Hawaii is one of those places that you can visit over & over again & it is always an amazing vacation. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived in Hawaii so my parents would visit there every few years. When we turned 12 years old, we were allowed to pick a place to visit with our parents. I was sooo excited for my trip & chose to go to Hawaii! It was such an amazing trip & I remember snorkeling at Hanauma Bay with hundreds of colorful fish, getting an ice cold coconut from a fruit stand, rolling in the waves at Waimea, getting mango & coconut shave ice at Matsomoto's (with their homemade ice cream & beans of course), & going to the local market with my grandparents.
As my sisters & I got older, our family vacations switched from visiting California & Utah to going to Hawaii. It was our favorite place & we would look forward to our visits for months. I remember sitting in the back of the rental car singing & dancing to Jack Johnson as we drove along the north shore. Since my grandparents had moved from Hawaii after living there for 27 years, we started staying on the north shore since it had all of our favorite beaches & places to eat & we loved the laid back atmosphere.
Fast forward a few years & I was in Hawaii going to school & learning to surf as an 18 year old. I went surfing for the first time my first week in Hawaii & bought my first surfboard a day later. After that day, I went almost every since day & sometimes 3 times a day! I stayed in Hawaii for 8 years & then felt like it was time for me to move, even though it was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I moved to San Diego & met my now husband a week later, so it was worth it! I will always love Hawaii though & it has so many great memories!!!
When people ask me for a great vacation place, Hawaii is almost always the first place I recommend. It is easy to travel there, flights are reasonably priced, & you feel like you are traveling to a different country but without all the hassle. You can't top the laid back feeling, beautiful beaches, & delicious food! Hawaii is just paradise!
After 8 years in Hawaii & many visits, I have compiled some top things to do as well as recommendations on where to stay.
Where to stay: If you are going to Oahu, I recommend staying on the north shore. Nothing else compares. The north shore is what you picture when you think of Hawaii: beautiful, uncrowded beaches, crystal blue water, a surfers paradise, & lots of great places to eat. Kailua is also a beautiful area, which soft, white sand beaches!!
What to do: Go to the beach!!! Of course, relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, & surfing are always the highlight of a Hawaiian vacation. My favorite beaches are listed below by category.
Waimea- you can jump of the famous rock (if the tide is right), & play in the waves, rolling onto the shore, great for paddleboarding when flat, you may see dolphins here in the summertime
Sunset- gorgeous beach & I feel like it really does have the prettiest sunsets & it is also almost always sunny there! It can be raining in other areas but then sunny at sunset!
Gas chambers- float along the shoreline in the natural lazy river! Also fun for watching surfers!
Pipeline- it's only safe to swim in the water here in the summer when it's totally flat, during the winter you can watch the amazing surfers from the shore!
Hukilau- fun, mellow beach for body boarding
Lanikai- (in Kailua)-picture perfect white sand beach with turquoise water, very relaxing, no waves, good for renting a paddleboard or kayak
Castles/ Malaekahana Beach Park--beginner- perfect spot to learn how to surf, the water is pretty deep & the waves are very mellow (this is where I first learned to surf!)
Puena Point--beginner--fun waves that you can ride a long way in
Turtle Bay-- beginner to intermediate-- fun, mellow waves
Chun's-- beginner to intermediate- fun, mellow waves
Pupukea-- intermediate-- fun waves and easy paddle out, beautiful beach
Pipeline-- ADVANCED!- I never surfed here, but I loved to relax on the beach & watch the surfers
Honolulu-- surfing in Honolulu can be fun when there are no waves on the north shore. It's very crowded there but you can ride the waves for a long time.
1. Sharks Cove- laid back, not very crowded, good amount of fish & you may also see turtles here! Shark's Cove also has the most gorgeous sunset, seeing the reflection on all of the little tide pools
2. Hanauma Bay- crowded, but gorgeous bay filled with lots of colorful fish, you may see turtles here too! (does cost $7.50 per person & a $1.00 parking fee)
COMING SOON- TOP HIKES TO DO IN HAWAII!!!
BEST BEACHES TO VISIT+ Where to stay:
I lived in Hawaii for 8 years & visited many times before living there. I lived on the north shore of Oahu, & also visited Kauai, Maui, & the Big Island several times. I will be sharing my tips on the best beaches, delicious places to eat, visiting Hawaii on a budget, fun surf spots for each level, & the best places that tourists don't know about!