“La’i lua ke kai.”
“The sea is very calm, all is peaceful.”- Hawaiian Proverb
Don’t get me wrong. I love family travel. My goal in life is to teach my daughters that they have an entire planet in their backyard, with smells and sights and sounds to discover. But there is something to be said about Mom and Dad getting away, that moment you get over the tears of leaving the kids at Gramma’s, and you’re in line at the airport. You’re standing behind the family with a car seat, 8 suitcases, a stroller, a screaming toddler and a look of despair, and you just have to fist bump your significant other. While our girls have grown and travel extremely well, I am a firm believer that it is good for parents to get away as adults. Exploring a destination kid free is a completely different experience, and parents deserve the time to recharge, reconnect and rediscover life as individuals, and as a married couple.
On this trip, we found ourselves headed to Oahu, the 3rd largest of the Hawaiian islands. Known as “The Gathering Place”, this island offers up everything you can dream of and delivers it on a silver platter. Famous for the WWII history of Pearl Harbour, views from the 100,000 year old Diamond Head crater, 30 foot swells along the legendary surf territory of the North Shore and walking along the infamous Waikiki Beach, Oahu embodies a desire to both relax and enjoy life to the fullest extent. I love Oahu because it is the perfect mix of home and sun quenched beaches. You can safely drive, speak the language and eat the food (they even have Costco!), while spending days lounging on the world class sands of Lanikai, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay or simply lounging on your lenai, sipping wine, watching the whales in the distance. Truth be told, we only did a couple of the “Must Do’s” and it was still the most amazing week you can imagine. In fact, we loved it so much we are returning with my family to celebrate my Grampa turning 80!!
WHERE WE STAYED:
If you are looking for the perfect mix of luxury condo and resort, then Ko Olina Beach Villas are for you. Located on the leeward coast, about 40 minutes from the airport, the condos are nestled between the Marriott, Disney’s Aulani and the Four Seasons. Backing onto a prestigious Golf Course, Ko’Olina is the destination of luxury travelers. The Beach Villa condos range from one to three bedrooms and offer high end finishings and appliances, including a full kitchen, as well as a washer and dryer. Most are privately owned, so they will vary slightly, but strict guidelines are in place to maintain a high level of expectation. There are 2 pools, one adult lap pool with hot tub, and a lagoon style pool for families that has a pebble bottom hot tub for watching the infamous Hawaiian sunsets. There are several grilling areas for guests to use, as well as a cocktail bar. For those who are less inclined to cook, there is Ko Olina Station tucked in behind the hotels. Eating at Monkeypod is an absolute must! Longboards along the beach at the Marriott is another great place to grab a meal, especially as the sun goes down. For a complete list of places to eat in the area, see here.
Consisting of four man made lagoons, the coast of the Ko’Olina area is a fantastic place to spend time soaking up the sun and then watch it set. Each of the beautiful white sand beaches are crescent shaped, and are among the top rated beaches on the island, as the calm waters offer safe swimming and easy snorkeling. Walking paths connect the lagoons as well as the neighboring hotels. It’s easy to work off the food and drinks here, you can walk, jog, swim the lagoons or even enjoy the gym on the main floor of the villas.
SNORKELING and SNUBA:
In the marina attached to Ko’Olina is a fantastic place to book an adventure with Captain Todd and the Crew at Ocean Adventures. We spent a spectacular half day drinking, eating and snorkeling. We then tried our hands at “Snuba”, a combination of snorkeling and scuba. I highly recommend trying it! Using a regulator, a weighted belt and a snorkel mask, you are able to head to the ocean floor to get up close and personal with coral and whatever sea life the crew can manage to show you! They even provide a photographer so you can later purchase shots of your day. The catamaran and snorkel has two departures each day (morning and afternoon). For detailed pricing see here.
**Bring a towel and sunscreen. They provide the snorkel and Snuba gear. Our early sailing had no children. The afternoon appeared to have plenty.
SWIMMING WITH SHARKS:
Step into the cage my friends….. Ok, I’ll be the first to admit I was extremely nervous (I’ve seen the movies, they don’t end well). But this is about as safe as it gets, and such an amazingly unique experience! We took the tour thru Shark Tours Hawaii in Haleiwa, on the North Shore. The boat takes you 3 miles out, and be advised that someone will suffer the plagues of sea sickness. In fact, the captain told us that not once in his career has he ever had a trip out where at least one person wasn’t sick. There is plenty of open air, and Sam and I were fine, not so much for a few of our friends. Once you arrive, out goes the cage. Relax, there is no scary music to accompany it. Up to 8 people can go in at a time, and the sharks are circling before you even get in….(ok, maybe a little scary music, but it’s in your head, I promise.) The captain told us that they are so used to the sound of fishing boats that provided food, that they arrive automatically, and are considered “curious” not dangerous. In our 20 minute shark experience, we saw many of them, with sharks ranging from 5 to 15 feet in length. The experience will run you about $120 US per adult and welcomes all ages. For detailed pricing, see here. Swimming with sharks….CHECK
** Bring towels and sunscreen. They provide the Snorkel Gear and life vests if required.
CHECKING OUT THE SURFING:
The North Shore of Oahu is a legendary surfing mecca, drawing professionals from around the globe to it’s winter swells. While we were there, the Billabong Pipemaster Competition was being held. Due to conditions, it wasn’t running the day we stopped by, but seeing the setup, and those still out braving the waves was awesome.
SO HOW HARD CAN IT BE??
We decided to try surfing ourselves….and it turns out it’s not easy. But, wow, is it fun! Thanks to our surf coach Danny at Westside Surf , we were all able to get up and ride the waves to shore. Taking a surf lesson here is practically a rite of passage, so make sure to try it out. Surfing in Hawaii….Check.
** Leave the North Shore waves to the experienced. There are plenty of safer places around the island to either rent a board or take lessons!
With the endless number of beaches Hawaii has to offer, you could spend the entire week discovering new places to put your toes in the sand. Just make sure one of them is world renowned Kailua. This 1/2 mile stretch of powdery white sand and turqouise ocean on the windward coast is the perfect place to walk, boogey board, kayak and watch the windsails on the horizon, and is quite often rated among the top beaches in the world. You can take lessons or rent surf or paddle boards, as well as kayaks, all within walking distance.
WAIKIKI and HONOLULU:
We only spent a few hours here. With such a jam packed week, we didn’t have time for Diamond Head, but we knew it was an absolute must to take time to walk the infamous Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is the beachfront neighborhood of the state’s capital city, Honolulu, and has been known as the hangout for everyone from 1800’s royalty to Elvis. Here you can lay on the beach, surf gentler waters, shop, eat and stay at one of the hotels dotting the shoreline.
You need to make sure to stop at Duke’s (if you can get close to the place, it’s legendary). Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, was born in 1890 in Honolulu, and his legend lives on today. Not only was he a well decorated Olympian swimmer, Duke IS surfing. You also need to check out the banyan trees near the Honolulu Zoo end of the beach. The roots of the banyan grow vertically, descending from the branches to the ground.
I’ll be honest, an afternoon in the hustle and bustle of crowds, traffic and noise was enough for me. I much prefer to visit for a day and then get back out of the city.
Oahu is a destination that can be tailored to any type of budget and travel style. From the bright lights of Honolulu, to the laid back atmosphere of the North shore, it is paradise, and we easily fell in love with the sand, the ocean, and the ideologies of the Hawaiian people. Hawaii is about family, it’s about enjoying your surroundings and living a full and enriched life. Mahalo, Hawaii, until we meet again.
31 thoughts on “OAHU: Aloha to a Kid Free Week”
Looks like a beautiful trip!
I’m going to Maui in a few months and now I’m even more excited!
It was! Thanks for taking the time to read 🙂 And we hope to do Maui in the near future, it is supposed to be the perfect mix between the craziness of Oahu and the Peace of the Big Island. Aloha!!
I’ve been once before and it was so awesome. I hope to adventure to another island someday too!
Can hardly wait for our 4 generations of family to be all together in Hawaii. I think I will skip swimming with the sharks though and enjoy watching the sunsets instead with a glass or 2 of wine. Looking so forward to seeing some the places you mention, Dukes and the beaches for sure. As the Gramma I get to have the girls for some of our own adventures and memory making, I promise to keep them safe.
We are going to have an amazing time! Plenty of sunsets, wine, sand and laughter. We are fortunate to be able to spend such an important life event in such an amazing place!
Great pictures! Looks like a fun vacation!
Thank you! It was absolutely fabulous!
All I can say is – so jealous!! Dying to go to Hawaii, and dying to go on a sans kids trip. Great useful post for when I do make it there some day:).
Oh what an amazing break! I totally agree with you about family travel: it’s fantastic to travel with kids, but it’s completely different from travelling as a couple (or as adults in general) and the two things shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. I have never been to Hawaii, but I have almost convinced my husband to go there for out 10th anniversary – not quite around the corner yet, but it’s never too early to start daydreaming no?
It was an absolutely amazing place as a couple and we can hardly wait to visit as a family next month! I think travel as an adult is important, firstly, we are individuals, and allowing ourselves down time is vital to a healthy existence! I hope you get to go to Hawaii, it would be an amazing anniversary destination 🙂
I couldn’t agree with you more about getting away with just the two of you. We try a few times out of the year for weekend getaways with some adult time. I love travelling with our kids, and the majority of the time they are with us, but I really love just getting away just the two of us. Hawaii is a great spot too!
We try and make the effort as well, it’s not always far, but it’s important! I also try get away with friends and my mom, it’s always good to connect to my special people!
Great tips on Oahu, and I totally get the “Fist Bump” when you realize that you are completely free. Such a great time to escape once in a while.
Right??? We all need the break every once in a while. And I’ll have tips on the larger highlights after our return trip!
Ohhh you have me dreaming now! We haven’t had a kid free break for 4 years. Ive never been to Hawaii, I wanted to get married there but the costs were too high from the UK. Maybe we will have to plan a trip for our anniversary.
I understand cost! Our Canadian dollar compared to the American dollar is AWFUL right now, and we go again next month! But absolutely see Hawaii, it is so spectacular! And you are due for a kid free trip!
You are so right, adults need time away once in a while. And this looks like the perfect place to relax and enjoy life. I would love to stay at a place like the Ko’Olina. Your photos are beautiful and make me want to go back to Hawaii.
I hope you get a chance to visit! Ko’Olina is such a special place!
Looks like a lot of fun! I would really love to learn to surf and Hawaii seems like an ideal place to make that happen 🙂
Okay, this is awesome! I’m actually planning a trip to Hawaii in December and thinking to start on Oahu. Thanks for sharing all this info, I know I definitely want to go snorkeling there!
I hope you have an amazing trip! I also have another post, staying on the north shore and covering a few other places. I hope you have an amazing trip!
Hawaii is a veritable paradise on earth. I can see you had a really great time in this paradise. I know that one does deserve some ‘me’ time, which becomes difficult with kids. But everyone needs to go for it sometime or the other.
We stayed in Ko’Olina a few months ago and loved that area. Waikiki is just too busy nowadays and this area feels more like a resort getaway. Love the uncrowded beaches and enjoying Mai Tai’s next to the pools at the Aulani Hotel at night.
Glad you had such a great experience there! Now that we’ve also stayed on the north shore, I’d be torn for my next trip, but Ko’Olina is absolutely the luxury relax trip!
The last time I was on Oahu I was 16, so I definitely need to go back and explore as an adult. I’m glad you were able to get away sans children. It’s important to reconnect to yourself and as a couple. Looks like you had a wonderful time and I’ll keep the tips in mind for when I make it back. 🙂
Gosh this place looks like my absolute dream destination! I’m curious about SNUBA. As a scuba diver I wonder whether it is a helpful bridge between snorkelling & scuba diving to help people feel more at ease before jumping straight into scuba diving? Also – what kind of sharks did you go swimming with in the cage? Seriously sounds like such a cool place!
A kids break from time to time is more than deserved and Hawai looks like the perfect destination for these kind of trips. Thanks for sharing!
Looks like a fabulous vacation! I love that your resort (which sounded great) was nestled between the Disney resort and Four Seasons, 2 of my faves!! Nice that you can make time to get away from the kids and just enjoy being a married couple. My husband and I will be married 25 years in a few months and one thing we always did since the beginning was to take a week (at least) vacation with just the two of us each year. It was always heart breaking to think about leaving my daughters behind but once I got to the destination, I was fine and had a fantastic time. Keep it up! 😉
Yes! Parents need to get away together, and while it’s difficult to leave, the end result is so worth it.
We were in Oahu’s North Shore last year! Our 25-year old grandson took us around!