A lot of people ask, it’s our first time to Hawaii what’s the best choice Oahu or Maui for families? My first response is typically………….go to the North Shore, which is on Oahu, and is definitely NOT Waikiki. When we go to Hawaii we seldom go anywhere near Waikiki…………it’s crowded with tons of hotels, and what feels like millions of people. The North Shore is about an hour drive to the other side of the island, and in all reality a completely different experience. Fewer people, more laid back and just feels more Hawaiian. Maui in fact has a reputation now of being the most busy of the islands, so if you want a bit more quiet and a bit more Hawaii try the North Shore.
You do have to be more adventurous on the housing side of things because there few hotels on that side of the island. Turtle Bay Resort is about all their is, but there are plenty of homes to rent. Another option we like is to stay at the Marriott Ko’ Olina which is away from Waikiki, and then drive to the North Shore.
The North Shore is where the LDS community of Laie is, the LDS temple, BYU Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). We also think the best beach, Hukilau Beach and the best cafe, Hukilau Cafe, are on on that side of the island. In addition there are the famous beaches, Sunset Beach, Pipeline and Waimea. There is also great snorkeling at Shark’s Cove (no Shark’s to be seen).
I love all the islands, but I have been to Oahu the most, and never tire of visiting there. The flights to Oahu are typically less expensive, there is so much to do and buying food at the local Costco helps to save on costs. If someone was only going to Hawaii once in their life time I would recommend the North Shore on Oahu.