Just an hour from Honolulu, the newly reimagined Turtle Bay Resort is a tranquil oasis that feels like a secluded paradise.
A wave of serenity washes over me as I make the scenic drive along Oahu’s legendary North Shore up to Turtle Bay Resort. Nestled on 1,300 pristine acres and 5 miles of secluded coastline and beaches, this iconic property has been transformed by Hilonative architect Rob Iopa and Los Angeles-based interior designer Dianna Wong while still honoring its rich legacy and natural splendor.
As I pull up to the open-air lobby, I’m greeted with panoramic views of rugged cliffs, swaying palms and the ocean. The simple yet stylish decor reflects the laid-back vibe of the North Shore using natural materials like stone, rattan and wood, and furnishings made of materials indigenous to Hawaii, including monkeypod tree tables handcrafted by artisans on the North Shore. Artwork by Hawaii-based artists Nick Kuchar, Jack Soren and Abigail Romanchak and vintage surf photography lining the walls pay homage to the surf culture that put this coastline on the map.
The serene ocean bungalow at Turtle Bay Resort
In addition to 408 guest rooms and suites in the main building, the resort has introduced a new category, 42 Ocean Bungalows, that gives cozy beach house vibes with whitewashed walls, woven textures and sun-bleached hues. The 15-foot vaulted ceiling and sliding doors create a seamless flow between indoors and outdoors. I take full advantage of the private lanai and private pool area during my stay. Still, the resort’s terraced pool deck with a new adults-only pool, a kids’ pool stacked with two waterslides, and a redesigned family-friendly pool also share the sound of the rolling waves and overlook surfers just beyond. As the golden hour nears, I head to the new Sunset pool bar and order a tropical cocktail to enjoy the spectacular display of pinks and oranges over the western horizon.
In the evening, I dine at Alaia restaurant, where executive chef Lyle Kaku serves inventive dishes showcasing locally grown ingredients from the onsite Kuilima Farm. I start with Hawaiian ahi poke, and although the menu has so much to offer, I choose the J. Ludovico Farm free-range half-chicken dish that is utter perfection. And for dessert, the Lilikoi brulee with Chantilly cream and candied oranges is a must.
The following day, I’m up early to meet my instructor, the North Shore’s very own pro surfer Jamie O’Brien, for a private lesson at his new surf school at Turtle Bay Resort, where he helps me quickly improve my pop-up technique. Other experiences include helicopter tours conveniently from the resort’s helipad and a fabulous Shaka kayak turtle tour, where I see 17 turtles, although there are even more in the bay to find.
Assorted dishes with locally grown ingredients at Alaia.
A stay at Turtle Bay would only be complete with experiencing the Hawaiian cowboy, or paniolo, culture. Head to The Stables for private and group horseback rides, taking guests through the resort’s surrounding wilderness and beaches. The sunset ride is one I will never forget. And join the Wednesday night luau at The Stables for a feast of ranch-style dishes. As the sun sets, we’re regaled with stories of paniolo life in Hawaii and treated to hula and Polynesian dance performances.
Back at the resort, I close out my stay with a Ho‘onanea massage at the newly renovated Nalu Spa in one of the new outdoor garden rooms, where the sounds of the surrounding nature and crashing waves bring me to a new state of relaxation. Like many who visit Turtle Bay Resort, I leave with the Spirit of Aloha and a deeper connection with the people, culture and adventure of Oahu’s North Shore.
Treatment rooms at Nalu Spa surrounded by nature