Warm, salty sea breeze and golden sunsets thrive on Oahu, I sit here wishing I were there right now from beneath my fuzzy blanket next to the fireplace on a cold rainy Oregon day. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Hawaii several times, this year we ventured there in June, a day before my 34th birthday. I can’t imagine a much better option for turning another year older.
Some vacations we aim for adventure, and others for city exploring… but this trip was one of those “lazy” trips where we mostly laid around the pool or on the beach with friends. Maybe it was because we have been there a few times so we just wanted to keep it low key, plus we were there with Kris’s business partners celebrating 4 successful years in business and a possible win at the Portland Business Journals Top 100 Private Co. awards. (We ended up taking 8th fastest growing private business in Portland!)
This trip to Hawaii, like the others, lead us to Oahu. Normally we stay at the North Shore (North Shore has stolen my heart long ago and refuses to give it back!) However, this trip we stayed on west Oahu in Ko’Olina HI. I had heard prior to leaving that the west side is considered the “summer” side or sunnier than other parts of Oahu. After our stay, I can tell you that this is true! The weather was immaculate (whereas the rest of the Island was in and out of rain showers)
We stayed at Ko’Olina Beach Club Resort, it was heavenly- my only complaint being that just like most resorts, everything shuts down at 10pm. Nevertheless is was a beautiful property. There are 4 lagoons at Ko’Olina that span about 1.5 miles one way and shares the beaches with Disney Aulani and the Four Seasons. I may or may not admit to sneaking into Aulani (it’s resort is guests only). The Four Seasons is gorgeous as well, we had drinks and dinner at one of their restaurants.
There are several restaurants at the beachside resort and although none of them were “amazing” they were good and the main bar is located just steps from the ocean. Not going to lie, I spent every morning there after my runs drinking mimosa’s. No shame!
I really loved that I could run from one end of the 4 lagoons to the other and complete 3 1/2 miles (which I did several times early in the morning before it got too hot). Such beautiful views.
Amongst the many hours pool and beach side lounging, I was able to make time for a private cabana massage. It was one of the best I’ve had, I’m not sure if that was a culmination of the soothing sound of the beach, the chirping birds and the soft music, and water features but it was pretty heavenly.
Mid way through our stay we all decided to take a limo up to the North Shore and visit my favorite town, Haleiwa and snorkel at Sharks Cove. It’s been long said that Sharks cove has the best snorkeling on Oahu, but I tend to disagree with that. The shallow pools of the cove feel swampy, so if you do go there and are comfortable, feel free to venture out beyond the rocky cove area and you will see a plethora of sea life- turtles and lots of colorful fish. I still prefer snorkeling further up the island at Turtle Bay.
Although we didn’t scuba dive on this trip, we have on previous trips so if you’re game for that, I suggest checking out Oahu Diving, such a fun crew and amazing dive options.
While in Haleiwa we stopped and shopped around, and of course checked out Cholo’s for a bite to eat and some Margarita’s. (We skipped Matsumoto Shave Ice because we’ve had it many times and the line resembled one you would see at Disneyland) But if you haven’t I suggest doing that or at least finding another shave ice spot. So delicious!
During this recent trip I finally had my first “loco moco” which we were told by 3 different locals that we should go to “My Cafe” so that’s where we headed. Since that day I have craved loco moco ever since… if you haven’t tried it, you need to. My Cafe was cute, but be warned, it is in a strip mall shopping area but it’s cute inside and the food was good!
Another great food option near Ko’Olina resort is Monkeypod, we ate dinner their for my birthday and I enjoyed the experience a lot.
My favorite part of the trip came on the last day of our stay, when Kris and I ventured off to the North Shore again because we love the food trucks and road side fruit stands between Haleiwa and Turtle Bay. And I absolutely love Waimea Bay also. We stopped for fresh coconut and fried bananas before heading off to Turtle Bay to watch the sunset. Then we stopped at one of our favorite shrimp trucks and had some dinner before heading back to Ko’Olina!
On previous trips we’ve ventured across the entire island, so if you’re looking for more then just R & R at your restor I highly recommend going to the windward side in addition to the North Shore, I find that the water is more clear there, and you will also find the Byodo-In Temple on windward side, which is a beautiful replica of a temple (with the same name) in Japan. On the windward side you will also find several other tourist-y places like Kualoa Ranch (think ATV tours, zip line etc) and the Polynesian Cultural Center further north (very much a tourist “trap” but also cool if you don’t mind being a tourist)
I’m hoping to make one more return to Oahu so we can make an attempt at hiking the (illegal) Haiku stairs. And hopefully it will no longer be illegal… We packed gear to do the hike but decided to scrap the hike due to there being too much media after someone installed a swing at the top and to my knowledge they removed it the day we arrived so there was definitely a lot of attention being drawn to the area. We also planned on Koko Head or Pillbox hike but Kris ended up being hungover. Lesson learned there…
I’m pretty sure Hawaii will see us again soon, so much beauty and so close to home 💕