Having moved a lot as a kid... I don't really feel like I have a hometown. Perhaps that's why as a parent now, I hope to stay put for a bit so my kids can lay down roots. However, if my hubby ever gets a job overseas...we're outta here.
So... the closest to a hometown for me is either Oahu's North Shore or Kapalua, on Maui. For heaven sakes, my daughters' names are Hawaiian... I belong there - or so I tell my husband.
North Shore, Oahu
We like to stay in the condos in Kuilima. Traveling with kids, even on our own we prefer to have a kitchen, washer/dryer and the simple amenities of home, and space. Hotel rooms just feel cramped and not quite as homey. We always find great rates on www.vrbo.com
One of our favorite eats is Macky's Shrimp Truck. They used to hang out near Turtle Bay resort... but they've since moved locations. You can't leave Oahu without trying one of Macky's perfect shrimp lunches. The shrimp, the kahuku corn...and the fresh papayas, pineapples, mangos and lychee they sell. Oh my gosh I need to go "home" right now! We always end up going multiple times...They are wicked, good. They always seem to win the annual Shrimp Truck cooking contests. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
The other favorite, must stop, each time we're hitting the North Shore is Haleiwa Joe's. I am a sucker for all things seafood, and pulled pork. You can find such perfect pulled pork and fresh fish here. You'll also need to take a stroll through Haleiwa - it's a cute, surfer town - you can rent jet skis and other water equipment. You'll find you're all of a sudden in the midst of gorgeous sea turtles.
Kuilima is situated right near the Turtle Bay resort. So you have access to their great restaurants and the easy access beach. In fact we've really enjoyed Lei Lei's Bar and Grill off the golf course. It serves great food in a casual atmosphere, and the kids like it too. We've also eaten at their grill right off the beach - you can't beat food in Hawaii. Everything just tastes better, sharper, fresher... it could be the healing powers of the ocean air.
If you're in the North Shore you have to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We've been each time we've been to Oahu... because you simply can't find a better show anywhere in the islands. The PCC is also a great place to take kids. They've created villages for each of the islands, showcasing culture, crafts, customs, dance, unique to each group. I love doing any souvenir shopping there, because everything you spend at the PCC goes back to the students who work there, towards education.
Right next door to the PCC is the Laie Hawaii Temple where my husband proposed to me. We took our girls with us a couple years ago to show them the exact spot where my hunny sang me a song...and got on one knee, to my utter shock and joy.
Hanauma Bay is a fun manmade area to snorkel. The fish swarm right at the beach access around your ankles. There's also toilet bowl there as well. And you know that one of my all-time favorite shows LOST is filmed there. If you've seen 50 First Dates you'll find that Sea Life Park was the little place Adam Sandler's character worked. It's also where you can have a dolphin experience. We did do that, and it was fantastic. We love dolphins.
We've also found that Roy's on Oahu is better than the other locations on the mainland and elsewhere in the islands.
Our travels center around beach time and food. When we think vacation, we think relaxing ...and indulging. We've been enough times that we just don't buy souvenirs anymore.
We discovered Kapalua when we honeymooned here. We love this area because it's a bit more secluded than the rest of the island, but close enough to Lahaina. We like to stay in the Pineapple Hills area. You can find great deals again, on www.vrbo.com
The Plantation Course in Kapalua is of the PGA tour. Also on site are Sansei - a MUST for great seafood, Japanese food. Their butterfish in sweet miso sauce... well, I ended up ordering more than one - is melt in your mouth goodness. Everything there is perfection.
Just a few doors down from Sansei is the Honolua Store on the property. It's a general store that also sells the famous mixed plate. If you're looking to try, and you must, the mixed plate - this is the place to do it. Their menu changes daily, and the portions are large, and tasty. The mixed plate comes from the multi-ethnic diversity of Hawaii's people.
If you're looking for something upscale and gussied up, the Lahaina Grill is perfect. You don't expect a place of this caliber to cater to children - but they do. This is why I love the islands. You can treat yourself to a place like this - and they are totally chillin' with the children. Of course the food - mouth-watering.
I should mention that we loved taking our girls to the Maui Ocean Center. It's a small aquarium compared to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - but it is so worth it to take a gander through the center. I can't remember the name of the grill there - but there's a great grill-like restaurant right near the Ocean Center - eat there. The view is lovely, and the mahi mahi is so fresh. There's also a cute ice cream shop too - it has some delicious flavors, and treats to take home.
...had to go before I gave birth in Sept. we're a family of four...one of us is just surrounded by amniotic fluid.
... I'm hoping one day - I'll be calling Hawaii my hometown...and all those folks who think I'm native... will be right.