Although we stayed at Disney’s Aulani and could have been more than satisfied with the resorts activities for the week, we’re a group of explorers so we went off to see what Oahu had to offer us. We encountered many friendly faces, executed many an adventure and experienced a great deal of Hawaiian history and culture. I plan to share with you mine and my families favorite outings on the island of Oahu.
On the second day of our stay we travelled to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North East side of the island. Although the drive was long and the entrance fee’s expensive, I thought this experience was really interesting and wish we would have had more time to explore. If you book 10 days in advance, on-line you can receive 10% off your purchase. There are 6 different Polynesian islands for you to explore; at each island you learn about their history, and can experience their culture a number of ways. These villages have presentations to go along with their activities as well – some of which we found very entertaining. We loved the Samoan presentation (lots of laughs) and we learned who to easily crack a coconut and build a fire! At the islands of Aotearoa my cousins and I received temporary tribal tattoos and tested our hand-eye coordination playing tititorea, a Maori stick game. Our family also hopped on a canoe to make it from one end of the center to the other in time for our dinner reservation. What we experienced here was incredibly entertaining and interesting; I wish we had arrived earlier and could have experienced more of the center and what its villages had to offer.
The main reason we traveled to the Polynesian Cultural Center was for the award winning Ali’i Luau. We were told this was the best place to go to experience a traditional Luau. In ancient Hawaii it was customary to celebrate special occasions with ohana and hoaloha, similar to how we celebrate special occasions today, except their idea of a celebration is way cooler than ours. The Luau was HUGE and the menu was filled with many traditional dishes including 4 different meat options, a vegetarian option, a salad bar and an array of starches to fit any palate. Although I will say, be careful about what beverages you order because not all of them are included in your dinner ticker (and I’m not just talking alcoholic). The entertainment was amazing; since we continued to milk my birthday celebration, a handsome Hawaiian man and everyone else sang Happy Birthday to me and a few other guests to top off the celebration. On a final note, the doors open at 4:45, the buffet opens at 5:10, and the show begins at 5:30. The seating is tiered so don’t worry about not having a great seat; we sat relatively low and close to the stage and we had a great view of the show and a spectacular time.
Waimea Falls Park has a mixture of reviews. I can understand where a few of the negative comments came from, however, my family and I really enjoyed this ‘hike’. I say hike lightly because the path is paved and it’s a 30 minute hike maximum – and thats if you stop to smell all the roses. There is also a tram for an extra fee if you’d like to skip the walking. The plant life is beautiful and the destination is all around peaceful. I would suggest water shoes for the swimming hole, especially if you don’t consider yourself ‘earthy’, however, as you can see a few pictures up I did not wear any on my feet and I turned out just fine. The water is freezing cold (fresh water hole, duh) but the falls are pretty and refreshing. If you’ve worked up an appetite there’s a cute snack shack at the end/start of your hike where one can find simple finger foods such as chicken fingers and burgers. You’ll eat amongst begging peacocks but that’s not the worst animal that could be begging for your attention, right? To sum it up, this experience is $16.00 for adults, $12.00 for students and seniors and $8.00 for children. I’ve been told there are better attractions to spend your money on; I thought the natural beauties of Kauai were prettier and without cost, but it certainly was not a bad experience.
At the mouth of Waimea Falls Park is Waimea Bay Beach Park. My family and I decided to cross the street and check the beach out for a bit before moving on with our day. The view from the beach is stunning and completely natural, no tall buildings poking up on either side like you might see from a resort on the south shore of the island. This bay is the start of Big Wave surfing on the North Shore of the island seeing as waves can often reach between 10 and 30 feet in the winter months. We found a nice sandy spot and some of us chose to relax while others joined locals and other visitors on “Da Big Rock”. Despite posted signs, there were upwards of 25 people on this rock taking the 30+ foot plunge to the deep blue. I learned the hard way to time my jump with the waves after cannon balling into the sandy ocean floor! This jump was exhilarating and definitely a highlight of mine and my fearless family’s trip.
So this next destination was exceptionally cool because we completely stumbled upon it while exploring the North Shore. The Ron Artis recording studio/home, we’re not even sure! Their was the coolest, most colorful artwork outside that my Aunt just had to stop and check out. In the process we found our way into this recording studio where beautiful music was being made and played. We spent time talking to and jamming out with some of the 11 Artis children in their fully loaded sound studio. It was such an amazing experience to genuinely stumble upon – we just had a vibey hour or so looking at sculptures, paintings, and listening to soulful music. We wound up purchasing a CD, I bought a tank top and we were off and on our way but man was it super cool to hangout there for a bit. I definitely suggest this pit stop if you’re on the north shore! The Artis family and their music talents can be found at: 67-202 Kupahu St. Waialua Hi 96791
The town of Haleiwa is not one you should just drive right on through. It’s a laid back surf town filled with tons of local style in the form of surf shops and boutiques. I wouldn’t call it a destination per say but if you are driving through, I suggest you stop and walk around a bit. If you’re looking for authentic Hawaiian souvenirs for yourself or for anyone back at home this would be a great place to find them. The locals are friendly and helpful and if you pass by the Aloha General Store stop in for a shave ice in exotic flavors with exceptional customer service.
My last suggestion is for anyone staying on the south shore of Oahu. If there is a special occasion OR you’re just looking to have a nice dinner go to Roy’s in Ko Olina. Again, this is a little bit more of a pricey venue but the food and service is phenomenal. The building interior is well decorated and the restaurant sits right amidst a beautiful golf course. Our party, due to its rather large size, had our own little room to ourselves which made the experience that much more personal. Reservations can be made online « click here!
Oahu is a large island, 3rd biggest Hawaiian Island in fact! With that being said there are a large number of things we were not able to do that I wish we could have done. Some of them include visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (which my family did in two separate groups, however, I did not attend), hike Diamond Head Summit Trail, visit the Dole Plantation and hike Kaena Point and Koko Crater Arch. Honestly, the list goes on and on and on. If you have any questions about any of the above please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible!
Mahalo travel family!