Mommy Needs A Mai Tai

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Florabeth Coble

Turtle Bay Resort: Is it Worth it? 

A graphic with a photo of Turtle Bay Resort's lobby and view of the ocean with text that reads "Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu: Is it Worth It?"

Is Turtle Bay Resort really worth the splurge? As a mom of two living in Hawaii – yes, it really is that expensive – I totally get the weight of this decision. Every dollar counts, especially when it’s going towards creating those priceless family memories.

Over Thanksgiving 2023, we took the plunge and stayed at Turtle Bay. I remember the internal debate: “Am I really about to spend this much on a resort stay?” But here’s the thing – sometimes, you have to weigh the cost against the experience. And Turtle Bay isn’t just a place to crash; it’s an experience that might just redefine your family vacation.

So, grab a cup of coffee (or a Mai Tai if it’s that time of day), and let’s figure out if Turtle Bay is right for your family.

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Busy Mom’s Rundown

  • Turtle Bay is North Shore Oahu’s only real resort, spanning 1300 acres with seven beaches within walking distance.
  • North Shore Oahu is known for its big wave surfing. It’s possible to watch some incredible surfing from a poolside lounge chair.
  • Turtle Bay is near the Polynesian Cultural Center and Kualoa Ranch, two of our favorite things we’ve done in the entire state. Staying here also allows easy access to Haleiwa Town, Waimea Valley, numerous big wave surf competitions, and Oahu’s famous shrimp trucks.
  • Kulilima Cove is well known for being the best beginner snorkeling area on the island and made our list of the best kid-friendly beaches on Oahu. It’s right in front of the resort and great for little swimmers!
  • Turtle Bay did a major remodel in 2021. I didn’t get a chance to see it before the update, but I heard that it was quite a facelift. The property feels modern with a traditional Hawaiian flair. It’s expansive, bright, and just gorgeous.
  • A standard room includes access to the main pool, kid’s pool (two waterslides), and adult pool. There’s also a private adult-only tranquility pool for specific bookings (see “Guest Rooms” below).
  • The resort offers an impressive list of activities. They thought of everything, from horseback riding along scenic trails to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. You can stay as busy as you want to be.
  • For those moments when relaxation was key, Turtle Bay showed up. The tranquil spa and oceanside loungers were just what this busy mama needed.
An arial view of Kulilima Cove on the North Shore of Oahu from the balcony of a room at Turtle Bay Resort.

Turtle Bay Resort Location

Turtle Bay Resort is located on the North Shore of Oahu, about an hour from Honolulu Airport and an hour and a half from Waikiki.

North Shore Oahu is well known for its legendary surf, laid-back atmosphere, and stunning natural beauty. If you don’t like crowds, this place is for you. North Shore feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.

The resort boasts almost five miles of beachfront, allowing you to walk to a whopping seven beaches! Perched at the edge of a peninsula, its unique position allowed us to enjoy spectacular sunrises and stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

A view from the lanai in a standard guest room at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu.
A wide view of a bathroom vanity and closet at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu.

Turtle Bay Resort Rooms

Turtle Bay offers various rooms to satisfy every type of guest.

Guest Rooms

We booked a standard guest room; it was just enough space for our family of four. Most rooms also come with a lanai or small balcony. (Rooms on the 2nd floor do not.)

The best part about Turtle Bay’s standard rooms is that they all provide a fantastic ocean view. We were so excited about how close and loud the crashing waves were!

Suites

Book a suite if you prefer to spread out and get a break from your sleeping kiddos (uh, yes, please). They provide a separate living area with a breathtaking view. Book the Ali’i Suite to access the Ocean Club Lounge, which includes food and beverages throughout the day.

Ocean Bungalows

42 Oceanfront Bungalows sit separately from the main building and offer complimentary access to the Ocean Bungalows infinity-style pool (adults only). 

The Bungalow reservations are two-tier, and if you book an “Ocean Club” Bungalow, you also have exclusive access to the Ocean Club Lounge, which includes food and drink throughout the day. 

Ocean Villas

The Ocean Villas are privately owned and can be booked directly through the resort or the owner via Airbnb/VRBO. They offer a more private and exclusive stay. Every villa offers direct access to the beach. 

*Note: Turtle Bay’s website currently states that they have cribs and pack-and-plays available, but they have since discontinued the availability of cribs due to safety standards. The pack-and-play was in good shape and came with a comforter that provided some nice padding for my two-year-old to sleep comfortably throughout the night.

COMPARE ROOM RATES

A high vantage point of the adult, kids, and main pool at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu.

Turtle Bay Resort Pools

All guest have access to the main, keiki, and adult pools. My favorite part about this setup is that it’s terraced. If your kids are older, it’s possible to perch yourself up at the adult pool while still keeping an eye on them.

Main Pool

The main pool is expansive, with a large pool, plenty of lounge chairs (the water chairs were great for cooling off), and a hot tub. The bar and food service open at 11, which felt a little late for a morning mimosa, but who am I to say?

Consider booking a private, family-friendly cabana with a TV, couch, and plenty of shade. If you have a kiddo that can nap in public places, I wouldn’t hesitate. There’s nothing worse than being forced to sit in your hotel room for two hours mid-day with a sleeping baby. 

Keiki (Kids) Pool 

The Keiki pool is so much fun. It has a small waterslide, perfect for my two-year-old (pack the floaties), and a bigger one that my six-year-old went down approximately 400 times. It wore them out enough to fall asleep in the early evening. 

The waterslides don’t open until 10 am, which may seem early enough, but when your kids are jet-lagged and awake at the crack of dawn, it can feel like a long time to wait. And if you have a toddler that still takes naps, it’s just about time to put them down after getting the fun started. 

Adult Pool 

The adult pool is just above the main pool and includes a private hot tub and loungers with an ocean view. I loved that it was possible to see the other pools while my husband and I took turns relaxing.

Ocean Bungalows Pool

This is a private, adult-only infinity-style pool with access only available to guests who book a Bungalow room. It looks dreamy!

A wide view of a mostly empty Alaia Restaurant at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu, Hawaii.

Turtle Bay Resort Restaurants

There are many incredible kid-friendly restaurants on Oahu! However, there aren’t any restaurants within walking distance of Turtle Bay. While I recommend renting a car while you’re here and venturing off the beaten path to discover some North Shore delights, having numerous restaurants onsite is extremely valuable.

Sunset Pool Bar

The pool bar offers lunch and dinner. I loved that we could post up at the pool and enjoy our meals there. Every parent understands the headache of getting kids dressed and sitting at a restaurant. (They put together a great poke bowl!)

Alaia

Alaia Restaurant is Turtle Bay’s leading restaurant, and it’s in a gorgeous setting with large glass windows overlooking the ocean. I was impressed with the quality and the fact that they source much of it from the resort’s Kuilima Farm.

In their words, Alaia is known for its “modern take on Hawaiian comfort fare.” They offer breakfast and dinner. I recommend making reservations if you’re having dinner. 

Off the Lip

God, I love a swanky hotel bar! I love it even more when there’s live music and small tables so kids can join. 

Off the Lip is in the lobby, which is all open air and full of ocean breeze. They offer small plates and a kid’s menu. 

They close at 10:30 pm, which is on the early side for a hotel bar, but keeps the place from getting too rowdy at night. 

Ho’olana 

This coffee shop near the lobby was our go-to with young kids in the early morning. There’s plenty of room to spread out, the coffee is strong, and the views are fantastic. We ate our weight in breakfast burritos that week!

Beach House 

This is a Roy Yamaguchi restaurant with the same fresh, high-quality standards they’re all known for. The Beach House offers lunch and dinner steps away from Kuilima Cove. I recommend making a reservation in advance.

Lei Lei’s 

Turtle Bay offers two different award-winning 18-hole golf courses. Lei Lei’s is a casual restaurant at Fazio Golf Course that provides meals throughout the day in a family-friendly, relaxed environment.

Breakfast and lunch are takeout style, which was great for us because they let you dine picnic-style on the lawn. Dinner is plated. 

Their claim to fame is always bringing out warm chocolate chip cookies! Even so, order the mud pie. 

Ocean Club Lounge

Turtle Bay Resort offers an exclusive Ocean Club Lounge, which is included with any Ocean Club room but can also be added to any stay. 

They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with adult beverages in the evening. Kids are welcome. 

View from the doorway of an outdoor cabana massage room at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu.

Turtle Bay Resort Activities 

Turtle Bay is one of those resorts that doesn’t require you to leave the grounds to partake in authentic Hawaii-based activities (although I always recommend doing so at least once).

You have to pay for most activities at Turtle Bay Resort, but some complimentary ones include:

  • Pickleball Court Rental
  • Photography Session (Pay for Photos)
  • Lei Making
  • Ukulele Lessons 
  • Hula Lessons 
  • Pony Meet & Greet
  • The Brave Mermaid Show (Great for Kids!)

Worthwhile activities that require an extra fee: 

  • Golfing
  • Horseback Riding on Beachside Trails 
  • Kayak Tours
  • Surf Lessons 
  • Mermaid Academy for Kids 
  • Kulilima Farm Tour
  • Full-Service Spa
A smiling family standing in front of Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore, Oahu.

Our Experience at Turtle Bay Resort

The first thing I noticed about Turtle Bay is that it fits nicely with Oahu’s North Shore vibe. I never felt secluded on some weird resort planet while staying there. I can’t stand this. Why fly all the way to Hawaii without experiencing real Hawaii?

We arrived late in the evening, and while checking into a hotel with sleeping children was less than ideal, the valet and front desk were very hush and accommodating. It’s hard to be stressed with a fresh lei around your neck.

We experienced great service all around. But this isn’t the kind of resort that curates everything and always knows your name. The staff gives you space and lets you do your thing.

I loved lounging by the pool with an Aperol Spritz while the kids played. And I HIGHLY recommend booking a hot stone massage in an outdoor cabana (request Brenda)! It was one of the best massages of my life. 

It’s worth noting that the standard rooms do not come with a tub, only a shower. And my only real complaint is that they didn’t have a pack-and-play in the room upon arrival. I had requested one during booking and even called to remind them on our way from the airport. This created a stressful situation with a sleeping toddler, but they apologized profusely and put a rush on it, which was appreciated.

Overall, I was impressed with Turtle Bay’s service, expansive property, gorgeous spa, kid-friendly activities, and commitment to sustainability. 

We were sad to leave! My six-year-old cried in the car as we were pulling away. That post-resort comedown is real! We hope to return one day.

 

Is Turtle Bay Resort Worth It? 

Absolutely. I never once thought, “I can’t believe we paid this much for a vacation.” There’s no way around it – Hawaii is expensive, but you get what you pay for. 

If this is your shot to experience an authentic version of Hawaii, don’t hesitate. Far from the city lights of Waikiki, on the North Shore of Oahu, you can fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves and wake up to horseback riding lessons on the beach.

See for yourself, Turtle Bay delivers.

Keep Reading: Oahu with Kids: The Ultimate Guide

Picture of Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Most people call me Flo. I'm a busy mama raising two young boys in Hawaii. We share our adventures, travel tips, itineraries, and honest reviews so that you can plan your own family-friendly trip to Hawaii.