Updated: December 2017

turtle bay resort review

Turtle Bay Villa Rentals Review - Renting a Villa at Turtle Bay

Review of 2010 trip to Oahu, renting a Turtle Bay Villa...
Oahu has always been one of the most popular Hawaiian Islands to visit, mainly because of the fame of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. But the north shore of Oahu has more to offer than just great surfing. There are only a handful of resorts outside of Honolulu, so you really don't have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a place to stay on the north shore. One of the most famous resorts on Oahu is Turtle Bay Resort, located about an hour from Honolulu on the north side of Oahu. Far from the maddening crowds of big-city Honolulu, Turtle Bay is a little world unto itself. The resort itself offers both hotel-style accomodations, with all rooms offering ocean views, and a few dozen beach cottages offering a little more privacy. But if you are looking for slightly larger and more luxurious lodging, your best bet are the Turtle Bay Villas, which were built within the last 10 years and replaced another set of older beach cottages. This guide will go over the details of our recent experience renting a Turtle Bay Villa -- info on what to expect, where everything is, what it costs, etc.

Turtle Bay Resort Location and Map/ Getting There..

Let's start with a quick map that shows where everything is. The Google map below shows the locations on Oahu. Honolulu, Waikiki, and the airport are all located towards the bottom right corner of the island (southeast) -- that's where most people visiting Oahu stay. Turtle Bay is on the far north side where the blue markers are, about as far from Honolulu as you can get.

View Turtle Bay Resort Review in a larger map

You can zoom in on the map for more details. From the Honolulu Airport (HON), it takes about 1 hour to get to Turtle Bay. You take the H1 heading west, then get on the H2 heading towards the North Shore - this eventually dumps into 99 and 80 -- just keep following the signs to Haleiwa which is the first main city you come to on the North Shore. From Haleiwa, you follow the Kamehameha Hwy (or Hwy 83) heading northeast (towards the right) - after a few miles you'll pass the beautiful Waimea Bay and then pass through Sunset Beach (you'll pass a Foodland Market, one of the few retail locations for many miles along here..). Another 6 miles or so (mostly at 35-45MPH, which is why it takes a while) and Turtle Bay will come up on your left. Watch out for some bumps in the road and look for the golf course on your left -- both warn you that your turn is coming up. There is a guard house as you enter the property - once checked in you will get a parking pass for your car that lets you come and go as you please. Past the guard house, the second right leads to the parking lot and the entrance to the reserved villa parking lot.

Turtle Bay Villlas - Rooms, Amenities, Pools, Beaches

The map below shows the general layout of the property. The ocean is the cream-colored area at the top of the image, while the arrow in the middle points to the center of the hotel. You can see Turtle Bay to the left and what they call "Bay View Beach" to the right. The "ocean villas" are the buildings shown just below that cove.

The villas are privately owned, and some owners live there, some rent out their units directly to visitors, and some choose to add them to the resort's rental pool, with the resort setting the rates and handling bookings and splitting revenue with the owner. We found that booking direct with owners often reduced daily rates by 50% from the rates quoted by the resort, so that is definitely something to look into (we found ours on VRBO.com). One thing to keep in mind if searching online -- there is a group of older condos (called Kuilima Estates) in the middle of the Turtle Bay property, but these are totally different from the villas -- smaller, cheaper, not right next to the beach, etc. (they are not shown on this map -- they are a little further south and border parts of the golf courses). The villas come in several different layouts - from studios to 3 and 4 BR units. And these villas are not like the usual condos you might come across in Hawaii - -the 3 and 4 units are more than 2200sf, with gourmet kitchens and elegant bathrooms, all very modern, with plenty of space all around. We're talking travertine marble entries, Brazilian hardwood floors, lots of granite and marble and tile, sub zero refrigerators, flat screen TVs, etc.

The studio villas are basically, long, narrow designs where a small entryway leads you into kitchen with bathroom right next door, then kitchen leads into large living area with a bed, small dividing wall, then sitting area with dining table and chairs and sofa and chairs, leading still further out to the balcony/lanai. There are 10 4BR villas, 10 studios (which are considered 1 BR lockouts connected to nextdoor 3BR units), and 37 3BR villas spread across 7 buildings in a half-moon shape around a common pool/BBQ/lawn area with the beach and ocean just beyond that. The buildings are all 3 stories tall, with all villas being single-floor units (except for 3 special end units that are ground floor only, no units above -- these are number 119, 120, and 121). The numbering works as follows: Unit #1 is closed to the hotel on the left side of the bay, 101 is the ground floor, 201 is the second floor, and 301 is the third floor. Next door are units 102, 202, and 302, etc. Each building has a common locker storage room on the ground floor on the backside of the building. A key opens the main door, and inside are the individual floor to ceiling lockers where owners can store beach supplies, boogie boards, beach chairs, etc. You can see a site plan here on the main Turtle Bay Resort website: http://www.turtlebayresort.com/Real_Estate/Ocean_Villas/Site_Plan.asp.

What to expect in the Turtle Bay Villas

We stayed in a 3BR villa rented from a private owner (master BR shown at right). All the villas are almost identically equipped in terms of furnishings, decor, and finishing details, obviating the need to worry about which owner you are renting from (which is a common problem at many condo resorts where conditions can vary greatly from one unit to the next). The villas themselves are spacious and modern, with granite kitchens with drawer dishwashers, subzero refrigerators, and all the amenities you expect. A dining area and family room are standard as well, along with a fairly spacious lanai/balcony overlooking the pool area, with space for a table and 4 chairs and lounge chair. You'll also find a washer/dryer, which any family on a beach vacation will appreciate. Bathroom(s) were also very modern and well equipped, luxuriously appointed (see photo below, right). You can tell a lot of money went into building these villas (as of 2010, we saw 3BR units listed for about $1.7M) - and you'll find rental prices that reflect this, ranging from $400-$1500 per night, depending on size of villa and whether you rent from a private owner or from the hotel (for studios, we saw owner-direct rentals averaging about $260-$350 per night, depending on time of year). We paid approx. $650 per night for a 3BR unit, but saw others from $500 for a similar unit, while direct rentals from the hotel were more like $900-$1100.

One benefit of staying in the villas instead of the Turtle Bay Hotel is the full kitchen access, allowing you to stock up on some groceries (there is a Foodland Market within about 10 minutes when you head either east or west from Turtle Bay) and prepare some meals at home instead of going to a restaurant for every meal. If you have been to Hawaii with a family, you know that any meal out instantly sets you back from $50-$150 for a party of 4. Even though groceries in Hawaii are expensive, you can still reduce your meal expenses by 50-80% by cooking simple meals for your family. Getting back to the pool and common outdoor area -- this pool is only for the use of Villa owners and guests and a gate code is required to get into the parking lot (TIP: when entering the gated parking lot, you need to push the key button at lower right TWICE, then input your gate code), the pool area, and the beach area. There are also 2 BBQs near the pool area, available for use. The pool itself was warm enough for kids to jump right in and enjoy, and an attached hot tub is an added bonus. Twenty to thirty cabana-style lounge chairs (with retractable hoods) surround the pool, offering more than enough spots to sit (we never saw more than 1/3 in use at any given time). Right outside the gate is the calm cove that offers relaxing on the beach, minor snorkeling, and swimming. The resort itself offers two other pools on the west side of the hotel building, but officially these are only for hotel guests, so villa visitors renting direct from owners are not allowed (there is a small store on the lower level of the hotel building right next to the pool, where you can buy a paper, snacks, drinks, etc. at decent prices).

Back to parking -- each unit comes with a single, marked parking space. If you are renting a 4BR unit with 2 families and 2 cars, someone will have to park out in the general parking area outside the gate (just a 40 second walk). Make sure you put your parking pass on your windshield immediately upon arrival, since they are checked. There is also a garbage dump station out in the parking lot - bring your trash and recyclables here during your stay. As to other amenities.. We were pleased to find free wireless internet access, something which should be standard these days but seems to be lacking in many high-end resorts and hotels. We loved having the washer and dryer -- you can do minimal packing and just throw sandy bathing suits and clothing into the wash every other day and be good as new (these are smaller, stacked, HE washers and dryers, so buy HE detergent if you need to). Especially useful when traveling with a family! King size bed in the Master BR was nice as well -- way too many hotels skimp with queens and doubles. The extra bedrooms had a single queen in one and 2 queens in the other, with a shared bath for those rooms. The kitchen was gorgeous, the only thing that took some getting used were the 2 small, drawer-style dishwasher units -- each less than half the size of a normal dishwasher, so you have to kind of rotate use between them as you load and unload as needed. Each bedroom plus the family room had adequately sized flat screen TVs and cable. Family room had couch and chairs, plus a workstation desk with monitor and printer if you need to connect your laptop. Each owner is different, but ours offered a pretty fully stocked locked downstairs, with multiple beach chairs, boogie boards, snorkel sets, beach umbrella, etc. There are many gorgeous beaches along the north shore, especially as you head back towards Haleiwa, and having these supplies made it easier to enjoy it all.

We spent much of our time at the beautiful cove right out in front of the villas - nice little beach, not too crowded, water safe for kids to play in. There are officially several miles of beach along the Turtle Bay Resort, but the immediate beach on either side suffer from a lot of very rough lava benches right at the tidal line, making it almost imossible to use the beach and ocean there for relaxing or swimming - we never saw anyone using these other beaches. Apart from the beach, you have access to all the other resort amenities -- golf, tennis, kayak lessons, Segway tours, hiking, etc.

Turtle Bay Restaurants and Dining Options

Good or bad, when staying at Turtle Bay, you will find yourself pretty well removed from stores, restaurants, etc. Decent dining options outside the resort are all 15 minutes or more away, meaning that unless you are preparing meals at your villa, you are pretty much forced to eat most meals at the resort. And meals here are mostly priced like resort meals - $20-$40 buffets, $25-$45 entrees for dinner, $10-$15 burgers and sandwiches at lunch, etc. Lei Lei's is the little restaurant/bar at the golf center - lunch is served until 4:30, giving you an option for an early, less expensive dinner if a BLT fits the bill. Ola's sits right on the beach, with all the ambience you expect, and prices to go with it. We had one dinner there, with entree's from $20-$40 -- great views at sunset (hidden behind the hotel, but still a lovely view), but be ready to pay for it. The Palm Terrace is located off the left of the main lobby, and it offers buffet dining experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ($25 buffet breakfast or lunch, about $35 for dinner). As mentioned before, the little poolside bar and grill is called the Hang Ten, just what you want and expect (fish tacos $14, cheeseburger $15, shrimp salad $16, beer $6). Finally, Twenty-One offers fine dining, tucked away along an indoor path through a mini-tropical forest. With views of Turtle Bay and a rich wine list, entrees average about $30-$35, appetizers about $16. Other dining options involve heading about 20 minutes back westward into Haleiwa, where there are a number of dining options (Cholos, if you like Mexican food, was very good..). As mentioned above, you can pickup groceries at nearby Foodland markets - and even though nobody likes to cook or do dishes on vacation, a villa does offer you the benefits of a complete kitchen.

Turtle Bay Resort Reviews

Turtle Bay regularly ranks among the very best resorts on Oahu, and is certainly the best choice on the north shore. For people that want or need more than just the standard hotel room accomodations, the Turtle Bay Villas are an expensive, luxurious alternative, offering much more space and all the comforts of home, including full kitchens and laundry facilities. The remote north shore location is both good and bad -- it is peaceful and quiet, but also pretty far from other island activities. As long as you are prepared to drive 10-20 minutes, minimum, any time you want access to groceries or dining, you'll be fine. Checking with reviews on TripAdvisor and Expedia, we find that hundreds of fellow travelers rank Turtle Bay 4+ stars out of 5. Being the newest, the villas themselves really are the nicest rooms you can get at Turtle Bay.

More photos below..
This is the main public beach area at Turtle Bay, located just steps from the villa pool area. There is some snorkeling here, but mostly pretty calm, protected water. Beach chairs/lounges are officially for hotel guests only, so if you rent from an owner, bring your own folding beach chairs..(though we managed to sneak one a few times when people left..)

turtle bay villa beach
Here's what the 3-story villa buildings look like from the outside..

Scene from the kitchen looking out across the dining area, family room, and out to the lanai..

turtle bay villa kitchen
The dining area in your 3-4BR villa..

The family room... adequate seating facing a large flat screen TV...

Looking out over the pool from the lanai (from the 2nd floor)..

2nd bedroom dresser and TV -- room just comfortably fit queen bed, two nightstands, and dresser. Shared bathroom is just out to the left..

Questions about Turtle Bay? Feel free to email us at the address listed below.