It has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Hawaii. We’d been talking about it for a little while as I’d always said I wanted to go as a joint celebration for my 30th birthday and our 10-year wedding anniversary, both of which are in 2018. I’d been saving up for about 3 years so had a nice little stash of cash ready to go and as luck would have it, we happened to have the free time and the funds to go in September.
It was INCREDIBLE.
Like, exactly as you’d imagine Hawaii to be.
Also, it’s a LONG way!
We had an 11 hour flight to San Francisco followed by a 4 hour layover, followed by a 5 hour flight to Hawaii (with a wonderful hour and a half delay sitting on the tarmac – joy!) but to be quite honest, it really wasn’t all that bad. Hux is a little pro on aeroplanes now and Cali just took it all in her stride. We built her a little arena out of cushions and set up Moana on the iPad and she was happy as can be.
We were only visiting Oahu on this trip. I had originally had my heart set on Kauai but the more we looked into it, Oahu seemed the more kid-friendly option and the accommodation was slightly cheaper too. We were staying in Waikiki for the first 3 or 4 days and then heading off to stay on the North Shore for 9 days before returning to Waikiki for another 2 days. We were a little bit worried that Waikiki would be one enormous tacky tourist trap but we were pleasantly surprised at how upmarket and lovely it was.
We stayed at an AWESOME hotel called The Laylow. I literally cannot express enough how much I love this hotel. I’ve stayed in some pretty swanky digs in my time (Charleston Place in Charleston, the Mark Hopkins in San Francisco, the Waldorf Astoria in New York) and this is definitely my favourite. It was just so cool but with absolutely no air of pretentiousness at all.
The first couple of mornings we woke up pretty early thanks to jetlag and made our way straight down to the beach to catch the best of the surf and enjoy the quietest time of day in the sea. I haven’t been on a surfboard in about 10 years so I was pretty nervous but it was amazing to be out in the ocean again. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it.
Obviously we had to visit Honolulu Zoo but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. It was easily one of the worst zoos I’ve been too. They had an owl in a cage that looked just about big enough for a budgie. Not impressed.
I’m not even entirely sure where to begin describing North Shore. It’s just fantastic. Despite being one of the most popular places for some of the biggest surf comps in the world it has managed to retain that wonderful dusty, sleepy feeling to it. After you’ve passed through the main town of Haleiwa there’s basically nothing there! There’s one supermarket, a bakery and a couple of food trucks and fruit stands. Not a Starbucks in sight. It was fabulous. (I’d highly recommend the Impossibles Pizza truck and Panda’s Thai truck). Another thing I totally loved was the culture of how people live out there. Huge groups of mums with hundreds of kids swarming on the beach having the time of their lives but thinking nothing of it because this was just daily life for them. Watching tiny groms paddle out into huge waves as their dads watched on from the beach with a proud glint in their eyes. Literally the best life imaginable.
The whole place is just stunning. We had most of the beaches to ourselves most of the time and there are loads of beautiful overgrown pathways leading you down to the sand with the bright blue crystal sea at the bottom. There’s also the amazing cycle path that runs parallel to the beaches meaning you can safely get between them all without having to drive everywhere.
Our first 5 nights were spent in this Airbnb in Pupukea. We had no idea when we booked it but it’s really close to an awesome beginners snorkelling spot called Shark’s Cove. Kalani who owns it was so lovely. I’d asked about a cot for Cali before we arrived and when we turned up, he’d ordered one from Amazon for us. It made such a huge difference to our stay. I loved that little cottage. It was the perfect size for us.
Our next 3 nights were spent in this Airbnb which has THE MOST INCREDIBLE views of the sea. It was crazy dreamy. It was awesome being right on the beach and sitting and listening to the waves crashing late at night. It was super basic inside and we ended up having to make a bed for Cali out of the sofa but you really can’t beat it for location – and at such a reasonable price too!
The kids really had the most amazing time. Huxley loved playing on the sand and snorkelling and spotting turtles and monk seals and generally just being allowed to be as feral as he liked. He’s very proud of himself for being able to say ‘humuhumunukunukuapua’a’, which is the name of their state fish. Cali is definitely a water baby. Every time we turned up at the beach she’d just start waving and smiling at the sea. The first few days she did just try and eat all the sand she possibly could but she worked it out after a couple of days!
(Look how dirty she is!!!)
The island of Oahu is so tiny! We had a hire car while we were in the North Shore and one of the days we’d planned to drive all the way down to Kualoa Ranch and check out the crazy beautiful mountains there and we thought it would take us hours when we looked at the map but we were there way before lunchtime! The Nu’uanu Pali lookout was great fun too. The views are breathtaking and the wind is literally breathtaking. Huxley thought it was hilarious. We also really enjoyed our walk around Waimea Valley and swimming in the waterfall there (although it was more like a trickle when we went!). I’d have loved to have attempted a few more adventurous hikes but holidaying with two kids is tiring enough as it is!
Now we’re back home and I’m just dreaming of the day we can go back and explore some of the other islands! It was pretty hard to leave paradise and come back to grey, cold, rainy England!