Kailua, Hawaii

The longer we live in New Zealand, the more important it’s becoming to build in time to see our family and lifelong friends back home. When we first moved here, we assumed we’d be settled back in the United States after a quick two-year stint abroad. In that case, we thought we’d tough out the separation between an annual whirlwind visit back home. But that’s just no longer sustainable. 

We’ve found it really fun to meet friends and family in different parts of the world – Brett’s parents have travelled to Tahiti and Japan, friends explored Bali with us, and my whole family met in Hawaii in 2017. And when I found a crazy-good flight price to Honolulu, I was desperate to do it all over again. My parents jumped at the opportunity to meet somewhere that’s a holiday for all involved. 

While they had the luxury of a longer vacation, by taking just a couple days off work I was able to spend four interrupted days basking in the sun – and their company. Yes, it was an 8-hour flight each way, but completely worth it for the price and this bonus quality time. 

We’d previously met in Maui, but there was no time for a connecting flight this time. I was skeptical of staying on Oahu, but was completely blown away by its beauty. We rented an AirBNB in Kailua, and I cannot stress enough how perfect this location was! The beach was stunning and I felt like a local. The Whole Foods and Target certainly helped too! 

Besides relaxing on the beach with a good book, here are my top to-dos: 

Lanikai Pillbox Hike: Swing your feet from the graffiti-clad pillbox 

I did this hike alone, but it was so worth it for the views! The trailhead was less than a mile from our AirBNB.

Kualoa Ranch: Drive a Jeep through stunning landscapes and film sets

This was such a fun day! My dad and I took turns driving the Jeep – and my mom had fun too. It was a good mix of adventure and history for movie buffs. Pro tip – bring a bandana and sunglasses because there’s an insane amount of dust. (Or splurge on matching branded ones at the gift shop.)

North Shore Roadtrip: Turtle Beach and massive waves 

We had debated staying on the North Shore because of how peaceful it is. We took a day trip to drive up and see the waves at the Pipeline and sunbathing turtles on Laniakea Beach – but make sure you do your research, because they’re more likely to be up on the beach at certain times of the day.

Eat at Haleiwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens

This was the cutest and most beautiful spot to eat! We had the best time sipping on pre-dinner cocktails and looking over the gardens before sunset. My dad even spotted low-key celebrity Dog the Bounty Hunter… but I had no idea who that was. The food was so delish, that we almost went back for a second night

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