One Day Island Hopping – Maui to Oahu

So, you are spending a week or two in Maui and want to go to Oahu for the day to visit the Polynesian Culture Center and/or Pearl Harbor and more.  Maui to Oahu is certainly possible and affordable, and a great time to earn those Hawaiian Miles points that could cover it for you.  Plan in advance because some of the best fares go quickly.  Looking out to August 5th of this year, many of the best fare options were already taken.  You can certainly do both Pearl Harbor and the PCC in the same day.  Go to Pearl Harbor first, that’s the best and least busy time anyway and the PCC doesn’t really open until 12:05pm.

The greatest challenge will be to visit the PCC and see all there is and still make your return flight.  You certainly cannot stay of the evening luau which we think is one of the best luau’s around.  The show and luau end too late and you will miss your return flight.  You can however stay a night on Oahu and then you could catch everything.  In fact, we like doing Pearl Harbor first thing in the morning, and beating the crowds, and after that you could head to the North Shore to visit the PCC.  Stay over night at Turtle Bay or back over at Waikiki and fly back to Maui the next day.

Here is what I found for August 5th, 2013




Maui – Kahului, HI (OGG) to Oahu – Honolulu, HI (HNL)


Hawaiian Saver II
Monday, August 5, 2013 6:12 AM–6:44 AM

Oahu – Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Maui – Kahului, HI (OGG)


Hawaiian Saver II
Monday, August 5, 2013 6:46 PM–7:23 PM

Cost Summary

Original Fare: $118.52
Taxes and Fees: $21.68
Cost Per Traveler: $140.20
# of Travelers X 1
Sub Total: $140.20

The North Shore of Oahu is an ideal Hawaii vacation for families

I’m a little nervous writing this post because I’m afraid I am giving away one of our favorite secrets about Hawaii…………and that is the North Shore.  The North Shore is a reference to the North side of the island of Oahu.  It is opposite side of the island from Waikiki and Honolulu, and we love it because it’s nothing like the South Shore.  There are fewer people, fewer tourist traps and it’s just beautiful.

I think many visitors believe they have to visit the islands of Kauai or Maui to experience the “real” Hawaii, but in reality I don’t think you have to leave the island of Oahu…… simply have to drive to the other side.

The North Shore is about a one hour drive from Waikiki.  It is home to the three of the most famous surf beaches for big wave surfing Waimea Bay, Pipeline and Sunset Beach.  From November to February these beaches are home to big waves and experienced surfers.

Surprisingly the North Shore does not have many hotels.  The Turtle Bay is the primary hotel on that side of the island.  Renting condos or homes on the North Shore is usually the best way to go if you wish to stay there (highly recommended).

For families the North Shore boasts, good beaches and waves (during the summer), fewer people, great hiking, Hukilau Beach, Hukilau Cafe, BYU Hawaii, the LDS Temple, the Polynesian Culture Center, snorkeling, shrimp trucks and much more.


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Sharks Cove and snorkeling

One of the most fun family activities to do in Hawaii is snorkeling.  Our favorite snorkeling location is on the North Shore at Shark’s Cove.  Yes, this is it’s name, and although Sharks Cover and snorkeling don’t sound like the go together, don’t worry you won’t be snorkeling with sharks and we don’t usually tell our younger children the name, or they won’t get in the water. Everyone knows about snorkeling at Hanamau Bay, for a fee, but this is great snorkeling and at no cost.  You have to have your own gear, but you’ll have fun and see all kinds of fish.  In all our visits to Oahu we haven’t even bothered to snorkel at Hanama Bay.


Shark’s Cove is on the famous North Shore between the big surf beaches Wamaea Bay and Pipeline and is part of the Pupukea Beach Park.  Because of it’s location on the North Shore, in the winter you can encounter large swells, but in the summer time it’s always been a great place to snorkel.

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Shark’s Cove is not a sandy beach so you have to be prepared to hike down to the waters edge and then leave your shoes and towels there.  On the South side are the tide pools that are fun to wade and explore.  We have found it to be a popular place, but never too busy and although there is not a lot of parking, there always seems to be space.

Waimea Bay – Jump from the rock

Waimea Bay is a popular and famous beach on the North Shore of the island of Oahu and is home to the large waves during the winter surf season.  During the summer months the waves are a size you can play in, although they are fairly rough and break on the beach, so we usually swim beyond the break.  We visit Waimea Bay though, not for the waves and beach but rather for the rock jumping.  Without a doubt our children’s favorite thing to do at Waimea Bay is to jump from the rock.

As you enter the beach the rock to jump from is off to the left, you will likely see people already doing it.  It’s quite a safe jump while at the same time being high enough to give the children a thrill.

Plan ahead when going to Waimea Bay, it’s a popular location with limited parking, so parking can be a challenge.  We typically make it our first trip of the morning to beat the rush.  We also find that later in the day the sand can be very hot.  It’s a wide open beach without much shade so the sand gets very hot and it can be a long walk from the rock and water back to the parking lot.

On our most recent trip to Hawaii, there were dolphins swimming in the bay, which was just amazing.  Wild dolphins that seemed to enjoy the swimmers and really had no fear of being close.  We had the opportunity to swim with the dolphins and it didn’t even cost anything.  That will be forever one of our families favorite memories from Hawaii and Waimea Bay.


Hukilau Beach

I know we are biased but the best beach on Oahu bar none is Hukilau Beach. This is the beach nearest Laie on the North Shore of the island. It’s a small beach not heavily used and not a lot of tourists. It’s more for locals and BYU Hawaii students. In addition, it has nice sized waves for body surfing and boogie boarding. Our family are good swimmers, but we are not crazy surfers and enjoy this beach tremendously.

Last time we were there some new friends taught us the sport of chasing crabs. If you go to the beach at night with flash lights and buckets you can catch crabs, which the children love to do. These aren’t the large, let’s eat them kind, but we mainly caught the little ones that we then released.

We have run into the occasional “blue bubbles” on this beach. Blue bubbles are a small jelly fish but their sting is painful.