Waikiki is a great area to stay in, lots of places to eat and shop at, the beach is right there, and theres lots of action but it's often so crowded and busy. If I want to be in an area that is a lot quieter with little to no tourists, I stay in the North Shore area of Oahu, specifically the Laie area. Laie is about an hour drive away (2+ hours by public bus) from Honolulu so you definitely need a rental vehicle to get there. There are very few hotels in this area so I opt to stay in a rental home which is the best idea because there are few restaurants in the area as well and you would need somewhere to cook meals unless you want to spend a lot of your time driving around to get take out.
Since 2007, whenever I want to stay in the area, I have been renting a vacation home from a guy named Greg who I found through VRBO. Greg's Laie property is a large house which he has divided into 3 rental units and is conveniently located just minutes away from the Polynesian Cultural Centre.
The first floor unit can sleep 8, it has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a large kitchen and dining area and a living room. The second floor unit can sleep 4, it has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, a kitchen and eating area, and living room. And lastly there is a separate cottage unit that sleeps 3. The best way I can describe this unit is it's like a hotel room with a kitchen in it, akin to what you would find in a Best Western hotel. The first and second floor divider can be opened up as well if you wish to rent the whole house. It feels like Greg has thought of all the things people would need to make your stay at his units comfortable. He has included a number of amenities like wifi, coffee maker, blender, BBQ grill, almost all the kitchen equipment you need, utensils, plates, a washer/dryer, and even watersport equipment like snorkel gear and boogie boards. You can find all of Greg's rental properties here, he also has a unit in the Kailua area and on the Big Island.
The main reason I stay in Laie is the secluded beach that is less than 100 metres away from Greg's. Kokololio Beach Park is one of the best beaches I have been to in Oahu and is missed by a lot of tourists. I think this is because people mainly see the park area when they are driving along Kamehameha Highway and don't think to stop in. There have been days at a time (on weekdays) where there would only be around a dozen people or less on the beach during the day and some of these people are locals who fish off the beach. During the weekends, the park gets very busy with the locals so I tend to stay away from the beach on those days and do my touristy things in town at that time.
The beach is about a kilometer long and the waves don't get too big so it is quite nice to swim in. For kids, there is an area called "Alligator Rock" which has a very calm pool area with little to no waves affecting it. When you enter the beach area from the path near Greg's property, you will see the rock formation directly to the left and it will look like a partially submerged alligator. These rocks form a natural break from the waves and create a calm pool area. I like to snorkel around this area until I feel more comfortable to go out to the other side of the rocks.
If you are starting to feel bored of vacationing in the Waikiki area, I highly recommend staying on the North Shore especially in the Laie area. It will give you a taste of local Hawaiian life and your vacation will be completely different than what you've had in Waikiki. Next up, I will list some things to eat and do near the Laie area.
-Mahalo Nui Loa
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