Oahu, Hawaii: Three quick days

It’s been five months since my last blog post. I’m sure most of the readers here have given up hope of new content by now! There have been so many things I’ve wanted to write about, and yet I haven’t found the time to do so. I would really love to share about our new home and the renovation process and design ideas we have. I also would love to put up an updated guide to Byron Bay with all the new discoveries we’ve made since moving here. (I’ve also missed four of the kids’ birthdays, but we’re just going to have to skip those since I’m so far behind!) But first, I’d love to share about our trip to Hawaii back in May for my mom’s 60th birthday.

I love that my mom decided to have a destination birthday celebration. It ensured that all five of her kids (and their partners/children) came to celebrate with her. What more can you want for your birthday than to spend a week on holiday with your whole family?! She chose Hawaii because it was a perfect (sunny) half-way destination between Seattle, where my mom and siblings live, and us here in Australia.

Before meeting my family on the island of Maui for the week, we decided to spend a few days in Honolulu first, since we had to fly in and out of Honolulu anyway. It was a nice way to shake off any jet-lag and to adjust to our new setting before meeting up with my family. To be totally honest, I think the decisions also had to do with some surfer wishes to surf the famous Waikiki surf breaks, which we did quite eagerly the afternoon we arrived!

Apart from one afternoon where we rented a car and drove up to the North Shore, we spent most of our time in Waikiki. It was a really quick stay, but it was worth squeezing it in before we headed to Maui. Here’s a recap of some of our favourite spots. I’ve also listed some tips from a friend who used to live in Honolulu. We didn’t get to do everything on her list because of our short visit, but I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re planning a longer visit.


  • Bills for yummy Australian-style breakfast. (Not very Hawaiian of us, but I can never resist the ricotta pancakes!)
  • Shave ice from Island Vintage Shave Ice on the main street in Waikiki.
  • The Hideout Restaurant at our hotel served good coffee and food. Over the three days, we ate there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoyed all our meals.
  • Michael has a college friend who lives in Honolulu, and we met him and his family at the Maui Brewing Co. for a relaxed dinner. They have foosball tables and other games in the dining area, so the kids were super happy to play while we waited for our food.
  • Shrimp and rice from Giovani’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore. We’ve been told it can be very crowded here, but it wasn’t when we went, so we found a picnic table easily and received our shrimp straight away.


  • First things first, surf the famous Waikiki breaks! At the time we were there, in late May, the waves were long and gentle and super fun. You can rent boards from several different surf board kiosks along the beach. They mostly offered long (9 foot +) boards, but you wouldn’t have wanted any shorter out there.
  • Rent a car and drive to Waimea Falls on the North Shore. Bring a swimsuit so you can swim in the falls. It’s a 20-minute walk from the carpark to the waterfall, but it was nice to stretch our legs.  (You can grab lunch at Giovani’s Shrimp Truck about 15 minutes away.) Across the highway from the entrance to Waimea Falls is one of the famous surf breaks on the North Shore. (At the time we were visiting, there were no waves on the north shore. It was so serene, it was almost hard to imagine this stretch of coast with massive waves pounding the beaches.)


  • We stayed at the Laylow Hotel in Waikiki, which was located a few blocks from the beach, but worth the distance for the more boutique hotel experience. The Hideout Restaurant at the Laylow was one of the best restaurants in Waikiki and we were happy for the ease of it.  We didn’t mind the 10-minute walk from the hotel to the beach.



  • Byodo Temple in Kaneohe is so beautiful. Haleiwa Joes is a yummy place for dinner nearby, you’ll have to wait because they don’t take reservations, but you can kill time in the adjacent botanical garden.
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center is great. Totally worth it. You could spend a whole day there if you go to the luau here. Good shopping too. The after-dinner show “Ha the Breath of Life” is quite good — kids can go down after to meet the performers on stage.
  • Koko Head Stairs = bragging rights and awesome views. Just go slow and keep kids close at the top so they don’t tumble down the hill. Carry water and wear hats and proper hiking shoes.
  • Keana Farms has excellent zip lining on the North Shore. The entrance is near Giovanni’s shrimp truck.
  • My favorite store in Honolulu is Owens & Co, it’s a small shop in Chinatown with beautiful, carefully selected goods. My favorite store in Kailua is Kailua General Store, which has the best shave ice on the island.
  • A couple of my favourite restaurants: The Pig and the Lady in Chinatown (Vietnamese) and Uahi Island Grill in the small touristy town of Kailua, on the windward side. Uahi has Hawaiian food. The purple sweet potato pie there is not to be missed. Kailua also has a bustling farmers market on Thursdays that could be fun for your family. Pig and the Lady has a great booth there.
  • While you’re in the city, take the kids to a restaurant called Yogustory. It’s Filipino, I think. Order at least one plate of the ube pancakes—bright purple, made with sweet potatoes. Everything else is delicious but these are something I’ve never seen elsewhere.
  • Everyone loves Lanikai Beach, but it’s often crowded and has no waves. I’d skip it and park at a beach near Sea Life Park. I don’t see it identified on Google maps, it’s a local place. Great tide pools for little ones, and surfing just around the bend. They have campsites too. It’s just north of the Makapu’u Lighthouse—definitely look for it. There’s also a very beautiful religious site in this area, you can walk to it from the parking lot, it’s called the Ku Heiau, look for black stones arranged in a circle like mini stone henges. Good for your kids to bring leis that they can drape on the stones. Sea Life Park is fun — the aviary was our favorite part.
  • Drive south on H1 from Honolulu. Lots of people like snorkeling at Hanauma Bay but it’s hit or miss, depending on crowds. Go late or early for best luck. Continue on Kamehameha Hwy east and look for the parking lot at Lanai Lookout—it’s on the right, just past the entrance (left) to the Koko Head Rifle Range. Park there, walk across the hwy, walk east in the drainage ditch until you reach the guardrail. Step over the guardrail, walk down into the short canyon, you’ll find the entrance to a short lava tube that passes under the highway and opens onto an amazing cliff side lookout. It’s safe for kids, just don’t venture out onto the cliffs because of rogue waves. This is a quick detour, 30 min max on your way to the southern windward side near Mokapu’u. It’s very cool.


I’m hoping to get a recap post of our visit to Maui up next. Hopefully this week! Thanks for sticking around, if you’re still here. 🙂 x

13 thoughts on “Oahu, Hawaii: Three quick days

  1. still here ☝🏻And still happy to read you especially as I have find memories if Hawaï when I was 12 and dream to go back .. xx

  2. Courtney so glad to see this new post! What type of room did you get at the Laylow? I’ll be in Hawaii next July with my husband and my then 10, 7 and 6 month old and was wondering if they have family rooms?

    • Hi Cherie,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We had to rent two rooms next to each other. Both had two queen-sized beds, and they provided a cot for Wilkie. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have family rooms!

  3. Came to the site to re-read an old post as we head towards Washington state, and happy to see something new!

  4. Finally! To be honest I checked your site every 2 weeks hoping to find something new here. Happy to read about your new family-adventures.

  5. I missed your posts! Hawaii is a dream destination for me. My little guy is about the same age as Wilkie and I was wondering, did you have him sit on your lap during the plane ride? Or, did he have his own seat… and if so, how did you get him to sleep in it? Many thanks, Shauna

    • Thanks for your comment!
      We had Wilkie on our laps on the airplane journeys. I believe they’re supposed to be on your lap until they are two? In any case, we didn’t want to have to pay for a seat for him. To get him to sleep, we just walked him up and down the aisle until he fell asleep on us. And then we had to hold him while he slept. This is probably the worst age for long-haul travel as they get so restless and aren’t as easily distracted by books or movies, etc. This is why we didn’t go to Europe this summer. We just couldn’t stomach the thought of another long-haul flight with Wilkie at this age. Next year for sure. x

    • Hi Shauna, Once my daughters got to be 1.5 years old we ended up getting them their own seats for the plane ride to and from Portland from DC. When we went when they were under a year it was fine but after that we realized they would stay in their car seats since they were use to being in car seats for long vacation drives. It was worth the extra $$ for a ticket. We also bought a GO-GO BABYZ TRAVELMATE Car Seat Travel Stroller to put the car seat on to take through the airport. MY daughters LOVED riding in the car seat being wheeled around the airport.

  6. Hi Courtney, we also just returned from a trip to Hawaii. We went to Portland for a week to visit my parents and then to Kauai (Hanalei Bay) for a week and the Northshore of Oahu for 3 nights. If you can go back go to Hanalei Bay it is the most magical place in the world. We were trying to figure out how we could move and live there full time. You are swimming in the bay and look behind you to see the green Mountains with waterfalls. Amazing. We did an Air B&B and just walked a block to the beach. My daughters (4, 7, 8) LOVED everything and never wanted to get out of the ocean. In the summer the waves are nice and calm. In the winter that’s when the big waves come. We then spent 3 nights in Oahu. We haven’t been in some time but it reminded me of LA with all the traffic and so many people. Too touristy for us even the Northshore. We did go to the farmers market at Waimea Falls for dinner one night and that was cool. The food was delicious. We were going to swim in the Falls but we read if you have an open cut not to go because you could get some nasty flesh eating virus.

Leave a Reply