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

Oahu or Maui for families?

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.

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.

View Larger Map

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.