Friday faves: Hawaii edition

Today we've got something really fun to share: our HAWAII highlight video!!! Neil and I took the girls to Hawaii in July for a family trip and while we were there he took some video and made a little highlight reel! It's so fun to see this and kind of re-live the trip all over again.

We had been wanting to go back to Hawaii for 5 years, since we went there on our Honeymoon, and because we missed Neil's grandma's 100th birthday in November and we wanted her to meet the girls while she's still alive. Can you believe that, 100 years?!! Amazing.

We decided to bring our nanny with us who we love so much and has sort of become part of our family even though she's just in our home part time. It was SO nice to have someone we love and trust there so we could sneak away a few times for a trip to the Laie Temple, two date night dinners, a romantic (ha) Costco run, and one afternoon we paddleboarded together too! I totally understand that bringing a babysitter on a trip isn't feasible for everyone or maybe isn't what all families would like, but I was super grateful to have her there with us and it allowed us to go on a vacation with our kids and spend tons of quality time with them, but do a few special things just the two of us as well.

We spent the first half of our trip on the North Shore at a vacation rental , , ,

So that we could go to all of our favorite North Shore spots, where Neil spent his summers with his cousins and aunts and uncles who still live there! We visited his family a couple times, here's a picture of us in Hauula visiting his aunt and uncle. Can you even believe that sunset?!

And we spent the second half of our trip at Disney's Aulani Resort! That was definitely a strategic move because I predicted that once everyone had been to Aulani nothing else could compare, and I was right.

Do you like how Lyla is pushing me away to see Minnie? Priorities. Ha!

My girls LOVED seeing the Disney characters throughout our stay at Aulani.

I was there for the dole whip. Obviously.

Today for Friday Faves I have a list of some of our favorite places to eat, things to see and do while you're on the North Shore in Oahu!! You'll see a lot of these in our highlight video below too.

Favorite places to eat:

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck – classic! Very garlicky. The best shrimp you've ever tasted. Cash only.

Ted's Bakery – close to the Laie Temple and BYU Hawaii, famous for their Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie which I LOVE but if you want a killer breakfast, try their fried rice omlet it's legit!! Everyone was stealing from me the morning we went there haha.

Matsumoto Shave Ice – we used to love a place called Aoki's down the street from here but they've since torn it down so we braved the lines this trip and experienced the magic of Matsumoto's – TOTALLY worth the wait!! So dangerously inexpensive ($3-4) that you'll be back multiple times. Some of my favorite flavor combos: strawberry + white cake (tastes like a strawberry shortcake), coconut + peach + vanilla, pina colada + vanilla. NEVER EVER skip the 50cent condensed milk + $1 ice cream at the bottom upgrade.

Banzai Bowl – we're spoiled because we have this right where we live, but if you don't you MUST go get an acai bowl from Banzai Bowl. My favorite is probably the Shark's Cove but I like em all. Literally have not tried one I haven't been obsessed with.

Favorite beaches:

Shark's cove – AMAZING for snorkeling, but not super toddler friendly (rocks everywhere)

Waimea bay – one of the most famous surf spots in the world! Perfect for swimming in the summer.

Three tables – beautiful snorkeling spot and less rocky than Shark's Cove

Pounders Beach (aka La'ie Beach Park) – Neil's favorite for bodysurfing

Things to do (other than the beach!):

Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center – if you haven't experienced this yet it's a MUST!! But just to be clear – you go for the show, not for the food. The food is just okay. The live show however is spectacular – hula dancing, singing, and a fire knife show at the end will literally take your breath away!

Laie Hawaii Temple – this LDS temple is truly one of my favorites in the world! They have a really fun visitor's center too where you can take a tour and learn more about how this temple was constructed and its history.

Dole plantation – we actually didn't go here because we were going to Aulani where they have dole whip on tap, but if you've never experienced dole whip or you just really love pineapples (ha) you must go here!

Valley of the temples – Neil took me here the first time we went to Oahu and I was blown away by how breathtaking it was! You will feel like you're in Japan right when you drive up to this place. It's very peaceful and stunningly beautiful; one of our favorite places to stop when we're in Oahu.

Favorite guidebook: OAHU REVEALED. Do not go to Hawaii without this. Do not skip this. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. (a reference to Monopoly) but really, just get this book! I agree with 98% of everything they say here and you'll find all of the best local secrets for places to beach and the best foodie spots and all the most fun things to do.

Where to stay:

We've only stayed in 3 places – Turtle Bay, a vacation rental home, and Aulani, so I can only speak to these 3 options. Turtle bay is beautiful but steeply overpriced in my opinion! You'll spend almost the same at Aulani and if you have kids, it's heaven on earth! If you don't have kids and you LOVE the local feel of the North Shore, but you want room service and hotel sheets, then Turtle Bay is for you. Most vacation rentals will feel like a vacation rental, slightly run down but totally authentic like you're one of the locals. We loved being right ON the sand in our vacation rental, and unlike Turtle Bay OR Aulani, we could put Lyla down for a nap and still be on the sand and have a baby monitor work just a few feet in front of the house. Aulani is also very expensive but you 100% get what you pay for: I've never stayed at a nicer resort, and they have literally thought of EVERYTHING. It has subtle touches of Disney but it really feels like luxury Hawaii. It's pretty flawless in my opinion! I hope to go back so we can give you a more comprehensive overview of Aulani because a couple days there just wasn't enough!

Here are some of my favorite things to pack on a Hawaiian beach vacation:


Here's a little taste of our family trip to Oahu. I'm ready to pack my bags and go back today!!

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Great review! Now I’m dying to go back to Hawaii!


We have been dying to go to aulani but are terrified of the plane ride with our 16 month old???! Tips??


Oh man, the plane ride was a little brutal to be honest!! Good snacks, and we never ever let our littles play with ipads EXCEPT on airplanes so that helped a little too! 🙂


We’re looking to go here what agency did you book through for your Aulani stay?

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