Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Oahu Vacation ...

The past few weeks have been amazing and exhausting and everything I could have ever hoped them to be. Two weeks ago tomorrow, we boarded a plane (first-class, no less) to Oahu, Hawaii.

Over the next ten days, we saw every inch of that island, logging 500 miles on our rental car. We hiked. We explored. We swam. We experienced. We ate. We relaxed. We enjoyed every single second. Here are some of my favorites:

The girls watching the waves at Ko Olina

Splashing in the water before dawn at Lanikai Beach

Sunrise at Lanikai Beach

Swimming at the beach at Ko Olina

Taking a pit-stop in the gardens at Dole Plantation

The waves at Bonzai Pipeline

About to swim at Waimea Valley Park

Waihi Falls

View from Diamond Head Crater

Island view at Diamond Head Crater

Taking part of the audio tour at the USS Arizona Monument

Dizzle learning about the continuing oil leakage at the USS Arizona Monument

Doodle racing up Diamond Head Crater

Us and a view of Waikiki and Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head

The girls feeding the Koi at our hotel

Dilly loving Hawaii

Sunset from the lobby of the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club

Canoe tour at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Watching the Canoe Pageant at the PCC

Family photo at the Hawaii Temple

Relaxing while the girls play at the beach at Ko Olina

Honestly, I'm not sure that any sort of recap of our vacation could do it or the Island of Oahu justice. Frankly, it was heavenly (traffic aside). I didn't want to come home. Not because I didn't want vacation to end, but rather because the thought of living among that beauty and with that weather was just heavenly. I was constantly in awe and that's a pretty amazing way to feel.

But, I will say, if you are ever headed to Oahu, there are some things that you do not want to miss.
  • Sunrise at Lanikai Beach - On the eastern side of the island is well known as one of the best spots to see the sunrise and I fully agree. We ventured to this secluded beach on the first morning of our trip (before we were adjusted to the time difference). It was quiet and breathtaking. The girls were able to splash in the water before dawn, something that made me feel like we were all alone on the island. It's something I'll never forget.
  • Diamond Head State Monument and Park - This volcanic crater has a .8 mile hike to some of the best views on the island. The hike isn't a stroll in the park, but the effort is so worth it.
  • Waimea Valley Park - This botanical garden with over 5,000 species of tropical plants is not to be missed. But the highlight of this park is the .75 mile hike (on a paved path) to Waihi Falls, where you are able to swim below the falls. Bring waterproof shoes, the pond floor is rocky.
  • Bonzai Pipeline - Even on a mild day, the waves at this historic break are something to behold. Doodle said her favorite part of the trip was watching people surf here.
  • Matsumoto's - THE place to get shaved ice. Founded in 1910, this North Shore institution almost always has a line out the door. One tip, do not skip the condensed milk.
  • Dole Plantation - Learn about all things pineapple at this location just south of the North Shore. Activities include the World's Largest Garden Maze (so much fun), train tour and botanical garden tour.
  • Kono's - This breakfast and lunch spot on the North Shore offered some of the best (and least expensive) food we ate on the island. We loved their plate lunches and burritos.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center - If you are going to spend your money on one "experience", this is the one to do it on. The PCC is made up of recreated Polynesian villages that showcase the history and lifestyles of seven Pacific Island cultures. There are demonstrations and activities throughout the day and a luau and evening show to end the night. We loved this place.
  • Pearl Harbor - Talk about walking into a history book. While we only visited the USS Arizona Memorial (The USS Bowfin and Missouri are also at this site), I learned more about the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII as a whole, than I ever did in any history class. The monument was moving and incredibly somber. I can't imagine how you could visit and not be affected. Tickets for the monument are free, but are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that the audio tour (which I highly recommend) will run you $7.50 per person.
  • The Beaches at Ko Olina - This is the best place for families, especially those with small children. The beaches at Ko Olina are made up of four protected lagoons along a two mile stretch of shoreline. There are minimal waves (and crowds) at these beaches, making for a relaxing day at the beach.
Or you could just sit on the beach with a drink in your hand all day. That option is pretty awesome too.

6 comments:

Colleen said...

Oahu was one of my favorite trips ever - you could jam pack your days with amazing excursions or do nothing at all and have a great time. I am so glad that you, J and the girls had a great trip!

laura pignataro said...

Oh I love Hawaii! Sounds like you had a great time! I also love lots of places you recommended---Diamond Head, dole plantation, USS Arizona, the Waimea falls park, so gorgeous. Now I want to go, it's been too long!

Michele said...

I love the pic of the kids all wearing the Rev3 visors! Looks like a great trip!!!!

Amanda@runninghood said...

I've loved seeing your pics on FB! The Polynesian Cultural Center was by far my favorite part of being on Oahu. And that was BEFORE we had kids. Love love loved it. Can't wait to take my kids there someday. So glad you had fun.

Jen Small said...

what an amazing adventure.

i wanna be your kid ;)

loved the tips for when I go "someday" sigh....

Lisa J said...

i love how you were able to experience SO MUCH of the island with your entire family. I'm going to Maui in January (first time ever in Hawaii) and you're making me want to switch to Oahu instead :)