The North Shore of Oahu evokes a vision of Hawaii that makes vacationers feel like they’ve embarked on a journey to a tropical country. Turtle Bay Resort makes that vision a reality with ocean views from every room, a swimmable beach area with palm trees and all the comforts of a modern resort with a touch of Tom Sawyer-like adventure.
Turtle Bay Resort is the only full-service resort on the North Shore and gets rave reviews from families as a place for parents and kids to play and relax. With 850 acres of spacious grounds, there is room for everyone.
The three-pronged shape of the hotel ensures that each wing and each room has ocean views. The 482 updated rooms, suites and bungalows are light and airy and provide views of the legendary North Shore waves. Some rooms also include pool or beach views.
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For families, the resort’s bungalows are gorgeous and huge, with a private butler. It’s like staying in a five-star gated community within a four-star resort. It has its own small pool and great views, best enjoyed in the hammocks and covered lawn chairs on the grounds facing the ocean. And while it has its separate and secured private parking and entrance, it’s still just a five-minute walk to the hotel lobby.
There is no structured kids’ club, but there are seasonal and holiday programs for kids as well as year round family activities. We tried stand-up paddling with the surfing program manager and his dogs, and it was a huge hit with my 11-year-old daughter — so much so that she was “selling” the experience to other guests at the pool. The photo above looks calm, but the dogs jump back and forth between the paddle boards, excitedly searching for the sea turtles that tease them and easily swim away. Bring a waterproof camera to capture the excitement!
Another family experience, which we didn’t have time for, is the outrigger canoe trip to a sandbar for a picnic and swimming. These only-in-Hawaii experiences are a 5-minute drive from the resort and usually include a stop at the banyan tree for a Tarzan-style swing on the vines. (We couldn’t swing because a Hollywood sequel film set was being constructed around the largest banyan tree!)
There are so many activities at the resort, including golf and tennis, but our focus was on water fun at the pool and beach. One perk of the resort fee is that it includes 2 hours’ free daily use of snorkel equipment or boogie boards, which we used to discover tropical fish and explore the cove.
The resort has fine dining and casual options, but none may be as enjoyable with kids as the newly opened Roy’s Beach House. The poke bowl lived up to its reputation and the kids’ menu is a step above the normal chicken fingers-only fare. Plus, the beachside location means there’s always something to capture the attention of kids.
There is also upscale sea-to-table dining at Pa’akai, more casual cuisine at North Shore Kula Grille and a grab-and-go cafe at the Lobby Lounge.
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The North Shore is perfect for exploration. The famous pipeline surfing spot is nearby, snorkeling spots abound and for foodies there are shrimp trucks waiting to be tested. Haleiwa is a surfer town turned hip, filled with shops and restaurants about 20 minutes’ drive from the resort.
Thinking about an Oahu family vacation? It’s convenient to start with a couple of nights in Honolulu to see the historical sights and then head to Turtle Bay Resort for pure relaxation. We thought this combo was a good balance and wished we’d had more time to explore all that the area offers.
Editor’s Note: received a media package to experience Turtle Bay Resort, but as always our opinions are our own. All photos by Kristi Marcelle unless noted. Barbara Weindling contributed to this article.
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