Aloha! Now, I had high expectations for Hawaii because everyone I knew that went there raved about it and said how amazingly family-friendly it was. As soon as we stepped off that plane, I knew Hawaii was made for us! There is something special about Hawaii: the people, the laid-back attitude and the tropical vibes that let you know you’re in paradise. I planned two weeks on Oahu with my four girls, moving across 3 different hotels (A BIG thank you to the resorts that hosted us during our stay) over the 2 weeks. First, I’ll start by saying, 2 weeks was a little too long on the one island, and I think 7 – 10 days would have been enough to soak it all up and do everything you needed to do.
Oahu, Hawaii – Take 1
I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting Oahu with kids and some things you really should do!
Things you need to know
Hawaii is a state within the U.S., so the currency is USD. It’s best to get your money exchanged in Australia before going to Hawaii, as the rate is never as good in the States. I know with Asian countries you get a better rate outside of Australia, but that’s not the case for USD. I recommend you get a prepaid travel card, which works basically like a Visa debit but in the currency you choose. We always have one when travelling to the States and did the same in Hawaii. Don’t use any prepaid or debit cards for hotel deposits though, because if you use a prepaid debit card, they can’t put any deposits back onto the card. If you use a Visa debit, you will wait longer to receive your refund than by using a credit card.
Tipping is required in the USA and you are expected to tip between 15-20% on top of the restaurant bills. You have to tip anyone that provides you with a service (not fast food places). Now I’ll admit, most of the time I find tipping uncomfortable, occasionally rude and just plain annoying, but it has to be done. You’ll soon know when you forget to tip someone as they will stand there until you tip them, haha. After a few days, you get the hang of it! I used this online tipping calculator to help me work out the amount I needed to tip, but most of the time, I rounded it up to the nearest dollar.
I thought the taxis were cheap compared to what we pay here for them, and most of them are vans that were perfect for families. If you are staying in the Waikiki area and want to go over to the Ala Moana Center, the taxi is around $12 each way. There is also a trolley, which is $2 (cash only) per person each way and goes past most of the tourist hot spots, including the Ala Moana Center. After a few days, I really wanted to go to a few places a little out of the way, so we decided to use public buses and OMG I wish we caught them to start with! They are really cheap and so easy to catch and work out. I used Google Maps, typed in where I wanted to go, and it told me what number bus to catch, the full timetable along with a live map to follow. After we worked out how great the buses were, we ended up catching one to Pearl Harbor – it was amazing! The buses are $2.50 for adults and $1.25 per child per trip (with a free transfer but you have to ask for the transfer ticket), or $5.00 per adult and $2.50 per child for a full day pass, which allows you to catch as many buses as possible.
If you’ve been following my saga on social media, you’d know that we nearly didn’t get to go on our holiday. My daughter recently got a new passport, which cancelled her valid ESTA. If you don’t have a valid ESTA, you won’t be able to even board an aircraft. Now, remember when you get a new passport, you MUST get a whole new ESTA (which I didn’t know). Luckily for us, I applied online at the airport, and within 2 hours we had approval and a new ESTA. I knew there was a reason why I always get to the airport at least 3-4 hours early. When applying for your ESTA, make sure you use the OFFICAL site only!
Things you need to do
- Hire a car and travel the north shore
- Visit an ABC store (they are everywhere and are like an IGA store back home)
- Visit Pearl Harbor (AMAZING EXPERIENCE)
- Eat at as many food trucks as possible
- Watch the free fireworks every Friday night at 8pm at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
- Hit the shops and make sure you visit Walmart, Target, the Disney store and Victoria’s Secret (they have the best mum bras ever)
- Visit the outlets
- Go see the turtles on the North Shore
- Spend happy hour at dukes
- Make sure you try a shaved ice
- Experience a luau
- Visit Hanauma Bay State Park
- Visit a Ross Dress For Less store (clothes are so cheap! Including swimwear if you need some for your holidays)
Things you should bring
- Australian Power board to plug into a USA adapter. This allows you to plug in all your devices as we found most hotels only have 1 or 2 power points that you’ll have to fight over.
- Vegemite if you or the kids like to have it on toast or sandwiches.
Things you can buy in Hawaii
- Floaties are so cheap and are everwhere.
- Sunscreen is cheaper than in Australia, and you can find it at the ABC stores or pharmacies.
- Beach mats are $2- $4 from the ABC stores and they come in handy.
- Healthy snacks for the kids. Head to target and you’ll find a heap of pre-packed snacks.
- Swimwear! If you can’t find a set you like at home, don’t stress, you will find a huge range at cheap prices at Macy’s or Ross stores.
Next: Oahu, Hawaii – Take 2! I’ll cover everything we did and all the hotels we stayed at.