Thursday 27 October 2011

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Turtle Bay Resort - Look Both Ways for Things to Do

I like to explore hotels that I'm not familiar with. I find it interesting to walk around and look at the amenities and services that are available, even if there's no chance I'm ever going to use them (I'm looking at you, Hotel Gym). More than once I've found some great little features that I didn't know the hotel had that really improved our stay, and occasionally I've found something that was going to have to be completely avoided (although I kind of understand why a hotel can't put "Next door to a Strip Club!" in it's advertising.). The point is that I usually do a pretty good job of knowing what activities are available to us at a resort. That's what makes my oversight at Turtle Bay Resort a lot more annoying.

I got to put my advance research to the test almost as soon as we got to Turtle Bay. Lori developed a huge migraine headache on our journey in, and really needed to rest in a quiet room for a bit. Since neither the kids nor I have ever been accused of being the quiet type, we decided that we would go out and let her rest for a little while. I had read that there was a fantastic beach walk to the west of the resort, so I gathered the kids and we headed out with visions of meandering along the sand in our minds.

It's never quite what you envision is it? It was a great walk along the ocean, but if I had visions of a shoeless walk along a sandy shoreline, those were quickly dashed. Once you get a little bit away from the hotel, most of the oceanfront is covered by giant rocks which create little pools between them. My kids thought that it was much more fun to make their way over the rocks, and I didn't give it a second thought since our kids do something similar all the time at home. Hey Steve....It's not the same thing. You live on a lake. This is the ocean. Do you remember the difference? Before I figured it out, the first wave came in and knocked two kids down and absolutely soaked me. We gave up on the beachwalk, but for those of you who actually know how to avoid the tide when it comes in, it's a beautiful walk and you'd probably really enjoy it.

While I think my kids are unique and maybe a little strange, they are like every other child in one aspect. They are almost always excited by the hotel pool. I use the term "almost always" because at most of the hotels in Hawaii, the pools seem to be major afterthoughts. I understand that you've got a huge ocean right on the doorstep, but I like sliding down waterslides and jumping off diving boards with no chance of landing on a Manta Ray. The pool at Turtle Bay is pretty plain, the kind of thing that you'd most likely find in your neighbors back yard, with one major exception. Your neighbors pool probably isn't located on a peninsula at the tip of a Hawaiian island, with unlimited views to the west, north, and east. I don't know if the kids enjoyed the pool or not, because I was too busy watching the sun rise, set, or just make it's way across the sky. I will say that I enjoyed being by the pool, and in our family that's about the highest pool praise that there is.

There were lots of other activities available that didn't particularly interest us. There was a games room (We used to use game rooms a lot, then my son got better at video games than me. We don't use them so much anymore.), the aforementioned surf school (can I use the word aforementioned when I mean two or three days ago?), hiking trails (they were aforementioned too, but only a paragraph or so ago, so I don't feel the need to use the word), tennis courts (which oddly enough were overrun by cats. I can't make the connection, but my girls loved going to "play tennis"), and horseback riding (Yeah right. Not making that mistake again, but that's going to occupy a post of it's own someday.). Still, even with all these activities, it struck me as strange that, other than the surfers, you hardly ever saw anybody in the water.

This is where my lack of reconnaissance comes in. If you go to the east of the resort, you venture in to the parking lot, which we went through every day. The lot is separated from the ocean by a line of trees, and I assumed that the beachfront there was the same as everywhere else along the shoreline, very rocky and with killer waves. We never poked our head through until the last day. Of course once we did, we found a beautiful bay with a perfect sandy beach. There was even a coral reef which blocked most of those killer waves from coming through, and kept the really big sea creatures out. It was exactly the kind of beach that we had hoped to find at the resort, but we'd managed to not find it until the last day. I never get any grief for that one.

I don't remember what we had planned to do that day, but we cancelled our plans and spent the day on the beach. There was a booth there for snorkel rentals which were included in the resort fee that we had been paying every day, so we all figured we'd better get at least one days rental in, and we grabbed some gear. Now here is where focusing on money and real life collide. I was determined to get some value out of our resort fee, so I was heading out snorkeling. That's the money talking, and it was blocking out in my mind the fact that I don't like being in the ocean. Normally, if a fish or even some seaweed was to brush up against me in the ocean, the scream would qualify me for a spot in the next
Miller Light commercial as "the first un-manly thing I've done today". However this wasn't about manliness, this was about not wasting money, so our entire family headed out into the bay, and you know what? It was fantastic. Absolutely the highlight of our stay. We spent most of the day in the water, and saw more kinds of fish than we ever could have ever imagined. Our youngest decided that she didn't really like using the snorkel gear, so the booth gave her a boogie board with a glass window in it so we could take turns pulling her around in the ocean while she watched the fish (the boy didn't get a turn pushing her around on the board though, to prevent a repeat of the Paris Pool Incident). Everybody had a fantastic time and agreed that it was the best day of the stay. They also agreed that it was my fault we didn't find the beach sooner.

While up to the last day I might have said that Turtle Bay was a little light on activities, after finding the beach area I'd say there's plenty to keep you entertained. In fact, once we got outside of the room, it was a great place to spend our time. I'd have a hard time recommending that you book a room at the hotel, but I'd have no hesitation suggesting that you spend some time at the resort. Just remember to poke your head through the trees as soon as you get there.