January 14, 2018 8 Comments Travel

Gill Getaway: Oahu

Happy 2018 friends!!! Holy cow this post is late coming’ at you, but I think everyone is getting tired of this dreary and cold, so what better time to share about our trip to Hawaii last September!! Maybe Oahu will go on your family’s bucket list!

We went back to Ko’olina over labor day…for our third time {spoiled that Chad’s job can bring us here so often} but this time, we brought the whole crew!! Beau came with us one summer as a 6 month old, but other than that, none of the kids have ever been. Mostly because I have dreaded the flight.

{Click here to read my tips for traveling with toddlers}

But they have all hit ages where they enjoy their iPads, and I thought it was time to give it a go! So we did!

{Click here to read the kids current favorite iPad apps}

Bonus travel tip: If you can talk some grandparents into coming with you, DO IT! So much more fun…and they were so much help!!

I always find it easiest to share these getaways in a Q&A style, or else I tend to ramble. I do so love a vacation! So let’s get to it!

Where did you stay?

Oahu, Hawaii. It’s probably best known because of Waikiki Beach…but we stay on the other side of the island. Chad hates crowds, and this side is much quieter and definitely feels like you really “get away”.

We stayed at Marriott’s Ko’olina Resort…and ya’ll, it is HANDS DOWN my favorite place I have ever been. It is SO kid friendly. But Chad and I also love it for an adult trip! We usually get a one bed room suite, but with the kids had a 2 bedroom suite and it was TONS of space. Tip: splurge for the ocean view. We got a “mountain view” the first year…it was of the parking lot. But the ocean front rooms…most beautiful view of all time ever!

It sits in quiet Ko’olina, with only 3 other resorts {Disney’s Aulani, and the Four Seasons}. It’s a half mile walk to the most delicious little restaurants and coffee shops, and less than a 5 min drive to the nearest Target! I recommend hitting Target on the way in and loading up on poolside snack and beach toys!

I really can’t say enough about the resort and staff. There are 3 pools. One has a waterslide and waterfalls and hot tubs, with a bar in the middle. Grant went down the waterslide over 100 times while we were there…in fact, the employees got to know him and when he hit 100, they gave him a card for a free shave ice and MADE HIS WEEK! Every time they saw him on property they gave him a shout! One of the other pools is a quiet, adults only pool {the only one Chad and I spend time at when it’s just us} and has a waitress that will bring drinks right to you, and then another pool that has a beach entry, small rocks to jump off of and a big hot tub in the middle. This was my favorite pool for kids ours ages.

What makes Ko’olina so amazing, is that it is set on 3 man-made coves. So the kids can play in the ocean with little tides {no undertow!} and nothing on the bottom of the ocean other than the softest sand ever. The beaches seriously could not have been more kid friendly and beautiful!!!!

The Marriott also has a kids club and various activities set throughout the day. We usually don’t pay a lot of attention to this {except for the bean bag tournament}, but with the kids, reading the schedule in the elevator each morning was a highlight for the kids! They made crafts, learned to hula, and ate smores! This isn’t a kids club that you leave the kids at {darn! kidding…} but they really enjoyed all the activities offered! A mermaid even came to visit, read them a story and swim with them in the pool…and I have to admit, it was pretty neat.




What are your favorite places to eat?

Truth be told, we stay pretty close when we come out here. Waikiki is super crowded and not really what we are looking for when we escape to Hawaii. Ko’olina has some amazing restaurants.

Breakfast- this is my favorite meal when I travel to a tropical location because THE FRUIT!!! We probably ate half of our breakfasts at the Marriott’s Longboard, where we got their buffet


{it is amazing..THE PAPAYA!!} and the other half at Island Vintage coffee shop. It was a half mile {easy and beautiful} walk from our resort, and have the most bomb acai bowl on the planet. Get it in the to-go container. It is HUGE. My favorite thing to eat while in Hawaii. OR…if you are feeling lazy, there is a Starbucks on the first floor…and I gotta tell ya, a mocha frappachino tastes pretty good in the tropics.

Lunch- well if I didn’t already have an acai bowl for breakfast, I may have walked to grab one for lunch! Otherwise most lunches were spent poolside or at the bar {Longboard}. Our faves on the menu were the frozen mai-tai’s, garlic fries, and the chicken wings. The fruit bowl is also huge and amazing.

Dinner- Hands down our fave dinner spot is Monkey Pod. Call and find out what time their live music is and go then and sit outside on the patio. It’s really not worth going if you have to sit inside {even though the food is good}. Our favorites were the truffle fries {seriously. could die}, the jalapeño smashed potatoes, and any of the fish entries! Chad said they have a great steak too! Everything they make is locally grown and caught! I love that! If you love Sushi, you MUST go to Roys! Sit on the patio and have a glass of wine! Fun for a nicer evening out.

If you are like me though, a lot of days we split snacks throughout the day from the bar, and ate a lot of Hawaiian shave ice! There are two stands on property that sell it…and make sure to get the punch card at the start of your week to earn some free ones! Easy to do with a big family!

Also recommend stocking up on lots of snacky stuff at good ole Target…my kids went through quite a few lunchables and boxes of cheese-its. As a rule of thumb, I care very little about what they eat, as long as they are eating, on vacation…Grant ate a grilled cheese for almost every lunch and dinner we had. And Beau ate pretty much nothing but fries and hawaiian ice. My kind of vacation diet.

Now sleep…that I do still care about 😉

Any excursions you would recommend?

Yes! If you have small kids, you will definitely want to book a character breakfast at Aulani! It was super booked up when I looked online, but I called Marriott’s concierge and she made a call and got us in! Yay Marriott!! The food is so so but our kids thought it was pretty magical to see Mickey! They also had entertainment throughout the meal so plan to hang awhile!I also would totally recommend Kualoa Ranch if you have any movie lovers, or someone who just loves history and beautiful scenery. Our son Grant has been obbbbbsessed with dinosaurs pretty much his entire life, and had seen all the Jurassic Movies by time he was 5 1/5 {I know, awesome parenting}, 

and so we knew it was a must to go to because it is where the movies were filmed! You can read more about the ranch here. We chose the “Premiere Movie Sights Tour”…lemme tell ya, it ain’t cheap. BUT it was worth every single penny!! We rode around the property in a van {where Grant got to ride shot gun, a big deal to a 6 year old}, visited the Andominous Rex Pen and a ton of fake skulls and dino bones. Was a very memorable day! The picture below is a fixture in the new Jurassic World coming up this summer…it was supposed to be blocked off but our guide made an exception {and risked getting in trouble} to drive us up to it! He was the only one that was able to get out and take a picture with it!! It is where “Blue” the raptor is in the next movie. Can’t say enough about how awesome of an experience the tour guide made this for Grant.

Lastly, we made a run up the North Shore.

It wasn’t a great time of year to catch a lot of surfers, and we had some cranky travelers that day {ahem, Chad}, so we grabbed lunch at Green Turtle Bay and watched the HUGE waves, before turning to head back. I have heard awesome things about the town of <<< and would love to have checked out Waimae Bay. {Click here to read the top 10 things to do at the North Shore.}On the way back we did stop by the Dole Plantation to ride the train {would NOT recommend…honestly was pretty boring for the kids}, but worth stopping at for the Dole Whip, giant Dragon tattoos {seriously was a highlight of the trip for Grant}, and photo ops!


How did your kids handle the time change?

There is a five hour time difference, which is HUGE, especially for the kids. On this trip, the kids woke up super early {like 4:30/5am} so we let them chill and watch iPads and play in their rooms. Then for the first 2 days we took them up around 11 for naps. Grant never actually went to sleep, but the others did, and it allowed them to hang til dinner the rest of the trip.

We ate dinners pretty early, because even Chad and I had a hard time totally getting on Hawaii time. Plus the sun can really take it out of you.

Any tips for the long day of travel?

We learned after a trip or two out to Hawaii, that it’s best to fly home late in the day. We check out of the resort, and then spend our day at the Ala Moana mall {or in Chad’s case, he catches a movie while I shop. You guys, this is the largest outdoor mall in the US!! It is the perfect way to wrap up a trip…just make sure you leave room in your suitcase!

In terms of sleep, the ride home is relatively easy because the kids are EXHAUSTED. They slept a lot of those flights. But we did pack melatonin and gave them on the way out to hawaii in hopes for some big naps and adjusting to Hawaii time a little easier. This is the melatonin I give to the kids when needed.

If you are thinking of taking this trip ADULT ONLY, I shared some ways I handle leaving the kids behind and the anxiety that comes with that here.

Anyway, since I took roughly 3,000 photos the week we were there, and your fingers would likely start to cramp if I posted them all for you to scroll, they are all here in our family video from the trip. I still have a lot to learn on making these, but hope you enjoy…and I hope it inspires you to book a trip to Ko’olina…I can promise you won’t regret it!