north shore, oahu, hawaii

A huge perk of living in California is the easy flight to Hawaii. Since we've lived in San Francisco we've been lucky to make it an annual getaway. With tons of direct flights to Honolulu, we picked the island of Oahu a bit randomly for our first trip three years ago, fell in love with the island immediately and keep coming back.

While the ever-popular Maui and Kauai have been trendy destinations in recent years, I'm a big fan of Oahu for a vacation destination. Home to the state capital, Honolulu, Oahu is the third largest island and is home to 2/3 of the state's population. There's lots of history, hotels and good food in Honolulu, but we prefer to spend our time on the North Shore where there's a slower pace; there's only one hotel (charming Airbnb's are aplenty), most meals are eaten out of food trucks and there's no need to ever change out of your bathing suit.

Pack... No matter how little I bring with me, I always overpack. All you need is a few bathing suits, coverups, flip flops and maybe something to hike or jog in (if you are feeling motivated). And lots of sunscreen. 

Sleep... On the North Shore, an Airbnb rental is the way to go. There's only one hotel on this side of the island (Turtle Bay Resort), and I prefer to have the extra space, a kitchen and maybe a great view if you're lucky.

Read... One year I read Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux. A quirky and ironic book set in a hotel in Honolulu, but a fun read. 

Bring home... Kona coffee and some Locals flip flops


{ eat }

Halewia Bowls (Halewia) - My favorite acai bowls probably anywhere. These are highly addicting and a perfect breakfast before a day at the beach. The roadside hut is right in Halewia, and they also have a truck near Pupukea on the weekends and holidays.  Crispy Grindz is another good acai bowl.

Ted's Bakery (Sunset Beach) - A super popular spot for local specialities like garlic shrimp, fried rice and chocolate-haupia pie. 

Elephant Shack (Halewia) - Previously a food truck, and home to some of the best pad Thai I've ever had. Now a permanent restaurant in Halewia, there's a fun outdoor area where you can enjoy your Thai food and a cold beer from their bar 

Big Wave Shrimp (Halewia) - There are lots of places to dig into a plate of shrimp on the island. Big Wave Shrimp is right in Halewia -- Giovanni's Shrimp Truck is another yummy option across the road. 

Aji Limo (Shark's Cove) - There's a whole collection of food truck's at Shark's Cove, but this is my current favorite for fresh poke bowls and other yummy fish. 

South Shore Grill (Honolulu) - While not on the North Shore, these fish tacos are so good they deserve a mention. We drove 20 minutes out of our way after leaving the airport so we could refuel with these after our flight. The perfect first taste when you land in Hawaii! 




{ wander } 

Head to the beach... There are public access beaches all along the waterfront. Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay Beach, and the beach at Kaena Point are some of my favorites.

Surf. Widely regarded as the surfing capital of the world, surfing is clearly a big part of the lifestyle and culture on the North Shore. In the winter months the swells are serious - leave the surfing to the professionals and find a good spot on Banzai Pipeline beach to watch them. The summer months are better for beginners and swimming in general, when the waves are calmer and more approachable. We took a lesson with Uncle Bryan's Sunset Suratt Surf School and proudly caught a few waves. 

Guava Shop (Halewia) - Beach shop in Halewia where I scooped up a beach blanket for us to lounge on. They have a great selection of cover ups, bathing suits and other beach accessories to shop. 

Growing Keiki (Halewia) - A cute kids shop with lots of clothes, books and toys, some made locally and some well-known brands stocked as well. 



{ updated: may 2018 }