This year my beautiful wife turns fifty. She abhorred the idea of it and any talk of her up and coming celebration was expressly forbidden. We decided to vacation to Oahu, Hawaii hoping to better ease my wife into the inevitable next chapter of her life. The plan was to make things so fun that fifty would be a highlight in her life’s adventure and not a downer.
As always ensuring enjoyment for my family at each of our age ranges is challenging. The ages range from 8 to 50, so traveling to Oahu was perfect! It is one of the busier islands of the Hawaiian Islands, but this also makes it a unique island with a myriad of things to see and do for all ages and activity levels. From hiking the outdoors; to beautiful and majestic waterfalls, to exploring some of the islands historical sites.
Airbnb – Do it
For our adventure and birthday celebration, we rented a beautiful home just minutes away from Haunama Bay. Hanauma Bay is well known in Oahu for its snorkeling and abundant coral wildlife. We rented a home through Airbnb. It was a fraction of the cost of booking a decent hotel in the same general area during this same time period. Our Airbnb host was very gracious and welcoming. He even provided us with a box of local macadamia nut chocolates as a welcome gift as well as a homemade local tour guidebook. The home came with complimentary snorkeling equipment, sand toys, and boogie boards. Here is a list of our highlights and recommendation for your next trip to Oahu. Click this link to save $40 on your next Airbnb stay!
What to Do
We spent several days snorkeling and playing in the waves at Sherwood Beach and Ala Moana Beach Park. In addition to beautiful beaches, Oahu offers many cultural activities that we suggest you try. Tour Pearl Harbor, enjoy the famous pineapple maze at the Dole Pineapple Plantation and spend at least 2 days exploring the Polynesian Cultural Center. We also dined at some of the best restaurants and diners that Oahu has to offer.
Save Money With Delta Vacations
Initially, I booked our trip through Delta Vacations where I purchased plane tickets. Our rental car was added for free (minus taxes and surcharges) because we booked our Oahu trip through Delta Vacations. I also pre-purchased tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I wanted the whole experience and added a flower lei greeting for the family.
Nix the Leis
Upon our arrival to the Island, I anticipated a grand greeting and welcome to accompany the flower lei to start this magical trip off right. Instead, what we found when arriving at the gate, was people standing around with a grocery bags full of flower leis and clipboards to check off their list of names. This turned out to be a very anticlimactic beginning to our trip and quite the disappointment for me. I didn’t feel like this was worth the money that I had paid. At least you can learn from my mistakes!
Bigger is Better
After we picked up our rental car we headed to our Airbnb rental. We were excited to be in Ohau and we were famished, too! We stopped along the way at a local burger joint called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. This place makes phenomenal hamburgers from a quarter of a pound to one pound of beef and with a full assortment of toppings. The restaurant staff was very friendly and helpful and the food was delicious. We ended up eating here several times on this trip and would recommend it to you.
The next morning we had breakfast at the Moena Café to prepare for our morning hike on the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Moena Café is an Oahu local favorite and it is located in the same shopping center as Teddy’s bigger burger. As a testament to the quality of the food here there was always a wait to get in. it was never more than twenty minutes or so, but it was always well worth the wait. This restaurant featured crepes, stuffed French-toast, and your usual American style breakfast along with coffee that we found to be amazing as well.
Makapu’u Point Hike
The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail was completely paved all the way to the top. The hike took us about an hour and the weather was very warm and sunny. The views of Oahu at the top were spectacular nothing but the lush green island, white sandy beaches, and varying shades of blue ocean coastline for miles. On our way back down we realized that we had made our first mistake on this trip by opting to not wear sunscreen and we all ended up a little sunburned after this hike. Word to the wise, for the best Hawaii vacation possible always choose to wear sunscreen.
After hiking to the Makapu’u Point we headed to Sherwood Beach. This white sandy beach was perfect for our little family and was apparently a popular spot to have wedding photos taken in Oahu as well. The views from the beach were stunning, to say the least. My daughter loved bodysurfing, catching little sand crabs, and we even had a great time building sandcastles together. There were no fees for the beach, and getting there was a short two-minute walk from the car. Oddly enough this beach was never very busy and proved to be one of our favorites.
The next day we headed out to the Dole Plantation. Dole Plantation was a very interesting and enjoyable adventure in Oahu that was a little off of the beaten path. We enjoyed the large and intricate pineapple shaped maze and to cool off from the heat we ate our share of pineapple flavored ice cream. We found the Dole Plantation to be a bit of a tourist trap but everyone enjoyed the visit none the less. If you are looking at visiting this site then I would recommend planning on spending about four hours here.
Pearl Harbor is a very educational and memorable place to visit. We decided to take the audio tour along with a boat ride out to see the Arizona Memorial. Oahu had just had a series of typhoons and the monument was deemed unsafe to actually board. We had to settle for second best which consisted of just a boat tour. On the audio tour, we were able to not only see the exhibits, but we were also told the story of each exhibit narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis as well as by personal accounts recorded from the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Finding parking at the war memorial was not so easy to find so I would recommend carpooling or maybe even taking a bus to see this.
The Highlight of Our Trip
The Polynesian Cultural Center was one of our families highlights of our entire trip. The center was a bit out of the way for us and took about an hour to drive to, but it was well worth the commute. Upon our arrival at Oahu’s famous Polynesian Cultural Center, we were greeted with smiles and genuinely pleasant people everywhere. The center is broken up between six Polynesian island groups; Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Tonga. At each Island, there was a presentation given by the people of that Island regarding the history and the culture. There was so much to do and see here that we decided to come back for a second day to see everything that we had missed on day one. There was plenty of kid-friendly activities here as well from baking to making crafts, and even kid-friendly fishing activities. We also did the Luau here, and the food and entertainment was a high point of our trip as well. If you are going to Oahu then make sure to put the Polynesian Cultural Center on your list of must-see places.
Oahu is an island with a lot to see and do. We found the food and entertainment to be abundant, and the people of Oahu to be very welcoming, kind, and friendly. Our family absolutely recommends Oahu for an island adventure that caters to all ages and activity levels. At the end of our trip, my wife said that this was her best birthday ever. For this wonderful and priceless gift, I say to the people of Oahu, “Mahalo”!