"Old Hawai'i" Still Exists on the Island of O'ahu

Pros: North Shore is the place to discover (or rediscover) Oahu

Cons: Most budget packages don't send you to North Shore

Many island travelers often believe that in order to enjoy the "old Hawai'i" one must go to any island BUT O'ahu. Not true.

The biggest mistake most first-timers make is remaining in Honolulu and Waikiki during their first visit to the island. When the first-time visitor has pre-conceived visions of swaying palm trees and vistas of sandy beaches, the thriving urban center of Honolulu with its metropolitan air and energy can often be frustrating and disappointing.

However, just a short drive to the northern shores of O'ahu (a.k.a., North Shore), takes you into a different world. You can drive there either through the center of the island or take the long scenic coastal route along the eastern shore and heading north. Either drive is spectacular and breathtaking in its own right and will help you familiarize yourself with the island and get acclimated. Make sure and tune in to a classic Hawaiian music station to set the tone right for the drive and put yourself into the Aloha mindset.

We always recommend staying on the north side of the island even if it's your first time to Hawai'i.

Turtle Bay Resort is a beautiful property boasting over 800 acres of tropical paradise.Staying at the resort is a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Constructed on a point of land that juts out into the Pacific, all rooms have an ocean view. The pool and spa area is gorgeously situated so one can sit in either and look right out to the waves rolling in from the open sea. There are horseback riding, golfing, tennis, surfing lessons, and other spa activites available for an additional cost. For free you can just lounge by the pool, walk along the unspoiled western beaches looking at the tidepools, or use a cheap snorkel to look at brighly colored fish in the calmer eastern cove.

Don't be scared away by the rates posted on the resort's website. Known in the industry as "rack rates", the rates are higher than what you pay if you book through another portal. The best bet for affordable rates is to go with a vacation package through an airline or tour operator.

Another option for accommodations on the North Shore are the Kuilima Estates condos located on the Turtle Bay property which are owned and operated separately from the hotel. Nestled amid the green and fairways of the resort's gorgeous golf courses, the condos are a very reasonably priced option particularly for families or multiple couples that want to split the cost of a two or three bedroom condo to reduce the overall cost of the vacation.

The use of Turtle Bay's beaches and facilities are not exclusive to guests, so even if you choose less grandiose accommodations, you can still enjoy some of the resort's amenities for the price of parking.

Another must for a well-rounded visit to O'ahu is to plan a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie (on the northeastern side of O'ahu). This fabulous cultural mecca is geared toward adults and children alike. Your day will be filled with learning and discovering the Polynesian cultures that exist throughout the South Pacific. Your evening at the nightly stage show will leave you awestruck. The experience is definitely worth the price of admission.

Finally, take the time to drive along the Kamehameha Highway ("Kam" Highway for short) that runs around the outer edge of the eastern and northern sides of the island and drink in the "real" Hawai'i. Stop at roadside produce stands for locally grown veggies and fruit. Have a shave ice to cool yourself down. Drive along the rim Waimea Bay and then on to the western most side of the island where the road ends. You will go away from the island having a piece of it with you always in your heart and having left a piece of your heart with the island always.

No comments: