Posted in Hotels

Hotel Review – Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu

We took a trip to Oahu in October of 2019, splitting our 6 days with 3 in Waikiki and 3 at the North Shore.  This ended up working out perfectly for us giving us a real chance to explore the island.  I set a total lodging budget for this trip of $1200.  Since we booked our hotel in Waikiki with Points, we were able to splurge a little on our North Shore hotel.

While we were researching places to stay, Mark discovered the Turtle Bay Resort.  Once he saw how amazing the property looked, it became clear that it was the only choice.  I just needed to figure out how to book 3 nights there and still stay within our allotted budget. It wasn’t an easy feat.  I originally booked the room in early August during a Special Promotion that included a $100 Resort Credit and coming in just under our $1200  max budget.  However, when I was checking on some aspects of our reservation in mid September, I found that the rate had dropped. I Renegotiated my Hotel Rate and ended up with a final rate of $1100.  Plus we still got the $100 Resort Credit.  Hey that $100 savings was enough to cover the cost of our rental car.

The Hotel

Turtle Bay is one of the largest hotels on the north side of Oahu and is a pretty amazing property.  It sits right in the middle of the furthest point north creating bays on both sides of the hotel.  The West bay plays host to a lot of surfing and stand up paddle boarding, while the East bay is more protected from the incoming waves and has a coral reef which makes it perfect for snorkeling.  Both sides boast beautiful sandy beaches.

The hotel complex includes 6 different restaurants, a coffee shop, and several  retail shops. The Guide Post desk is located in the center of the main lobby and the Concierge there can help you book any on site activities or local tours. Since we had our own independent adventures planned, we didn’t need to utilize that service.

The exterior complex included several pools, a pool bar/restaurant, a wedding chapel, the surf school and the spa facility.  At the beach, there was yet another restaurant and a spot to rent chairs, cabanas, go pros and snorkel gear.  Everything you could want to have an awesome beach adventure available right on site.  Mostly for a fee, of course.

There are also 2 championship golf courses on the property.  One designed by Arnold Palmer and another by George Fazio.  The hotel offers several room packages that include golfing.  If golf is your thing (it is definitely not ours) the courses looked gorgeous and you should check them out.

FYI:  Turtle Bay Resort was where the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed.

Parking at the Resort

When you arrive, you pull up to a large Valet area that also includes an Enterprise Car Rental Desk.  We did not need to use this service as we had already rented a car in Waikiki for use during the last 3 days of our trip. But it is a nice feature if you decide to rent a car.

Self Parking Fee at the Resort is $15 per day.  It was quite a hike back from the self parking area for Mark each day after he left the car.  The Valet Fee for Parking is $20 per day.  If we had know how much further the Self Parking was, we would have definitely spent the extra $5 per day for Valet.

Compared to most of the hotels on Oahu, these are actually very reasonable parking rates. Our Waikiki hotel charged $42 per day for self parking or $45 per day for Valet.  That was one of the reasons why we chose not to have a car in Waikiki.  So $15 per day at Turtle Bay seemed like a real bargain!


You cannot apply your Resort Credit toward the Parking Fee.  Just know for budgeting purposes, that the Parking Fee is not included in the room rate but is an additional charge that will have to be paid at check out.

Resort Fee

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the Resort Fee of $46 per night plus tax. That is a pretty hefty Resort Fee, so I made sure to get familiar with what benefits are included in the fee.

  • Blu-ray with unlimited movie rentals
  • Wi-Fi Internet access for in-room and public areas
  • GoPro Camera usage available for guests at the North Shore WaterShed
  • Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker use
  • Unlimited local telephone calls
  • In-room coffee and tea
  • Nalu Kinetic Spa Fitness Center and Business Center 24-hour access
  • Snorkeling gear usage at Kuilima Cove
  • One-hour tennis court usage per day
  • 10-Minute Stand Up Paddle Land Demo with Hans Hedemann Surf School, (weather permitting at scheduled time)
  • Basket of range balls at the Fazio Short Game Area, golf clubs provided
  • Live entertainment poolside, special events not included
  • Pool chairs with umbrellas, available first come – first served
  • Kids (10 & Under) Eat Dinner Free at North Shore Kula Grille, with paid adult entrĂ©e, excluding holidays

It was a little harder to get our moneys worth out of these included items than it was at our Waikiki hotel.  That hotel had a lot of useful items included with your fee and gave us reusable water bottles as part of our fee.  If you wanted the reusable bottles which were left for you in your room at Turtle Bay, you had to pay extra for them.  We did use the Pool Chairs/towels, but I wished that the Beach chairs/umbrellas would have been included too.  They were $20 pp per day if you wanted to use them and Cabanas were $125.   We did utilize the included snorkeling gear on 2 different days and Mark was super excited that he got to swim with some sea turtles both days.   We did also checked out a movie one night to watch in the room.

Since the Resort fee was already included in my original room rate, it didn’t involve any extra charges at check out.

The Pools

Part of what drew us to this property, other than the amazing ocean views and beach access, was the complex of pools.  There was one very large central pool that was serviced by the Pool Bar and offered amazing views of the ocean, surf activity and breathtaking sunsets.

There was also a more secluded multi level pool that featured a waterfall and a couple of different hot tub areas.  There were plenty of places to hang out and we never struggled to find available pool chairs.

The Bar service to the pool was as expected at a Resort, fairly expensive.  We ordered 1 beer and one cocktail our first night there (remember I have to use up my $100 Resort Credit) and the bill came to $22.  The service was great though.

The Room

The bedroom consisted of a King sized bed, 2 night stands with plenty of plugs for our devices, and a 6 drawer dresser with a flat screen tv on top.  The dresser provided more than enough space for both of us. The bed was comfortable and had an appropriate number of fluffy pillows.  We were on a Hawaiian adventure so we really didn’t spend that much time in the room.

Between the bedroom and the bathroom was an outer area with a full length closet, a second sink/vanity area and an in room beverage cart.  I loved having the additional closet space to hang up all of Mark’s Aloha shirts and stow away the luggage.  It was also very convenient for each of us to have our own separate vanity areas. We were able to get around much faster that way.

The room fridge was also located in this area under the vanity.  We kept some snacks and adult beverages in there since the prices at the pool bar were on the high side.

The inner bathroom contained a vanity, toilet and large tiled shower stall.  The shower was clean and roomy, but the fixtures were old and coming loose from the wall.  The hotel bathroom amenities provided were very nice Kinetic Spa products with tropical scents.

Inside the room itself there was a table and chairs perfect for having a snack or spreading out our maps when planning our days adventures.  There was also a comfy chair and ottoman perfect for reading or catching up on your email.

When you opened the sliding glass door, you were transported to a whole new world.  Two rattan club chairs with cushions were out on the large lanai providing an ideal place to enjoy our 5th floor full ocean view.  When we were in the room, this is where we spent as much of our time as possible.


The way this hotel was designed, all the rooms actually face out to the ocean. The higher the floor, the better the view.

The Budget

This hotel could get pretty expensive if you don’t keep on top of it.  Since we were on a budget, to keep our costs in check, we took advantage of the fridge in our room and stocked up on fresh fruit, snacks, and beverages to have on hand throughout the day. I mean a 6 pack of local beer was $10 at the local market vs one beer for $8 at the pool.  I also utilized my refillable water bottle during our entire trip.  Most places we visited offered filtered water stations where I could frequently refill it.  For meals, we found that dining off of the resort property at some local places really helped keep our costs under control. I spent more on one onsite dinner than I did on all of our meals the previous 2 days.

As far as onsite activities go, we took advantage of things that were already included in our resort fee like using the snorkeling equipment, pool chairs and a free movie rental.  We also used mats instead of renting costly chairs or cabanas when hanging out at the beach.  We planned a lot of our own site seeing activities that were super fun, much cheaper and exactly what we wanted to do.  We also made sure to charge enough items to the room to take advantage of our $100 Resort Credit.

How We Spent our $100 Resort Credit

  • $22 for 2 drinks at the pool our first night there
  • 2 days of coffee at the Coffee Shop in the Lobby (This was necessary since the in room coffee wasn’t that great and there was no complimentary coffee station for guests at the Resort)
  • $76 for a nice dinner and drinks at the Kula Grille on our last night there

Checking Out

As I have mentioned before in my hotel reviews, Always Reconcile Your Bill!  When we went to check out, the Desk Agent told me the total for our stay.  It was considerably higher than I expected.  She printed a copy of the bill, and all of the charges were indeed accurate, however, they had failed to deduct the $100 Resort Credit.  Once she refigured the bill with the credit, the final balance due was $60.32.  That reflected 3 days at $15 for Parking and the remainder of our room charges that went over the $100 resort credit.  I was very happy with that final amount.

We actually had an issue at the first hotel during check out as well.  There was a one person breakfast buffet ($24) charged to our room for a day we hadn’t even eaten there.  It was obvious to the Desk Agent that this was an error and they gladly removed it right away.  More than likely, someone just accidentally gave them the wrong room number.  It just pays to always carefully review your bill for any discrepancies at check out!

Final Thoughts

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Turtle Bay Resort.  The room was very spacious, had everything we needed to be comfortable and we loved the ocean front Lanai.   I couldn’t get enough of watching the surfer action all day long or catching those mind blowing sunsets from the pool every night!  You could choose to never leave the property and still have everything you need right there.

All the staff we encountered were super helpful and friendly.  Even though we weren’t golfers or honeymooners (the majority of the guests were one or the other), we still managed to fit in nicely.  If you watch, you can get a good rate for your stay and it is possible to keep your onsite costs under control with just a bit of planning.

I am sure we will stay there again in the future.