves. There is a book ''Fun with the Family in Hawaii'' that is an excellent resource. Have a blast! Susan

This is in response to the last newsletter where someone recommended the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu. If you have never been there you should be aware that the PCC is very ''It's a Small World-ish.'' When you enter you can have your picture taken with a ''real Polynesian'' (a brown man in a loin cloth holding a spear) and the lives, people and cultures of the islands are made ''fascinating'' and ''exotic'' for tourists. I personally found it pretty offensive, although others obviously think it's great. Also, the PCC is owned and operated by the Mormon Church and all the profits go to support their ''educational activities,'' i.e. missionary work, around the globe. It is a very popular tourist destination (people arrive by the busloads), but it definitely is not for everyone. Anon

July 2003

We will be traveling to Oahu in October and we're looking for a 2 BDR @ 2 bath condo that is in Waikiki close to the beach or shops. My brother is getting married at the Sheraton in Waikiki. Our son will be a year when we go so preferably a somewhat child friendly place. We're on a budget so we're trying to get the most for our money. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated or websites you've used and have had success with. Thanks! Stephanie

My first thought is that if you want ''child-friendly'', you should be on the zoo/Diamond Head side of Waikiki, not right in the heart of Waikiki. You are still walking distance from the excitement, but far enough away that it is a lot more peaceful. There are great park areas, the zoo, and a very nice child friendly beach (San Souci). Try the Colony Surf condos. There are a couple others near the Colony Surf, but I can't think of the names. Also, you might want to try in the town of Kahala, although this might not be too budget friendly. Have fun!

April 2003

We are thinking of renting one of the condos at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu - has anyone been there and what do you think? Any other recommendations on Oahu away from the Waikiki madness? We'd like something relaxed and not too expensive with our two young boys. Any advice on the island welcomed. Lisa

My husband and I stayed in a condo at Turtle Bay a couple of years ago. I loved it but it took my husband a day or two to warm up to it. He likes more traditional hotels that are more plush and have room service. I loved being able to make a sandwich at 1am if I wanted in the well equipped kitchenette! Ours was clean and comfortable but a bit dated in decor. It looked out to the golf course and had a nice little deck. It was just a minute or two walk to the main hotel and beach. Very quiet and serene. Ours did not have central a/c, just one a/c box in the bedroom. I would be sure to ask if there are any with central a/c as that was the one thing I would have changed. There are smaller beachfront bungalows that had outstanding views but for the money, I was glad we went with the golf course view. The buffet brunch at the hotel is outstanding and our family who lives on Oahu often go just for the food and music on the weekends. The North Shore is a peaceful place in summer and a great alternative to staying in crowded, touristy Waikiki. It gets a huge surfer crowd in winter but is pretty dead spring and summer, in a good way. Turtle Bay is close to some great beaches that locals frequent, a state park with amazing waterfalls and quaint little towns. We went before our baby was born but I would definitely go back with her. Kid-friendly for sure. Nicole

I just joined the network as we are moving to the Bay Area in about a year but we presently live in Hawaii; where I am from. My mom actually owns and rents out a very nice condo (some are not)in the Turtle Bay complex. It has a downstairs bedroom and a loft upstairs with two twin beds. I believe that the couch also folds out for more people. It has two bathrooms. Turtle Bay has undergone some major renovations in the past year or so and is apparently really nice now. The north shore of Oahu is considered the ''country'' side of the island. It's much more laid back than the rest of Oahu. There are nice beaches although it depends on what time of the year you are planning on going. During the winter months the waves are notoriously HUGE and great for watching but much too dangerous for swimming. If you are looking for a quieter less ''touristy'' type of vacation avoid Waikiki. On the north-eastern side of Oahu, Kailua- the town where I live, has beaches that are considered some of the best in the world. You can rent Kayaks or get a windsurfing lesson or just veg on the sand. The North Shore is kind of isolated from the more active parts of the island. It's about 45 minutes to get to Kailua or Honolulu. That may not seem long to people from the mainland but people here treat it like it's a roadtrip. Feel free to email me if you want more info or specifics on the condo. CB

March 2003

Can anyone recommend condos or houses they have used in Oahu? We are travelling with a two year old and grandparents and would like a 2-3 bedroom. We see lots of hotels listed but would like a kitchen. Thanks! Diana

Last year we stayed at Waikiki Sunset near Diamond Head; they have 1-2 bedroom condos which include the room(s), a living area that has a pull out couch and dining table and a kitchen with a counter for seating as well. Some floors have laundry facilities. They are near the beach and the zoo! We are going to Oahu again this year with 3 other families and are staying again. Log onto for information and reservations on various condos in the area. Incidentally, you can get a cheaper room if you are on the lower floors. The upper floors of course, have the views which are not that important for us and made the condos cheaper! Please email me if you want more information on other things to do. eileen

Have you looked for rental houses in the communities of Lanikai and Kailua? They''re on the northeast side of the island, a fairly short drive from Honolulu (take highway 61 to get there), and there are lots of small houses in nice residential communities that can be rented. Also, in Lanikai, you're really close to an absolutely lovely beach for swimming and snorkeling. If you like low-key, this is the place for you. Karen

There's only one condo on the water in Waikiki, Outrigger Waikiki Shore. We have stayed there many times, it's getting pricey. 1 bedroom condos are really a big room with bed area separated by an accordion (folding) door, they have full kitchens and laundry. Condos have a view along the beach (away from Diamond Head) over Derussy park (so not obstructed even though not technically ocean facing) and use of the facilities at Outrigger Reef next door including a decent pool. Ask for one bedroom ocean view, as high a floor and as close to the water as possible for best view. jb

February 2003

We will be in Waikiki for a week in February with our toddler who turns 2 at the end of the month. (I'm teaching a one-day class - hooray for a reason to do a family vacation!) Can you recommend things to do, places to go in Oahu that would be fun for us to do with her? Our hotel is right in the downtown area by the International Bazaar. We won't have a rental car for the week, though we might rent a car for a day or two. Nancy

If you can get away from Waikiki, maybe even by bus, there is a calmer (no waves) and less crowded beach at the Ala Moana park. A longer drive, very pretty (may be shuttles from Waikiki) is Sea Life Park--it's a smaller version of Sea World. It's the right size for kids, our daughter loved it when she was 2. The price is high for adults.

In Waikiki (a bit of a walk down the beach towards Diamond Head) there is a pretty nice zoo, with reciprocal membership from Oakland Zoo. Further down is a nice little Aquarium, with reciprocal membership from Monterey Bay Aquarium. Even further (not much past the Aquarium) is a hula show (it's either sponsored by Kodak or was sponsored by Koday years ago--I forget), they ask all the kids from the audience to participate at one point and teach them a little hula.

Besides that, our daughter's favorite things are playing at the beach and pool, and the corny poolside shows that many of the hotels have. jb

We just got back from a trip to Oahu visiting family. We took our 20-month old son with us and can recommend the following activities, all very close to Waikiki: - Ala Moana Beach Park (very family friendly, clean beach) - Koi (carp) ponds and escalators at Ala Moana Shopping Center (across the street from the beach park). The shopping center has a huge food court with lots of high chairs. - Waikiki Aquarium (scale is perfect for a toddler) - Honolulu Zoo (a ten minute walk from the Aquarium) - Kapiolani Park (huge grassy park where the zoo is located) Have fun! Teresa

We went to Oahu when our daughter was two, and I recall her enjoying the activities in the giant park along the coast just past Waikiki toward Diamond Head (the name escapes me). She loved the Zoo, there's a small aquarium, and there's lots of room to run and play. Enjoy your trip! Marilyn

I am from Honolulu and enjoy taking my children back home to are the places/things we've enjoyed...
The Waikiki Aquarium(a short walk towards Diamond Head from Waikiki) The Honolulu Zoo(in Waikiki) Kaimana Beach (lots of toddlers here) - located on the Diamond Head side of the Aquarium in front of the New Otani Hotel Rainbows Drive-In - a plate lunch place in Kapahulu(near Waikiki) Kapiolani Park - across from the Aquarium Haunama Bay Beach - feed the fish and watch them swarm! Drive or take a bus. Kahala Mall - for shopping and coffee Aloha! A former Kamaina

We were in Honolulu this July and went to the Children's Discovery Museum (I don't remember the exact name). It was great fun for our 3 and 1-year olds. There's a section where you can learn about the cultures of many immigrants to Hawaii; a reading room; a 'town' with doctor's office, fire station, bank, etc., and much, much more. We spent many hours there, and they would have liked to have spend longer!

I found out about it in the front of the phone book, I think the yellow pages. There's a great list of places to go. We also went to Senator Fong's Plantation, which is on northeast Oahu. We like botany, so we enjoyed it - there's a tram ride through his large gardens with lots of native plants. julie

On Oahu, we stayed at a guest house in Lanikai, one block from the beach. It was a bit of a dive, but they took us for less than a week, which is against their habit, so overall we were glad to be there. It was $80/night, and matches pretty closely the description of the Waimanalo guest house room-with-lanai (in our case, really a patio facing the hill, with a side view of the sea), and while it does not include snorkel gear, it does include a washer and dryer, very useful with a baby. I'll be glad to give you info if you email me. The windward coast (Waimanalo is also on the windward coast) is really beautiful, and has everything from protected beaches like Lanikai to wild surf on Sandy Beach near the blowhole (we tried some of each, with a beach umbrella for the baby, who, it turns out, doesn't mind the beach but HATES the sea. We'll work on that.)

We didn't see ANYONE camped on any beaches on Oahu, but we did not circumnavigate the island -- not enough time! We navigated the southern half on the coast road. The northern half may be a different story.

Just got back from a week on Oahu with kids age 4 and 8. It was great. We stayed at a B in a small beach town called Waimanalo, about a half hour from Honolulu. I would recommend the place we stayed, called Nalo Winds For $550 for 7 nights we had the mermaid suite, a good-sized bedroom with a queen bed, a teeny bathroom (shower only--no tub), and a large lanai (screened porch) with a double futon, table and 4 chairs, and kitchenette with small fridge, 2 burner hotplate, microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker. The kitchen was stocked with coffee, tea, milk, juice, fruit, yogurt, cereal, muffins. One of the things I liked most is that the lanai opens onto a private garden with a small lawn and hammock. The rental also includes the use of a wide selection of snorkelling equipment (some kid size), adult bikes, coolers, a gas grill, washer/dryer, kiddie pool. It sort of felt like borrowing someone's slightly funky, but comfortable beach house (oh, it's half a block from the beach). There's no tv/vcr, which we didn't miss, and sound carries perfectly from the bedroom to the lanai, so it's hard for someone to take a nap in one room while others are playing in the other room.

I wouldn't think Hawaii would be a great place to camp for a week, but maybe for part of the time. It can get really hot and also rainy. You would need to get ice daily to keep food cold. Be sure to find someplace with showers for all the sand and saltwater (some beaches have showers...)