October 31, 2018
Last week we took a trip to the North Shore of Oahu with our kids for a family adventure. We were determined to have and amazing trip and discover some family friendly things to do in Oahu.
Yep that’s right. We flew 12 hours from Atlanta to Honolulu with two small children. After getting over the horrified stares of everyone we told that we were flying 12 hours with two young kids to Hawaii – I was genuinely excited for the adventure and wanted to prove to anyone that it could be done, and it would be fun! We were determined to have a fun family vacation in Oahu and explore the North Shore.
I am not a planner. Repeat. I am not a planner. I am a spontaneous, “let’s wing it” kind of girl. However, motherhood has taught me a few things and I have learned planning and preparing at least a tiny bit can go a loooong way in making any trip with a 4 year old and 1 year old successful.
That being said, we are not the type of family who plans a bajillion things to do and has an itinerary and all our tickets purchased before we get there. Our vacation style is more relaxed. Calm. Full of adventure and freedom. We are a “let’s get in the Jeep and see where the day takes us” kind of family. We felt so at home in Hawaii because that laid back vibe seems to be the heartbeat of the island and there is truly an “Island State of Mind”. Making traveling to Hawaii with small children much more manageable when you embrace an Aloha state of mind.
Our journey from ATL to Honolulu was quite the tale though. If you watched my instagram stories or followed along an our trip posts, you’ll know. We flew Alaska Air for the first time and were seriously impressed. I guess we weren’t the only ones who heard about their family friendliness though, because there were at least 10 other babies and families with young kiddos on our flights. You can see from the gate check that the stroller pile was quite high. Our first flight was uneventful and smooth, however the second flight from Seattle to Honolulu was INSANE. Literally the hardest 6 hours of my life.
Teddy started vomiting the minute we got to our seats on the plane. Like projectile-all-over-everyone-and-everything kind of vomiting.
Hours of a vomiting child on a packed plane and an overtired toddler = my literal nightmare.
HOWEVER – the amazing flight crew on @alaskaair literally saved us. They went above and beyond helping us clean vomit ( several times over) managing a very upset baby, and providing anything and everything they could to help us get through this nightmare ordeal.
Including free drinks for Grant and I after the worst of the scenario of flying with small children was over. They were the definition of customer service.
I am so thankful and impressed and not once was I made to feel like we were an inconvenience or anything less than the most valued of customers. ( even though I know the whole plane was suffering from our ordeal.) That’s the reality sometimes when traveling with small children on long haul flights.
THANK 🙌🏻 YOU 🙌🏻 @alaskaair for redefining family friendly travel. What started out as a regular trip – turned nightmare – turned into redeeming travel experience. It was our first time flying Alaska, but it sure won’t be our last.
Read more on my tips for flying with kids in this post!
BUT, Now onto the family friendly travel adventures in Hawaii!
We stayed in Pupukea on the North Shore in a super cute and affordable airbnb. It was the best location – a family friendly quiet neighborhood just up the mountain from the famous Shark’s Cove and Sunset Beach. There was a little grocery store and coffee shop right at the bottom of the street. We got coffee there every morning and picked up our essentials each day at the store. It was such a convenient location and I highly recommend if any of you are going to be staying on the North Shore.
The time change from Atlanta to Oahu really worked in our favor on this trip because we easily woke up each day at about 5:30/ 6 am and were out of the house by 6:30 or 7 to watch the sunrise and begin our adventures. In my experience traveling with kids it is easier to get started early.
Here are a few of our photos from the first few days of exploring. There was so much to see and do, we never got tired of just driving around the shoreline following Kamehameha Highway along the coast through all the different North Shore towns. Around every bend was the most amazing vista and photo op. Some of my favorite pictures we took were just a random side-of-the-road snap.
Each day we had a loose theme or idea of what we wanted to do or explore. One day it was beaches, one day it was hiking, one day it was a town or two we had heard about, etc. We’d basically just drive and eat/ explore our way through these different locations, never hesitating to pull over to the side of the road for a cute fruit stand, or a lookout point to soak in the million dollar views. This also makes it easier on the kids.
One of my favorite things was making the drive around the north tip of the island and exploring each little town bit by bit. The food in the north shore is best served from a roadside stand, and believe me when I say, you’ll know what’s good. The long line of locals will be the giveaway.
We absolutely LOVED Kailua. It is the fancy side of the Island and every inch is just stunning. It is home to Lanikai beach – by far the prettiest beach I saw. It had soft sand and stunning ocean views with picture perfect island outcroppings in the horizon and gentle waves and lagoons that were perfect for children to play.
We booked the most incredible family adventure photography session with Sheyanne Lyn Photography – she took us to several locations around Kailua and captured the most beautiful moments that I will treasure for a lifetime. By far the best money we spent on the trip.
We did a little bit of grocery shopping when we first arrived in Oahu for the essentials: milk, bottled water, pbj supplies, and some snacks. Be warned- shopping like you shop at home will be very expensive. Milk runs about $7-8 a gallon even for the non organic kind. However, that being said, you can actually eat quite affordably if you know what and where to buy.
We found a great local farmer’s market that had extremely good prices on fresh local produce and even meat! We’d stop by the roadside stands and grab meals as well. The poké is unbelievably good and you can find it for a good price just about anywhere. I’ve literally never had a more delicious mouthful than when we got a poké bowl from a roadside stand on a whim while driving home from an adventure one day. I wish I had written down the name of the place, but alas, I did not and my #mombrain certainly doesn’t still remember.
We did an excursion to Waikiki for an afternoon and ate at the world famous ocean front restaurant Duke’s. It was worth EVERY PENNY. The mai tai’s were heavenly and every single thing we ate was the best thing ever. It was not cheap, but it was so so very good. Very touristy, but very delicious-y and family friendly. We then went to Maui Brewing Co. in Waikiki and had some locally brewed beers on their patio and listened to some great live music while the kids roamed and played. It felt very similar to an afternoon here in Atlanta, but island edition.
All in all, I think it is safe to say we had the time of our lives. We have fallen in love with the island and are so excited that we get to go back in just 3 short weeks.
I’ll be writing another post shortly about my Top 5 things to see and places eat in Oahu’s North Shore ( with kids) and I’ll be including more of what we did each day!
I hope you enjoyed this post and please let me know in the comments if you have any questions! Have you been to Oahu? If so, what were your favorite things?