North Shore - The More Authentic Hawaii Experience on Oahu
The only downside to an extended layover in Hawaii is that it’s so hard to leave it all behind after just three days. We spent our time on Oahu, the island which Honolulu is situated on. When you think about Hawaii your mind may turn to Maui or Kauai for the tropical resorts in movies (think Jurassic Park or Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Instagram posts. But Oahu has just as much to offer if you can’t make it to one of the other islands. Despite our short trip to this beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we had an incredible time exploring its stunning landscapes, beaches, and crystal clear waters, as well as indulging in scrumptious food. Take a look at our Waikiki post to learn more of our favourite spots in that beach side city.
While we were stuffing our faces and enjoying the beautiful beaches we couldn’t stop talking about the people we had met along the way. “The friendliest people in the U.S.” is a bold statement, but quite possibly true. Wherever we went, whether it was our hotel, the small poké shop, Uber and Lyft drivers, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Sharing is caring, right. So we’ve decided that as well as sharing our journey and thoughts of Honolulu and the island of Oahu, we are also going to share with you how much we spent and what we spent it on. That way you can get a better sense of how much a three day trip might cost you. However, we are excluding the cost of a flight from New York City, because we were able to get our one-way flights on credit card points. Read below to hear about some of the things we did, places we went, and the foods we ate.
For total freedom we chose to, and recommend, renting a car. We’re big fans of the gig economy so we mostly use Turo within the U.S. for renting a car - think Airbnb but for cars. Around Honolulu there were ample choices of Turo cars to rent.
We headed out from our hotel in Waikiki (The Modern Honolulu), navigating west on to the H1 and then onto the H2 highway which cuts diagonally across the island to get to the north-west coastline.
On the way we stopped at the Dole Plantation, a pineapple plantation turned tourist attraction. The plantation has tours on a train that will take you around the property, for $11.50 for adults, as well as a maze that will also cost you $8. Since we were on a budget we opted out of those paid attractions and instead enjoyed the garden that had multiple varieties of pineapples growing and some boards offering education about the pineapple - Did you know it takes 18-22 months for a pineapple to fully grow! There was also a free pineapple demonstration in the large gift shop that taught you how to grow and identify when a pineapple is ready for eating. The gift shop also include pineapple snacks and ice cream for purchase.
We were shortly back in the car on the final small stretch to the North Shore, we drove into the town of Haleiwa, home to Wow Wow Lemonade and the fanout Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
We heard raving reviews of Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and enjoyed our shrimp scampi meal. The line to Giovanni’s will take you about an hour so make sure you aren’t super hangry before entering the line. They offer a few different types of shrimp dishes along with hot dogs but you will definitely want to get the shrimp scampi. It cost $14 and is cash only. You get about a dozen shrimp and two scoops of rice with a garlic topping. My mouth is salivating just thinking about the garlic deliciousness :) We had a lot more food to eat on our journey so we opted to share a full plate for $14 and then a half order that was $7. If you also have dessert, shaved ice, poké, etc. to eat we suggest the addition of the half order to share instead of two full plates of shrimp and rice.
After you’ve filled your bellies with seafood, shaved ice and lemonade take a drive over to Laniakea Beach. The beach is popular with surfers, however we just plopped ourselves on our towels to soak in some rays. Supposedly Laniakea Beach is a popular area to spot green sea turtles in their natural habitat.
After Laniakea get your snorkel on over at Shark Cove. Don’t worry, there aren’t sharks but plenty of various coloured fish. Grab a snorkel from across the street or just peer down at your feet through the clear waters.
We continued onward up the North Shore and stopped at the Waimea Valley. To enter the waterfall was $18 per person, we decided to spend our money elsewhere. Remember we’re on a 3-month budget trip.
Continuing up the shoreline you will pass Ted’s Bakery. We were stuffed at this point and didn’t indulge in a slice of pie, but out first Uber driver attested to its deliciousness.
Our drive continued around the rest of the north shore and then cut back in on the east side to return to Honolulu. The scenery was beautiful, but we were still pretty jet lagged still from NYC and didn’t have the energy to continue around the east side of the island. If we were to continue our next stop would have been the Halona Blowhole Lookout.
We both love to travel but aren’t millionaires so staying on a budget is very important. Hawaii was the first stop of our three month adventure so we had to be pretty conscious of our spending so our wallets aren’t depleted by November. Like we said earlier, we used our credit card points to get us to Hawaii. This would have cost us around $350 each for a one way ticket. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get a good credit card that will give you points for spending your own money. We also booked our hotel through my credit card and received a $100 food credit towards the hotel restaurant. This was what we used for breakfast every morning.
Take a look at the graphs to see how much we spent on food, transportation and hotel for two people.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on our North Shore day trip and our post on our short stay on Waikiki Beach! Both Kelly and I are eager to get back to this wonderful group of islands.