Years ago, when we were traveling to Australia, we did an overnight layover in Hawaii and I have been obsessed with going back ever since. Last fall, we decided to take a week and just do it. Being Disney Vacation Club members, we really couldn't beat the opportunity to use our points to stay at their Aulani property on the island of Oahu, so we booked a two bedroom suite, invited my in-laws and hit the road.
Early morning plane rides do not make for a happy Clara. I am usually not a super fan of early morning trips, but Hawaii makes everything okay. (If I look winded in this pic, I totally was. We had an overnight stop in Dallas and Clara realized WHEN WE GOT TO THE AIRPORT, that she had left her “Plinky” in the hotel bed .”Plinky” is code for pink + blankie = Plinky. What's a mom to do? I gave everyone else my luggage, jumped in a cab and told them to go. If I missed the flight, I would get on the next one, but I had a blankie to rescue! Luckily, I made it back JUST as the doors were closing.)
We have arrived!! The view from our room. The pool was amazing and Clara lived for the slides. If you look hard enough, you can see the little hut where they sell Dole Whips on the beach. If you know, you know.
Breakfast at the resort often included a guest appearance from a character. I believe Clara is attempting to make Mickey ears out of coconuts? We also loved visiting this Stitch tribute daily, to see if he “made any trouble”. (You can also see Clara's vitiligo really well in these photos. She was diagnosed with it in 2017 and we have to be oh-so-careful with her in the sun.)
The girls walking the grounds. I loved that the little paths surrounding the resort felt like you were exploring, but made me comfortable enough to allow Clara a little leeway to be “on her own” at seven. And by that, I mean that she was allowed ahead on the path and out of my sight for .03 milliseconds.
We really took advantage of the flowers in the hair situation that is encouraged in Hawaii. Wearing a flower behind your left ear means that you are married or taken and a flower behind your right means that you are single. Unfortunately, we didn't get this memo until further into the trip, so apparently, Clara is married in this photo. Rude. I didn't even score an invite.
I was so excited to take a day trip and visit Pearl Harbor. I think it is so important to allow kids the opportunity to really see the history and culture of places we visit and this was a big one for me. We arrived and walked around the grounds and the museum while for our scheduled time to board the boat that would take us out to the USS Arizona. (Please note: I do not think you are able to visit the memorial any longer because they found structural damage which has made it dangerous for guests, so I am very grateful that we had this opportunity before it closed.)
Visiting this memorial has a very otherworldly feeling. You definitely get the sense that this is a final resting place for thousands of men and my children were very conscientious of being respectful.
It's surreal to think that the USS Arizona sank over 75 years ago and it is still leaking oil into the water. Apparently, it is such a minimal amount that it does not effect the environment.
As a souvenir, we allowed both girls to chose oysters that were opened and a pearl was removed and set into jewelry. I totally remember doing this at SeaWorld as a child (don't come @ me! This is far before anyone ever thought captivity was cruel!) and they loved picking their pearls. Oddly enough, both selected oysters with black pearls. (Again, please not the flowers are on the wrong sides. Unless mine was a secret message that I was leaving Marc in Hawaii and looking for a date???)
The next day had us off to surf school. I booked this trip though the hotel concierge and I have no idea what beach we visited, but the waves were calm and the water was fairly clear. And, considering how terrified I am to allow my children into water, I was fairly calm with this entire experience. The instructors were fantastic and made sure everyone was safe. You can't see me, but I am sitting in a little beach chair, drinking a coconut. Typical.
These two will try anything once. They LOVED it. At first. And then Clara fell off of the board 5,647 times and was over it.
We couldn't get this one out of the water. Chloe is totally my adrenaline junkie.
One great piece of advice we did receive from a friend who visits Hawaii often was to rent a car. There are so many great places to visit and see that aren't typical tourist destinations. We drove across the island (Disney is located on the west shore) over to the east and stopped at a few places along the way.
Behind us is the Halona Blowhole, which was a really cool thing to see. Water runs underground and is forced out of a hole that gives it a “blowhole” effect. My girls wanted so badly to hike down the cliff and swim in the little lagoon, but I was afraid they would get stuck. So instead, I made them watch me take kissing selfies with their dad. Fair trade.
Please meet the beach of my dreams, Waimanalo Beach. It was TO DIE for. The water was a beautiful, warm, blue and absolutely breathtaking. We did, however, have a difficult time finding a public restroom to change into our swimsuits, so there may or may not have been a towel-against-a-building situation. Totally worth it, though.
Can we please appreciate the fact that there is not ONE suspicious piece of anything in this water?
I broke my “no swimsuit pics” rule in Hawaii because I wanted actual proof that I was at such a beautiful beach. And, a little way down the road, there was a local restaurant called Hawaiian Island Cafe that we fell in love with. The sweetest local played the ukulele for my kids and taught them how to braid banana leaves and the food was delicious. We loved it so much that we went back twice.
A trip to Hawaii wouldn't be complete without a luau, so we found one that was close to our hotel: Paradise Cove. It was fun and the food was tasty, but the real star of the event was the entertainment. The hula dancers were fabulous and the fire twirlers were so very impressive.
Me: Chlo! Look! You match the leaves! Let me take a pic!!!!
Her: *the expression says everything*
Clara was clearly inspired by the man with the ukulele, so she needed one of her own. She sat on that stage and sang to herself for HOURS before the show began. Apparently, Chloe was feeling much more cooperative in this photo.
I wanted to take a selfie with the World's Cutest Ukulele Player.
Okay, I could NOT do a blog post about Hawaii and not include this photo. This was from out first trip to Hawaii when we were there for 24 hours and had a VERY tired little girl with us. HOW FUNNY IS IT THAT SHE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE TIKI????
The next morning, we traveled to the south of the island to hike Diamondhead crater. The hike wasn't too difficult and Clara was able to do it. However, we had to wait a little longer for Grammy Kathy (my mother-in-law). The views at the top were phenomenal and we definitely got the “hang loose” pose memo. Whew.
Hang loose, Chlo.
The next day, we drove to the north side of the island to see Waimea Bay. There is a huge rock that people jump into the ocean from and my family was dying to try it. Guess who was not? Me. There was ZERO chance that I was ever jumping into the ocean from giant rock, but I did enjoy admiring my pedi in the clear water. It was not quite the same blue as Waimanalo, but more of a crystal clear water. And, on the way there, we found this INSANE place called Ted's Bakery that had world class pastries.
Look!! It's Grammy Kathy and Papa D! I know so many people complain and do not get along with their in-laws, but I feel like I won the in-law lottery with these two. They are so fun and kind and my mother-in-law can always be counted on to make us laugh, so I really enjoy when they travel with us. (Someday, I will share what happy hour is like with Grammy. HIGHLY entertaining.)
On our final day, I dragged everyone to Kualoa Ranch to see the Jurassic Park tour. I mean, Jurassic Park is a CLASSIC and I wanted to see the famous backgrounds used in the movie. Luckily, everyone was a good sport and I have the best embarrassing photos that no one will EVER see, right? Right.
Who knows what we are doing here, but DO YOU RECOGNIZE the background?? I'm certain this is where Timmy hides under a log and T-Rex attacks the little dinosaur that was migrating in a pack.
I am currently having this made into a quilt for our living room. (Okay not really, but would you be surprised?) And finally, the moment you all have been waiting for: the greatest moment in family picture history………
This was worth the entire trip for me. And let's please note that Marc is pushing me TOWARDS the killer carnivore. What a prince.
So, that's it for this Hawaiian adventure. Comment and let me know if you want to see more posts like this and, as always, thank you for reading and sharing!