Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Hawaii

Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Hawaii


This Base Survival Guide on MCB Hawaii is brought to you by my friends Jessica Noll and Leann! Jess and her husband Eli, along with their son Kai (19 months) and our daughter Lusea (3 months old) have been stationed at MCB Hawaii as a Marine Corps EOD family for 2 years now! She has been a military spouse for almost 12 years and feels so thankful for the community that has come with this lifestyle. Leann has been married to her active duty Marine for almost 10 years now, together almost 13 years, and he’s been Active Duty the whole time. He's also an EOD tech, and they’ve been through 6 duty stations in 2 countries together. They also have four kids together!


What's the weather like at this base?

When I say weather is predictable…I’m not playing! When we first moved here and I looked at our weather app for the week it was the EXACT same everyday! It's a tropical island so there's a lot of rain and sunshine, sometimes at the same time!

Assume it is always warm. Oahu doesn’t have much seasonal change, even in December/January it’s in the 80's. Rain depends on where you live: windward side (east side) sees a good bit of rain throughout the year, but leeward side (west side) is very hot and dry like a desert.


What's your favorite time of year there?

I would have to say fall because it’s not as busy here with tourists.
I prefer winter because I live on the leeward side, and it’s just slightly less hot and sunny over here during the winter. But I don’t like heat!

What's your favorite thing about living at this duty station? 

Everything is very close! You can walk to anything you need on this base (might be a couple miles but totally doable.) Honestly my favorite thing is being able to go venture this beautiful island! The hikes are some of the best views you will ever see! Also it’s cheap and easy to island hop!

The culture and community with the locals. We live in a predominantly local neighborhood and my kids go to a local public charter school that is AMAZING. We are outside every night playing with all of the neighborhood kids, and my son is learning agriculture, Hawaiian olelo (language), fishing, hula etc AS WELL AS a normal curriculum at his school. So amazing.


What's your least favorite thing about living at this duty station?

I think my least favorite is being so far from family and a lot of the common stores/shops we were use to aren't here. Also it’s really expensive here! 

The expenses. We, as an E7 family of 6, qualify for government assistance because of how expensive it is here. Also, the traffic is pretty bad during rush hour. You hear a lot about homelessness and crime, but honestly I haven’t seen much crime here, and there’s really no violent crimes, just some petty thefts on the news. There's a LOT of homelessness though.


Is there anything you wish you knew about this duty station before your PCS there?

Furniture! You can’t get much furniture here at all, at least the big pieces! If you have a certain style in mind that isn’t curb alerts or Facebook marketplace you should bring it with you from the states!

It’s common to hear that the locals don’t want us here and are mean/rude, so I was nervous about coming here as a white woman. It’s sooooo not true. Like I said, I’m surrounded by locals with no other military affiliated neighbors, and I have zero issues. You get back what you put out, and I believe if you come here without a sense of entitlement, adapt to their way of life (life with aloha), just treat them with kindness and respect, you'll have no issues. Military has a bad reputation of being entitled around here and it doesn’t help us.


What amenities are on base? And what are they like? For example: Is the commissary large or small? Well stocked? Pool on base? Parks? How many? Etc.

The beaches here are AMAZING! Truly you have a beach for all your needs. If you want to surf and body board North Beach is for you! If you have little ones Secret Beach (that isn’t much of a secret) as Hale Koa are for you! Fort Hase is great for your four legged kids and fishing. Also a great spot to catch hammer heads is right off the marina. Which brings me to our next amenity, renting kayaks, boats, and paddle boards at the marina! It’s super cheap and easy to take your family out on the water and enjoy the views. We have lots of awesome trails and you can even hike up Radar Hill. There's a library, tennis courts, skatepark, basketball and baseball fields, also kickball is huge here with the spouses! Each unit has their own kickball team and if not, they're happy to add you on a team. There’s a community pool, lots of parks and even a few dog parks! These are all great for meeting people when you arrive. The commissary is a decent size and normally has the basic needs there’s also a Whole Foods, Food Land, and Safeway not far from base!

Commissaries are pretty large, especially the NEX one. Hickam and Schofield are nice sized, I prefer Schofield myself because the drive is nice and I’ve had less stocking issues. There are parks and splash pads all over the bases, very family friendly. All of the bases here are pretty big and have basically everything you need, you don’t really have to leave, however I highly suggest venturing out anyways. It’s so worth it!


What tips or hacks would you give a  military spouse who just PCSed to that base?

Enjoy your time here! It flies by, yes there’s a lot to do here and truly we are so lucky with some of the most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen BUT there is a whole island here waiting to be explored!

Split up your grocery shopping. Commissary and Costco are gonna be your best bets. Safeway is SO EXPENSIVE. Walmart isn’t too bad. You really have to dedicate yourself to grocery shopping if you don’t want to go broke.


Do you live on or off base? What is/was your experience like?

We live on base and for the cost out here it truly does make sense if you want a garage and air conditioning. Those are hard to come by out in town and if you do find it, you're paying for it for sure!

Off base. It’s been amazing, but even with solar panels we have a ridiculously high electric bill consistently. That’s our biggest issue, going broke over the electric bill. However, we have the best neighborhood and neighbors, and our area has very very little issue with crime. I feel very safe here, I can even leave our stuff outside and not worry about it being taken.

For on base housing:

We really enjoy Waikulu with having a family and enlisted.  Some of Mololani and Ulupa have great views for enlisted as well.

Officers: the homes on Pond Drive are awesome with great views and the community is super close. 

For off base housing:

We love Kailua and Kaneohe is good too. They're close to base so you don’t have to worry about the highways shutting down or construction. 



What are your favorite hang out spots on base? Why?

The beaches! Literally you’ll find a beach for whatever mood you're in! We also love catching hammerheads off the pier.


Did you do a DITY move or military move?

Military move. Make sure you do your claims right away!
Military move as it’s technically OCONUS.


Are there any base specific traditions that take place? What is the culture like?

There is so much culture here! They have festivals all the time in Honolulu.


Are there any base FB pages, bloggers, or accounts/websites people should follow for the base or area?

SO many Facebook pages for this area. Be careful, there are a lot of shitpost/drama spouse pages and while they’re entertaining, they're messy lol.

MCBH community

MCBH sell

MCBH curb alerts (people put donations at the curb and you can pick up for free)


What is your favorite coffee shop there? Why? What is your favorite order?

Cafe Kopi! They have the best lavender latte there. The vibe is so comfy and almost hippie like, we love it!
Honestly I just go to Starbucks because it’s right next to my house.


What are your favorite spots for date night?

Haleiwa Joes has great views and great food and drinks. A more casual place is Nicos.

We love Sakura Hibachi, it’s fairly priced for a hibachi place, and always entertaining.


What are your favorite restaurants? What is your go to order?

Zia’s in Kaneohe, Nicos, Baci’s, and Big City Diner.

I love local food so my favorite spot is Young’s Fish Market to get a lau lau plate. Amazing every time, extra pipikaula on the side.


Are there any fun things to do in the area or close to base like amusements parks etc?

About 25 minutes from base we have Wet and Wild, and 20 minutes from base is Sea Life. There's also the Polynesian Cultural Center, Zoo and Aquarium.

There’s a water park, Kroc Center Park, you’re surrounded by beaches, swap meets on the weekends, a million hikes all over the island you can do (with lots of waterfall ones too), a good night life, luaus, history (Hawaiian and Pearl harbor alike), on and on and on. You can also island hop fairly affordably.


What are some of the things you would put on a bucket list for other military spouses coming to that base?

Hikes! Do them all, find hidden beaches and coves and enjoy the island!


Are there any cities you recommend for weekend getaways? Why? What did you do there?

Waikiki is a hot spot for everyone wanting to do a getaway; there’s so much to see and do down there.


Best places or activities for kids? Why?

• Beaches + Parks are plentiful (and free)

• Wet and Wild + Sea Life

• KidCity + FunZone are indoor play areas for kids that are so worth the money.

• Children’s Discovery Center is great.

I didn’t like the zoo or aquarium, just not our thing but they are options.


Any local festivals/traditions held for the holidays in that area?

There are festivals often and for many different cultures!
• There are plenty of local holidays the schools here will celebrate if you get your kids into local schools.

Local Recommendations:


Spa Pure


Nail Tech

Kailua Nail Spa

Beauty by Bee



Chelsea’s Lovely Hair

Beauty Theory in Waipahu with Lesa is the best for ethnic hair




On base or Tripler



On base


Primary Care Doctor

On base



Kim Pediatric Dentistry



ER: Castle and Tripler



Makai Veterinary


Dog Parks

There’s a few on base! We love the north beach dog park.



There are several on base.


Kids Tutor/Babysitter

Check out the MCBH Babysitter Facebook page!



The CDC on base.



The schools on base are great! Currently the only school on base is Mokapu Elementary School.



• AB Photography

You can find her on Facebook here!

• Amber Bailey Photography

You can find her on Facebook here! And on her website here!



There are so many talented spouses on base! Ask around in the groups!


Grocery Stores

Comissary, Whole Foods, Farmers Markets, Food Land, and Safeway.


Party Rental Company

The base is a great place to rent things for parties!


Ball Dress Shop

Online is your best bet.



On base is the best option for uniforms.




Overall I would rate this base at a... (1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)

Jess: 9/10

Leann: 9/10



Slideshow Hawaii 




If you'd like to learn more, have any questions or just want to follow Jess's journey you can find her over at her on Instagram here!


You can also get a PDF version of this guide here!

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